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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Wobbly ankles


Marjolein

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After nearly 2 years off, my ankles are really wobbly on relevé and I really want to fix this. I take class 5 days a week, and do relevés and theraband excercises at home but are there any specific exercises I can to to fix the wobbling?

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Guest Pas de Quoi

Sometimes the instability in the ankles is a result of the hips/glutes/abs needing some strengthening. Have you tried doing some of the Pilates exercises that target those areas? I am thinking of the hip extension exercises and the side lying leg lift exercises, in addition to the exercises that specifically target the abs. I know when I put new students on pointe, what many may think is ankle weakness is actually those other muscle groups, and/or alignment over the legs and feet. It may also be that your weight is not correctly placed over you legs and feet when you are on relevé. If the body isn't balanced correctly, then relevé is difficult to maintain.

 

How are your jumps? Jumps in first and second position are great strengthening exercises for ankles, feet,hips and glutes, (and everything else!) too.

My dancers like the challenge of doing, say, four sautés in first position, followed by a sustained relevé in first position, repeated a few times, and then done in second position. The sustained relevé after the jumps may give you some feedback as to where any weakness lies. Also, executing a relevé immediately after a sauté can help to alert the dancer if the upper body is not placed correctly.

 

Good luck to you!

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Pilates exercises are not really an option, I can't take any classes. Lacking overall strength will certainly contribute to those wobbly ankles, I'm very flexible and find it hard to gain strength. I do strengthening exercises at home that I hope will help me in building up that strength again.

 

My jumps are quite all right, I'm a good jumper. I'll try the sautés with sustained relevé in first and second.

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Guest Pas de Quoi

Hi Marjolein:

 

You can find those Pilates exercises in books, in DVDs and also on-line if you'd like to see what they look like. If you do decide to get a DVD, I would recommend any of the Stott Pilates materials. They are very good. No need to actually take class - I know that is hard or not an option in many cases :)

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I just remembered I have a Pilates book, time to try and find it.

 

Edited to add another question. I noticed I sickle my foot a lot when doing parallel pirouettes. I'm assuming I also sickle when doing turned out pirouettes, it's just not as obvious to see in the mirror. I know the solution to that is: don't sickle, but how to I train my muscles not to?

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It took me ages to get rid of my sickle (of course, I've probably replaced it with another bad habit :) )

 

How high do you place your foot in retire when you pirouette? I've found that the 'new' super-high retire makes me sickle rally badly and causes generally disastrous turn-out issues. A lower retire and a focus on keeping the heel forward prevents sickling - for me anyway. It also makes turn-out feel more secure.

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Guest Pas de Quoi

Here is an exercise that seems to work well. Place your feet in a slighly open parallel position, while facing a barre or other support. Place a tennis ball between your ankles and then hold the tennis ball where it is, while slowly rising to demi pointe and lowering back down again. The feet cannot sickle and still hold the tennis ball in place.

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