Why prepare for pointe?
Before going on pointe, a dancer will need to have correct body alignment, good core control and ankle strength. Strengthening the body before pointe can help in balance and stability, minimising injuries. In this month’s blog, we explore some exercises to prepare for pointe.
What are some exercises we can do?
Foot articulation exercise
Aim: To strengthen intrinsic muscles in the feet to improve point
Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you and back straight.
Wrap the theraband around the ball of one foot and pull both ends of the theraband until you feel sufficient resistance.
Slowly point your foot, working through demi-pointe and hold this position for 3 seconds.
Slowly flex the foot and hold for 3 seconds.
Repeat steps 3 to 5 for 10 times on each foot.
The toes are elongated and not crunched
The foot is parallel, with the knees, ankles and toes forming a straight line
The feet are not sickled
Aim: To strengthen intrinsic muscles of the feet
Sit on a chair with your feet touching the floor in front of you.
With one foot, keeping the tips of the toes and the heel touching the floor, make a dome shape under the arch of your feet.
Hold for 5 seconds, then relax.
Repeat 10 times on each foot.
Foot is flat on the floor
Toes and metatarsals are spread out
Aim: To improve arch
Place both hands on the barre and stand in parallel, with your feet facing towards the barre.
Lift your heels up slowly, feeling the foot muscles, until you have reached the maximum.
With your heels still raised, bend your knees over your toes, lifting your heels as high as possible while keeping the balls of your feet on the ground.
Remain in that position for 5 seconds.
Straighten your knees and hold for 5 more seconds.
Slowly roll back down, allowing your heels to touch the ground.
Repeat for 10 times, you may repeat this exercise in first and second position.
Heels are kept close beside each other and not falling outwards, with toes, ankles and legs forming a straight line
There should be more weight on the big toe and second toe
Aim: Improve balance and stability, strengthens muscles in the feet, ankles and calves
Stand with your arms on the waist, one foot on the ground in parallel, and the other foot pointed beside the ankle of the supporting leg.
Hold up your core and raise your heels slowly for 1 second.
Hold for 3 seconds, then lower for 1 second.
Repeat 20 times on each leg. You may repeat this exercise in first position to improve turn out.
If you feel confident, you can try to move your hands through a bras bars to first and second position, then back on your hips as you balance in step 3.
Challenge yourself by closing your eyes and balancing.
70% of the weight is on your big toe and the rest spread out among other toes
Most weight is kept on the balls of your feet when lowering rather than shifting the weight to the heels, while ensuring the heels touch the ground
The knees are forming a straight line with your ankles and toes
The back is straight and you are not leaning to one side
Single Leg Bridging
Aim: To strengthen glutes and stabilise the spine by strengthening the core and back
Lie with your back on the floor, arms by your sides and knees bent.
Raise one leg up at a 45 degree angle.
While your leg is raised, raise your hips up as high as you can and keep your glutes and core tight.
Hold for 5 seconds, then lower your hips slowly.
Repeat for 10 times on each leg.
The upper body and neck are relaxed
Both sides of your hips are level
Aim: To improve body alignment and core control
Lie on your right with your legs extended, with your left leg stacked above the right.
Place your right elbow under your shoulder and your hand in a fist, with your knuckles and forearm pointing to the direction you are facing.
Engage your core muscles and glutes, lifting your knees and hips off the ground, forming a straight line. The weight should be on the side of your right foot and your right forearm.
Hold for 20 seconds, then lower.
Repeat on the opposite side.
If you are confident, you can try to hold the plank position for 1 minute.
Challenge yourself by lifting up your left arm and putting it in the space between your body and the floor as you hold in Step 4, then returning to the starting position. Repeat this 10 times.
The body is in a straight line, from your head to your toes, and that the hips are not tilting forward or falling back
You are facing forward and the body is not rotated
Always check with your teacher to ensure you are using the right technique. Though pointework may be challenging, but with the right attitude, determination and proper technique, you can enjoy and look beautiful on pointe. Keep working hard! 🩰