The origin of the idea
By: David Campos
Dear Friend, My name is David Campos, inventor of this handy and very effective footstretcher dance tool,
the Ballet FootStretch, the Original.
After a full and exciting dance career as soloist at the Royal Ballet of Flanders, Antwerp, Belgium, I decided to dedicatemyself
to the teaching profession as ballet master of my own School in Barcelona, andalso to choreograph and to direct my own
professional dance company, Ballet David Campos.
I have always wondered why there were still not any existing more advanced methods for improving the arch of the foot.
It was hard to believe to pass from the 20th to the 21st century without anyone having investigated some safe and effective
method in dance training, besides the usualtendu exercises with an extra push, to help improve and develop further this
requiredasset from the professional.
And I say this, because, though hard to admit and believe it, to not have adequately arched feet can be equivalent to not get
into a recognized ballet school of high standards, or, winning a competition, or, even getting a contract with a company.
Now, some will say, "... but the arches of the feet do not represent everything what means to be a dancer ...
his artistic side is more important," Yes, okay, but let us face it ... The world of ballet is based on artistic expression
but, since a few decades ago, and the way dance standards have evolved, it has become more selective and competitive,
also in terms of physical assets, such as feet aesthetics, as part of a whole and complete body language.
In the dance world have also looked for alternatives techniques, best examples known are the Pilates or Gyrotonic methods,
representing a great help in the physical preparation of dancers.
But what about feet?
Most commonly, dancers did what they could with self-created alternatives like putting the feet under the
sofa or piano, or simply sitting on their ankles, which can be uncomfortable, and can provoke lesions.
Why do we say this?
Because such improvised ethods lead to possible incorrect positioning and alignment of the stretched foot. Besides,
these home-made methods may be putting an uncontrolled pressure in delicate zones of the feet, depending on
individual foot structures, without the necessary protection and support that a carefully-designed device specific for this
área, as the Ballet Foot Stretch guarantees, can provide.
Till now, with its controlled and unique elongated ergonomic design specially for dancers feet and legs,
Ballet Foot Stretch in fact, has helped manyballet dancers to prevent having foot injuries, warming-up and helping
the feet to stretch further, before or after class, and in a controlled and correct alignment. Foot stretcher tool has proven to
be safe and effective all throughout these years of its existence and use.
We should note, and it is good to mention, that other elements can in fact cause more harm and injury to a dancer´s foot,
and that these elements should also be corrected: such as hard and/or slippery dance floors, lack of
warm-up before training, the improper shoe wear, poor nutrition, etc.
Until the creation of Ballet Foot Stretch in 1998, there was no device in the ballet
world that had a specific function of stretching the feet of the dancers.
David Campos and his wife Irene Sabas, also a former soloist with the Royal Ballet of Flanders,
introduced for the first time the word "footstretch" to define the function of the invention and the word
"footstretching" as a technique and practice or training with this device.
DOUBLE UPWARD COUNTERFORCE
When we stretch the foot we must take into account the behavior of all the leg muscles.
We can hardly isolate this question. The hold position of the foot at maximum stretch is different
depending on, for example, whether the leg is straight or bent and how much it is stretched or bent.
The muscles and tendons of the foot are also related to those of the entire leg, from the hip, through
the knee and ankle to all the structures of the foot and toes.
A poor relationship in this sense means, in the best of cases, achieving greater flexibility of the
insteps but a considerable retraction of the foot when we try to raise the legs, for example.
So if the leg is at an elevation of 45º the tendon and muscle structures contract or yield to a different
extent than if it were at 180º. Is that correct? Well, exactly the same thing happens when we position
the leg at the 2nd (from the side) or when we have the leg behind in an arabesque position.
The first upward curve F10. supports the arch of the foot; and, the second upward curve F11.,just
behind the heel cup base, supports the posterior part of the heel joint (astragalus-calcaneus-tibia)
Upon placing the foot on the device and carefully stretching the leg and pressing the front part
of the foot downwards with the elastic band, a double upward counterforce with the 2 higharched
supporting curves (F10. and F11.) is produced. In other words, stretching down the forefront of the foot,
with the second curve, the heel pressure is relieved considerably, thanks to this curve´s supportive pushing
action upwards and outwards, “holding” the astragaluscalcaneus joint, with a heel pushing forward action,
similar to self-traction maneuver in physiotherapy.
