Pointing your Feet: Addendum

Peggy, as usual, pointed out something I forgot to address in Pointing your Feet. She is my kinesiology editor.

She said…
It’s good to reread this stuff. Thanks for re-posting. Kids have a hard time understanding how to point the whole foot when they are constantly told “point your toes!” Why are we using this language!?

I’ve started teaching my boys to sit and “reach with your feet” asking them to try and touch something just beyond the points- it’s really helped them figure out all the muscles they can use to reach the something, and not crunch their toes under.

They are also (slowly) learning that sickling doesn’t help- it seems kids tend to sickle when they try extra hard learning to point the foot. Perhaps the muscles that pull the ankle in are the most strongly developed by walking and running. Ann, I know you haven’t worked too much with little kids, but what do you think? Am I way off base?

Right on about the language! Kids (and even older “kids”) will do what they hear! My younger sister was a natural dancer, an incredible mimic. Her only training prior to college was dancing with me. We were also pom-pon girls together in high school. As far as I was concerned, Katie had terrible, tragic feet.

One day, during her college modern dance class in which I was the teaching assistant, during a stretch, I went over to just remind her to lengthen her feet…and the claws that I took for granted simply melted under my hands into a spectacular point. I gasped as she looked up in shock. She said, “Oh, THAT’S what it means to point your toes!!!” All those years she had been pointing, curling and scrunching her TOES, and she had no idea about pointing her FEET! We laugh about that to this day!

The language is so important.

Peggy, I think what you are saying to your children is perfect. It makes them work differently because they hear something different.

As for the sickling…when we work so hard to point and our toes point inwards, it is because they can. We have so much more range of motion medially, on the inside of the ankle. We will use the range of motion that we have until we are taught not to. Look at the way so many folks, especially children stand…belly forward. Why? Yes, it can be about lack of strength in the abs, but mostly it is because we CAN! We have no bony restrictions between the sternum and the pubic bone so it is so easy to let our belly move forward, distorting our posture. It is also why it is so easy to attain and habituate exaggerated, sway-backed dance postures. We do not stand with our lower back pooching out because we are restricted by our spine. Same for the ankle/foot. We have more movement inward than outward. It is a rare ankle sprain that happens on the inside of the ankle.

Did I answer the question, Peggy?

Click for more kinesiology info: Dance Kinesiology

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Peggy
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 00:41:00

    Thank you, yes. That has to be my favorite explanation- because we CAN! Like life, we CAN do lots of things… but that doesn’t make it correct or wise!

    Your kinesiology editor? Hmm, I don’t think I deserve that… perhaps insatiable kinesiology questioner?

    What a great story about your sister. It’s amazing how so many things come back to the language we use and different people’s learning styles. I keep saying that, but there are always more examples that bring the point home again and again and again!

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