3 Essential Foot Exercises for Dancers
As a dancer, it is vital to look after your feet. Strengthening exercises are extremely beneficial. They can reduce the risk of injury and to improve your efficiency of movement. Our foot specialists have arranged 3 videos for you to watch.
Some of these exercises might seem very simple but it is really important to perfect your form in every exercise. This will help improve the control of your foot movements, build strength, and in some instances can help with current injuries that you may be experiencing.
Tibialis Posterior Strengthening
This vital muscle is located on the inside of your foot and ankle. It is one single long and thin muscle that branches off to attach to various aspects on the inside of your ankle. As you will see in the video, it is very important to make sure you are using the correct muscles when doing this exercise. This is one of the key stabilisers for your foot and ankle and is a fundamental exercise that we always recommend.
These muscles are located on the outside of your foot and ankle. There are 3 muscles that make up the peroneal complex. They co-contract with the tibialis posterior to stabilise your ankle as your move and even more so, when en pointe. They start on the outside of your shin and 2 of the 3 attach to the outside of your foot while the 3rd reaches under your foot to attach to the inside of your foot.
The calf complex which is also known as the ‘triceps surae’ is an extremely underrated muscle. The calf muscle group consists of 3 muscles; the gastrocnemius, soleus, and plantaris. Not only are these powerful muscles that are used for pushing off from the foot but they are also a fundamental stabiliser of the foot and ankle.
Your knee position can influence which muscle is more active during certain activities so it is important to strengthen them in both positions i.e. knee bent, knee straight, as per the video. For improved control, balance and strength, try to do these without holding onto anything for support.
Feet Strengthening of the intrinsic muscles of the foot can be helpful but take much longer to train. The above exercises will help the ankle, feet, and big toes stabilise. These exercises will make it easier for a ballet dancer to do pointe work and demi-pointe work. You can try the calf exercises in pointe shoes if you prefer.
If you have any questions about any of these exercises, please do get in contact.
Our foot expert, James, has years of experience treating dancers of all levels and would be delighted to help.
Otherwise, please feel free to share these exercises with anyone you feel they may benefit.