For Dancers

Do You Know How To Point Your Toes?

9:35 AM

Number one thing I say in the studio while teaching? Point your toes.

Everyone knows you have to point your toes in ballet class, but nobody seems to be able to do it correctly, and everyone has to be constantly reminded. Shouldn't it be muscle memory by now?

Well, we're gonna tackle that one today.

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First of all, why does your teacher wants you to point your toes? It's not because it's tradition, or because it's pretty. I mean, yes, those are true things, and they're OK reasons. But that's not the main reason.

It's because ballet is really hard if you don't. 

Imagine placing just your fingertips against a heavy item and pushing it away. Kinda difficult. Now imagine placing your entire hand on that heavy item and pushing with your whole hand. A lot easier, right? 

When you pointe your toes correctly, you press your whole foot against the floor and create opposition. Your foot springs up off of the floor and points as an effect of the pushing.

ballet, ballerina, jumps, pointed toes
Pushing off the floor to get into the air

I'm going to say that again. Pointing your feet should be an effect, not a cause!
  • Pointing your feet happens when you articulate.
  • Pointing your feet happens when you push.
  • Pointing your feet happens when you flex the muscles in the back of the foot and leg.

And it creates what I like to call "Push Power," which is really just opposition that young kids understand (because opposition is a big word).

So that's all fine and dandy... but how do you point your toes correctly?

 Photo 1: yes! Photo 2: no.

It starts with understanding what we mean when we say "point." Really we should be saying push and lengthen.

Beautifully lengthened feet (aside from the strings sticking out)

When you PUSH your feet, you articulate the feet off the ground, as mentioned above. You activate the muscles in the foot and press against the floor, and that causes your foot to point.

When you LENGTHEN your feet, you are elongating the muscles in your leg, trying to reach the toes farther than ever before, trying to shoot lightning bolts out of the toes. This helps all the muscles in the leg engage more efficiently and effectively, and helps with flexibility, extension, and turnout.

1. Articulating the ankle

2. Lengthening the toes

3. A full lengthened pointed foot

Sometimes when teachers say point your toes, the student ends up crunching their toes, because they are trying to get their foot curved.

Crunched toes - not elongated properly
This is why I try to say PUSH and LENGTHEN instead, so my students understand exactly what I want from them.

Stay tuned for foot strengthening exercises!

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