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Author Topic: Pointing Toes  (Read 1455 times)

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Offline holdontilmae

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Pointing Toes
« on: December 23, 2015, 02:33:42 PM »
I am seriously struggling with getting/keeping my foot turned out on anything that requires extension. I have horrible turnout and difficulty with mohawks. I am currently doing stretches to open my hips (butterfly, frog) and off ice spirals, but is there anything else I can do off ice to improve my turnout/toe point? When I do my spirals, my coach says, "point your toe!!!" and I invariably say, "I'M TRYING!"  :sweat
Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

Offline riley876

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Re: Pointing Toes
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2015, 02:44:36 PM »
Do you have internal tibial torsion?  i.e. are your feet naturally internally rotated with respect to your knees?

Try this:  Stand with feet a few inches apart and parallel.  Now bend knees in a range from locked position to all the way forward.   Do your knees want to go out (i.e. separate) when you bend them? 

I have (bad) external tibial torsion, and it sounds like yours is the complete opposite of my skating.  i.e. mowahks, spread eagles (even outside edge ones when i'm feeling courageous), and nice pointing is about ALL I can do well.  I have a 200 degree turnout.

Offline icedancer

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Re: Pointing Toes
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2015, 03:19:26 PM »
I think the whole "pointing the toe" thing is more about keeping control of the free leg and foot than anything else (and yes it looks better as well) - there is only so much toe-point you can actually get in a skating boot (as compared with, say, a ballet dancer) - and of course some skaters get boots with a lower back-stay so that they can achieve more point.

But really it is all about control - control the free leg and foot will help to control the foot that is on the ice - in fact some schools of thought would say that it is all in what the free hip, leg and foot are doing (my coach for one - also anyone who has done or taught school figures).

So I am wondering about the turnout here - if your hips are "closed" you can achieve the turnout not from the hip but from the knee. 

What level are you skating? How long have you been skating? What kind of skating are you doing? Moves? Freestyle? Dance? Figures?

Offline holdontilmae

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Re: Pointing Toes
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2015, 03:39:06 PM »
Riley876: No...my knees stay pretty straight when I bend them. I am pigeon toed, though. To the point where my parents took me to a physical therapist when I was little. I can turn my feet all the way in with very little effort. Just can't turn them out when I'm off the ice without feeling it in my knees. (On ice is irrelevant because I can't turn them out more than, like, 90 degrees, haha.  :nvm:

Icedancer: I am definitely agree about control and can feel the turn in my hip when I achieve any semblance of a toe point. It's just so frustrating I can't get my free foot turned out at all on stroking or jump landings, let alone parallel to the ice like I know it's supposed to be on spirals. I've been taking lessons for just about nine months (excluding the 2 month ice hiatus for summer) and I am in ISI freestyle 2. Do you have any tips for building up the necessary control to achieve the pretty turned out free foot? 

Offline icedancer

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Re: Pointing Toes
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2015, 03:57:07 PM »
Well, it sounds like you haven't been skating very long so I will say what I say to everyone: practice, practice, practice!

You might want to practice extensions and toe-point off-ice like on a ballet barre or just hanging on to a desk or a chair.  That is where I would start.

And at some point that pigeon-toe may work in your favor because there are places in skating where you will want to turn that foot in (like on cross-strokes) and you will find that easy - people with a more turned-out foot will have trouble with that element.  You may also find the "barrel rolls" will work better for you whereas if I try them... well, I am pretty much screaming the whole time!

Offline riley876

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Re: Pointing Toes
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2015, 04:06:43 PM »
Riley876: No...my knees stay pretty straight when I bend them. I am pigeon toed, though. To the point where my parents took me to a physical therapist when I was little. I can turn my feet all the way in with very little effort. Just can't turn them out when I'm off the ice without feeling it in my knees.

I'm not sure how one can be pigeon toed without tibial torsion?  maybe there's some other compensation going on, maybe femoral torsion?    I suggest comparing yourself to a bunch of other people just to get a handle on how far off the norm you are.

Regardless, here's an idea to try:  make some wedge orthotics.   i.e. build up under the entire outside edge of the foot.    This provides some pronation which will tend to rotate the foot outwards.     To try this easily, just take some sheets of newspaper and fan-fold them to make a wedge.  Use this as a replacement for (or under) the existing insole.    All depend on your particular knee geometry as to whether this is a good idea or not (i.e. knees over toes is vital to preserve)


Offline holdontilmae

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Re: Pointing Toes
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2015, 04:25:03 PM »
Icedancer: Thanks, I will keep working on my off-ice spirals! And it's comforting to know that my turn-in might come in handy some day, haha.
Riley876: Sorry, I must be having a hard time understanding what you mean.  :o  Thanks for the input, though!

