Is there a perfect foot for ballet - or can any foot function perfectly if the ballet dancer has the correct understanding of how to use their foot muscles in pointe shoes? Even men in ballet want to work in pointe shoes to develop the fine foot muscles that will enhance balance and virtuoso allegro. Strengthening and stretching the hyper-mobile (very flexible motion) body and hypo-mobile (tighter motion) body requires accurate ballet movements.
All would-be ballerinas and plenty of men in ballet want to get into pointe shoes, and, faster. The good news is, the finer details are available to all dance students through a little extra reading, examining photos and watching videos. This terrific ballet education is accessible from dance experts near and far.
Preventing injuries such as sprained ankles, more typical of the hyper or extra mobile ankle and foot joints, and Achilles tendon injuries, more typical of the feet and ankles with less flexible movement, is not difficult if you learn correct basic ballet technique.
Ballet students, and particularly boys in ballet, who have tighter ankle and foot joints and flatter-shaped foot bones, can partially solve this disadvantage by learning how to massage their lower legs and feet. The constant strain to get that ballet line in the foot arch leads to excess tension in the calves and feet.
Using a pinkie ball (hard, small sports ball) or a golf ball, and rolling it under the arches with gentle pressure, eases the tension out of the muscles. Calf muscles can be massaged the same way. Sitting on the floor, the ball can be eased from behind the knee, down the calf muscles to the ankle area. Also check that you get the extra tension towards the outside of the calf, and the inside area.
The front of the calves, or your shins, can be tense as well. Kneeling on the floor, ease and press your pinky ball ( a golf ball will not work for this one) from just below the knee, down the front of the calf to the ankle, leaning into it to get the tension to release. After this, you may find a significant degree of increased mobility in the ankle joint, and a better line. You can get more information on using a pinkie ball for all your muscles here.
Hypo-mobile students are usually less likely to sprain ankles en pointe, but can be predisposed to Achilles Tendon issues, due to how hard they have to work the feet. A wonderful stretch for the calves is: standing on a book, a stair step, or a rolled up towel, rise up and then lower onto one foot, stretching past the level pointe, so the heels are lower. Alternating slowly and carefully, you'll feel a deep stretch.
Ballet students with the flexible high arch are lucky in that the ballet ideal has somehow become the large, domed instep over the top of the foot. However, much more strength and control is required to utilize this range of motion, and prevent injury. If you have this kind of mobility, one way to begin assessing your strength and control is to see if you can do 20 consecutive slow rises with no sickling out of the foot. That is the least control you need.
There are more advanced exercises for controlling the flexible ankle. Using a theraband, ensuring that the intrinsic (exclusive to the foot) muscles are being constantly strengthened are two ways to work toward the perfect function for dancing ballet in pointe shoes as safely as possible. Doing this will help prevent sprained ankles.