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pointe shoe
battement tendu
achilles tendonitis
ballet dancer
high arches
heel spurs
muscle cramps
Pointe Shoe Exercise And Supination Of The Feet
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In the volume of information about how to prepare for pointe shoe exercise, much is written about pronation, or rolling in of the ankles. The opposite, supination of the feet, is a less common condition, yet some dancers have this and must do all the usual exercises to compensate to whatever degree they can.

What Is Supination?

Supination is when the feet turn inward at the ankle, twisting. It is called pigeon-toed and toed-in. Because of this twisting, all the muscles going over the ankle area or under the heel and into the feet are twisted. The body weight is therefore not on the "tripod" balance which is:

  • about seventy percent of the weight between the big toe pads and the little toe pads
  • about thirty percent of the weight on the heel

Mostly, supination is treated by wearing custom made orthotics, or foot levelers, made to fit the contours of your feet. These support the foot so that in your street shoes, you are walking on your feet with them closer to a normal level.

A ballet dancer is strengthening the feet all the time with classical foot exercises, that is, the typical battement tendu, degages, releves and jumps, in every class. This would to some degree help with the supination of the feet. Understanding how to place the feet on the floor, and the constant repetition of the muscle strengthening ballet movements works on this problem.

The Effects Of Foot Supination

Untreated supination can extend strain into the feet resulting in:

  • bunions
  • hammer toes
  • metatarsalgia, or ball of foot pain
  • painful calluses
  • heel spurs
  • inflammed foot muscles
  • painful high arches

Leveling the feet out and strengthening the foot muscles can therefore, help avoid all those problems.

The condition of supination can also send the strain upward in the body:

  • Achilles tendonitis
  • shin splints
  • muscle cramps in the leg
  • knee strain or twisting
  • hip pain...

...and so on and so on.

How To Prepare With Pointe Shoe Exercise

If your dance training is thorough, your teachers have already helped you understand the kind of feet you have and how to keep working diligently to dance with correct technique. Once you know that you will be starting pointe classes in the near future, you can learn some pre pointe exercises (that every ballet student can learn). This will ensure that the intrinsic foot muscles (the muscles exclusively in the sole of the foot) are especially strengthened.

Relaxing and stretching the foot, shin and calf muscles is important too. Epsom Salt foot soaks (or tub soaks) are excellent to re-mineralize your muscles. Foot massage is an excellent idea.

Massage With A Pinkie Ball

Using a Pinkie sports ball to massage the feet and calves is something you can learn to do yourself. A golf ball will work for rolling under the foot, but you'll need a softer ball for the calves and shins.

Sit on the floor, legs straight. Roll the ball down the legs from the top of the calves, to the ankle. Slowly. Press itno the ball. You will feel some tender spots, and you can press the calf muscle into the ball a little harder. You will feel a release, a subtle release, of muscle tension. Work the ball all the way down to the bottom of the calf.

To get to the tension in the front of the calf, kneel down, and sit back on your feet. Place the ball under one shin, right below the knee. Lean a little weight into it, and ease out the tension in the muscle. Work the ball inch by inch, all the way down the shin.

Releasing tension in the calf and shin areas will also increase circulation in these areas.

I hope you add these tips to whatever you are doing to practice good pointe shoe exercise and compensate for supination of the feet.


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