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Working the arch more than the calves in Relevés and lowering


addy

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Hi, I was hoping someone might be able to help me on this issue. I would appreciate any suggestions you may have. Also if you know of any verbal cues (ie- the relevé equivalent to "lift to close" on battements) I would really like to hear them.

 

When I work on my relevés from a straight leg- (I think they are called elevés?), if I do enough of them the upper part of my calves just below the knees will burn and I will feel it there the next day.

That is on 2 legs, and I have no trouble getting all the way up (straight) or staying up or lowering- my foot remains nicely aligned throughout.

 

On one leg, I don't have the strength do get all the way up. And if I go up on 2 legs and then try to lower just on one leg, looking at my foot, I see the longnitudinal medial arch sort of pronates or rolls in or sort of just gives way a bit- it simply doesn't have the strength to remain arched during the descent. And I think it's supposed to, correct? Do you know what I mean??

 

So I really want to strengthen the arch. But doing relevés doesn't seem to be doing this. No matter how many I do (on 2 legs) my calves start to burn but I don't feel anything in the arch.

 

Please note though that my arch often burns at the barre when we hold a glissés in the open position for a couple of counts. So I know my arch is there!

 

 

So do you think I am doing the relevés incorrectly? How can I get them to work my arches?

 

thanx!

 

& ps- all my teachers have commented that I am very "strong" (and I don't think they are referring to technique!) and my calves are embarassingly huge.

I never danced prior to 3 years ago.

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If you want to stretch your feet, use a theraband. Lots of exercise examples are on Youtube.

 

But, it isn't really so much your "arch" that gets you and keeps on in releve- it's your ankles and legs. I can't say that I've ever felt pain on the front of my leg so you might either have an injury of some kind (like overuse injury) or be doing something wrong (like bending your knees in releve), but personally when I wanted higher releves I worked on my ankles and calves, not my arches. The top part of your foot from your instep to your ankle is a big part of what keeps you on releve. Calves, as well. Don't mistake that just because you are *on* your arches in a releve, that it's arch strength that you need. Arches mostly need to be stretched, the strengthening that does occur, occurs through class. You're not going to "feel" anything in the arches when you do releves, because those are not the muscles keeping you up!

 

A good exercise to do, is to stand on the edge of a stair, with the ball of your feet on the edge of the stair, and your heels in the air. Lower your feet all the way (lower than the stair) and then do releves. Do as many as you can (up to 25) then take a break and start again. This will strengthen your ankle muscles for releves.

 

ETA: It's not really normal for your arches to burn in a glisse (or any position). I have extremely flat arches and my arches have burned in a variety of shoes, but never ever in ballet. You might not be holding your weight up properly where it should be, or you have slippers that don't work for your feet.

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Please note though that my arch often burns at the barre when we hold a glissés in the open position for a couple of counts.

 

That sounds like cramping. Are you curling your toes? Have a search for this on the CrossTalk forum for pictures and description. I didn't realise I was doing this until Miss Clara enlightened me.

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It sounds like maybe you need to learn how to engage the muscles of the arch while standing flat, especially if you're pronating when you come down from relevé. Someone else posted this link a while back and I think you'll find it helpful: http://www.aofas.org/scripts/4disapi.dll/4...t&DocID=147 .

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The first thing that comes to mind for me is that you need to be actively pointing your foot when you are on relevé. This means you have to lift yourself up out of your ankles and actively point your arches while you are on demi-pointe. This connects with the lifting and rotating that goes on all the way up through your leg, hip, and spine.

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Thank you for responding xSugarplum.:(

 

......... I can't say that I've ever felt pain on the front of my leg so you might either have an injury of some kind (like overuse injury) or be doing something wrong ....

 

 

The fronts of my legs don't hurt. Nothing hurts- it's the backs of my lower legs- the calves burn- that means I am working the calves like you said I should be doing so that is good. But I thought the soles of the feet are connected to the calves so they are also working? When I say arch, I mean the bottom of my foot. I guess the muscles over the insteps (the tops) would prevent me from falling backwards?

