POINTE-ers! What Are Sickled Feet?

Hello dancers! Firstly we would like to apologise for not sharing any posts for a little while; we have been rushed off our feet with all your orders over the last couple of months we haven’t had time to stop! But here we are, back today with a POINTE-ers post! This weeks topic is all about sickled feet.

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As I’m sure all of you dancers are aware, sickled feet are the bane of any dance teacher’s life. If you’re familiar with the popular US dance show, Dance Moms, you’ll know that the infamous Abby Lee never stops picking up on her dancers’ sickled feet, and she’s definitely not quiet about it, either.

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But the big question for most dancers is, what actually are sickled feet? How do we know when our feet our sickled? How can we stop this from happening? Why is it so bad to sickle? Well, fear not! We are here to answer those questions for you!

What are sickled feet?

Sickling, as used in ballet and other dance forms, refers to when a dancer’s foot is misshaped in such a way that it actually is scooped down with the heel too far back. Basically, you’re feet are not aligned with your legs and therefore your centre is all off balance and you just cannot physically be as strong as you really are in that position.

How do we know when we are sickling?

In beginners, it most commonly happens because  you just don’t have that muscle memory yet, and there are already hundreds of other things to think about!  After a while it can become easier, but always try to remind yourself about the shape of your foot and keep it in line with your centre.

For professional dancers, a sickled foot can sometimes be seen when they are trying to over point their feet. Since most feet are more naturally flexible going inwards, the foot starts to veer inwards and therefore, sickles.

How can I stop myself from sickling?

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Sickling is sometimes quite tricky to self correct. The best thing you can do for yourself is practice in a mirror, so you can see the line of your footing. Make sure you are consciously aware of how your foot and leg should align, and  this will eventually become muscle memory and you will automatically adjust to this position.

Another tip is, try not to overstretch. Your body will naturally migrate to its most comfortable and most flexible direction, so trying to stretch past your comfort zone will only increase your chances of sickling. Know your own abilities and be comfortable with how far you can push yourself, and then you will have nothing to worry about!

Why is it so bad to sickle?

A dancer who always sickles will likely develop incorrect muscle memory over time and struggle with weakness in the ankles, which will affect your entire dancing career. You must train your muscles in the correct way in order to achieve maximum strength and ability.

Can you tell which of the three images below is not sickled?

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The answer is: B.

B shows the foot aligning with the leg at this dancers personal centre. It will of course vary for different dancers depending on how flexible you are, but you must know your limits. Image A shows the dancers over pointing, whilst C shows them under pointing. Both over and under pointing are equally as bad for your muscles and flexibility, so it is essential that you avoid this at all costs.

We very much hope we have helped those of you who were a little unsure of what a sickled foot actually was, and we would love to hear what you have to say about this post in the comments below!

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Love from the Katz Dancewear Team x

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