Offline tstop4me

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Re: Pointing Toes
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2015, 04:57:46 PM »
I'm not sure how one can be pigeon toed without tibial torsion?  maybe there's some other compensation going on, maybe femoral torsion?    I suggest comparing yourself to a bunch of other people just to get a handle on how far off the norm you are.

Regardless, here's an idea to try:  make some wedge orthotics.   i.e. build up under the entire outside edge of the foot.    This provides some pronation which will tend to rotate the foot outwards.     To try this easily, just take some sheets of newspaper and fan-fold them to make a wedge.  Use this as a replacement for (or under) the existing insole.    All depend on your particular knee geometry as to whether this is a good idea or not (i.e. knees over toes is vital to preserve)

I can see how wedge orthotics can, in some instances, help correct foot alignment in the skating leg (when weight is placed on the foot), but I don't see how it would help correct foot alignment in the free leg.

To OP:  Have you pointed out to your coach that you are pigeon-toed?  I have the opposite problem:  feet turned out (right foot more than left ).  I have just come to accept that some moves (e.g., outside edges) come real easy and other moves (such as back inside edges that require a pigeon-toed start) are extremely difficult.

Offline holdontilmae

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Re: Pointing Toes
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2015, 05:44:44 PM »
Tstop4me: Yes, I have, generally whenever we try to improve my mohawks and I have to say, "my feet don't do that, though" haha. She has a fabulous turn out and a great spread eagle, so I don't think she totally understands my struggle  88)
You are totally right, because I love back inside edges but the outside ones still scare me to death!

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Re: Pointing Toes
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2015, 07:48:03 PM »
On the plus side, you could be very good at snowplow stops, on the ice, and in skis on the snow.

People are really going to hate this idea, and I haven't tried it:

People can only see the orientation of your boots and blades, not of your feet.

So in principle, if you took boots that were too big, and padded the boots (e.g., by cutting a piece of foam, like carpet foam, to the shape you need, for each foot) so that your feet are actually pigeon toed when your boots are parallel, it would make you look like you had more turn-out. In addition, you would want the blades to be mounted along the direction of the boots, not your feet, so that they perform as though you had more turn-out too.

Problem is, the balance of your body weight over your blades would make you tend to be on your inside edge when you are on the front of your blades, and on the outside edge when you are on the back of your blades. About the only way to more or less fix that would be if you padded and laced the boots to give you a very tight fit, and re-heat-molded the boots after doing all this.

This would only give you a few degrees extra of apparent and effective turn-out. For me, Riley876's approach only gives a few extra degrees too - though it is something I never thought of trying. Combine them both, and it might possibly be enough.

But a lot of us just don't have much turn-out. Equipment can only take us so far. Flexibility will always be a big deal in figure skating, and you will probably always have some limitations. :(

Offline liseybeast

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Re: Pointing Toes
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2016, 04:05:11 PM »
Stretches like butterfly and frog are great for turnout but also work on strengthening the turnout muscles (different muscles in the hip/pelvic region) and supporting muscles. Good old fashion ballet class (plies, fondues, etc.) can help with this along with different types of leg circle exercises and leg lifts. Also holding tension in the hip area can restrict turn out.

Pointing the foot is slightly separate from turnout, though. I have to remind myself to pointe my foot all the time since its strapped inside a boot compared to dance.

Offline icedancer

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Re: Pointing Toes
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2016, 07:16:20 PM »
On the subject of pointing toes I have to say that over-the-boot tights make the un-pointed toe look even more un-pointed.

The skater may think they get a better and longer leg-line with those but I think not.  MAYBE if the toes are pointed too.

Offline Doubletoe

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Re: Pointing Toes
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2016, 04:46:10 PM »
I am always baffled by people who say they can't point their toes.  I actually have a friend who is a fairly high level skater who says she can't (and I know she does not have closed hips and is not pigeon-toed).  I can understand not being able to point toes very easily inside stiff skating boots (especially freestyle boots that are high in back, or if you lace too tightly over the instep), but what would keep someone from being able to point her toes without skating boots on?  Are there actual issues with foot muscles or bone structure that would prevent it?

Offline riley876

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Re: Pointing Toes
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2016, 04:52:42 PM »
I read something somewhere somewhat unrelated about achillies tendon compression and damage related to that.   I wonder if that's a possible mechanism for not being about to point?

Offline Lola

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Re: Pointing Toes
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2016, 01:51:37 PM »
Good old fashion ballet class (plies, fondues, etc.) can help with this along with different types of leg circle exercises and leg lifts.

Second this advice. I'm not known for my flexibility, and ballet class has been extremely helpful in getting my hips turned out.