Lisa Howell leading expert on all things Ballet!
The Ballet Blog – www.theballetblog.com
Read the Perfect Pointe Book!
Advice from Lisa Howell on Stretches to Improve Pointe Range!
Would you happen to have any foot stretches that I can use to improve my pointe? I know about the golf ball massage but that doesn’t seem to be working as well as it should… Also, my heel keeps getting sudden, sharp pains. It is particularly annoying when I am in the middle of dancing.
Can you please help?!
Thank you so much for your question and, yes, foot mobility is a problem that a lot of people have. If you don’t feel that you are gaining as much improvement as you should be from the golf ball massage I would recommend putting your feet in a warm foot bath before you do it for about 15 minutes. Getting some heat into the area and warming up all of the muscles will help make them softer before massaging. If you are still not getting results with the golf ball I would suggest getting into your feet with your fingers.
Massaging all through the sole of the foot, under your big toe, and around the arch can really help to release off any muscles which may be holding your foot rigid. You can do this by yourself or you could ask a family member to do it. Even better would be to have a professional massage. If you are getting a sharp pain into your heel the chances are that you may be quite tight through the ligament called the plantar fascia which sits along the sole of your foot. If the small muscles in the foot are not supporting the arch as well as they should be, the plantar fascia may be taking on a little more load than it should be.
It can get very tight right where the it attaches to the heel bone and can cause a sharp pain in this area when you land on your heel. This will obviously get worse if you tend to have your weight sitting back on your heels or if you tend to land heavily when jumping. Make sure that you always articulate through the foot to strengthen the foot and avoid bumping down on the heel. In the meantime you could pick up a small gel pad, which you can get from most shoe stores or pharmacies, to put into the heel of your ballet shoe which will help to cushion the heel.
I would also recommend that you continue to work on all of the foot and ankle exercises that I have previously given, and those in The Perfect Pointe Book to help reduce the load on the plantar fascia. You may need to invest in a soft sports orthotic to give a little support to the inside arch of your foot when in your running and school shoes. This will help reduce the load on the plantar fascia until you strengthen your foot muscles enough. However if the pain continues, please make sure that you consult a physiotherapist.
I hope this helps and I look forward to hearing from you!