How to Get Beautiful Dancer's Feet

Ballet feet pose
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If you don't have naturally perfect feet, don't worry. Most dancers aren't born with them. However, even though you can’t change the bone structure of your arch or instep, there are things you can do to improve the overall look of your feet.

When determining what it is that makes a beautiful ballet foot, you must look at the overall characteristics of the feet. You've probably heard your ballet instructor use terms such as "arch" and "instep." The arch is the curve under your foot, between the heel and forefoot. The instep is the bony structure on top of your foot. The ideal ballet foot has a high arch and a high instep. Having a high arch is beneficial for a dancer because it makes it possible to get to a high demi-pointe in soft ballet shoes, and over the box if she is dancing en pointe.

Some dancers refer to perfect ballet feet as "banana feet," as the curved arch and instep somewhat resemble the shape of a banana. If your feet look more like cucumbers than bananas, try adding a few foot exercises and stretches to your daily routine. The following routine may help you on your journey to beautiful ballet feet.

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Seated Arch Stretch

Stretch arches
Tracy Wicklund

In a seated position, grasp the heel of one foot with one hand and use your other hand to push your toes downward. Hold the stretch for a few seconds. You should feel a good stretch in the arch of your foot. You will probably feel a few toes pop as well!

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Toe Stretch

Toe stretch
Tracy Wicklund

Balancing with your weight behind you on your hands, lift your heels off the floor as far as you can, stretching your ankles forward. This stretch stretches your arches by forcing a strong three-quarter point (as far as you can go without rising onto full pointe.)

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Practice Pointing

Point the foot
Tracy Wicklund

Practice makes perfect, so it makes sense that practicing your point will make it prettier. Point one foot forward, stretching your foot as much as possible. Hold the point for five seconds, then switch feet.

Remember this tip each time you point your feet: never tighten your foot so much that you pinch your Achilles tendon, which can lead to tendonitis. Try to relax your foot as much as possible as you concentrate on defining the arch of your foot.

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Toe Presses

Toe press
Tracy Wicklund

Standing on your feet, bend one knee and raise your heel off the floor. press your toes firmly into the floor, stretching the top of your foot and ankle as far as you comfortably can. This stretch will strengthen as well as lengthen the arch and ankle.

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Reverse Toe Presses

Reverse toe press
Tracy Wicklund

Beginning in the same position as for toe presses, tuck your toes under and stretch your foot forward as far as you can.

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Toe Flex

Flex your toes
Tracy Wicklund

Some ballet teachers refer to this stretch as "Aladdin feet." Beginning in the same position as the toe press, lift your foot off the floor and pull your toes back toward your ankle. Concentrate on the opposing stretch you feel your ankle pushing forward while your toes are pulling back.

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Thera-Band Stretch

Theraband stretch
Tracy Wicklund

The Thera-band can be very helpful in improving your arches as well as the overall look of your feet. To perform this exercise, wrap a Thera-band firmly around the arch of your foot. While pointing your foot, firmly pull the band backward toward your body, enabling your foot to point much further. This exercise will accustom your feet to achieving the desired point.