The 2 high curves (F10. and F11.) act as a "bridge support” for both foot arch and ankle,
distributing pressure more evenly throughout the posterior part of the lower leg,
reducing overload, and preventing posterior impingement F12.,
especially on the heel zone (tibiaastragalus-calcaneus zone).
MANEUVER OF THE HANDLE
Ballet Foot Stretch, apart from being highly efficient and safe as
the foot and the ankle are stretched, has its original design with a
characteristic elongated handle.
This elongated handle (patented design) is special because it
offers the user, a variety of possible hand maneuvers for diverse
leg positionings, helping the function of stretching, and
strengthening, the entire leg in different ballet positions, more
especially on the "endehors" (outward rotation from the ankle, to
the knee and up to the hip) lengthening and beautifiying the leg
lines, a basic requirement in classical ballet training.
PASSIVE OR ACTIVE DYNAMIC STRETCHING
Ballet Foot Stretch is NOT a passive stretching method. It provides an infinite
possibility of exercises for the dancer, enhancing dynamic mobility as well as foot and leg
line, while stretching the foot arch in different positions of the leg.
It is very important to know and recognize that any device or machine to exercise the body must
be accompanied by an activity or training that is governed by a careful and responsible methodology
or technique such as ballet, rhythmic or sports gymnastics, swimming, athletics, etc.
The more correct the preparation technique of the activity that is carried out, both sports and
dance, the more results will be achieved with the help of these accessories.
It is true that, for example, elastic bands can improve a certain condition of the feet but they do
not stop performing a function with a single objective, the development of foot strength by the
simple fact of a continuous repetition to a resistance. That is, to achieve more flexibility we do
not resort to weights. Weights or resistance serve to strengthen where we apply them.
For very flexible feet or ankles, we recommend these resistance supplements (THERA BAND) to
strengthen range of motion. But we cannot confuse that, on the contrary, if a foot has insufficient
flexibility, it is incongruous to prescribe the practice of resistance and strength to expand its mobility.
What you will need is adequate and controlled pressure so that the soft structures that make up your
foot give way and expand their movement. If it is true, it is recommended to practice gentle
resistance to adapt the foot to this new flexibility throughout the process. But it is also true that the
foot can be very stiff, and that is when, all the more reason, it needs a procedure designed and
created to exert maximum controlled pressure to obtain satisfactory results.
And with this function performs Ballet Foot Stretch.
Dr. Núria Massó*
Licensed Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery
Doctor of Medicine Specialties, Sports Medicine
“I have known of the Ballet Foot Stretch from its initial conception, since 20 years ago. It was designed
especially to find a means to help achieve a greater and wider range of plantar flexion for dancers´feet.
From my point of view as a speciallized dance therapist, I recognize the significant importance and
usefulness of this invention to develop the dancers´ feet in a controlled, and yet dynamic,
and safest stretching way possible.
The Ballet Footstretcher provides a revolutionary alternative especially for young dancers.
Due to the increasing demands and aesthetic standards required from the dance field,
Ballet Foot Stretch gives the dancers of today the unique alternative way to acquire greater
degree of mobility for their feet, stretching them further to the màximum,
simultaneously strengthening positions, ans lengthening leg line.
Thus it saves them from having to resort to usual practices, such as introducing feet
under a sofa, for example, exposing them to apply uncontrolled methods that could
lead to future serious injuries or strains in sensitive areas of the foot.
One of the most important advantages of this invention is its design, which offers a back
support for the ankle, exerting a countervailing force upward against the downward elongated
stretching pressure action, maintaining and protecting the space within the tibia, the talus and the
calcaneus joint. The goal is to respect this sensitive joint area in those cases where plantar flexion
stretching is taken further more than the usual. Respecting this area is important for preventing
the most common ailment associated with excess plantar flexion, such as tendinopathies
or rear ankle "impingement". In my book THE BODY IN DANCE (El cuerpo en la danza).
Posture, Movement and Pathology, some of these ankle alterations are dealt with
and discussed, and how to avoid them through sure methods with samples on
how to use the safe and new Ballet Foot Stretch tool for dancers.”
SD*Licensed Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery Doctor of Medicine Specialties: Sports Medicine,
Electrophysiological studies (Electromyography and Neurography) Experience in the healthcare field and
electromiographist outpatient and hospital level. Ongoing work on the application of conventional and new
techniques in the study of neuromuscular conditions. Founder and Director of the Medical Unit of Dance in
Barcelona for the treatment of health problems in Dance and Performing Arts Electromyography.