 

 

 

......

 

ETA: It's not really normal for your arches to burn in a glisse (or any position). I have extremely flat arches and my arches have burned in a variety of shoes, but never ever in ballet. You might not be holding your weight up properly where it should be, or you have slippers that don't work for your feet.

 

hmmm.... It is only the working foot that burns- from pointing it. Not the supporting foot. They have just started to burn (muscles burn) in the last couple of months since I have begun to point them "correctly" (or so I thought)- ie, at the metatarsal without curling the toes but sort of squeezing the sole of the foot together much like the test for "compressible" feet.

 

 

Also, I never really feel my arches stretch in class (the bottoms of the feet)- never really. But even a simple tendu will often stretch the tops of my feet. Even a forced arch exercise doesn't stretch my arch- just my big toe. I am wondering if my body is different somehow..... Are we using the same terms- arch=bottom, instep=top?

 

Thank you for that exercise on the stairs. Maybe it is just weak calves like you say.

 

Thank you!

 

ps- I am wondering what ETA means (other than estimated time of arrival :))

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Please note though that my arch often burns at the barre when we hold a glissés in the open position for a couple of counts.

 

That sounds like cramping. Are you curling your toes? Have a search for this on the CrossTalk forum for pictures and description. I didn't realise I was doing this until Miss Clara enlightened me.

 

 

 

Thank you for replying Mazenderan :(

 

Sometimes they will cramp when I am practicing pointing at home lying down- they will freeze into position- even my toes- freeze into a claw of sorts. It doesn't last long or hurt though.

 

I have been really aware of the curling issue- I read that curling thread in Crosstalk awhile back - I really try not to curl and I really don't think I am. My toes aren't perfectly straight but I am definitely not tucking them. I try to reach out and away with them (almost like a forward cambre for the toes)(**see edit below). But what I do (that may be wrong) is try bring the 1st and 5th metatarsal together under my foot.

 

My pointed feet have never cramped in class- just burnt. But they cramp at home when I am doing a " better" job at pointing (more slowly etc)

 

Thank you for your input Mazenderan, I really appreciate it :)

 

 

 

(edit- I just realized that may give the impression that I am bending my toes and I am not- I try to keep them in line with my foot. It just feels the same as a forward cambre- the idea of lifting out and away).

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It sounds like maybe you need to learn how to engage the muscles of the arch while standing flat, especially if you're pronating when you come down from relevé. Someone else posted this link a while back and I think you'll find it helpful: http://www.aofas.org/scripts/4disapi.dll/4...t&DocID=147 .

 

 

Thank you for that link groovibug! :(

 

I am really focused on my feet lately- that article is very good thank you!

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The first thing that comes to mind for me is that you need to be actively pointing your foot when you are on relevé. This means you have to lift yourself up out of your ankles and actively point your arches while you are on demi-pointe. This connects with the lifting and rotating that goes on all the way up through your leg, hip, and spine.

 

 

(the bolding is my own)

 

Hans, thank you for responding:)

 

Yes, see, I don't think I even know what that means. It's almost like an oxymoron- pointing on demi pointe.

 

defining:

instep=top of foot

longnitudinal arch=bottom of foot and same as what would cup the length of a banana

transverse arch=bottom of foot, at forefoot and same as what would cup the circumference of a banana

 

what exactly does "point your arches" mean? If you don't mind me asking :(

 

Should I push my instep (front of foot) forward?

that tends to make the ball of my foot stretch and splay.

 

 

Thank you again for responding, I really appreciate it.

