The Better Arch-
An arch stretcher is a training tool which provides gentle stretching of the ligaments to increase the range of motion and mobility and have become indispensable in recent years.
The Better Arch is a unique stretcher in that it is a multi-purpose 4 in 1 tool. Simply unscrew the handle from the base unit and it becomes a muscle massaging tool, a foot roller and a trigger point massager.
- Heel socket which decreases tension on the Achilles heel
- Achilles base reduces pressure on the tendon and provides for a greater foot stretch
- Sole stretch to avoid pressure irritation from the heel
- 4 tools in 1
- Lightweight and portable
- Massage muscles
- Massage handle
- Heel pads
- Stretch band
- Carry bag
Things you should know:
Considerations critical to your decision to use foot stretching devices:
1. Every foot is different and may require different techniques therefore using one type of device and technique with an entire class is risky. (i.e. if one student has hyper-mobile feet already, strong stretches across the front of the foot may overstretch the ligaments and make the foot even more unstable and vulnerable to injury.)
2. Sustained stretching of ligaments may reduce the proprioceptive awareness of these ligaments and hinder the student’s ability to feel where the foot is. This is very important when progressing with pointe work.
3. If the student has stiff feet, the chances of one device being able to isolate where that particular foot needs more mobility is highly unlikely. Some feet need more range where the metatarsals meet the tarsal bones, others need more range between the tarsal bones, and some need it between the talus and the lower leg.
4. Most of the bony restriction in ankle range is actually a block in the sub-talar joint, which cannot be stretched with any of these stretches – most of them actually compress it.
5. Any stretching of the front of the arch must be felt as a gentle stretch spread over a wide area. It should never be felt as pain, or as a focused stretch at one point.
6. All of these stretches focus on forcing the foot into a pointed position, and this can result in compression of the structures at the back of the ankle. Many students have issues with Posterior Impingement anyway – so over-pointing the foot forcefully can exacerbate compression in the back of the ankle.
7. As a general rule, most students have more range in their feet than they can use anyway so the focus should be placed on strengthening into their current range before worrying too much about increasing their range. As the strength improves – often, so does range.
8. Any attempts to increase pointe range should be done very slowly, and with careful thought to the anatomy of the ankle to keep it stable and strong. Overstretched ligaments have reduced proprioceptive feedback and that something you never want.