When you lift your heels in any barre work or fitness class, you want to make sure you are in proper alignment to keep your ankles and knees (as well as hips, lower back, etc.,) safe.
Here are some tips:
Height of Heels
When you lift your heels up and you find you cannot raise them up high due to possible strength issues or tightness in the muscles of the feet and ankles, drop heels all the way down and modify the exercise. If you can lift the heels somewhat and feel a bit of a stretch in your feet, you can still work with a heel raise, but know that the range of motion in lowering down into your legs by bending at the knees and hips will need to be reduced if any pain is experienced.
Sometimes, though, you can raise your heels too high. This is often seen if you have high arches. A heel that is lifted too high will put tremendous pressure on the toe joints, rather than on the muscles that should be working in the legs.
When you lift your heels up, the balls of the feet should have even pressure. You might hear an instructor say, “more weight on the big and second toes and less on the pinky toes,” because often, the clients will put pressure on the outside edges of the toes and thus create pressure in the ankle joints and outer toe joints. This is especially true as the movement goes on and the work gets hard. Our bodies like to cheat and we can compensate without even realizing it. You want your ankles to be straight and in line with the feet and shin bones.
Ball of Foot Placement in Releve
When you lift your heels up, you want the balls of the feet to be directly underneath the knees in an exercise like “Wide Second Position.” Always think of a firm foundation from the feet all the way up through the crown of your head. I like to encourage clients to think of their legs as 90 degree angles to the floor in this exercise. That said, in an exercise like Parallel, the heels will be lifted and depending on how low you go, the knees could shoot out in front of the balls of the feet, but the hips should be over the heels. Barre is ALL about alignment. Listen for your cues and be sure you are taking class from a professionally trained, alignment based, and neutral spine advocating instructor.
I hope this was helpful! Comment below if you have any other questions regarding Releve’.
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