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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Ankle articulation


bluebillie

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I did a quick search for "Ankle" in this forum and don't see anything relating to my question, but I'm sure I've seen info on the boards about this before, so if anyone knows where in particular info on ankle articulation can be found, please let me know.

 

Now, my question: I purchased a Wii Fit for my husband at Christmas, but have also been using it for general fun and aerobic exercise.

 

Wii has a "sensor" that measures your stability when standing and doing exercises. While I excelled at many of the 2 footed flat balance tests (no doubt from all those years of ballet and body-awareness), I was surprised to see that on 1-footed exercises, such as Yoga "tree" position, and 2 footed releve positions, I wobbled terrifically.

 

My left ankle has been weak due to ankle injuries over the years, but now I'm realizing that both my ankles are quite weak (I also have extremely small and narrow ankles, so it's always been an uphill battle). Do any of the mods have any recommendations for exercises (in addition to taking ballet class again) aimed at both ankle strength and articulation? I'll be working strictly in flat shoes. I'm at the point (no pun intended) now where I want to work cleanly in soft shoes before moving on to any pointe work.

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Well, a few things should help:

 

1. Just balancing with one leg up, like Yoga Tree position, for as many minutes as you can on each leg once a day will help. Also, standing next to a wall, parallel with it about no more than 12 inches away, using the knee that's closest to the wall, lift up that knee at a right angle and press it against the wall while balancing completely on the outside leg. Don't hold onto anything with your hands. Keep the supporting leg parallel- not rotated.

 

2. Theraband exercises. Best to get a teacher to help you with these, but a simple flex to demi and back to flex is helpful. You must make sure your ankles don't wiggle back and forth, and don't sickle when you do them.

 

3. Stair exercise: Stand on the lowest stair, and be sure you have a railing to hold. Place your feet in a modified 1st (like this: 'V') heels touching, and allow your heels to drop below the stair riser, keeping them together. This will stretch your achilles and heels, and place your ankle into the farthest flexion possible. Even though you're keeping your heels touching, try to relax for a moment to allow the stretch to happen. Then, engage the muscles again as you relevé to as high as you can possibly achieve whilst keeping your heels pressed together!! Repeat 9 times and do that at least once a day. Be sure you are warm before doing this last one.

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Guest megarina

I'm currently rehabilitating a grade iii sprain and in addition to the aforementioned exercises, my PT recommends is balancing on one foot while standing on a pillow (or some other slightly unstable surface). Apparently when your ankle is wobbling around trying to keep your balance, it strengthens those muscles. I completely forgot what this is called... but at a workshop a few years ago, Sara Neece recommended this exercise as well.

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I know ice skating will really exercise your ankles, and will help you work on your balance, and since it's winter, why not go ice skating? Well, it's winter in the northern hemisphere.

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I'm currently rehabilitating a grade iii sprain and in addition to the aforementioned exercises, my PT recommends is balancing on one foot while standing on a pillow (or some other slightly unstable surface). Apparently when your ankle is wobbling around trying to keep your balance, it strengthens those muscles. I completely forgot what this is called... but at a workshop a few years ago, Sara Neece recommended this exercise as well.

 

I had to do that while recovering from my ankle break (erm...break done while ice skating - so be careful!).

 

I had to throw a ball into a bouncy thing and catch it ten times while standing on a padded thingy - foamy, padded thingy. They moved me from a firm version to a much more jelly-like one as I progressed in strength. I considered buying the jelly-er one for home use but decided it wasn't necessary at this point. You can get them online though, if you really want to. I'd worry about using a pillow because it's not very "even" in terms of its use of stability.

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Thanks to all who have posted. I will definitely be incorporating these exercises into my repertoire, and the ankle stair exercise is something I would have never thought about, although you see so many people do something similar with inverted crunches!

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  • 1 month later...

Clara76 and all~

 

I just thought I'd give an update on the ankle articulation. I tried the "stair" exercise and wow! What a wonderful minute of fun! Oh, and by fun I mean a LOT of work, lol! I can't actually put my heels completely together in a 'V" position, because my ankles are so bony, they'd literally occupy the space the other was supposed to be in at the time, so I spread my feet a little farther but made sure that they remained stable and in the same location on the up and down motion.

 

To my surprise, this exercise really works your "turnout" muscles also, I can't really tell what specifically, but all of the good stuff in the pelvic floor and the rotators.

 

I did have a further question. Since I'm working on strength to both improve petite allegro and prevent sickle, should I be working on a winged foot specifically? Or, will just working in class with the correct alignment (heel forward) develop my metatarsal (again, so I guess I should say "re-develop".... sigh :unsure: ) properly so that I will exaggerate my wing?

 

Thanks in advance, all you wonderful ballet detectives! :thumbsup:

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A winged foot is not a totally pointed foot and ankle, so no, you should not be trying to wing.

 

I'm happy the exercises are working for you. :unsure:

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Point taken. Actually let me try to rephrase. I said "winged" but what I should have said was, I want find a balance between too-tight and too-loose ligaments. When I used to dance, I had relatively tight ligaments, but the more I danced as a pre-pro and then pro, those ligaments (especially the laterals) loosened up. I had injections on the lateral ligaments (I believe it was the anterior talofibular) to tighten them because one was at the point of tearing, but nothing on the medial (inside) side. The injections were just temporary, so eventually I began sickling without realizing it until a teacher pointed it out. However, I also go into an exaggerated wing position sometimes. I've heard of people trying to correct a sickle OR a wing, but I'm not really sure of the golden medium. Almost everyone I knew in my company way back when winged onstage, but I know that at the time we surely had the ankle strength to pointe correctly in class. I think a lot of people have the impression that sickling is the "lesser" of two evils, but both are proving a nasty encumbrance :wacko:

I plan on asking one of my old teachers who also enjoys talking about physics and motion (etc.) as it relates to ballet, but a question to my fellow adults dancers: what should one be feeling when pointing to work towards proper foot alignment. Is this different in adults because we have less opportunity to change development of bone,tendon, ligament, etc? Jeez, I sound like I'm setting up an essay question here. Just wanted to open the floor for discussion, really! :unsure:

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If it helps, I noticed at "Target" stores that they started carrying these strange devices that look like halved pilates b alls. They're large, rubber, halved spheres on a base and are meant to develop balancing and ankle strength.

 

Balance Trainer

 

There are cheaper alternatives (like balance discs) offered on the site too.

Edited by LaFilleSylphide
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