The Perfect Pointe Book

All The Tips, Tricks And Exercises You Need To Know About Starting En Pointe

Flat Feet And Pointe Shoes – Can They Ever Go Together?

As a Dance Educator and Dance Physiotherapist, one of the most common queries I get is… “I have ‘flat feet’. Is pointe work a no-no?”. The answer to this can be yes, or no. It really is a “that all depends” scenario. This is due to the fact that there are basically two types of ‘flat feet’.

Some dancers (and people in general) do have anatomically ‘flat feet’. This is usually genetically based, and often there are visible racial trends. Some girls will tend to have a flatter curve to their arch in standing due to the actual shape of the bones in their foot, and no matter how strong the small foot muscles get, the shape of the foot will not change significantly. If this is the case, pointe work is still possible, assuming all the other requirements for pointe are achieved. The foot will perhaps not have the optimal appearance en pointe that many companies desire, however, the dancer will be reasonably safe en pointe. In this situation the ligaments should be stiff enough to help stabilize the foot, and the dancer must have good control of the small muscles of the foot.

Other girls will have the appearance of a ‘flat foot’ due to the presence of very mobile ligaments and poor muscular support. This kind of mobile foot can be developed to look great en pointe when very strong, however a girl should not be allowed to progress onto pointe while the foot is so weak. This foot often looks reasonable (or even very good) in a demi-pointe position, however the arch control drops as the dancer drops her heel. Specific strengthening of the arch and isolated control of the muscles supporting and controlling the toes is essential before commencing pointe work.

These dancers usually have increased mobility in many other joints in their body, and may have problems in their knees or back due to increased movement and decreased stability in these joints.

In addition, some girls have a very high arch to their foot, yet are very weak in the small muscles of the feet. While it may appear that they have good control of the arch, as it does not roll in en fondu, it must be ensured that the foot is actually strong enough.

Many girls have such stiff ligaments in their feet that their arch is rigidly held in place, without any muscular support. There is little movement between the bones en fondu, and because of this they can be prone to foot, ankle and knee injuries, due to the lack of shock absorption in allegro and pointe work. This dancer must work on the mobility and strength of the foot prior to attempting pointe work.

To assess the true nature of any ‘flat foot’ takes skill and practise, and is ideally done by a trained medical professional.

Instead of simply looking at the shape of the arch, it is important to take a look at the position of the heel bone (Calcaneus) and the relative position of the next bone in the foot (the Talus). The Achilles Tendon should fall in a relatively straight line when viewed from behind, but may appear to have a significant curve at the level of the ankle, if the heel and the arch are rolling in.

The dancer must be able to maintain a good position of the Talus in standing in parallel and in turnout, en fondu and with petit allegro to demonstrated adequate control of any shaped foot.

It is essential that each dancer learn the strengthening exercises relative to his or her type of foot, and be aware of the implications of their body type before progressing onto pointe.

This is often difficult for dance teachers to do with each child individually, so if there is access to a Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist or Sports Doctor who is familiar with dealing with dancers, an assessment is advisable before commencing pointe work.

I hope this helps anyone who is wondering whether their feet are suitable for pointe, and look forward to helping you work with yours, to make the best of them you can!

 

  • Turn the satin of the heel of the shoe inside out so that you can see the sole.
  • Place your foot in the shoe (with any padding/ouch pouches that you will wear when dancing).
  • Place the foot en pointe (dont take your whole weight on it, just press down a little.
  • Find the point of your foot where the arch ends and the heel begins.
  • Turn you finger over and find where this is on your shoe.
  • Remove your foot from the shoe, and gently, using the floor, shape the back of the shoe down to this point only.
  • The rest of the shank should stay straight and the shoe should curve perfectly up under your heel.
  • This will help support you in the shoe to stop sinking down, and will also make the shoe last longer.

26 Comments»

  dennis shavelson dpm wrote @

please review my site as my new paradigm of biomechanics and foot orthotics allow for the rigid/flexible foot type to be en pointe successfully at a much higher success rate.

Please give me your comments and review..

dennis

  Amber wrote @

Lisa,
Ok, I’m sending this email again because my computer is acting up and I’m not sure that it actually sent the last one.
I will just summarize.
Basically, I just want to know if I am too old to really pusue dancing.
I’m 22, I danced when I was young, all growing up I did one type of dance or another but I quit in high school after the teacher at my studio told me I didn’t have the right body type and I should really be pursuing modern dance (and even since then, I have dabbled in other types of dance from ballet to ballroom).
I have always loved to dance more than anything else but I think I lack the really grueling technical training necessary.

