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Rewards for Feet?

Why do dancers roll a tennis ball under their feet? Is it to stretch muscles? Is it good as a warm-down or warm-up? How does doing this actually help the feet? Is it a good thing to do?

All my muscles often stay pretty tight so I am always conscious of that. I use magnesium and get massages to help them relax out. It’s mainly my legs usually, but I have been wondering about the stuff people do with their foot muscles. I just plain old don’t understand it yet.

I can see my feet becoming stronger, which is great. I’m not wanting to increase my foot flexibility or anything like that. I know that that will develop naturally for now. I am wondering, though, if there may be some way to reward my foot muscles after they have worked so hard?

Would love to hear any info others have on why people do the tennis ball thing, or other things that are done with feet to help those hard working muscles?

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12 thoughts on “Rewards for Feet?”

  1. I use a tennis ball occasionally. My reward though is wearing my custom orthotics. These allow my foot to be in a “relaxed” or neutral position. Gives it time to reset my muscles and not make them overly tense. It makes a world of difference. From my feet to my hips and lower back.

    If my feet are too tight it can cause issues when dancing. Pangs of pain from tight muscles interrupt my exercise. Inability to hold a releve balance properly. Even injury.

    It’s always best to reset your muscles so as to not wear them out or teach your body to work under a stressed condition as normal.
    Also separating my toes and wiggling them about individually by hand. Allowing to individualize each muscle group teaches your muscle memory to not stay stuck, and be responsive to all types of movement.

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    1. Thank you so much for that reply! That makes a lot of sense. I have great shoes now that feel brilliant on my feet and are made by an orthotics company, so they serve a similar purpose to orthotics.

      My feet don’t get very tight and they don’t hurt, which is nice. But I can see the benefits of letting them relax more, too. You have reminded me about working each toe individually, too!

      Thank you! 🙂

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  2. Using the tennisball is similar to using foam rollers on other muscles of the body. It helps to stretch but also relax the muscle. Sometimes a muscle can get really tight and scar tissue gets in the way of natural flexibility or strength. Rolling your muscles out will help the scar tissue soften or disappear, thereby removing the ‘knot’ in your muscles. It’s just something to help your feet stay supple and relaxed and not cramped and over-exercised.
    I usually just give my feet a nice soak and give them some TLC in the pedicure department. Also I use a theraband to strengthen them, but I don’t roll my feet on a ball or anything after working them out.

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  3. My feet are permanently a bit achy so I keeps tennis ball under my desk at work so I can just kick off my slippers (in the office, shocking, I know!) and roll my feet out to try and relax them a bit.

    I also have a foam roller for dealing with my spine/shoulders/legs. They’re both quite good for identifying bits which are a bit knackered and I need to work on stretching/strengthening a bit (and what I need to whine at my osteopath about ;)).

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  4. I used orthotics for figure skating, and I miss them now. Am considering getting same for regular wear now. I’ve not rolled out my feet at all. I mostly do theraband, and some other exercises I was given by a physical therapist for issues with foot tendons I got while skating — tendons which come into play in ballet also.

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  5. My ballet instructor always insisted me to roll a tennis ball under my arches, due to my feet being flat and the muscles in flat feet are really tight. When I would return to ballet from a short break, the moment I would go into releve I would feel electricity running through my arches. Yeah, ouch!

    To relieve te pain and stretch my arches I would put the tennis ball under the ball of my foot and put all of my body weight over that standing leg. The next step was to put the tennis ball under my heel and flex my foot (toes pointing to the ceiling) and again put my weight on that standing leg. After all of that was said and done, I would roll the ball under my arch to loosen and muscles that I couldn’t stretch. The tennis ball also works wonders on the back of my hips. I hope this helps. Let me know if you need me to explain it more thoroughly. I will try to post a short video on Instagram (or my blog) and tag you. 🙂

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    1. Thank you much! That foot pain sounds very ouchie! But the rolling makes a lot of sense. With all the other comments combined I think I will try the rolling to help my feet muscles relax.

      Would love a video! I will check that out! Thank you! 🙂

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