Exercises to Improve the Arch of Your Foot

         "The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art." - Leonardo da Vinci

        All dancers strive to achieve the perfect foot. My last two posts detailed the anatomy of the arches of the foot and explained why a passive foot stretcher is not the most effective or healthy way to achieve that goal. 

         This post will provide you with healthy ways to work on strengthening and improving the arches. 

 * Slow, controlled elevés and relevés - Working the 
     muscles of the calf, the gastrocnemius and the soleus, 
     will help contribute to arch strength. Simple relevés and 
     elevés will work, but you can also vary the timing for an 
     extra challenge - going up on one count and taking three
    counts to gradually lower your heels or taking three counts 
     to rise and lowering the heels in one count.

* Forced arches  - In a parallel first position, bend your 
   knees. While keeping them bent, slowly begin to raise up 
   onto the ball of your foot to a forced arch position and then 
   slowly your heels to the floor. Repeat 8 times.


* Seated pointing and flexing  - Seated with your legs
   straight out in front of you. Point and flex your feet using a 
   theraband for resistance. You can wrap the theraband  
   around the ball of your foot and hold the ends in your 
   hands to provide resistance when pointing your foot, or
   loop the theraband around a chair leg and across the top of 
   your foot to provide resistance when flexing the foot.

* Domes - This exercise will work of muscles and tendons
   underneath the foot. Seated on a chair with your feet flat on
   the floor, keep your toes flat and do not allow them to curl 
   while trying to slide the ball of your foot toward your heel. 
   This movement is a small, subtle one but a slight dome 
   will form underneath your foot. Do 5-8 repetitions on each

* Towel gathering - Lay a small towel or scarf flat on the
    floor. Seated in a chair, place your foot flat on the towel and
   do not move your heel as you begin to slowly use your toes
   and the ball of your foot to gather and pull the towel toward
   your heel. The towel will only move a little each time. Be
   sure that both sides of the foot are working evenly, trying 
   not to use one side more than the other. Do 5 repetitions on 
   each foot.

Using these exercises will strengthen and improve your arches in a healthy way to achieve the aesthetic that dancers strive for while decreasing the risk of injury.