Therabands, exercise bands, resistance bands. No matter what you call them, they are undoubtedly essential for building up strength in any area of the body- feet, legs, arms, back, you name it! I have been using a theraband for as long as I can remember, because it was necessary to build up foot and ankle strength for pointe, and is still great for warming up and maintaining strong, healthy feet. Today, I am going to focus on how to use a Theraband for strengthening purposes. Here are step by step instructions for you!
A big thank you to Anna, an Allegro sales associate in Barrington, for demonstrating these exercises with her gorgeous feet!
Pointe and Flex
- Start by wrapping the band around the ball of your foot, making sure it covers your toes, with a flexed foot.
- Slowly articulate your foot so the ball of your foot is resisting the band, with toes still remaining up.
- WITHOUT CRUNCHING THE TOES, finish pointing your toes slowly against the resistance of the band. A good way to not crunch the toes is to think of keeping your toe joints completely straight, or imagine space between the joints and knuckles of your toes to really REACH away from yourself. (Doming is one of the best ways to strengthen tiny intrinsic muscles of the foot.)
- Now, reverse this whole sequence slowly until your foot is flexed again.
- “Rinse and repeat!” Start out with a set of 10, and repeat as needed. (Even though I probably should, I don’t usually count, I just keep going for as much as I need.)
This exercise can also be done with a towel.
- Lay the band (or towel) out on the floor as flat as you can.
- Use the curling motion of your toes to grasp and release the band and move it closer to you.
- Repeat as much as needed. A good way to do this one is to start with your foot on one end of the band, and work your way across the whole thing. It may take a little bit of patience, but this will help to strengthen those intrinsic arch muscles.
- TIP: You can also repeatedly pick up small objects with your toes as a variation on this exercise. In fact, I rarely bend over anymore to pick small things up, I just use my toes!
Along with inversion (below), these exercises help to maintain ankle stability and control, especially while en pointe.
- Wrap the band around your toes, on an angle so you are holding it towards the outside of your calf (see picture).
- Keep you foot at the exact same level, and move the foot directly to the outside. So if you were working with your left foot, for example, you would move the foot to the left. Do not move your toes at all, focus on shifting the ankle.
- Return back to step 1, and repeat on both feet as needed. 1 or 2 sets of 10 is a good place to start.
Along with the above exercise, this also helps to maintain ankle stability and control. Although you would not even think to sickle your foot in ballet class!
- Start by wrapping the band on an angle around the outside of your foot, and hold it towards the inside of your calf (the opposite of the above exercise!)
- Now instead of winging your foot, do the opposite and sickle your foot. So if you used your left foot to do this, you would invert to the right.
- Repeat on both feet as needed.
- TIP: Combine eversion and inversion into one exercise!
With all these exercises, the only way you will develop strong foot and ankle muscles is by doing these S L O W L Y , with lots of control. Don’t worry if you feet shake at all, just try your best and the muscles will develop over time. You should have seen my foot during physical therapy after my surgery, it was shaking like crazy!
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. If you do these exercises only one time a week, it will help, but the more repetition the better. I like to use these to warm up my feet before class, but you could also do them after class, or anytime really.
If you have any questions or comments about these exercises, or suggestions for other Theraband “How-to’s” feel free to leave a comment below!