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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Having issues with my feet...


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My feet have always been my downfall when it comes to ballet. I can't fully point my feet because they always cramp up--usually the muscle on the very inside of my arch or the very outside of my foot on the side, or the muscle on the outside of the bottom of my foot, right underneath where the toe joints for my last two toes start. I don't have the best arches, and the tendons in my feet are tight, so it's difficult for me to wing my feet--sometimes I end up with a very very slight sickle if my muscles start to cramp up. Not a lot of sickle, and my teacher says she never sees me do it until a few seconds before I ask to stop and stretch my feet, but it happens and that's bad XD


I've tried rolling them out with a tennis ball, flex and pointing with a Theraband, massaging them, and putting the tops of my toes on the floor and pushing down/out a bit (does that make any sense?) I've also tried putting one foot at a time on demi-pointe and stretching into it. I do it before every ballet class, and it always feels great, but about 15 minutes into ballet I can feel them getting tight again, and as soon as I go up on pointe they cramp up like heck.


I'm not sure what else to do :| I was wondering if other people had had the same problems or heard of it, or know someone who does/has, and have any tips for what could help.


I'm going to try the Pro-Arch (from Discount Dance) machine thing, I've heard lots of good things about it and I have a really good feeling about it being able to at least stretch my feet out better so it takes longer for them to tighten back up. However, my mom says I have to wait for my birthday to get it--which is four months away--so I need things to do to keep every ballet class and pointe class for four months from being excruciating. XD

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Dreaming, the first thing you need to do is find out what is causing the cramping. That should not be happening. How old are you, and how many technique classes a week do you take? How long are the classes? How many pointe classes? Do the pointe classes follow the technique class? Do you have the same issue on demi pointe? How long have you been on pointe? Are you positive that your shoes fit correctly and that they are not too tight? Maybe you have grown, or your feet have grown, which does sometimes happen before a growth spurt!


It's also possible that you are trying too hard to pointe them, over working them, and not using the energy through the legs to pointe the feet.


Or, it's possible that you have some kind of minor deficiency of certain vitamins or minerals. You should see a doctor about this possibility.


In the meantime stop over working them, and forget the Pro-Arch. We do not recommend that or any other kind of device be used except for a theraband. If you do not have one of those, get one and be sure you learn how to work with it correctly. They are very inexpensive and better than some sort of thing where you are only working the foot and not the leg at the same time. We have threads on the Pro-Arch. Do a search on this forum and you will find them.

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Thank you for your reply!


I'm 14 now, but my 15th birthday is in 4 months so that's pretty close. This fall I've only had the opportunity to take an hour of ballet and 30 minutes of pointe a week, and an hour of technique, but over the summer I usually take 3-4 ballet classes (from an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes in length each) and two pointe classes (from thirty minutes to forty-five minutes each). There aren't any studios that offer more classes anywhere near here :\


The pointe classes follow an hour/an hour and fifteen minutes of ballet. If I releve on demi pointe it doesn't make my arches cramp up, but if I'm in flat/demi pointe shoes and point my feet they will cramp up again. It's only when pointing them or tenduing or something, not when going on releve in flat shoes or flexing them. I'm nearing the end of my second year of pointe--in seven weeks I'll be starting my third summer on pointe.


My shoes are a little bit too tight because I tied the drawstrings too tight on accident a few weeks ago (and then they wouldn't stretch back to their original position after I untied them -___-), but I'm getting new pointe shoes this week and this has been going on for much longer than that. Probably since I was 11 and in ballet class, any time I tried to point my feet fully, they would start to cramp up. I'm just now starting to get fed up with it.


I do have a Theraband. I've been doing flex/point exercises with it for several weeks but it feels like as soon as I go back to my ballet class, regardless of whether it's pointe or flat shoes I'm dancing in, they start to cramp up again within a short amount of time. I've tried rolling my arches out with a tennis ball, too, and that's slowly starting to help but it feels like the progress is very, very, very slow going.


I will look at your threads on the Pro-Arch :)

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Also, yesterday I tried doing an anti-sickling stretch recommended by my teacher to help with my slight sickle that's developed, where you use one hand to pull your heel forward as far as you can but only using gentle pressure, and the other do to the same thing but pulling your toes back, while actively pointing your foot. I just held them that way, ten minutes per each foot, and when I let go my feet felt much more flexible, like the tendons had stretched out or something. Today I tried doing some basic tendus and degages barefoot and have had no problems thus far. My only concern is that this will be temporary... :\ But I guess we'll have to wait and see. I should probably keep doing that if it helped, right?

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I think this thread will help you:


It is a long thread- 9 pages- but I suspect it will help you quite a bit!

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It sounds to me like we have several problems at once here, starting with not enough classes to even be on pointe. We feel strongly here that one needs a minimum of 3 technique classes per week, an hour and a half, with extra time for pointe at least two times a week. Then, I think your shoes are definitely too small, and possibly not even the right shoe for you. And then, there is a technical issue of not working your feet through the energy of the leg and probably curling the toes, as I think Clara 76 is suggesting as well.


You really need to figure out a way to get more training throughout the year, not just in the summer. You should be going away to SI programs with really intensive training in the summers.

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Oh wow ;__;


I do take more classes throughout the week, but those are the ballet-based ones that I listed :\ Other classes (contemporary, jazz, tap, conditioning, yoga etc) probably don't count. I've been looking for summer intensives but I can't find any close by and my mom refuses to let me go more than an hour or two away in case something happens. I did find one, but it's too late to enroll--maybe next summer :\ I talked to my teacher about private ballet lessons and pointe lessons multiple times a week for at least an hour each, and she's figuring out how to schedule those in, which is why I didn't list that at first--I don't know what's going to happen with that yet, exactly :) Would that help with the amount of classes?


I did go to a professional fitter and he put me in the right shoes and the right size for my feet, so I know the style isn't wrong unless he's wrong. The shoes being too small is my fault--but like I said, I'm getting new ones next week, so we'll see how much better those are and if it makes the cramping any better.


I don't think I'm curling my toes... should I post pictures of my feet when I point them, or would that not be helpful?


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