Best Foot Forward: How To Strengthen and Enhance Your Feet

Modeled by Ashlyn Mae (Nathan Sayers)

Ah, feet—we point, stomp and crack them (and everything in between). And though dancing all day makes them strong, they need special attention to help prevent injury. DS spoke with former professional ballerina and conditioning expert Rachel Hamrick, who recommends these four exercises to keep your feet in tip-top shape—and improve their overall look, from arches to insteps.


You'll need: FLX ball (or small exercise ball), exercise band

Nathan Sayers

Doming

Purpose: To stimulate and strengthen the core muscles of your feet

1. Begin by sitting with your foot planted on the ground.

2. Press your toes firmly down and pull them back into the floor, keeping them as straight as possible. Simultaneously raise the arch of your foot. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times per foot.

A relaxed foot (left), and a domed foot (right) (Nathan Sayers)

Relevé with FLX Ball

Purpose: To improve your arch and discourage your toes from knuckling under. This exercise also strengthens the muscles that help you rise from demi-pointe to pointe.

1. Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you. Place your left toes flat on the surface of the FLX Ball.

2. Lift your heel while pressing your toes flat into the ball.

3. Point your toes, maintaining contact with the ball's surface.

4. Return to a high relevé position by flexing your toes, keeping your heel held high. Do two to three sets, repeating the exercise 10 times, then switch feet.

Nathan Sayers

Toe extensions

Purpose: To promote stability on pointe by strengthening the toes

1. Sit on the floor and wrap the exercise band around the toes on your left foot. Place your right foot on top of the free ends of the band. Use your hands to pull the band ends away from your feet.

2. Flex your left foot towards you, focusing on maintaining neutral alignment.

3. Return to starting position. Repeat 10 to 20 times, then switch feet.

Nathan Sayers

Evertor strengthening

Purpose: To strengthen your ankle muscles and promote all-around stability

1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you, hip-width apart. Loop the exercise band around your toes, pulling the ends with both hands so that it's taut.

2. Keeping your arches pointed, wing your toes up and away from each other. Slowly return them to their original position—you should feel a slight resistance. Repeat 10 to 20 times.

Nathan Sayers

Health & Body
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

Cover Model Search
Photo by Erin Baiano

In our "Dear Katie" series, Miami City Ballet soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!


Dear Katie,

When I sit with the soles of my feet together, my knees easily touch the floor, and most exercises to improve turnout are easy for me. But when I'm actually dancing, my turnout is terrible, especially on my standing leg. Why doesn't my flexibility translate to turnout?

Chrissy

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Dear Katie
Via Twitter

Would that we could all live in Taylor Swift's Pride-topia, booty-popping with Todrick Hall and sharing snow cones with Adam Rippon in our rainbow-flag-bedecked RV park. But much as we're loving "You Need to Calm Down" and other similarly upbeat celebrations of Pride month, this is also a time to recognize the battles the members of the LGBTQIA+ community have fought—and are still fighting. That's one of the reasons why "I'm Gay," a new dance video by Eugene Lee Yang of The Try Guys, is so important.

The dark, deeply personal video is Yang's coming-out moment. We see Yang being rejected by his family, condemned by a preacher, and attacked by a hostile mob after attempting to express himself as a gay man. Though not a professional dancer (as we found out in "The Try Guys Try Ballet"), Yang is a gifted mover; he choreographed the project himself, and gathered a group of talented performers to bring the story to life.

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