Ready for pointe?
Most ballet dancers aspire to be able to dance en pointe. Having pointe shoes for the first time is an exciting experience. A dancer’s first pair of shoes will be slept in, have meticulously sewn ribbons (regardless of sewing ability) and are likely never to be thrown out.
So when is a dancer ready to dance on the tips of her toes? Progressing from demi pointe to dancing en pointe places an increased demand on a dancer’s body. In order to make this transition easily, exceptional stability, strength and technique is vital. In addition to these fundamental principles, the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science has recommended a dancer does not begin pointe training before the age of twelve and if ballet classes are only once a week.
It’s important to not be disheartened if the dancer doesn’t quite meet this criteria. If the ballet teacher has decided to keep the dancer en demi pointe, it is likely the dancer is at risk of injury. Overuse injuries and acute injuries (such as rolling an ankle) are both common when transitioning to pointe work. In order to prevent injuries and achieve full potential from pointe classes, it is crucial to meet pre-pointe assessment standards.
No two people are the same and therefore every dancer will will be ready for pointe at different times. A physiotherapist can specifically define strengths and weaknesses, giving each individual dancer awareness of areas to work on in addition to regular training. Collaboration with dance teachers is essential to maximise the dancers potential, as they are seeing the dancer regularly & will pick up other important technique issues.
What can I expect from a pre-pointe assessment?
Each dancer is assessed individually, encompassing other aspects of their lives (not just dance) and tr
aining (not just ballet). Your physiotherapist will measure joint and muscle range, assess strength and ballet specific technique — all with a focus on whole body alignment.
If a dancer has muscle or joint limitations they could be set up for injury when increased demands are placed on the body (e.g. pointe work). This area of the body, or somewhere else, could be excessively loaded leading to injury. An example of this is if their foot is rolling in when trying to perfect fifth position; this will change demands at the knee, hip and potentially further up the kinetic chain of the body. These areas will be required to compensate and therefore work harder.
Your physiotherapist will provide the dancer with an individually designed conditioning program encompassing strength, stability and flexibility — if required! The dancer will be able to focus on areas to work on with goals to reach in order to be safe on pointe. The assessment is tailored for readiness to progress en pointe, however finding key issues will allow the dancer to improve overall dancing performance.
Remember we aim to prevent injuries from occurring, but they can happen. Don’t let an injury stop you from dancing, a physiotherapist can help you jump back into classes confident, pain free and as soon as possible!
ocean view physiotherapy
central coast foot & ankle physiotherapy
86 ocean view drive wamberal