Starting to dance en pointe is a rite of passage for any aspiring ballerina and a very exciting time in a dancer’s early career. She will be excited, but you need to be aware that this is not a typical function of the human foot and you need to make sure she is ready for the demands of dancing on her toes to prevent pain or lifelong injury.
Areas that need to be assessed include classical ballet technique, foot and ankle strength and flexibility, postural control, core stability as well as turnout range and strength. Any major deficits in these areas will predispose a dancer to an injury if not addressed before going en pointe. Studies have shown that 36% of chronic injuries in Australian professional ballet dancers commence before 18 years of age.
The best way to see if a dancer is ready is to have a pre-pointe assessment with a physiotherapist. The assessment is used to develop an individualised exercise program that ensures the dancer progresses onto pointe safely and improves their dance technique in general. The exercises prescribed will complement the dancer’s current training thus producing a stronger all-round performer and increasing the longevity of the dancer’s career.
There is no significant difference of incidence before/after starting pointe work, according to recent studies, rather pain and dysfunction are related to years spent dancing with poor technique.
The SquareOne Pre-Pointe Assessment is based on the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) criteria combined with an in-depth orthopaedic assessment to identify areas of weakness that may predispose a dancer to injury. At SquareOne, Jeremy Hunt is our physiotherapist dance specialist and he can work with you to achieve your dancing goals. If you’d like to find out more about pre-point assessments, call Jeremy on 9968 3424 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
M.Phty(GE), B.App.Sc.(HM), Dip Pilates APAM
Polestar Pilates Educator and Examiner
Physiotherapist for Bangarra Dance Theatre
Member of International Association of Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS)