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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Increasing ankle flexibility


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This is my first post, so please forgive me for any posting errors.

My daughter is 14.  She has been dancing since she was 9.  She takes 4 ballet classes per week, along with other genre classes.  She is progressing nicely in all but one area - she has limited ankle flexibility in the front of her ankle.  I am not an expert, but it seems like she actually needs to stretch this area more so than strengthen it. The part of her foot closer to her toes can make a nice shape thanks to theraband exercises, but the ankle is a limiting factor.  She has been working hard in class and sitting on her feet in the pointe stretch.  In this position she needs a small towel under her toes to get a stretch, and stretching in this way does not hurt the back of her ankle.  She is taking classes en pointe, with a major goal of improving her feet, and the teachers are being careful with her, but they would love to see more stretch in the top of the foot.  

I would greatly appreciate any advice.  Thank you.

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  • 1 month later...

Welcome, hermom!

I am so sorry that this post was missed...... what with all of us teaching at Summer Intensives, all I can do is apologize! Has your daughter ever been evaluated by a PT to determine what her actual potential range of movement might be?

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Thank you for the response. Yes, she has been evaluated by a PT who says her ankles and feet are fine. But this PT is not a dance expert.  A sports medicine doctor  X-rayed her foot one time for a suspected stress fracture (which she didn't not have) and the doctor said she had too high of an arch which led her to naturally roll out to the sides of her feet leading to excess pressure on the pad beneath the fifth metatarsal. Since then, she has learned to control this tendency in ballet with a slight bevel.  One another piece of information to share is she started out as a gymnast and has strong ankles. One past ballet instructor mentioned needing to "break" the inflexibility in her ankle by pushing her feet down, but I have seen cautions against this, so I am unsure. Thank you in advance for any suggestions. 

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Just a quick note - not all ankles can achieve the lovely top of the foot arch that so many girls would love to have.  Sometimes, that lovely "banana" foot makes for more difficulties en pointe.  Take it slow, don't go too crazy on ankle stretching and keep up that strength! 

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