Whether you are new to pointe and about to get your first pair of pointe shoes or have danced for many years, you should never stop exercising your feet to gain strength. Pointe requires enormous strength from your feet and it is not wise to start unless your feet are strong enough. I have prepared a few exercises that are good for strengthening the specific muscles that are needed for pointe and that will keep your feet strong and fit for dancing.
The first exercise is easy and you can do it at home. It i’s a great exercise if you want to regain strength after a long holiday or an injury. Start with your feet parallel, then change your feet to demi pointe (in relevé position). Repeat this several times until your muscles tire. The magic of this exercise lies in the calf muscles, tendons and ligaments which are all stretched. You can do this anywhere really – my personal favourite was while brushing my teeth.
For the next exercise, you need a rubber ball about the size of a ping pong ball. Pick the ball up by your toes, then drop it again and repeat several times. This exercise helps strengthen your toes, your longitudinal and transverse arches, your ankle joints and your calves. It is also good for preventing injury.
Stretching using a rubber band
Rubber bands are good for stretching your feet because they provide resistance. You can buy these special rubber bands at sporting goods shops.
The first way to use the band is by wrapping it around your foot and slowly, making sure to go through demi-pointe, pointe your foot towards the floor. You then repeat several times. This exercise works your calf muscles and is excellent for strengthening your foot for pointe work.
This next exercise is not particular for pointe, but I though I would include it as it’s a nifty way of strengthening your legs and improving your arabesque. An other way of using this rubber band is by tying your feet together in a tight knot and while tied around your ankles, do tendus. This exercise strengthens your Here I am started in first position, but third and fifth will work as well. You can also do tendu to the side or to the back. Tendus to the back will strengthen your hamstrings as well as improve your arabesque.
I hope this post was helpful for you. All these exercises will guarantee strong feet and improve your pointe work. If your feet still aren’t strong enough to start pointe yet, I recommend doing these exercises as often as possible to reach you goal
Until next time,
Aker, S. (2013). Interview Kine Meum [in person] Tønsberg, 15th February 2013.
Ballet Exercises at Home (2010) Vancouver Elite Gymnastics Academy: Mikael Monson.
Reinhardt, A., (2008). Pointe shoes: tips & tricks for choosing, tuning and care. Alton, Hampshire, Dance Books.