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You will need a flat band like this for ballet exercises, not the thin tube.
Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images
People unfamiliar with the world of dance often envy dancers' bodies, but devoted dancers are usually jealous of each other's feet. A high arch, beautiful point and strong ankles can set a dancer apart. Resistance bands can help improve your feet and are especially helpful if you are preparing to transition to pointe shoes. Do your resistance-band exercises barefoot for the best results. Some bands are marketed based on resistance levels, but you really just need one of relatively low resistance. If you fold the band in half you will feel more resistance, and folded twice it should be challenging enough for even the strongest dancer.
If your ankles wobble on demi-pointe or pointe, standing stretches will help you most. When you are in relevГ©, your weight should be centered -- don't rock out over your pinky toe or big toe, as this is sickling. To strengthen your ankles to prevent injury, secure the loose ends of the resistance band by tying them around the bottom of the barre or having a friend hold them. Place the bent part of the band across your foot and under your arch so that the band is taut. In parallel position, slowly rise up and down on demi-pointe -- the added resistance will strengthen the muscles you need for relevГ©.
Point and Flex
While seated with your legs straight in front of you, stretch the band flat under the balls of your feet. Complete this four-part series pushing against the band to strengthen your feet: Flex your feet, point everything but your toes, point as much as you can, and flex just your toes. Move through each step fluidly instead of lurching. Hold each position only for a second or two, as the benefits of this stretch come from linking the moves while pressing against the band.
If you want your feet to look like Margot Fonteyn's, use your resistance band to improve your arches when you point. Drape the band across the top of your toes. Gather the ends under your arch and point your toes as hard as you can. Pull the band tight and hold it by your heel. Hold in this position for 30 seconds, then see if you can point even more and pull the band tighter. You can do this while sitting if you just want to work on your arches, or you can extend your leg to the side in dГ©veloppГ© to work your leg as well.
According to Steps on Broadway, a well-known dance academy in New York City, resistance bands can be used as part of your warmup or cool-down. Focus on exercises that stretch if you are using the bands during these times, rather than on strengthening. MayoClinic.com recommends warming up for five to 10 minutes before aerobic exercise like dance. For exercises that strengthen, think of these as their own workout that should be done separately from class.