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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Returning to ballet after 3 years but have cramps in my arches


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I did ballet for around 15 years and I only stopped about 3 years ago. Now recently, I started doing some barre exercises and have been working on gaining back strength I felt I lost. Now, my goal was actually to try to get back on pointe so I was like you know I've been doing well I'm gonna go for it. I could go on pointe and balance and everything but the arch of my one foot has been cramping so much it is terrible. Has anyone else had this after returning to ballet? I read online water and vitamins are the cure but I'm really health conscious (and I drink A LOT of water) so I don't think that's it. Could it be a lack of strength? Or should I just stop attempting pointe? 


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Your body just isn't used to that kind of strain yet. It will take time for the muscles in your feet to reaccustomize itself to the amount of work and burden pointe (and ballet in general) is. Do massage your cramps out immediately when they happen, they should pass and become less frequent over time. If not, and this becomes a constant thing, you should get a consultation with a medical professional.

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A physiotherapist or physical therapist could tell you why this is happening.  It might be that some muscles are too weak, too tight, etc and this is changing how your body moves.  This is totally normal as we get older (or even for youngsters).  It's related to, but not the same as, general reduced conditioning, which is also a possibility as LaFilleSylphide says.  Arch cramping is an issue I have which started a couple years ago.  It's no fun for sure.  My cause may be different from yours of course.

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, MaddyH. Glad you found us!

If you browse this forum, you'll read a lot of good advice for "beginneragainers" - people who danced as teenagers & then come back a few years later.

It's not clear from your opening post whether you're in a regular class at a decent studio with a good teacher? If not - get thee back to class! Are you doing at least 2-3 classes a week with a properly qualified teacher, at 90 minutes in length, at an appropriate level? Because - for your own safety - I don't think it's sensible to attempt pointe work of you're not. 

A break of 3 years means your body will need to re-remember its muscle memory for ballet, as well as just regain basic strength and flexibility. I don't think you can do this outside of good teaching and regular ballet classes. Pointe work will come, but give it time. I'm 60 and still dancing at a reasonably technical level. I don't do pointe work, as for me, it's not really why I do ballet - I danced on pointe through my teens, but I now know that technically, there is so much to learn & perfect, that I don't stress about pointe work or not. I'd far rather have good lines & technique on demi-pointe, than dance a lot less well on pointe.

But getting back to ballet class will cause aches & pains! Try a foot roller, or a hard ball (a bit smaller than a tennis ball) and roll out your arches and toes. After class (not before) do some of the standard runner's stretches for your Achilles & calves. Have a look at the Pointe Work forum here, to see the sticky about exercises for foot flexibility: doming is great, for example, as is what my teacher calls the 'Mexican wave" of your toes - lifting each toe in turn, and placing it back on the floor. Pick up tea towels or handkerchiefs with your toes. Try to walk barefoot around the house as much as possible - basically, think of all the things you can do in everyday life which develop the intrinsic muscles in your feet in a functional way. 

Good luck getting back to class!


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  • 3 weeks later...

Also make sure you wear good sturdy shoes with arch support when you are not dancing.  I cured a lot of foot aches and pains this way.

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  • 2 months later...

I have also noticed lately that stretching my hip flexors leads to less arch pain. So much connectedness in our anatomy means helping one area can help others. You may find similar results. 

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