How To Strengthen Your Feet for Pointework

Are your feet tough enough to go en pointe?

Pointe shoes
Strong feet for pointe. Tracy Wicklund

Dancing en pointe requires tremendous strength in the feet and ankles. If your ballet teacher has not graduated you to pointe shoes, it may be because you do not have enough strength in your feet. Trust your teacher's knowledge and work on building your muscles. 

If you are new to pointe work, use these tips to help increase your strength.

To strengthen the feet:

Basic ballet exercises, particularly those done at the barre, are great preparation for your work in pointe shoes.

Every small movement from a closed position to an open position helps strengthen the sole of the foot. 

Remember to use the floor as resistance. The harder you press your foot into the floor, the stronger the resistance. The next time you perform a tendu or a rond de jambe series at the barre, try pressing the sole of your foot harder into the floor. Really concentrate on using the floor as resistance.

You can also strengthen your feet using a flat resistance band tied in a loop. Practice pointing and flexing your feet against the resistance of the band. 

It can also be beneficial to roll out and stretch your foot muscles on a ball or roller. Spend more time shoeless, too. 

To strengthen the ankles:

Rising to full pointe from the floor will strengthen the ankles tremendously. Standing in first position, perform several relevés beginning and ending in a plié. Then try several é levés beginning and ending with straight legs.

Next, try standing on one foot with the other foot in coupé in back. In this position, perform several relevés and é levés, then repeat on the other side. The slower you rise, the harder it is and the more strength you will build in your ankles.

In the gym, you can also try standing calf raises with weights or in high repetition to build your calf muscles, which will contribute to stronger ankles.

 

Improve mobility and build strength (and control) in your ankles by imagining you are writing the letters of the alphabet with your toes. The various angles and patterns will work your ankles in a wide range of beneficial ways.