Flat Feet?

Cobra Hips

New member
Hello Dancers!
This is kind of a weird question, but here goes...
I have flat feet and sometimes when I'm dancing, I feel like they're affecting my movements. I was reading that there are exercises dancers can do to strengthen flat feet. Has anyone else found that their feet affect their dancing and would certain exercises help with that?
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
I don't know about exercises but when I was having trouble with my arches falling I started wrapping them with ace bandages in a figure "8" around my arches and my ankles crossing the top of my foot to support them. It enabled me to go barefooot all day if I wanted with no issues and helped with my dancing too. A year of that and I haven't had any trouble since.

I don't know what a Dr. would say but I did it when mine told me I needed to wear shoes all day because my arches were bad and I went, "nope." And it worked... And the same Dr. has now given them a thumbs up... sooo...
 

Cobra Hips

New member
I don't know about exercises but when I was having trouble with my arches falling I started wrapping them with ace bandages in a figure "8" around my arches and my ankles crossing the top of my foot to support them. It enabled me to go barefooot all day if I wanted with no issues and helped with my dancing too. A year of that and I haven't had any trouble since.

I don't know what a Dr. would say but I did it when mine told me I needed to wear shoes all day because my arches were bad and I went, "nope." And it worked... And the same Dr. has now given them a thumbs up... sooo...
Oh wow, very interesting! I just might try that!
 

Tourbeau

Active member
I have flat feet, and a number of other skeletal issues with my lower joints, including a corrective surgery on one foot that makes it difficult to achieve a pretty toe point or spend much time on the high balls of my feet.

I did prescribed foot exercises as a child and rehab exercises after surgery, but they didn't make any substantial change to my anatomy or gait. Perhaps if I could go back in time and do different exercises when I was younger, there might be a different outcome (back then, the treatment philosophy was practically the opposite of what it is now), but while the exercises I assume you are referring to aren't likely to cause problems, they aren't likely to be a miracle solution, either. It's sort of like SpongeBob weightlifting with stuffed animals. The sheer amount of time and reps you'd have to invest in foot exercises to see results, and the relentless self-monitoring required to correct decades of ingrained bad habits on a developed body mean progress is so slow, most people give up discouraged. I know ballet forums often have discussions on improving arches, but they range from the SpongeBob category (stretching with bands--probably won't hurt, probably won't make much of a difference unless you make a part-time job of it) to recommendations to buy things that look like torture devices (might exacerbate other issues--the structural problems behind flat arches also often lead to bunions and hammer- or dislocated toes).

On the other hand, if these foot exercises are coming from an orthopedist, podiatrist, physical therapist, or other medical professional prescribing for you specifically, you should ignore what I said, and do what they recommend.

It's not surprising I favor a more baladi and less balletic belly dance style, because that's a better fit for the body I have to work with. I also wear flat ballet shoes with arch inserts and heel cushions when I dance, although other dancers prefer gladiator sandals (some styles can be custom made with orthotic soles) or compression supports. If you dance better with arch supports, wear arch supports, and remind anybody who complains that the inclusivity the MED community prides itself on also includes you.
 

Cobra Hips

New member
I have flat feet, and a number of other skeletal issues with my lower joints, including a corrective surgery on one foot that makes it difficult to achieve a pretty toe point or spend much time on the high balls of my feet.

I did prescribed foot exercises as a child and rehab exercises after surgery, but they didn't make any substantial change to my anatomy or gait. Perhaps if I could go back in time and do different exercises when I was younger, there might be a different outcome (back then, the treatment philosophy was practically the opposite of what it is now), but while the exercises I assume you are referring to aren't likely to cause problems, they aren't likely to be a miracle solution, either. It's sort of like SpongeBob weightlifting with stuffed animals. The sheer amount of time and reps you'd have to invest in foot exercises to see results, and the relentless self-monitoring required to correct decades of ingrained bad habits on a developed body mean progress is so slow, most people give up discouraged. I know ballet forums often have discussions on improving arches, but they range from the SpongeBob category (stretching with bands--probably won't hurt, probably won't make much of a difference unless you make a part-time job of it) to recommendations to buy things that look like torture devices (might exacerbate other issues--the structural problems behind flat arches also often lead to bunions and hammer- or dislocated toes).

On the other hand, if these foot exercises are coming from an orthopedist, podiatrist, physical therapist, or other medical professional prescribing for you specifically, you should ignore what I said, and do what they recommend.