I signed up for ballet and modern dance classes in the fall at the local University. Most of the studios or academy’s in my small town are aimed more at developing younger dancers so where (in the world) can I (an older dancer) go to really pursue this interest?
If I were willing to really work hard and commit to it, could I ever get on Pointe? Would any teacher be willing to teach an older dancer with so many promising younger dancers?
My ultimate goal would be to be a really good modern dancer but I know that a strong foundation in ballet is crucial to modern so please point me in a direction. Where (in the world) should I go to pursue this?
Thanks for your time reading this and considering my questions.
-Amber

  YIOTA wrote @

yes you can! in my country there is a university which accepts old dancers and helps them to be profesional dancers. i am 18 and i never done ballet in my life and now i am studying ballet and i am very close to become a balarina! this university is in cyprous. http://www.university of cyprous.com or intercollege

  caitlyn wrote @

Hi! I’m fifteen years old and wish to persue dance professionally after high school. I’ve been a ballet dancer for thirteen years and absolutely love it. The only problem is, I have hereditary bunions and flat feet. I was offered to go en pointe since I was eleven, but my local shoe store refuses to size me because of my feet problems. Can I dance on pointe shoes?

  Kiya wrote @

Yes you very well can. I know many girls who are on pointe after only a year and are not suitable. A shoe store cannot deny sizing you because of your feet. And this can easily be taken to court. If you were offered to go on pointe, then do it! :)

  Hannah wrote @

Hi, I’m a pointe dancer, but I struggle with it a lot because my foot is completely flat , and I have no arch. I have been getting really frustrated because I have trouble getting all the way on my box. Any suggestions to that might help my situation?????

  Melina wrote @

hi, i’m a dancer i was suppose to do point this year but my family and i had some financial problems therefore i had to stop for a while. It’s been four years and i’m going to start again but i completly lost my arch and im starting to get flat feet. ANy idea ho wi can get my arch back? Please anything will help!

  Sarah wrote @

Hi, I used to have quite flat feet too. I found out because a helpful cashier brought it to my attention when I went shopping for hiking boots! She told me to contact the orhotic department in hospial. I did, and they gave me plastic insole-type things. They’re really helping me get a larger ach to my foot – I’m hopefully going en pointe very soon!
I know you posted you’re comment ages ago but hopefully this will still help you and/or/ others in your situation. x

  emily wrote @

hi i am also a young dancer. i dont think i have flat feet but i do have pretty low arches. i will be starting pointe sometime next year. what are some exercises i can do to improve my arch, strengthen my ankle and inprove my turn out??????

  Caroline wrote @

Hi, I currently take two ballet classes with pointe and am going to add another two ballet classes with pointe. I have struggled to get over the box on my right foot forever and its really frustrating. I love to dance but I dont know what to do. I have a bunion on my right foot but I dont know if that has anything to do with it or if its something else? Please give me suggestions on what to do so I can continue to progress in my training.

  Lynne wrote @

My daughter Olivia is 11 1/2 years old, has been taking dance since age 3. Last year she took a PrePointe Class as well as a Beginner/Intermediate class two times a week. This year she has progressed to the Intermediate calss and still takes the PrePointe class as well. She is due to be fitted next month for Pointe shoes and is complaining lately of her arches. Mostly the left. Her teacher feels she’s ready to go on pointe but this relatively new complaint of an ache is troubling me. Teacher will reevaluate her tomorrow night at Int. Ballet and we may hold off on the fitting until later in the Spring. Any thoughts?

  Daisy wrote @

Hi, I am 16 years old and have been doing ballet for 2 years and am due to start Pointe work soon. I have fallen arches, and i was wondering if there are any exercises I can do to strengthen my arches/ankles before I go on pointe? And i haven’t been fitted for pointe shoes yet, so i was wondering if there is a better shoe for flat feet?

  niamhmccormax wrote @

I’ve been doing ballet since I was 3. I was born with fallen arches but I am now 18 and have a relatively high arch! I would recommend going to a physio to find out what the source of the problem is: your hips, quads, etc. I find it especially good to roll a tennis ball under my arch to loosen it up. I’ve been on pointe for almost 4 years now so I’m proof that it can be done!

