One of the main reasons it’s so necessary to pay attention to the health of your feet as a dancer is because of the way it can affect your ability to perform your dance techniques correctly (see Parts 1, 2 & 3). In this article, we’ll take a look at how your arches, in particular, play a major role in your long term success as a dancer. Then we’ll explore some exercises you can do to strengthen this crucial part of your feet.
How Your Arches Affect Your Dance Performance
Arches are the middle portion of your foot. The shape of your arches can make a big difference in the way you dance, as well as your overall health. They can either be high, low, or flat.
There are four sections of your foot’s arch. They’re called the transverse, anterior metatarsal, lateral longitudinal, and medial longitudinal. The transverse and anterior metatarsal arches work to keep you stable and give you balance as you dance. The longitudinal arches, which run down the length of your foot, work to keep you properly aligned as you dance and help you to avoid injuries.
Because you are constantly on your feet as a dancer, it’s imperative to keep your feet in as good of shape as possible. Along with taking the measures we’ve already mentioned in previous articles to care for your feet, exercise will play a critical role in keeping your feet as healthy as possible. Listed below are some foot exercises you can try in order to strengthen your arches and other parts of your feet.
Strengthening Foot Exercises
Using a resistance band is a great way to strengthen your feet. You can do a variety of exercises using this handy piece of exercise equipment. If you don’t have one on hand, you can use a towel as a substitute. Adding resistance will help make some of these exercises more effective.
1. Flex and point your toes while sitting on a flat surface. Do several repetitions of 10 with rests in between sets.
2. Flex and point while sitting on a flat surface and using the resistance band stretched across the top half of your foot. Once you’re comfortable pointing and flexing without the band, the added resistance can strengthen your feet even more.
3. Using a resistance band, roll your ankle both outward and inward 10 times each. Repeat a couple of more sets after a brief rest.
4. Sit in a chair, then use your toes to pick up a piece of cloth from the floor. This is a great way to strengthen the flexibility in both your toes and arches.
Failing to Exercise the Feet or to Use Proper Technique May Lead to Injury
If you’re a dance instructor, insist on having your students exercise their feet. Watch them closely to see that they’re performing techniques correctly when it comes to their foot alignment. If they perform moves such as jumps and relevés incorrectly, they can end up with common dance injuries, such as weakening the ligaments in their longitudinal arches, tendonitis, fracturing their metatarsals, or springing their ankles. If the improper technique is allowed to continue, it could end up causing long-lasting foot, back, knee, hip, and ankle injuries.
As a dance teacher, patiently teach and model the right techniques for your students. Correct them whenever you see them slack off. Require them to exercise their feet and take proper care of them. Encouraging your students to care about foot health will help your dancing school to produce successful, happy dancers.