It's not surprising I favor a more baladi and less balletic belly dance style, because that's a better fit for the body I have to work with. I also wear flat ballet shoes with arch inserts and heel cushions when I dance, although other dancers prefer gladiator sandals (some styles can be custom made with orthotic soles) or compression supports. If you dance better with arch supports, wear arch supports, and remind anybody who complains that the inclusivity the MED community prides itself on also includes you.
9

Thank you for your response! The exercises I refer to did seem to come from ballet forums. It's annoying for me when I feel like I'm teetering inwards on my feet when I'm moving. But, feeling pretty confident that I won't be belly dancing professionally, I will just deal with it, LOL. I was just wondering if what I was noticing was actually a thing and not just me being careless.
 

Tourbeau

Active member
Years ago, I took a workshop with Shakira Al Fanninah from Columbus, OH who talked about the awareness of feeling your weight travel around the circumference of your footprint as you do a hip circle. This is a different sensation than the foot and ankle instability (which leads to a sense of the legs collapsing inward) that we flatfooted feel when standing (much less dancing). The first is an expected weight transfer as a consequence of movement, and the second is a skeletal pathology that creates inappropriate stresses on the joints all the way up the body.

Whether you plan to be a professional dancer or a hobbyist who dances a couple of hours a week of combined classes, practice, and/or goofing around to music for fun is irrelevant. You still only have one pair of legs to last you your whole life. If your unsupported flat feet cause your knees to knock inward, you're wearing out your joints in bad ways. You can frame it as "I'm wrecking the insides of my ankles and knees" or "I'd looks like garbage in a miniskirt costume because my leg lines aren't pretty," but using supports of some kind and exercising to realign your legs is a good idea.

The ballet forums seem to focus on stretching the foot to create a pretty line for pointe, but my personal experiences with PTs have emphasized large-muscle leg strength and stability. They bypassed the foot stretches, put arches under the feet, and went straight to developing strong legs with the thinking that your tendons and ligaments were already loose enough from years of wobbling around. Since you can't do much exercise-wise to change how your ligaments connect bone to bone, bigger, stronger leg muscles can help tighten up the slack where tendons (don't tightly enough) connect muscles to bone.

To that end, making a priority of that seated Egyptian shimmy drill kills two birds with one stone--it builds your quads with little danger of hyperextending backward and making your knees worse (also while putting zero stress on the feet)...and it improves your shimmy.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
This has been fascinating reading, and I wish it had been available while I was still teaching to give me some insight into the problems of others. Don't misunderstand me: I was patient and uncritical, but I didn't understand what all is involved. One student wore ankle high boots in class because they were the only thing she could walk in, never mind dance in. As long as she cleaned them off thoroughly before coming on the dance floor, that wasn't a problem though a two pound boot on each foot did mess some with her movement.
 

Cobra Hips

New member
Years ago, I took a workshop with Shakira Al Fanninah from Columbus, OH who talked about the awareness of feeling your weight travel around the circumference of your footprint as you do a hip circle. This is a different sensation than the foot and ankle instability (which leads to a sense of the legs collapsing inward) that we flatfooted feel when standing (much less dancing). The first is an expected weight transfer as a consequence of movement, and the second is a skeletal pathology that creates inappropriate stresses on the joints all the way up the body.

Whether you plan to be a professional dancer or a hobbyist who dances a couple of hours a week of combined classes, practice, and/or goofing around to music for fun is irrelevant. You still only have one pair of legs to last you your whole life. If your unsupported flat feet cause your knees to knock inward, you're wearing out your joints in bad ways. You can frame it as "I'm wrecking the insides of my ankles and knees" or "I'd looks like garbage in a miniskirt costume because my leg lines aren't pretty," but using supports of some kind and exercising to realign your legs is a good idea.

The ballet forums seem to focus on stretching the foot to create a pretty line for pointe, but my personal experiences with PTs have emphasized large-muscle leg strength and stability. They bypassed the foot stretches, put arches under the feet, and went straight to developing strong legs with the thinking that your tendons and ligaments were already loose enough from years of wobbling around. Since you can't do much exercise-wise to change how your ligaments connect bone to bone, bigger, stronger leg muscles can help tighten up the slack where tendons (don't tightly enough) connect muscles to bone.

To that end, making a priority of that seated Egyptian shimmy drill kills two birds with one stone--it builds your quads with little danger of hyperextending backward and making your knees worse (also while putting zero stress on the feet)...and it improves your shimmy.
Sorry for the long delay! Hip circles are exactly where I am noticing the flat foot thing most. We never realize how much our feet can affect things unless something is not quite right!
 
Top