Sickled Feet In Ballet And How To Get Rid Of Them

Sickled feet in ballet are the bane of any dancers life. It is extremely difficult to get rid of sickled feet, especially if you have been training incorrectly for a long time. Dance teachers need to correct this in the early stages of a dancer’s training, as once the muscle memory sets in it is very difficult to get rid of a sickle.

What Are Sickled Feet In Ballet?

sickled feet in ballet
Sickled foot as she points to the front

Sickling or sickled feet in ballet refers to the shape of the dancer’s foot as she or he points. The foot tends to scoop down with the heel too far back. Of course, that description somewhat depends on the position of the foot and how you see it, but after this post you should have a clear understanding of what it means “to sickle your foot,” what a correctly pointed foot looks like, and why it’s really important not to sickle.

Since most feet are more naturally flexible going inwards, the foot starts to veer inwards and sickles.  Even at professional levels, a dancer will often still be concentrating on the line of their feet in order to avoid sickling.

If a dancer sickles when she dances, she develops the incorrect muscles over time and will then struggle with things like weak ankles and feet. This will affect all her ballet work, especially en pointe (in toe shoes). Not to mention, a sickle breaks the line of the leg, and it just looks plain ugly and unsightly.

sickled feet in ballet
Badly sickled foot as she points behind her

How to Point Your Feet Without Sickling

When you point your foot in ballet, you have to push the heel slightly forward. The toes should be slightly behind the inside of your ankle bone.

You can try this sitting down with your legs stretched in front of you to get the best feel for this:

  • First, point your feet so they make a straight line out from your calf.
  • Now try and shift your big toes away from each other just by half an inch.
  • Your big toe should now be just inside of an imaginary line from your ankle bone, just about a toe width pointing out.
  • If your knees are touching but are getting in the way of your feet getting together, just make sure that the feet are parallel to each other.
  • If your feet are touching, keep your heels together to keep the foot from sickling.

Some More Ways To Help Correct a Sickled Foot

How To Correct Sickled Feet In Ballet With A Thera-Band

Here are some exercises that you can do using a Thera-band which should help you a lot with sickled feet in ballet.

Use a Thera-band of about a yard long. If you are new to this keep the resistance light. Do the movements slowly and with control. Do the exercises on both legs about 10 times and once you get stronger, you can increase accordingly.

Most important, make sure that at no time during these exercises your feet are sickling.

Exercise No. 1

This flex and relax exercise works the stabilizers around the ankle, as well as the ankle flexors. This exercise also helps if you are prone to shin splints.

Start by sitting with your ankle crossed over the opposite leg. Position the center of the Theraband over the metatarsals and toes. Relax your foot and take up the slack. Keep the band on the same horizontal plane as your foot to prevent sickling. Making sure to keep the tension constant with your arm in a fixed position, slowly flex the ankle, hold for 3 counts and then relax to starting position.

Exercise No. 2

This is a flex and point exercise that works and strengthens the ankle stabilizers, as well as giving the Achilles tendon a good stretch.

Sit with your leg stretched out in front of you parallel with your knee straight. Position the center of the Thera-band beneath the ball of your foot and under the toes. Flex your foot first and take up the slack, keeping the Thera-band close and parallel to your legs. Keep the band’s tension constant by keeping your arm well held and still.  Slowly stretch the foot into a pointed position, hold for 3 and return to a flexed position.

If all the above helps to correct your sickled feet in ballet, please let me know by commenting below.

For more on ballet dancer feet, click here.

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9 thoughts on “Sickled Feet In Ballet And How To Get Rid Of Them”

  1. I used to be in ballet many, many moons ago and really enjoyed this article! It still amazes me that I don’t suffer from more injuries as a result of my pointe days.

    This article offers dancers many great tips that their instructors sometimes forget. I understand it is hard though to teach a classroom full of dancers as I am a high school teacher so I know the struggle. I particularly liked where you mention incorrect foot placement can lead to incorrect muscle development and weakness in legs and ankles later on. This is VERY important as many students are young and their bodies not entirely developed. Thank you for writing such a great article and including the video!

  2. Hello Mergie, I love your article. I grew up around ballet as a kid because my sister was in love with ballet. She opened her studio a few months ago and she preaches about how sickled feet messes your ankles up and its uncomfortable. I will show her your site and make sure she reads because you go into detail on how it prevent it from happening.

  3. This is a great post. My daughter has just recently started ballerina classes. She came home the other day and was showing me this. I was like honey what are you doing. She said I’m sickling daddy. I was like ok. So I decided to look it up and it brought me here. This is exactly what she was doing. I now know what she means now. I will use your site. To help relate to my daughters dance terms.

    Thank you

  4. Hey there Michel,
    This is so cool I’ve joined dancing lessons before but never have I heard of sickled feet before! No wonder I’m having a hard time to dance and move my feet.

    So excited that I came across your website, there are so many things I have yet to discover, I’m gonna read your tips often! Just an advice, you should really set up a Newsletter section because I definitely want to subscribe 😀

  5. My daughter is 10 and has a sickle, is it something that is likely to get better?
    Will this always be an issue for her.

    1. She is still young, so if she works on it, it will get better. If you look at some of the professional ballerina’s, some of them also have sickles that they have to constantly work on. For some, it improves but remains something that they constantly need to work on and think about.

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