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Ballet Arch Enhancers-Do They Really Work?

By Edited Sep 29, 2016 1 0

Are you a ballet student looking for ways to enhance the curvature of your arches? As a former ballet student myself, I was unaware of just how much a dancer compares her aesthetics to those of her classmates and to professional dancers. Unfortunately for those who covet another dancers foot shape, we are all born with different kinds of bone structure that are unique to our bodies.

For any ballet student wishing to increase the curvature of her foot, dance product manufacturers have created special devices that are supposed to help with that problem. Although stretching the foot during barre exercises gives them a workout, it might not be enough to create the kind of lines you are trying to achieve. If you are seriously upset about the way your feet look in pointe shoes, you may be wondering about an arch enhancing product.

The best products are those that your own teacher recommends or one that is already in place at your academy. Because a dancer practices just as much at home as he or she does in the studio, getting your own equipment is a smart idea.

Coveting The High Arches Of Another Dancer Is Normal

When a photo of the arches of world-class ballerina Svetlana Zakharova was posted online, it launched a thousand ballet dreams. It probably launched a long line of eager d

Dancer On Pointe
ance students down to their local dance supply establishment to buy an arch enhancer to create the same coveted look. The bad news is that no machine is going to take a low-arched dancer and turn her into what is known as a "banana foot". Although Svetlana may have gained added flexibility from her daily practice routine, she was most likely born with an incredibly high arch to begin with.

This doesn't mean that you can't improve what ballet class and Mother Nature already gave you. However, there are realistic expectations that should come from the purchase of machines designed to "enhance" parts of our bodies; especially our feet.  Enhance, yes. Totally transform, no.

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Who can benefit from an arch stretcher? If you are an adult beginner who has lost youthful flexibility or someone who took a long, long break from pointe work, you may find that you can't even straighten your legs on pointe. The ligaments and tendons that run along the front of your ankles need to be very pliable to get over the box of your shoes. A product like the Pro Arch is perfect for that area.

The Pro Arch PA1 is designed to stretch all the muscles and ligaments of both the inner and outer arch muscles. Even though it resembles a medieval torture device, it is used in professional dance studios to not only stretch the foot, but to keep it limber enough to help prevent injury.

Foot Bones And Ligaments Only Stretch So Far

I fell in love with ballet at a very young age. After reading a wonderful book that I checked out at my elementary school library I was mesmerized. By age 12, my Grandfather had purchased my very first pair of pointe shoes. I was thrilled! It wasn't until I began looking at more images of Prima Ballerinas that my own low-arched feet looked so "un-banana-like" in my pointe shoes. What did I do? I set out to force them into a banana shape myself at home.

This is what I did: I crawled up as close as I could get to the living room couch scooting along on my bottom. With my knees bent, I tucked both of my feet under the edge of the couch. Then I simply lay down on my back knowing my toes were stuck under the couch frame. Yes, my arches were stretched to the screaming point. I am thankful today that I did not injure myself permanently. The bad news? My feet never transformed into those high-arched bananas.  Our bones and ligaments only bend so far.

Ballet Training Requires Daily Stretching

There are a lot of ballet gadgets and gizmos on Amazon and on other dance supply company websites that sell arch exercisers, bands and products that look like shoe inserts a dancer can squeeze with her toes. Any stretching or strengthening that a dancer can do is going to be beneficial to her technique and career. There are many books out there about dance physiology and training. As long as you know what an enhancer can do for your aesthetics, you won't be disappointed.

What made me decide to embrace my lower-arched feet was embracing the fact that one of the most revered and talented ballerinas of our time did not have highly-arched feet; the former Dame Margot Fonteyn. Lower arches are not as flexible, but are much stronger than arches that overextend. Focus on the fact that your lower arched feet have positive qualities and you won't try nutty things to banana-tise them.

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