My daughter is nine and this year has started to complain of heel pain and sometimes knee pain. So I researched and have come to the conclusion that she has fallen arches. I did a water foot test and her arches are not flat or low but when you just look at her feet they look flat. When she points she has an o.k. line. I would also say her ankles over pronate . If I ask her to not let her ankles roll her feet don’t look as flat. So I guess I’m asking what I can do for her at home to strengthen her ankles before they move her in the fall to pre-pointe. She is moving quickly up and I want to prevent any injury I can. I have read of other dancers with this same problem and they talked about exercises. Do you have any suggestions? One more thing her teacher said no flip flops and very supportive shoes…
Great question, Tracy! First, for those who don’t know what the water foot test is… you put a small amount of water in a shallow pan, enough to cover the bottom fully, then place one foot, then the other, in the pan getting the bottom of the feet wet and then stand on a flattened brown paper bag or other nonwhite paper. Once you step off the paper you’ll see an imprint of your foot on the paper.
The foot on the left describes a normal foot, the one in the middle a flat foot, and the one one the right a high arched foot.
Having pronated feet would look like the image on the left from the back. Looking at the heel cord at the back of the ankle is a better way of seeing the rolling in of the foot. The image on the right is a normal looking heel cord. (It is the Achilles heel that you are looking at)
To strengthen her ankles, start slowly and simply by standing on one foot, in good alignment (weight even on the 3 points of the foot – not rolling in). Start standing for 1 minute, and work your way up to 3 minutes. Toss a ball between your hands or turn your head and do port de bras as your standing on the one leg to challenge your balance. It is such a simple exercise, practicing balancing – and the rewards are so great! Balance gets better through practice.
Then have her practice standing on one leg and doing a very small demi plié, again without rolling in. Can she do 8 repetitions without tiring? It goes without saying that she’ll want to make sure she’s in good alignment. Not tucking under her pelvis, or moving forward onto the balls of the feet during the descent, etc. While she is doing the single leg pliés she should make sure the weight is staying even on the 3 points of the feet (pad of the big toe, little toe, and heel) and the knee is being directed over the foot. Any strain felt in the knee area is a clue that her alignment is off.
Those 2 simple exercises – will create a strong foundation for her to work off of – so when she begins working her rélevés her balance and alignment will be rock solid.
“Education is the key to injury prevention”