Ankle and foot flexibility and strength is imperative for successfully mastering technical requirements with the desired aesthetic that all dancers strive for. One important movement essential to the foot and ankle mechanics in dance technique is the relevé (demi-pointe) and plantar flexion (pointe) positions.
Karen S. Clippinger, author of Dance Anatomy and Kinesiology, asserts that “the repetitive use of the demi pointe places a lot of demands on the foot and requires a specialized strength, flexibility and technique development.”
When finding this necessary strength it is important to couple the leg and foot together.
The co-contraction of the leg and foot allows the weight to rise and lower in correct alignment from the toes without undesired inversion or eversion (rolling in or rolling out).
Recruiting the stirrup muscles assists in this ‘coupling’ of the leg and foot to achieve the highest possible relevé without the common weaknesses that could cause injury.
These muscles function together to form an anatomical stirrup, which loops around the midfoot and helps control its movements.
Relevé walks with the FLX Ball will allow you to feel the co-contraction of the leg and foot and the stirrup muscles at work! This will help strengthen in a way essential to improve your relevé and pointe.
FLX BALL: Relevé Walks
SETUP: Stand with your legs and place the FLX Ball between the ankles.
ACTION: After finding leg alignment, slowly shift your weight to the balls of the feet and without deviating out of alignment, lift the heels up. Once the heels are up, walk the right foot forward followed by the left foot.
REPETITIONS: 10 times for 3-5 sets
Keep hips level. Watch out for the hips rocking side to side.