There are many different foot types but mostly they fall into one of the following categories.
Greek or Morton's Foot
Peasant or Giselle Foot (Square)
Greek Foot - The second toe is longer and width tends to be narrow to medium. Care needs to be taken to protect the second toe from friction and pressure.
Egyptian Foot - The First or Great Toe is the longest and the rest of the toes taper to the little toe. Care needs to be taken to alleviate too much pressure on the tip of the Great Toe alone, reducing risk of bunions developing and bruised toe nail of the big toe.
Peasant/Giselle Foot - The first three toes are of a similar length, toes are generally shorter in length and foot is medium to wide width. This is the most ideal foot shape for Pointe Work.
Compressible Foot - This describes a foot that is extremely flexible in particular in the metatarsal area, there is not a great deal of fleshy areas in between the bones and tendons on the top of the foot, so that when standing the feet spread and when en-pointe the foot compresses so the bones become squeezed together. This is common amongst dancers.
Did you know that the foot actually has three arches?
In dance and pointe work in particular, it is very important to do exercises to strengthen the muscles that support the arches of the feet.
There can be many variations in the feet, from high to very low or flat. A very high arch may produce a beautifully curved pointed foot that many dancers strive to achieve, but sometimes they can be also weaker and more prone to injury due to the extra flexibility of the foot and ankle.
A foot with flatter arches may on the other hand, find difficulty achieving optimum position En-Pointe for stability and balance, because the forefoot, arches and ankle may be less flexible.
A very flat foot may very well find pointe work impossible.
Visit the Perfect Pointe page to learn more about what Dancers can do to improve foot function for Pointe Work.
Many stresses can be suffered by the feet through the very nature of dance and even more so wearing Pointe Shoes and dancing En-Pointe. The feet can suffer many problems - Bruised Toe Nails, corns, bunions and bunionettes, hardened calluses, curled toes and nail problems to mention just a few.
Correct Pointe Shoe fitting is important to minimise these problems and there are also a number of simple but useful products that can be used to protect and relieve the toes and feet further from irritation and damage.
Often with weak arches, together with years of Ballet training to turn out the feet and legs, the weight becomes placed on the inside edge of the foot, the foot rolls inwards and the correct alignment of the foot and ankle is altered. It is important that dancers focus on achieving turn-out from the hip joints and not be tempted to use pressure of the feet on the floor to achieve it.
Everything transmits up the kinetic chain from the feet through to the ankles, legs and beyond, so the way we use our feet and the muscles are encouraged to function in a balanced way is important to avoid injury and strain or knees and other areas of the body may suffer eventually.