Ballroom Dance > Ankle Strength

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by TaintedMantis, Mar 2, 2007.

  1. TaintedMantis

    TaintedMantis Member

    I've done a latin medal test last year, and one of the comments was the need to "strengthen my ankles". How does one do that? Recently, even my my ballroom, somebody commented that I should "use my ankles more".

    Has anybody got any insights on this area of technique?
  2. spatten

    spatten Member

    A quick and easy way to strengthen the ankles is to do toe raises. I reccommend doing them slowly 8 counts up and 8 counts down - to encourage control and muscle recruitment across the entire range of motion.

    Once you can easily do them on two legs - do it on one. When you can do that - your ankles should be strong enough for ballroom.

    That said, there is probably much more information on how to work the various muscles of the calf (soleus and gastorcnemius) on the web- and you may want to look further into that.
  3. dTas

    dTas New Member

    its like to add to the toe raises thing. try this...

    stand with your heels together and toes apart at about 10 and 2 o'clock. raise up on your toes but keep your heels together at all times. NEVER separate your heels!! use your inner thighs to keep your heels together. try not to roll onto your little toes. a friend should be able to keep thier finger under your little toe the whole time and not be crushed. raise and lower SLOWLY and don't roll back onto your heels when you come down, keep your balance forward over the balls of your feet.

    be sure to keep your hands out infront of you and your back engaged.

    try 3 x 15 and then increase as your strength gets better. i got up to doing sets of 300 at a time (about as long as a song).
  4. Laura

    Laura New Member

    Ballet barre classes are a good way to strengthen your feet and ankles. I wish I had time for them these days -- when I used to take an Adult Beginning Ballet class two or three times a week, my feet were a lot stronger than they are now.
  5. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    You can also try exercises where you roll a little ball with your foot. This works the muscle on the top of your foot (of course, I don't know the name for it), which often gets neglected when you do just toe raises.
  6. dancesportgirl21

    dancesportgirl21 New Member

    Do calf raises with the ball of the foot on a raised step and lower the heel past the ball of the foot.

    I discovered this past weekend that running on sand at the beach is great for your calves and ankles!
  7. Phoenix

    Phoenix New Member

  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


    Running in sand-- thats how many prof. footballers train !!
  9. tunape

    tunape New Member

    if toe raises get boring, you can go to the gym. I used to be a high jumper, and got good workouts for the ankles and legs. There's a few exercises you can do. Use the leg press machine, but only flex your ankles. If there's a shoulder press machine, set it to your maximum lowered ankle height(the lowest you can go on your heel beneath the standing beam) and put weights on it. Then flex only your ankles. While doing all these exericses, be sure to keep your feet inline(ie, pointing forward, not inwards nor outwards), proper technique is also critical. If you have the ability to, work with a personal trainer.
  10. ACtenDance

    ACtenDance Active Member

    Yup, and it's definitely no fun! If you try this at the beach, don't cheat by running near the water :cool: . Sand soccer and beach volleyball are the best!
  11. skwiggy

    skwiggy Well-Known Member

    Jumping rope helps too.
  12. mamboqueen

    mamboqueen Well-Known Member

    I just winced at the suggestion! The last time I tried, I lasted less than a minute. And's not like I don't do cardio work.

    I like the walking on the beach suggestion...a *nice* way of getting exercise without it really seeming like exercise.
  13. skwiggy

    skwiggy Well-Known Member

    I don't jump rope for very long either. I'll do 100-200 reps each time, anywhere from 1-3 times interspersed with other parts of my workout. I feel like just that little bit has helped my foot and ankle strength a lot!

    But yeah, walking on the beach sounds much nicer. Too bad the closest beach is too far away to be practical. :(
  14. mamboqueen

    mamboqueen Well-Known Member

    I could actually walk to a beach...although it's not my favorite beach. I guess there's an upside to living here after all ;)
  15. dTas

    dTas New Member

    you betcha... the trick is constantly keeping the heels together. all of my students do this while standing in line.
  16. TaintedMantis

    TaintedMantis Member

    I'm curious about the technical side of ankles though - is it something to do with the ability to control the rise and fall in ballroom (standard) and things like swivels in latin?

    Anyway, sounds like something for me to work on in the meantime before hitting Blackpool (next Saturday), thanks everyone!
  17. SyrU_dancer

    SyrU_dancer New Member

    That's a good majority of it, espeically in standard where the goal is split weight. I was falling onto my back heel/ankle for a while and it pulls you away from your partner (breaks conection) and makes you look back weighted.

    Not sure about the swivles.. I leave that to the ladies here as I don't often do them :)

    dTas I do those ankle raisies for gymnastics 2-3 times a week, god I hate them but they do work. Only thing is we tend to focus on explosive energy. In ballroom then I have to learn to control and gradually rise thru.
  18. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    Exactly! I use every opportunity that I have while standing somewhere and waiting, to strenghten my dancing in some way, and this is a great way to do it!
  19. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    When I was at the beach a few months ago, my partner and I danced several dances in the sand, and let me tell ya, it's tough! (but fun!)
  20. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    For sure, it facilitates smooth rise and fall for any dance which has it--

    For latin, ankle articulation is necessary for proper hip action (toes turn out, pushing off the floor, which in turn rotates the hip, and prepares for hip settling).

    At all times, (at a high level) the ankles should never lose pressure with the floor-- it should have what I like to visualize as a rubber-band feeling... I should not let my heel just drop to the floor and lose pressure in the calf/ankle... it's like my calf is keeping pressure and pulling my heel back towards itself. Okay, that's a weird sounding picture, hard to describe, sorry :)

    What is often seen, especially in latin, is a foot shuffling, instead of foot placement--when you see the feet placed, this is the result of proper ankle use, whereas a shuffle indicates that the ankles are loose and are not working.

    Well, it's not something that will magically change by Saturday--but recognition of a technical detail is the first step to success! Proper ankle use takes many months and years to develop well--after a dancer has good posture, good (clean) movement is possible only by using the ankles. Good posture + good movement = good dancer.

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