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It is rather difficult to explain, but what I mean is that you have to elongate your ankles and arches when you are on demi-pointe. Don't try to push your instep forward; rather, you have to feel as if you're reaching down into the ground with the b all of your foot and and at the same time lift up out of your ankle and arch. It should be the same feeling as any time your foot is pointed--that you are reaching the entire leg and foot out and making them as long as possible. The fact that your foot cramps when you have to hold a pointed position tells me that you are probably not doing this but rather just curling your foot around, which is understandable, as one wants to point the foot as much as possible. :( I find that it helps to imagine that there is something I'm reaching for that is just beyond my toes, and then I feel the stretch and elongation of the ankle. If you are reaching out with the foot, it should not cramp; if you are just pointing as hard as possible, it probably will cramp.

 

I guess that is not the clearest explanation, but it's the only way to say it that I can think of at the moment; I'll try to come back tomorrow and see if I can clarify.

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Thank you Hans! I really do appreciate your help. Pointing is so fundamental and still, I think I may be doing it wrong!

 

 

I am posting because I just remembered something that may be useful. See, I am a little surprized to hear that the burning I feel sometimes on the bottom of the working foot durings a held-open battement glissé is not normal?

 

And I just remembered that I used to feel this burning sometimes in a very unique Modern class I used to take. It would happen immediately after a jump sequence- say 8 in 1st, 8 in 2nd, 8 in 5th, 8 Echappé Saute, repeat other side (that is 8*8=64). And then we would stop, hear corrections and repeat.(I think- it's a long times ago, maybe we didn't repeat). It was lovely in a way because the tempo was about as slow as you would get in a very beginner ballet class. So, as best as I know how, I would really be articulating my feet- probably still not that great, but for me it was as good as I have ever gotton articulation-wise on jumping.

 

Anyway, if I hadn't taken the class for awhile, my soles of my feet would burn immediately afterwards- I assumed because my feet were out of shape.

 

And I always thought that was a REALLY GOOD thing???

 

And I just want to make clear that by "burn" I mean the burn as in "feel the burn" or the burn one feels when lifting weights.

 

I would feel that on the soles of my feet. So I assumed I was exercising my feet?

 

And so it is that feeling I seek to achieve when doing relevés.

 

Does no one else ever feel this?

 

thanx :(

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Addy, to address your specific question about strengthening the arch, I've found these exercises from the Russian Pointe website to be very helpful. Specifically #7 and #8. You will see your arch 'activate' in #7 if you're doing it correctly, although it's supposed to be for strengthening your big toe. All these exercises are very good for isolating the intrinsic muscles in your feet, including your arches.

 

http://www.russianpointe.com/pages/essenti...he_feet/326.php

 

eta: I'm not sure you should expect to 'feel the burn' when focusing on the muscles in your feet. The bulk of the musculature that controls your foot is actually further up your leg, it's the tendons that work the magic. But it is important to spend time on the small muscles in the foot as well, even if you don't feel like you're actually exhausting them.

Edited by loohoo44
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addy- you're welcome! ETA means "edited to add" as in, I went back and re-read the previous posts and added something to my own to reflect something I hadn't picked up on before posting. :giveup:

 

Yes, we are using the same terms...instep=top and arch=bottom. Even though I do a lot of pointe work I can't say I really ever feel cramping, burning, or any similar muscle sensation in my arches. Maybe a little bit after being off for a while and having a long class, but certainly not regularly. I wonder if you expect your arches to feel the same kind of working "burn" as your calves do? They definitely shouldn't. I know there are things that need to work and be properly engaged down there, but I don't think the resulting feeling is like other larger muscles. My calves still sometimes burn after a long string of classes. My arches, not so much, and though my feet are flat, I do have strong feet.

 

I think that if you want to be sure you're working your feet as much as you should, then the idea of getting a theraband is a good one. It will stretch your instep, your arch, your toes, as well as your calves. Perhaps the reason your calves feel the way they do is that you have tight hamstrings- I have very tight hamstrings and without a theraband I'd have a hard time stretching them out sufficiently before class. Anaheim Ballet on Youtube has a good video about theraband exercises, though there are a lot out there.

