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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Uneven ankle flexibility


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My daughter, soon to be 11, will be participating in her home studio's summer intensive for 3 weeks in August. She'll have daily 90 minute technique classes M-F, two of which will be followed by pre-pointe classes. In anticipation of pre-pointe, my dd's teacher has asked her to work with a theraband on one of her feet. Apparently, her left foot points "beautifully" with a nice arch, instep, but her right foot, though it points well, and also has a nice arch and instep does not point straight down making a clean line from shin through instep. Am I making any sense? In other words, there is a slight break where the foot meets the leg, and she doesn't straighten this quite as thoroughly when she points her right foot. Her teacher thinks she can improve this using a theraband between now and the onset of the August intensive, or at least she'd like her to try.


My dd has her full class schedule this week (4 technique classes/week), but this will end on Saturday. Next week is rehearsals only, then performance on that Saturday. She'll then have two weeks off, then will only have 2 technique classes per week for 3 weeks until the start of the August intensive. Since this is an extremely busy time of the year, I haven't been able to connect with her teacher (who is also the studio director, so extremely busy herself!) to see exactly what my dd is to do with the theraband, so I thought I'd check it out with the wise people on this board. I've described her summer schedule in order to demonstrate that she won't have a lot of class time between now and the beginning of the intensive to work on her tendus, degages, rond de jambs, coup de pieds, etc. (Yep - I did a search, and learned a lot about working the feet! :blink: ).


My daughter has been instructed to point her foot, and apply the theraband across her instep and pull straight down, pulling her foot into a more pointed position. My questions are: 1) Are there any other exercises she could do with the theraband that would be helpful? 2) How much work with the theraband is too much? 3) Can she/should she work with it daily, or does she need days off as with ballet? 3) How much is too little?


Thanks for your help!

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Laura, my daughter JUST had a session with her Pilates teacher about ankle strengthening with the use of a theraband. This is what she described for one ankle at a time (as a series of three exercises for each side):


First: Sit on the floor with the legs straight, wrap the theraband under the arch, flex the foot and without moving the leg, rotate the foot out to the side and back to neutral (starting, or straight, position) again. The movement should be slow and repeated four times.


Second: With the theraband under the arch, without moving the leg, rotate the foot in towards the resting foot and back to neutral again. Repeat slowly four times.


Third: With the theraband under the arch, without moving the leg, bring the flexed foot inward (toes moving toward shin). Repeat slowly four times.


The exercises are to stengthen the anterior talofibular, posterior talofibular, and calcaneofibular ligaments.

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Thanks so much for responding, yankee. I think my dd has a different issue than what you're daughter is working on. My dd has strong ankles, she just lacks the proper line with one ankle, and I think (though I'm not positive) that it's related to a lack of flexibility of the ankle rather than a lack of strength.


My daughter's teacher (who is also a pilates instructor, though my dd does not yet do pilates) has asked her to do the opposite from what you've described in that the theraband is to go on top of her foot across the instep, and then she is to push down. Because the problem has been identified to be not her instep, nor her arch, but the line from shin through the foot, and because she has a slight but visible upward bend of the foot at the ankle joint, I'm thinking that the exercises you've described might make that tendency more pronounced? :thumbsup:


I do appreciate your help. :blink:

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Guest pink tights

Therabands come in different strengths. She might need to start out light and work up. The Gaynor Minden bands are very light--she could start out with those and move up as she progresses.


So her teacher is trying to get more flexibility in her ankle? If so, be very careful. If she stretches too aggresively, she could damage her achilles.


Another thought here, does she have a tendency to sickle or wing that foot?

Edited by pink tights
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Oh - I hadn't thought about using the lighter strength Theraband! We have 3 strengths, so I'll remind her to start with the lightest strength.


She does not wing or sickle her feet, she just cannot point the right foot completely enough so that it forms a straight line from her shin to her instep.


Yankee - I may have been wrong about the ankle strength issue. Last night, she showed me that if she gives it an heroic effort :) she can make her ankle stay in the correct stretched position. That seems to be a strength issue to me. Maybe it's a combination of strength and flexibility?


Pink tights - You're so right that if she's overly aggressive, she could do damage. She seems to be stretching it correctly (from what I've read here on BT4D), but I still don't know how much is too much in terms of time per stretch, reps, number of minutes per stretching session, daily or days off?


Thanks so much for your help.

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  • 1 month later...



I just wanted to add something to this thread because our DDs are about the same age. My DD is weaker on one side, she has been working hard with a thereband since May and what a difference. She has been using it daily and does more work on the weaker side.


I can't say she loves it, but she is doing it because of the difference it has made in her feet. She uses an actual HEAVY theraband, in gold which are available at backbay.

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Thanks for your response, Small Slipper. I'll have my dd read it. Though, according to her teachers, she is a hard worker in class, she has not been at home, and has not followed through on working with the Theraband.


Yesterday, her first day at her studio's summer intensive, her teacher told her that she'd be observing her throughout the intensive to determine whether or not she'll be ready for pointe in the fall. I'm surprised since I had been told last spring that she would be going on pointe after the holidays - which was fine with my dd at the time. Now that dd knows there's a possibility of going on pointe in the fall, she's upset that she might have blown her chances by not working with the Theraband! Oh, the drama!


Here's where ballet lessons become life lessons: patience, hard work, patience, hard work.... :D

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