How to Prepare Your Ankles for Pointe Work

By Jamie Farber
Preparing your ankles for dancing en pointe is very important.

Dancing en pointe is a pivotal change for ballerinas. The type of dance most people equate with ballet is en pointe, which means dancing on your toes in hard, pointed shoes. For some, dancing en pointe can be easy, but for others, it can be a very painful experience. One of the best ways to lessen the pain is to prepare your ankles for dancing en pointe by strengthening them before even putting on a pair of pointe shoes.

Walk on your tip toes, barefoot or in your socks. Begin walking on your toes in one- or two-minute increments, and gradually increase the time until you can walk on your toes for at least 10 minutes at a time.

Walk on your heels, barefoot or in your socks. You should walk on your heels immediately after you walk on your toes. By alternating toes and then heels, you are strengthening your ankles and stretching your calves. Walk on your heels in one- to two-minute increments until you can build up to 10 minutes at a time.

Perform élèves and rélèves for 30 minutes per day, holding onto a ballet barre, in bare feet or with flat ballet shoes. An élève is a simple movement where you go from standing flat footed and rise up onto the balls of your feet in one fluid motion. A rélève starts in a plié, where the knees are partially bent and the body is straight, and rises up so you are standing on the balls of your feet. Hold these positions for 10 to 20 seconds, then slowly bring your body back to the starting position.

Practice basic ballet moves, including pliés, élèves and rélèves, wearing demi-pointe shoes. Demi-pointe shoes are similar to pointe shoes, but they don't have the shank, or piece that keeps the dancer's feet straight up. Do not attempt to go en pointe while wearing demi-pointe shoes.

Warning

Do not attempt to go en pointe until your instructor feels you are ready. Dancing en pointe can cause irreversible damage if your body is not properly prepared. Dancing en pointe should never be attempted by yourself while you are still learning. Do not wear pointe shoes until you have been properly trained.

About the Author

Jamie Farber started writing professionally in 2000. Her work has appeared in several newspapers, including "The Grand Rapids Press," "The Advance" and "The Wooster Daily Record," as well as in several local magazines and on various websites. Farber holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from The College of Wooster.