Men In Ballet
I am going to cover a few of the finer details in strengthening, stretching, and maintaining your foot mechanics, and health.
You want to get the most out of the joints and muscles that you have in your foot for your demi pointe.
Some men in ballet choose to work in pointe shoes and I recommend The Perfect Pointe Book for boys/men too.
(That link goes to Amazon. If a purchase is made, this blog will receive a small advertising fee. Your price remains the same.)
I'm not referring to demi-pointe shoes in the title above, but your own demi pointe, your foot.
Whether male or female, I recommend that you view some drawing or x-ray of an ankle joint, and the foot bones. It is good to know what is under your skin.
If your ankle joint is flexible enough for you to point a straight line, or more, you can probably get up onto demi pointe so that your toes are a ninety degree angle to your instep.
To get or increase this ninety degree angle, first you can work on the big toe joint.
There is a muscle going under the big toe that can be gently massaged and stretched. Just working this joint can get you a gain on the angle you need to be fully on demi pointe, and therefore able to complete the postural plumb line of the body.
That means getting the metatarsal joints under your ankle joint, regardless of how the arch in between shows up curve-wise.
To maximize the ankle joint flexibility, consider the tension that builds up in the tibial, or shin muscles, practicing ballet, that could detract from your ankle joint flexibility. This tension can be released, daily, with the help of a soft rubber ball. (That link in the ball will take you to Amazon too.)
- kneel, then sit back on your feet, making sure there is no inward sickle.
- roll the rubber ball just below the knee joint, into the top of the shin muscle.
- lean on it, easing down the leg.
- press into the tender spots until you feel some tension release.
Don't lean too heavily on it, it is just to get a release of the tension.
Get all the way down to the ankle joint.
You have now resolved some of the work-related tension and can do a stretch for the top of the ankle/foot area.
Place the ball under the foot above the metatarsal joints (and you can do more than one spot here), between the big toe and second toe, and you'll feel a wonderful stretch.
You can move the ball a little more in between the second and third metatarsal area, only if it does not cause the foot to sickle.
And stretch again, gently holding the stretch for 10 seconds at first. You can increase the hold time, but not to the point of pain.
Then start on the other leg. I have Deborah Vogel to thank for that rubber ball use and foot stretch.
Using a rubber ball or a golf ball on the sole of the foot releases tension in those muscles. Roll it and push gently. You don't want to exert too much pressure on the foot joints, just feel for tension release. Do this daily, or after every class.
Soaking your feet in warm water and Epsom Salts or mineral salt (sea salt) and then icing tired and aching foot muscles is a treatment your feet deserve.
Especially if you plan to dance classical ballet in pointe shoes, attend to these few daily routines. They are not pampering, but needed care for all women and men in ballet.
Get a copy of the comprehensive resource on pointe shoes, pre-pointe exercises - The Perfect Pointe Book.
More On Men In Ballet Posts
Men In Ballet Working In Pointe Shoes
Here is a video, part of a series, with a trained male dancer sharing his experience.