How to use a Foot Stretchers
No matter what genre of dance you do, we at Allegro know how important beautifully bendy, flexible feet are to you (okay, Tap Dancers, we hear you...this one might not be for you). We all work for that elusive "banana foot" and drool over ballerina feet on Instagram. It is true that foot stretchers are amongst our most popular tools both in store and online. Because we believe in knowing and understanding how our bodies work, we think it is super important to educate yourself on these tools. Keep calm and read (and stretch) on.
Important things to remember when using any kind of foot stretcher:
- Only use it for a couple of minutes. Yes, literally 2-3 minutes. When you use a foot stretcher, you're attempting to stretch or lengthen soft tissue/ligaments that aren't typically meant to stretch. Over-stretching can happen quickly and can be damaging long-term.
- Never force anything. If you feel like you cannot straighten your leg any farther or last any longer, that means you probably can't. Don't force your body to "work through it." Take your foot out and rest!
- Use it at the end of your day, never before class. Using your foot stretcher is not a warm-up activity. This should be used at the end of your dancing for the day. If you stretch your foot before class, you're weakening your foot and creating instability, which means you're more prone to injury.
- Always strengthen your feet in addition to stretching. We're talking some serious "foot-ercising." Very targeted exercises that work your intrinsic foot muscles should be the goal so that you're developing a lot of control throughout your mid foot. The goal is to create mobility without creating instability. This will also help develop your feet for proper roll through, which helps that "peeling" action of the foot in tendu or jumping.
ImproveDance designed THE-footstretcher™ with safety in mind. Each feature serves a unique purpose to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the heel and Achilles tendon. The 3-Function Heel Pocket fits both feet, places them in a winged position, and tucks heels away from calf (protecting the Achilles tendon). The Achilles Base allows for a deeper stretch while avoiding unnecessary pressure on the Achilles tendon.
With a twist of the handle, THE-footstretcher™ goes from being an extraordinary foot-stretcher to 4 products in one. You can massage your feet with the specially designed foot roller, ease your muscles with the muscle massage roller, or release muscle knots with the trigger point end.
Thanks to its unique design and lightweight materials, THE-footstretcher™ is the only foot-stretcher that’s truly portable. ImproveDance worked with a trainer to create a comprehensive list of 60+ foot exercises and 8 workouts that come free of charge with THE-footstretcher™.
Because this tool does so many things, the Allegro crew typically recommends it for an Intermediate to Advanced level dancer. Because of the handle, you can do a little more specific/targeted stretching, so we believe it is important to have more body awareness, which comes with more advanced training and maturity.
As always, we never recommend using tools without first talking to your doctor or teachers/coaches. Improper use can result in injury (and no one's got time for that!). Our staff is always here to explain the differences among foot stretchers, but each dancer's body and needs are different. It is important to know what your specific strengths and weaknesses are before using any tool. If you're ever uncertain, never underestimate the power of self-stretching!
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