Dancers require a very specific set of skills and abilities to excel in their sport. Therefore, it is important to undergo the appropriate assessments at different stages of your dance career and if an injury does occur, see a physiotherapist appropriately trained, and up-to-date in treatments for dance specific injuries.
Ballet is the most technical form of dance, asking you to dance right up on the tips of your toes, taking thousands of steps to float gracefully along the stage. All young ballet dancers want to achieve this, and getting their first pair of pointe shoes is an exciting milestone! However, the road to achieving this beauty is strenuous, requiring years of training, dedication and discipline, and can take a toll on the body, especially when not done correctly. Young dancers only have one body for life and it is important that they take care of them.
As humans, we are not meant to walk on the tips of our toes so it is very important to make the movements as safe as possible and reduce the risk of injury. The International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) recommends that a young dancer fulfil a criterion prior to progressing to Pointe. Using current research, we have developed a biomechanical assessment specifically aimed at young dancers wishing to progress onto pointe.
What is involved in a pre-pointe assessment?
It is recommended that dancer’s do not start pointe before the age of 12, they practice ballet specific skills at least twice a week and have done so for at least 3-4 years beforehand. This is to ensure that they have developed the appropriate cognitive skills as well as strength, flexibility and technique.
The assessment will also include:
- Foot and Ankle Assessment: evaluating the dancer's foot and ankle structure and range of motion.
- Strength Assessment: testing the strength of the dancer's feet, ankles, legs, and core.
- Flexibility Assessment: testing the flexibility of the dancer's feet, ankles, legs, and back.
- Balance Assessment: testing the dancer's ability to maintain balance in various positions, including standing on one leg and relevé.
- Technique Assessment: evaluating the dancer's posture, alignment, and technique in basic ballet movements.
- A full report detailing the results of the assessment and any recommendations that arise from the assessment will be available to the dancer following the assessment. This can then be passed onto your dance teacher so they can further help you.
Common dance injuries
While dancing on pointe can be a beautiful sight, it is important to recognize that it can also be a source of injury if not done properly. Some of the most common injuries resulting from pointe work include:
- Ankle Sprains: This is a common injury that occurs when the ankle is twisted or turned beyond its normal range of motion.
- Stress Fractures: These are small cracks in the bones of the foot or ankle that are caused by repetitive stress.
- Achilles Tendonitis: This is a condition that occurs when the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed and painful.
- Plantar Fasciitis: This is a condition that occurs when the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, becomes inflamed and painful.
- Unfortunately, injuries are not limited to the foot and ankle. If there is weakness, limited range, or poor control in the foot/ankle, this results in compensations in the knee, hip and back. Impairments not appropriately addressed may lead to chronic injuries further up the body later in the dancer's career/education.
Many of these injuries can be avoided through correct technique and proper education, however a dance Physiotherapist is also trained to diagnose and manage these conditions, so don’t hesitate to come see us if you or your young dancer is experiencing any pain or discomfort during training.