|Is there such a thing as a perfect foot for ballet?
It may seem that way. The high-arched foot of your neighbor looks beautiful in pointe shoes. Perfect even. But all feet have their problems, even the most flexible.
The bottom line is no matter how flexible or in-flexible you are or how “ideal” you or your neighbor’s foot looks, injuries are always a possibility. Nothing is perfect. With that said, however, if a dancer is aware of risks and works accordingly, injuries are preventable.
Developing your foot’s muscles before you go en pointe will reduce the risks of sprains & tendon injuries. Each foot type has its own issues & there are different types of stretches/exercises that can benefit one over the other. Remember: nothing should take the place of your technique classes. The greatest injury prevention every dancers undertakes is mastering basic technique, proper alignment and core strength…that is your base for building strength and control. All exercises or stretches are second in line of importance to your classes and are not substitutes. And of course, any pain or injury should be brought to the attention of your teacher & doctor immediately.
But what type of foot do I have? How do I know if I have flat or high arches?
There is a simple test that you can do to assess your foot’s arch: the wet foot test. Pour a shallow layer of water in a baking pan and put a piece of construction paper or a flattened paper grocery bag next to it. Wet the sole of your foot (make sure the water coats only the bottom of your foot; you may need to pour out or add more water) and then step directly on to the paper. And don’t forget to do other foot on another sheet of paper. The chart below shows the range of arches which you can compare with your own footprint.
Next up- we’ll talk exercises for each arch type!