How to Perfect Your Toe Point in Diving
A good toe point in diving is an important aspect of success. It can be the difference between a good dive and a fantastic one. Although it is a small component, it is one that you should practice to perfect.
Even if you learned how to point your toes years ago, you can still become better at it. There are several effective ways to bolster your toe point (aside from years of ballet training!). This guide contains some tips that will have you perfectly pointing your toes in no time.
Toes are just like most other parts of the body: In general, they aren't naturally flexible. In order to get a better toe point, consider the following stretches that you can incorporate into your daily routine.
Use Your Hands
The easiest stretch is done by using your hands. You can do it just about anywhere: In front of the TV, while listening to music, or when you are sitting on your bed reading a good book. Here's how:
- Sit on the ground and bend your legs into a tuck position. Your feet should be flat on the floor, with your knees bent and pointed to the ceiling.
- Lift one foot off the ground.
- Place one hand on the shin of your lifted leg, and the other hand on the toes of your lifted foot.
- Bend your lifted foot towards the ground.
- With your hand, press your toes down towards the ground.
- Press only as far as your body will let you.
- Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds.
- Switch legs and repeat on your opposite foot.
During all your stretching exercises, make sure you know the difference between pain and discomfort. Some slight discomfort is natural during stretches, but pain is your body's warning signal. Make sure you listen to it! If you feel pain when you are stretching, ease up gently and stop. Stretching should elicit some discomfort, but never pain.
Point & Flex
This is another great stretch that can be performed just about anywhere. It is good for strengthening your foot muscles and helping your toe point.
- Sit on the ground and extend one leg out in front of you.
- Keep this leg straight, with your leg muscles engaged and tight.
- Slowly, point the foot of your extended leg towards the ground.
- Hold for about two seconds, and then slowly flex your toes to the ceiling.
- Hold the flexed position for about two seconds before slowly returning to a pointed position.
- Continue slowly pointing and flexing your foot.
- Do a set of 10 point/flex positions before switching legs and repeating on the opposite foot.
Resistance bands are a great option to include in your stretching routine. The bands provide resistance to strengthen your foot and ankle muscles. Here are two ways you can use these bands to help you get a better toe point:
In order to add resistance and strengthen your foot, try this exercise:
- Sit on the floor with both legs extended out in front of you.
- Hold the band so it forms a “U position.
- Wrap the middle section of the band around the ball of one foot.
- Hold the opposite ends of the band with your hands.
- While holding the ends tightly, press your foot down.
- Keep your leg straight. Specifically, you should have no bend to the knee.
- With your heel on the ground, press your toes down towards the floor.
- Hold the pointed position for a count of 10.
- Switch legs and repeat steps 2-7 on the opposite foot.
This exercise will also strengthen your foot, but in the opposite direction as the exercise above: This exercise forces you to hold a pointed position. Using a Thera-Band stretch strap, here is how to do it:
- Sit on the floor with one leg extended and tight (muscles engaged).
- The foot of your extended leg should be in a neutral — but flexed — position.
- Wrap the middle of the band on top of the upper foot of your extended leg. The band should wrap over and around your toes.
- Grab the two ends of the band with your hands.
- Gently pull the band down and back towards your body.
- As you pull, the band should force your toes to lower towards the ground into a pointed position.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds and then switch feet and repeat.
Walk on Your Toes
Walking on your toes is a fun exercise that can be surprisingly difficult. Before you just hop onto your toes, though, make sure you are holding onto something for balance.
- Stand with your feet together and your legs straight.
- Support your body weight by grabbing onto a sturdy foundation, such as a piece of furniture.
- With one foot, curl your toes down towards the ground. Press the top part of this foot onto the floor.
- Lean your body weight onto the curled toes. Only place as much weight on the foot as you can safely support.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds before switching feet.
- In time, work up to doing this with both feet simultaneously.
- After much practice and when you can do this without pain, release your grip on the sturdy foundation and walk freely on your toes.
The shammy pick-up is an odd, but useful way to stretch and strengthen your feet. Instead of picking things up off the floor with your hands, try grabbing things with your toes. Go ahead and try to pick up things in your everyday life, such as dirty laundry or coins!
On the pool deck, get into the habit of picking up your shammy off the ground with your toes. Alternate feet, and bring the shammy all the way up to your hand if you can.
This definitely sounds odd! But if you do this on a regular basis, you will be amazed how much your toe point improves. Gripping objects tightly with your toes will strengthen your foot, which will in turn help your toe point.
The Details of Diving
Toe point is one of the many details that makes diving the impressive sport it is. Perfecting your toe point is a simple way to increase both your score and the beauty of your dives. Keep working at it, and you'll discover that mastering your toe point can pay off big!