Ballet Pointe Shoes - More Flexible Ankles

by Thankam
(Perth, WA, Australia)

Ballet Pointe Shoes -More Flexible Ankles

Hi Odette,

My teacher says that i need to make my ankle more flexible. I don't really know how to and i was just wondering if you had any tips. She says that if i don't have flexible ankles i won't be able to do well en pointe. So can you please give me some tips, thanks


Reply by Odette

Ballet Pointe Shoes -More Flexible Ankles

ballet pre-pointe
Remember, just like I did before I went en pointe, ballet students MUST take responsibility for their own strengthening prior to beginning pointe work.

Australian dancer, Lisa Howell has made a video which explains how pre-point strengthening works.

Don't leave it to your teacher!

You can watch this pre-pointe video
yourself here
(just wait for the page to load up then the video is on the top right of the page).

Hello Thankam ,

Thank you for contacting me, it is a pleasure to hear from you.

For extra guidance to get you prepared and stronger for pointe work, the video above is very useful. In this video, Australian dancer, Lisa Howell has made a video which explains how pre-point strengthening works.

Firstly, it can often be confusing and unclear to understand what teachers mean, as ballet technique can be very tricky, so always just ask them to explain it again to help you further. Questions are always a good thing, let your voice be heard.

Perhaps your teacher is saying she wants you to get looser in your feet so you footwork can be more pliable and have a nicer line. I agree you need to have flexible ankles for pointe work so that your feet bend well and show a nice arch. However, there is always a balance to find between flexibility and strength, as it is just important to be strong in your ankles than it is flexible.

I advise you to work on your arches and insteps to get your feet more flexible. To improve both strength and flexibility in your feet, I greatly recommend you looking into getting a latex resistance exercise band (also known as a thera band).

To improve your arches, you can do some great exercises with a latex resistance band. By just simply pointing and stretching your feet against the band, it can build strength and help you for pointe work. Look at my Physical Therapy Equipment page for more guidance.

These bands are excellent, I am a great fan myself. They are specifically beneficial for young dancers trying to strengthen their feet for pointe work. These bands come in different sizes of strength suited to your needs.

You can do several different exercises but here's an example of one foot exercise -
- Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you
- Wrap the band around one flexed foot and hold the two ends with your hands
- Simply pointe your foot going through the demi-pinte and your metatarsals.
- Roll the foot back up to the starting flexed position
- Repeat on both feet. To benefit from this exercises I'd say to do it continually on one foot for about 5 or 10 minutes... your foot should start to ache!

I would advise you to focus on strengthening your demi-pointe work in all you next ballet classes, as this is the basis of pointe work. The stronger your demi-pointe, the stronger your pointe work will be.

Try doing some plain rises in first at the barre on demi-pointe. This is a very simple exercise that can build strength in your feet and ankles for pointe work. With the support of the barre, you can really concentrate on being secure in your ankles.

Best Wishes,


ps. To become the best dancer you can be, learn the Seven Secrets ..... go to my 'Seven Secrets of Ballet' page

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