For Feet Strengthening…
This four-way resistance-band workout strengthens stabilizing muscles all the way around the lower legs. Start with 10 reps of each variation.
1. The basic pointe-and-flex: Sitting on the floor with legs straight out in front, loop the band around one flexed foot at a time so you can focus on pressing sequentially and slowly through ankle, ball, toe, then back through toe, ball, ankle. Keep your working heel on the ground.
2. Cross the right ankle over the left knee, making a figure-four shape. Wrap the band around the right toes and use two hands to hold the ends of the band behind your back at your left hip. Pointe and flex slowly, avoiding winging or sickling the foot. Switch legs and hold the band at your right hip.
3. Supination, or sickling: Use one foot as an anchor to supinate the foot with resistance. With legs extended, wrap the band around your right toes. Cross your left foot over your right, allowing the left knee to bend as necessary to use the left foot to pull both sides of the resistance band out to the right, so your right foot pronates open. With a relaxed foot position, pull the right foot laterally against the band to supinate, then resist as you slowly pronate. Switch legs.
4. Change the direction of the band’s resistance for pronation, or winging. Set up the same exercise, but with legs side-by-side. Wrap the band around the right toes. Use your left foot to hook both sides of the band and pull it inward so you can position legs side-by-side and the band is pulling the right foot to a supinated position. Pull against the band to pronate, and then slowly return to the supinated position.
Photo by Emily Giacalone
1. Tie a TheraBand around your mid-calves (start with a low-resistance band like red or green and increase over time as it gets easier).
2. Keep your feet in parallel with your knees slightly bent.
3. Walk sideways (step, together, step, together) across the length of the studio. Repeat in the opposite direction.
To understand turnout better, plus an added stretch…
James Harren of Pilates Houston and Houston Ballet uses the frog movement to help students understand the effect turnout has on pelvic alignment, and to stretch the glutes, abdominals and inner thighs. This move, known as “The Frog,” is traditionally done on the reformer, but it can be conducted on the floor with a TheraBand.
1. Lie flat on your back and bend the knees in toward the chest. Keep the heels together and the toes a few spaces apart. The base of the spine should be in contact with the floor.
2. Place the exercise band across the balls of the feet; grip it near the knees.
Keep the head down (this will mimic the proper spinal placement needed for executing pliés correctly) and use the abs to curl the upper body off the floor. The chest and shoulders should remain wide. Release tension on the band if tugging is felt. Do not tuck the pelvis or let the tailbone roll up.
3. Inhale; extend the legs toward the ceiling. Flex the feet, like a plié in first position. Starting at 90 degrees (i.e., perpendicular to the floor), progressively bend the legs down into a diamond shape. Do not drop the knees, or push the stretching limit. Go as far as possible without losing pelvic position or changing turnout.
4. Exhale; return to starting position. Do six to eight extensions.