  annie wrote @

Hi, I am 56, just started ballroom dancing and love it. In 08 I tore my posterior tibialis ( probably cumulative trauma) no pain just weakness and collapse of the navicular. I wear great orthotics all the time, totally dependant on them and asymptomatic as long as they are on. I am wondering if you know of a particular brand of dance shoe that will fit an orthotic. Practice shoes are no problem, but I can’t find any dress shoes that an orthotic would fit in. also, if your office is
anywhere near Boston, I’d like to come see you for a consult. I am also a PT. will travel to see you.

  nblooms wrote @

Hi there-

My daughter is 10 and has been flagged by Canada’s national ballet school for admittance. She is very flexible, hyperextened in the legs, has great turn out and strength. Today at her physical the Dr. confirmed my long-held suspician: she has flat feet with pronation (almost like bones pointing down under her ankle bone) when standing parallel. HOWEVER, the NBS commented on her beautiful feet, and when dancing, they are. Her feet can form a beautiful arch and even look as though there is a high instep – possibly due to her flexibility and bone structure. She can control them so that she can “dome” to stand with an arch. But when she’s not concentrating, they are “flipper” flat. She is by far the strongest in her class en pointe – she can travel strongly and expressively across the floor and, if not over the box, is on top of it. She reports she has no pain ever and says that being en pointe feels actually very good. She has been told not to wear them at home!!! My fear is, though, when she meets with the physio team this summer she will be told no dancer can have flat feet and that will be the end of her ballet. She is a very strong, musical dancer and I’ve been told she could have quite a career in front of her. She just lives for dance. Thoughts? Advice?? Thanks so much!

  nblooms wrote @

I should add– This is congenital; her dad has rigid flat feet, her uncles have rigid flat feet with severe, painful pronation… All wear orthotics. I refuse to have her in any support – she wears moccasin-type shoes to strengthen and I take her to the beach to walk barefoot. She has been strengthening her arch as long as she’s been walking. She does not look or appear nearly so bad, especially because she has such a nice arch when not weight-bearing…but I also worry her flexible flat foot will “stiffen” like her dad’s… Can they?!?
thnx

  Rachel Polak wrote @

Hi… My daughter lost disc 2 and was wondering if i could just buy disc 2 by its self?

  Abbie wrote @

Hi! I’m 13 and my feet used to be really flat (barely any arch!) and I got so frustrated! But I didn’t give up(because I had the best teacher ever) and I did thera-band and foot exercises everydayfor half an hour and my feet noticeably changed! I got pretty darn good arches lol. I could get up on my boxes on my pointe shoes really well! It took about 2-4 months but it happened! :)

  Jessi wrote @

Could you pleaseeee tell me what exercise you used and what theraband strength. Pretty please reply. It would make me so happy I have flat feet. Thanks

  Krystal wrote @

My daughters dance teacher informed me that she has flat feet. I was bummed because she LOVES dance! She is 3 years old. The dance teacher instructed me to have her wear tennis shoes (which she never does). I’m truly worried that she will be limited. Is there anything I can do with a 3 year old to help strengthen her tootsies? Thank you very much!

  Cassidy wrote @

Hi,
I just started Ballet this year so before then my flat feet were completely ignored. In my very first class, I noticed that my feet looked terrible when pointed and my feet are very inflexible. Some people in my family also have flat feet. I have next to no flexibility so it’s more likely that I have rigid flat feet.
I was wondering if there is anything I could do to get better arches. Any suggestions? Please help!

P.S My legs never look straight even when they are as straight as they can be. Why does that happen?

Thanks!

  Jessi wrote @

I really would like to go en pointe. I have flattish feet and I have just started doing ballet. I’m 13 and dance studio is very strict. It usually takes 3 to 5 years to go en pointe there. Does anyone have any advice so I can get really pointed feet and go en point in around a year? Thanks :) j

  Evelyn wrote @

I’ve only been at my studio for a year and I have mine. I practiced releveas ALL THE TIME. If you can ballance in all of the positions with two feet do what I did and practice coupès and passés ( on relevea) hope this helps
-E

  Jessi wrote @

Thank Evelyn for the advice. It’s good to know that I can improve even though sometimes I doubt myself. This is really good advice :)

  Evelyn wrote @

I’m eleven I just got my pointe shoes yesterday. I have very flat feet, I wasn’t experiencing any trouble but should I be worried about anything ? I was getting over my box and it felt normal is that weird?

  Yukiko wrote @

It’s very easy to find out any topic on net as compared to textbooks, as I found this article at this site.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 67 other followers

%d bloggers like this: