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Ballet Talk for Dancers
swantobe

Training feet not to sickle

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swantobe

The other day one of my teachers said to me "You have the kind of feet that, if your legs are even a little turned in, your feet make it look like you're really turned in". I've been trying to figure out exactly what she meant and looking at my feet recently, even when not at ballet, I've realised something: I usually allow my feet to fall into a sickle all the time (I mean outside of ballet). I find that in class even if my leg is rotated out quite well (in terms of my abiliity), my foot looks a bit turned in and I think this is because of the sickling. Also, when I think my feet are pointed properly, and not sickled, they are still slightly sickled and I think I might have a slightly warped perception of what my feet are supposed to look like. When I do what I feel is winging my feet out, my feet finally look like everyone elses' feet normally look.

 

I wanted to ask:

Is it possible to correct this sickling habit, with time, patience and hard work?

I hope that it is. It is not a structural (bone) issue but rather a habit that has become ingrained in my muscles. I am able not to sickle my feet, it just makes the muscles on the outside of my ankle tired.

So, if I concentrate on not sickling my feet at all during my everyday life as well as in ballet classes, and do strengthening exercises for the outside of my ankles, is this something I can overcome?

 

Is there anything else you might recommend to correct sickled feet?

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Victoria Leigh

Habits can be corrected. You replace a bad habit with a new, good habit. :shrug: Sounds simple, right? Not! But, it is doable. It will take definite concentration outside of class as well as in class. In class, the better you use your rotation, the easier it should be to control the sickle. But it sounds like the ligaments on the outside of the foot are overstretched, so it will take some time and a lot of patience and effort. But you CAN do it! :unsure:

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olddude

I have had some success in modifying how I hold my feet, by massaging them. There are a LOT of ligaments/tendons/muscles/fascia on the sole of the foot, and if you free them to move relative to each other many bad habits become easier to change. I started with a tennis ball, graduated to a lacrosse ball (much harder), and I'm about to get some golf b alls to try. There are those roller things too. And of course your thumbs. If you are stretched out on one side, you might be too tight on the opposing side as well. A good massage therapist is more effective but also more expensive than doing it yourself. :^)

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swantobe

Thank you for your responses. I am glad to hear this is something I should be able to change over time.

 

I am at one of those stages in ballet training when I seem to have a lot of bad habits to correct and a lot of things to work on and the list seems endless, but I'm persevering. I haven't had the chance to discuss my ankles with my PT but I will in my next appointment - she has experience with dancers and has been very helpful in helping me to understand things on an anatomical level and in giving me corrective exercises. She said this morning that I "have good body awareness" and that "this will be very helpful if you do pursue a career as a ballet teacher", which was nice to hear.

 

Are there any specific exercises I could do to strengthen the outside of the ankle? I am working a lot with a theraband (e.g. doing rises with the theraband tied around one ankle (the inside, rather nearer the heel bone than the ankle to avoid strain on achilles) so that the outside of my ankle must work not to sickle). I'm just wondering in case there is one I don't know of.

 

Olddude - I use golf b_a_l_l_s and they are wonderfully helpful!

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