 

Other than therabands, I really do think your classes with take care of the rest. If you feel a burn in your arch, it does sound like cramping. You shouldn't really feel much in your arch when going on releve, the engaged muscles you should feel the most are at the front of the ankle, and back of the calves- that is what is keeping you up there, along with strong core (stomach) muscles. You might be trying to point your foot so hard that you are clenching your arch muscles, even if you aren't curling.

 

It might be a bit awkward but I think that the best thing you could do is take a picture of your foot being pointed, and perhaps some of the board moderators or even experienced dancers on this board could tell you if you're doing anything that might be causing the burning in your arch.

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..................

eta: I'm not sure you should expect to 'feel the burn' when focusing on the muscles in your feet. The bulk of the musculature that controls your foot is actually further up your leg, it's the tendons that work the magic. But it is important to spend time on the small muscles in the foot as well, even if you don't feel like you're actually exhausting them.

 

 

Thank you loohoo :) I have never seen the #7! I will try it for sure. I have seen no. 8 but I have avoided it because I am scared to curl my toes even more, you knowÉ

(geesh I am sorry but my french keyboard has been activated somehow - É= a question mark)

I have gone to a physiotherapist and she gave me the ones for the toes- no. 5 and no. 6. I am to do them on each toe. I can feel the area just under my toe burn when I do these with the more curled 2nd, 3rd & 4th toes on my left foot. I can also feel burning sometime when I do the big toe. It is the same sort of burning I would like to get on relevés. She gave me a similar theraband exercise for the whole foot. To be honest, I really enjoy the toe exercises but the whole foot ones are awkward for me- I was really hoping to get the same results with relevés. I just feel that my calves are getting bigger and bigger and they feel so worked and yet my feet don`t feel like they are improving.

 

Thank you again loohoo for the link! I really like the look of no. 7. I would try it now but I have been busy making a video of my feet :)

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Hi xsugarplum :) Thank you for responding :)

 

addy- you're welcome! ETA means "edited to add"

oic, thanx!

 

...... I wonder if you expect your arches to feel the same kind of working "burn" as your calves do? They definitely shouldn't.

 

 

yes, I was hoping for that. I`d settle for 25%. I guess I need to lower my expectations.

But I am not sure we can compare our feet- you are on pointe!! ( :rolleyes: - I look up to that) I spent my childhood in the water or on my bike (off my feet) and just started ballet 3 years ago.

 

......... Perhaps the reason your calves feel the way they do is that you have tight hamstrings-........

 

 

I have very tight hamstrings. And very long achilles. I will start streching more, thank you sugarplum

 

....... the engaged muscles you should feel the most are at the front of the ankle, .......

 

I don`t think I conciously engage any of my foot muscles- I really just try to get up as high as I can. Sometimes I feel a little bit on the sole of my foot but I can`t really say if it is a contraction or a stretch. I don`t want to dissagree but I really don`t think I am engaging the front of the ankles- :blushing:

 

 

It might be a bit awkward but I think that the best thing you could do is take a picture of your foot being pointed, and perhaps some of the board moderators or even experienced dancers on this board could tell you if you're doing anything that might be causing the burning in your arch.

 

 

ok, here is a video.:)

 

As an aside, I am a little choked that my foot is not getting perpindicular to the floor...... I thought I was getting up higher. Do you think this rules out pointe for meÉ (É=a question mark- new french keyboard). I`m in no rush for pointe but I`d be sad if it is a physical impossibility for me. But I also need to know, I guess.

 

Thank you very much, I really appreciate all your help!!

 

The video is about 4 minutes long, at youtube. I do relevés in 1st, then in parallel, then on one foot. Then some pointing and articulation and a couple of tendus. I am working on straightening my toes with special exercises. My tendues aren`t very good because I am in bare feet and they were sticking to the floor.

 

edit 4 days later: ok, here is the video back up. The first video is in OuTLINE view and I think it looks better and is easier to see

outline:

regular:

 

 

 

Thank you!

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