The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society agrees: pointework is a serious undertaking. They endorse several tried-and-true dancer exercises that you will find enormously impactful for your oh-so-important foot and ankle training to enhance stabilization, strength and articulation. Add these simple, technique-cleansing routines to your regimen today (You’ll thank me later!):
The dancer sits on a chair with knees bent to 90 degrees and feet flat on floor. The dancer then tries to make an arch under the metatarsal heads while keeping the toes flat and long, not allowing any curling of toes. Hold for count of ten, repeat 5 times with each foot. This helps strengthen the intrinsic muscles (the small muscles between the metatarsal bones.
Place 20 marbles on the floor. Pick them up one at a time by curling the toes around them. Move each marble to a jar and when dropping in the jar, spread the toes apart as widely as possible. Repeat with other foot.
Write A to Z with each foot, using the foot and ankle and not the leg to draw the letters. This is a good overall ankle strengthening exercise.
Theraband (Sport Cord) Exercise
Dancers should move their ankle in 4 directions against the theraband. Flex (dorsiflexion), pointe (plantarflexion), sickle (inversion) and wing (eversion). Dancers should first point their foot followed by trying to turn the foot in (“sickle”) against the resistance of the theraband. A dancer should be able to see the tendon just behind the inside of their ankle working. This tendon is the tibialis posterior which is crucial for rising up on the toes.
The dancer should do calf raises with their feet in a parallel position, otherwise known as a releve. After barre work, it is good to do 24 single leg releves in parallel on each leg. This will help strengthen the Achilles tendon and calves.