Any advice on overpronation?

Ballet shoes, showing the dancer's feet in fif...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Overpronation is when your feet roll inwards too much towards the big toe side of the foot. It happens a lot when dancers try to “fake” their turnout using their knees and ankles instead of their hips (guilty here). It was brought to my attention last class that I should instead be trying to distribute my weight equally among my toes and place it more back on my pink toes as well (people in this dance.net forum recommend the same thing.) I tried to maintain this throughout class, but it was tough–and I feel like the rest of my technique suffered and my arches were crazy sore throughout class. Sigh.

My overpronation is probably the cause of all my ballet-related shin splints which have been really bad as of late and haven’t been much motivation for me to get to ballet class. Since getting new sneakers and running more often, my running shin splints have been reduced to almost nothing (almost).

I know that overpronation can be created by forcing turnout (you can try it and see for yourself) but I also know I overpronate when I stand “naturally”–which I figured was caused by the fact I am one of the most flat-footed people ever–especially since new sneakers have helped. So I took to the Internet to try to get more of a solution…and pretty much came up with a variety of different explanations…and no real answer.

Some say that overpronation is purely a technical problem (sure, I can correct it, but it’s still how I naturally stand and feel like I have for a while). Others say it’s caused by being flat-footed. Others, ankle weakness.  A lot of websites recommended orthotics (which won’t work with ballet) others say if it’s not caused by flat feet, that’s not a solution. My head is spinning.

Advice anyone? I’d appreciate help whether you know about overpronating in runners or dancers.

 

Beginner Ballet Tips: Strengthening Ankles

Français : Pied sur la pointe

Ankle strength plays a huge role in ballet, especially pointe. I’ve struggled a lot with my ankles so far, having to take some time off because of bad cases of tendonitis. However, I’ve been working to improve them through various exercises. Regardless of whether you’ve had ankle injuries in the past, these ankle strengthening exercises are useful to get ready for pointe work as well as ballet in general.

Prehab: Strengthen Your Ankles: While I was told to stay off my ankles in ballet, several of the different doctors that I saw recommended the last exercise in this article, writing with your feet. I find it’s super easy to fit this one into your routine because you can do it while watching TV or while lying in bed.

12 Ways to Build Ankle Strength:  This article, from Active.com lists a wide variety of ways to strengthen ankles, including Theraband exercises which are my favorite. Again, some of these, such as the balancing ones can be done pretty much at anytime.

What other exercises have you come across to strengthen your ankles?

My Christmas Present: Pointe Shoes

pfMerry Christmas/Happy Holidays from Adult Ballerina Project!

Recently, the studio I go to, Major Moment (as part of Philly Dance Fitness) has started offering a Pre-Pointe/Pointe Workshop every month. The first two workshops I missed, in October because of my left ankle’s injury and in November because of a second bad case of tonsillitis.

Finally, in December, I was able to make it to the workshop.

My ballet instructor told me to not buy shoes before attending the workshop in December (although most girls wore pointe shoes for the workshop, about five of us did not). It  was held after our regular Saturday class so that we would be warm. We worked on exercises at the barre to help strengthen our feet and ankles as well as get used to pointe shoes. This is one of the reasons one of my main goals for winter break is to work on ankle strength. Yes, I know it’s not going to happen instantaneously and it’s going to require a lot of work, but I feel like I’m up for the challenge, especially since I should have more free time during my Spring semester at college.

When I return to Philly in January, the workshop will be offered twice a month, covering a lot of the same things.

For Christmas (with the help of my parents), I got my first pair of pointe shoes, which are Grishko “ProFlex” Pointe Shoe. Discount Dance describes them as

 ProFlex is ideal for dancers who wish to build strength through use of a flexible shoe, find it challenging to reach full pointe, or require a quick break-in for performance. 2007 models fit a remarkable variety of feet, with an anatomical form designed to relieve pressure on the big toe joint, based on targeted studies of foot shape and pointework dynamics. 2007 ProFlex is lightweight and comfortable, with a somewhat tapered box and medium platform, supportive yet non-constrictive medium-height U-shaped vamp, and 3/4-length pliable shank. Shank: Flexible.

