For those of us on pointe or preparing for pointe, strengthening your toes is an absolute must. 

Most of us will naturally strengthen our toes as we progress, but for some doing work outside of class to strengthen your toes will be necessary.
To strengthen your toes and feet, you’ll want to use some of the exercises below.

Toe Strengthening Exercises

For the following toe strengthening exercises for pointe work [You Might Like: Pointe Shoe Fitting Guide], we recommend getting an exercise band, a small towel, a cushion/pillow, and a chair or stool. 

During these exercises, you’ll want to focus on doing slow and controlled movements through both directions of each exercise. 

Exercise 1 – Dorsiflexion

Dorsiflexion is the flexing of the foot upwards. Here is how to perform this toe strengthening exercise.

  1. Sit with your legs extended forwarded.
  2. Rest one foot on top of the other. 
  3. Wrap the band around your feet. 
  4. Flex the top foot at the ankle, slowly towards your body. While keeping your other foot stable.
  5. Return to the starting position slowly and smoothly.

Why is this important for toe and pointe work? Focusing on dorsiflexion helps with the alignment and strength of the foot and ankle for jumps and pointe work. 

Exercise 2 – Plantar Flexion

Plantar flexion is the pointing of the foot. Here is how to perform this exercise for your toes.

  1. Start from a seated position with your legs extended forward.
  2. Wrap the bands around your feet, and hold the band with your hands.
  3. Slowly move your foot into a pointed position, then return to the starting position.

This exercise for your feet will strengthen your ability and control throughout all pointe work. 

Exercise 3 – Inversion

One of the common problems that young ballerinas experience when first getting on pointe is sickling. It’s super common. This exercise is a great way to strengthen the ankles and supporting muscle groups for added control and stability. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Start with your legs stretched out forward.
  2. Wrap the band around your working foot, and place your non-working foot on top of the band next to your foot, with the band coming up from the outside of your non-working foot.
  3. Keep the working foot slightly pointed, and slowly move the foot inwards.
  4. While keeping the ankle extended, do not use your toes, and only move to the side in relationship to the ankle. 

Exercise 4 – Eversion

This exercise also helps to avoid sickling but also winging and over-pronation. Here’s how it’s done.

  1. Sit with your legs extended forward with the working ankle resting on top of the other ankle. 
  2. To wrap the band, place your non-working foot on top of the band next to your foot, with the band coming up from the outside of your non-working foot.
  3. With your working foot slightly pointed, move your foot outwards.
  4. Keep your foot stable and the movement exactly to the side, without changing the angle of your foot. 

Exercise 5 – Big Toe

Finally! In our toe strengthening exercises you get one for your toes. The Big Toe exercise is great for pointe stability and avoidance of bunions. 

  1. Start by extending your legs and wrapping the band around your big toe while holding the band.
  2. Without pointing your toes, point your big toe, moving slowly with the resistance of the band. 

Exercise 6 – Little Toe Exercise

After you’ve worked your big toe, you’ll want to do an exercise to strengthen your little toes. This exercise is performed the same as the big toe exercise, but with the band wrapped around your little toes.

  1. Start with your legs extended with the band wrapped around your little toes and the band grasped firmly in your hands.
  2. Slowly point your toes, moving slowly against the resistance of the band.

Exercise 7 – Towel Curl

When doing a towel curl, think about a monkey using it’s feet to grab something. This is a great exercise to strengthen the intrinsic muscled of the arch. Here’s how it’s done.

  1. Place a small towel on the ground and sit in front of it.
  2. Place your working foot in the middle of the towel.
  3. Repeatedly grasp and release the towel using your toes. You can also use your toes to pick up different types of objects to get a similar workout.

Final Thoughts: Toe strengthening exercises for ballet

Using toe and feet strengthening exercises are a great way to prepare for ballet pointe work. We recommend doing the above exercises in sets 3 sets of 10 reps, while increasing until failure.

What do you think of these exercises? Have any recommendations? Let us know in the comments!

Don’t Forget: If you ever run out of your ballet basics make sure to order a ballet box to get all of the items you need for ballet class, or as a great gift for ballet dancers.

Leave a Comment!