Get a Better Toe Point
Ahhh... the elusive toe point. Some people can overpoint so well their toes can touch the floor when sitting in a pike, while others can't even get their feet to form a 180 degree line. Some people automatically point their toes whenever their feet are in the air no matter what they're doing or where they are while, others couldn't remember if their life depended on it. Regardless of how good your toe point is though, it can always get better, and there are a couple ways you can reach your goal of toe point perfection.
Photo Credit: lululemon athletica, CC:BY, via flickr
To get a truly amazing toe point, you will probably need to increase the flexibility and range of motion in your feet. Some people are born with more flexibility and thus a better to point than others, but it's still possible for those who are not born with it. Stretching your feet and working on the toe point is something that can be done every day. When doing stretches, you should be able to feel the stretch, but it should not hurt to the point of injury.
Stretch #1 - Always do this one first regardless of what other stretches or exercises you're doing.
- Sit down in a pike position (legs straight out in front of you, torso straight up and down so your body forms an L).
- Cross your right leg over the left so that the right ankle is resting on the left knee/thigh.
- Using your hands, rotate your ankle all around in both directions making sure to apply just enough pressure to feel the stretch at all angles.
- Do the same with the other foot.
- Sit down in a pike position. Get comfy if you want and lean back against something.
- Get a weight that you can place over your feet. I find that a ten pound circle free weight, like the one in the pictures, works best.. You can use less if that's too much for you, but I wouldn't recommend going with much more weight than that.
- Place it on your feet so that it is resting on the toe half of your feet and slanted onto the floor. Don't balance it on the top of your feet because that won't do much more than just hurt.
- To make it more comfortable, you can place a towel over your feet before placing the weight. You might also need something on the other side of the weight to keep it from sliding.
- Make sure to keep your legs straight!
- Leave the weight in place for as long as you feel comfortable, for up to 10 minutes.
Stretch #3 - This one requires a partner.
- Sit in a pike position on the floor.
- Have someone position themselves next to you, facing your feet.
- Have them place one hand over the top of the foot, near the middle but more toward the toes and the other hand on the shin.
- Have them push the foot down to a point that feels like it's stretching without injuring you and apply just enough pressure to the shin to keep the leg from bending.
- This is generally a more intense stretch than stretch #2, so only hold it for 10-30 seconds at a time.
- Have them do it for the other foot, too.
The more you strengthen your toes, feet, ankles, and legs, the better you'll be able to point them. Try doing these couple exercises a few times a week.
Exercise #1 - This one strengthens ankles.
- Lay down on your back or sit in a chair.
- Start by doing one foot at a time. Lift your leg in the air, and write the alphabet with your foot. Make sure you move the foot by the ankle, NOT the leg.
- When you finish the alphabet, write the mirror image of the alphabet.
- Do the same for the other foot.
- When you get good at it, you'll be able to do both feet at the same time.
- Get a t-shirt or towel, and lay it on the floor.
- Stand with your toes on the edge and the rest of your feet not on the t-shirt/towel.
- Scrunch your toes to pull the fabric toward you.
- Keep scrunching and pulling the fabric toward you until you've gathered as much of it as you can.
- Repeat as many times as possible.
- Sit down in a pike on the floor with feet flexed.
- Take a resistance band and, holding both ends in your hands, hook it around your feet.
- Pull back on the band so that there's pressure on your feet.
- Push forward and make your toes point against the pressure.
- Do as many reps of this as you can.
This might not be what you want to hear, but practice makes perfect! Practicing pointing your toes ALL THE TIME.
If you're a gymnast, dancer, circus performer, or someone who stretches and works out on a regular basis, focus on pointing your toes the entire time you're stretching and in every skill, dance move, etc. that you do. Not only will that function as conditioning for your foot, it will make pointing your toes become an instinctive thing. Eventually you won't even have to remind yourself to point your toes because they'll point automatically.
Even when you're sitting around your house watching TV, reading a book, or chatting to others, point your toes! The more often you do it, the better. There's no bad time to practice your toe point.
Keep practicing, and your toe point will get there!
Gymnasts, dancers, circus performers, aerialists, divers, whoever you are and whatever you do!
Photo Credit (Left): Chris Peterson (onewordcanheal), CC:BY, via flickr
Photo Credit (Center): Brendan (Dance Photographer - Brendan Lally), CC:BY, via flickr
Photo Credit (Right): Frank Kovalchek (Alaskan Dude), CC:BY, via flickr
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