Getting fitted for them at the Rosin Box wasn’t as terrifying as I thought it was going to be. When I arrived, the owner asked me some simple questions such as where I took classes, if it was my first time in pointe shoes (it was) and how often I’d be on pointe. He helped to pick the shoe based on the fact I’d only be doing very basic barre work en pointe two times a month. He also determined that I had “normal people feet.”  The first shoe he pulled out (the ProFlex shoe) fit pretty well. Going up en pointe for the first time was weird. While I tried on a couple more pairs, I settled on the ProFlex. Everything else felt weird and just not right.

Since I’m obviously no expert on pointe shoes, I asked everyone for advice about a month ago. Some of the best advice that appeared in the comments follows from this post.

From Purple Magnolia:

Some of the things it’s really good to think about when actually have the pointe shoes on are:
Are my feet completely in the box?
Is my big toe touching the end of the shoe without any backward pressure? (Make sure you clip your toenails before you go to be fit)
Are my toes being tightly held together, or are they on top of each other? (They should feel tightly held together)
Can I wiggle my toes?

Oh and make sure you were tights, and clip your toe nails before you go. It’s also a good idea to get pointe shoe fittings done at the end of the day as your feet are at the widest then.

The other thing that I think is quite important is that your fitter knows theat you’re a first timer for pointe. There are some shoes, like gaynor minden and shoes with 3/4 shanks that are not really suitable for beginners. 3/4 shanks because it takes a year or so to build up the strength and control in the intrinsic muscles of the foot to a good level, and beginning dancers in 3/4 shanks often ending up sinking down onto the back of the shank instead of fully supporting their weight through the whole foot. Gaynor mindens because they are quite a customised shoe and really until you’ve experienced a few pairs they’re not worth the extra cost.

From Legal Ballerina:

(1) Do not be scared, but I understand why you are. If your teacher said you are ready for pointe, you are ready. Do not question him/her. Let your teacher’s confidence in you give you the strength to power through your own feelings of self-doubt, ok??
(2) Don’t be intimidated about how it feels when you try pointe shoes on for the first time. It is a real weird feeling and it takes some time getting used too. Don’t worry; you will get used to it.
(3) Do not be surprised if your first pair of pointe shoes (i.e. size, maker, etc) ends being your “perfect” pointe shoe. Once you are en pointe for a while you will really understand your feet and what your needs are.

From mercitchatons:

Fitting was interesting. You want it to hold you firmly, but not squish you so when your foot is flat on the floor it doesn’t cramp. You can’t demi at the store and it’s kind of important to know how the shoe will break in when you go through demi. If it breaks in a certain way and is uncomfortable you’ll most likely have sore feet and or serious blisters. Don’t let this discourage you though. Usually your first pair will fit well until they are broken in and you need to get a whole new pair and realize what you’re starting to look for in a shoe.
Make sure your foot isn’t sinking and that there isn’t excess fabric bunching around here or there. It’s better to have a fitting shoe than a pretty shoe. But excessive bunching means the shoe is probably too big. Listen to what your foot/body says, they kept giving me metatarsal support/winged shoes and every pair was uncomfortable to me. She finally stopped. Do not go on other peoples recommendation of shoes that they love, it doesn’t mean it will work for you. You can always try their suggestion, but know it may not work.

If you have anymore advice, feel free to leave it in the comments!

Injury Woes

I finally went to my university’s Student Health Services for my leg/ankle pain again this morning, and didn’t get great news. I was told it’s probably tendonitis (again…I just dealt with this in my right ankle a few months ago and took a significant amount of time off) and I’d have to spend a good month off of ballet (I’ve already cried because of how heartbreaking this is to me). I’m headed to my university’s hospital this afternoon for an x-ray to check for a stress fracture.

So while this means lots of time for stretching (I’ve been keeping up with the 30 day challenge and I’ll have a picture up later today since we’ve hit Day 7–one week–I can proudly now say that my nose can touch my knee while I’m reaching for my toes!), I was wondering:

For those of my ballerina friends who’ve unfortunately been injured before, how do you stay in ballerina shape while you can’t dance/how do you deal with boredom?

 

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