I thought I knew how to pointe my feet quite well, until the day I discovered how pointing my feet well actually feels like.

Back in the days, all I was doing to improve the shape of my feet was stretching the top of my arches with an elastic band and sitting on my heels with the knuckles crunched against a yoga block, once again, straining the top of my arches as I believed a bump would magically grow there and give me what I called “dancer’s feet”. In the end, all that I wanted were higher arches and better feet.

Little did I know that I was only causing harm.

Pushing the arches forward was making me constantly fall over on pointe shoes, making it impossible to follow through the challenging pointe classes. I was also at risk for dangerous injuries: once a ligament breaks, there is very little one can do, and it hurts.

I was very familiar with chronic Achilles tendinitis which became very serious as I couldn’t even walk at some point, of course during audition season. I remember crying and thinking I would never be able to wear pointe shoes or dance again. It was clear that I had a problem to resolve.

The revelation happened when I watched a video with Cathy saying something about the movement of the heels when we point our feet: they lengthen away, towards the toes, instead of lifting up against the calves. This was the first real cue that saved my Achilles’ tendons and helped me with my pointe work.

In the same video she talked about a spot under the sole of the feet that activates when we point our feet giving an efficient direction to our heels.

Needless to say that it was a life-changer!

Another important piece of advice that made a huge difference was learning which feet exercises were right for me and which were not. I stopped pulling the arch out and started strengthening the soles of my feet and worked on my toes agility, and I gave more importance to alignment and focus instead of countless mindless repetitions.

Since I changed my approach and my training, I stopped having any sort of pain in my lower legs and I now almost don’t remember what tendonitis feels like. Pointing my feet is painless, less tensed, I feel my muscles activated and long but not gripping anymore. My feet shape changed quite a lot, balance almost became one of my strengths when it was one of the things I struggled with the most and I feel stronger on pointe shoes.
In the end, it’s very simple: giving directions to my heels, performing smart feet exercises daily (consistency is key) and being patient.

I will always remember the joy I experienced the day I really pointed my feet for the first time…

Featured photo of Denys Cherevychko by Marian Furnica.