Updated: May 20
And make your lines look seamless!
August 8th, 2020
At my pole studio we can quite often hear our instructors yelling at us in an exasperated tone from across the room ‘Point your damn toes!’. And occasionally if the feet look really bad, we would be unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of a playfully thrown pen or lolly (looking at you Miss Filly haha).
Now the story I just spoke about is just about remembering to actively point your feet. What I’m going to help you with in this blog is how to finally get that gorgeous high arch in your foot that makes your legs look like they go on for days (insert dreaming drooling emoji here). An arched foot is central to many forms of dance, but particularly to the aesthetics of pole and even more so when bare foot. It completes the trick line and I don’t know about you, but when I see a trick without a pointed foot my body wants to go into a natural state of cringe with a little mental ‘ughhh’ at the same time.
As for many things, genetics can be either a complete blessing or a curse. Some of us are born with a gorgeous instep that just appears to be crafted by god into the perfect shape. Whilst the rest of us just look well... meh. But the good news is we aren’t stuck with the foot shape we currently have. Lots can be done to work it into a stunning point.
Types of Foot Arch
Keeping things simple, there are three main types of foot arches – high (pes cavus/supinated), neutral, or flat (pes planus/pronated).
In a high arched foot, the bones are positioned in a way to allow for a bigger arch, and the ligaments and muscles tightly support this position. Whereas a flat or pronated foot has a more flexible arch allowing the bones to position themselves slightly closer to the ground and provide a flatter looking appearance when standing. All of these foot arches are normal, but it’s a natural high arch that lends itself to the desired aesthetics of a point.
The movement to perform a point is actually made up from many different joints and bones, including the ankle joints, tarsals and metatarsals. All the way down to our toes! The tarsals make up the medial longitudinal arch which is where a number of our arch support muscles lie, so these bones are particularly important in creating the right shape of the point.
So how much are we able to re-shape our foot if we are flat footed?
Well physically we aren’t able to change our bone structure or position. But the good news is that we can change the overall line of a foot with strengthening. You might not ever be able to achieve the height of a pes cavus foot if you are naturally flat footed but you can definitely improve the strength and flexibility of the foot so it has a more pleasing point.
How to improve our point
All of the muscles that shape the arch of our foot are the key to improving our point. Specifically, the muscles on the medial side of the shin and the intrinsic muscles of the foot. To effectively point our toes, we need to isolate these small muscles of the foot without curling our toes (i.e without using our long toe flexors). Keeping our small toe joints straight when the foot is pointed allows for a much nicer aesthetic and helps to lengthen the leg.
What to avoid
Don’t sit on your foot in the effort to improve your stretch, it can over stretch your muscles and ligaments, and impinge structures at the back of the ankle, all of which will likely lead to injury. Instead you need to work on the active strength to make use of your joint mobility. If you feel that your ankle/foot is stiff, instead book into see a physiotherapist who can confirm if this is indeed the case. They won’t passively stretch the foot, but instead they can mobilise any stiffen joints to improve their individual movement in the whole kinetic chain.
Ready to put our new knowledge into practice?
I’m so excited to be joined in this blog by close friend & colleague Michelle Bergeron (check out her instagram @Michelle.Physio), who also works with dancers and is currently working with the Australian Ballet. So who better to demonstrate these exercises than one of the best foot & ankle Physios I know! So check out our great exercises below to learn how to actively strengthen & improve your point!
What happens if I cramp whilst exercising?
Firstly, don’t panic, foot cramps are usually a sign of weakness in those muscles and it means they are working hard and feeling fatigued. If you start to feel a cramp come on, gently stretch it out or release it with a massage ball for a few seconds until the cramp has relaxed. If the cramp persists despite massage and strengthening, chat to your doctor or physiotherapist.
Take home message
So, the biggest take home message from this blog is to remember like everything else, it’s all about strength! If you take 5 minutes out of your day to work on your foot and ankle muscles, you will have a gorgeous looking point in no time.
Want other ways to work on your point or foot injury?
Online telehealth appointments can be booked with the Pole Physio via our ‘Book Online’ page that can be found here. Assessment and tailored rehabilitation are provided in accordance with best practice and evidence-based treatment to help you unleash your 'poletential'.
Until next time, train safe.
The Pole Physio
Disclaimer: This information and these exercises are not tailored to you as an individual and do not constitute as medical advice. If you have medical or injury concerns, then please individually consult with a medical professional.
Special Video Guest Michelle Bergeron: Michelle has a a specific interest in foot and ankle injuries, exercise, and sports injuries, with a clinical background in elite sport and performing arts. Over the past fourteen years, she has focussed on creating dynamic, engaging rehab protocols for elite athletes, performers and everyday patients and have helped them to get back on track following injury. Her impressive resume includes work with Cirque du Soleil, Broadway Across Canada, is currently working with the Melbourne Football Club and the Australian Ballet. Michelle treats patients from all walks all life including aerialists. Make sure you check out her instagram for more inspiration! @michelle.physio