My daughter's dance teacher says she overpronates in first position and is recommending orthotics. Are there any exercises to improve this?
Kudos to your daughter's teacher for recognizing her pronation and bringing it to your attention. It's very common for young dancers to over-rotate their feet in first position. The first suggestion I have is to simply not turn out so far. She should be able to stand in first position with equal weight between the pads of the big toe, little toe and heel. Otherwise she will create a twisting motion at the knees and ankles which will leave her vulnerable to injuries.
She needs to become aware of whether she's gripping the floor with her toes. The role of the toes in first position is to help balance your movement, not to lift your arch or act as the glue that keeps your feet turned out. Sometimes it's useful to have young students take class in their socks rather than soft slippers, so they can feel the contact with the floor more easily.
Have her pay attention to whether she's standing evenly or pronating outside of class. If she chronically pronates, orthotics might be useful while building strength and correcting inefficient alignment patterns. Then, have her roll her foot on a pinkie ball or massage her own feet to wake up the muscles.
If she's anywhere near the beach, have her walk on the sand. It's a wonderful exercise that works the muscles of the lower leg and feet, as they constantly strive to keep balanced. Walking over a line of pillows can do the same thing. A bigger challenge, and one that works correcting alignment patterns, would be to stand on one leg on the pillow and balance for up to one minute.
Place a light scarf on the floor and ask her to first scrunch the scarf, before picking it up and dropping it in a container. She can also do common TheraBand exercises to improve her foot strength.
Pronation is not a quick fix and awareness is key. These exercises will help her feel when she's pronating and self-correct.
To your success,
Director, The Body Series
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