Turnout range and strength, as well as core control are other areas that often need specific attention before starting en pointe. Many more tests and exercises to help with the progression onto pointe can be found in The Perfect Pointe Book.
4. What can happen if my students are put en pointe too early?
There are many photos online of older dancers with bunions, deformed toes and blisters from starting pointe either too early, or without the strength to maintain good foot control en pointe. Correct preparation and constant revision of basic technique en pointe can help avoid most, if not all of these issues.
Common injuries that can occur from not articulating and strengthening the feel correctly can include:
- Achilles Tendinopathy
- FHL Tendinopathy
- Ankle Sprains
- Pain Across the Front of the Foot
- Posterior Impingement
- Stress Fractures
Injuries from weaknesses or imbalances around the hips and back include:
- Lumbar Stress Fractures
- Tight Hip Flexors
- Anterior Hip Impingement
- Snapping Hip Syndrome
- Groin Strains
All of the dance conditioning programs that we have developed have been created due to the injuries that we see in our clinic, and are based upon correcting the issues and weaknesses that lead to these injuries, before they develop!
5. Is there any other advice you would offer to teachers preparing their students for pointe?
|Don’t rush it!!!! Making sure that every student has all of the strength and mobility requirements (especially pointe range) to start en pointe does make it a lot easier to work with them en pointe. I also run all students through some preparatory exercises in their new shoes (on flat) before they even start rising (as shown in the My Beginner Pointe Program). This really helps them develop the proprioception and control needed to master control of their pointe shoes.Regular reviews of the “Pre-pointe Assessment” are also helpful to maintain a strong focus on their alignment and control. Please do not be scared to pull a child back off pointe if they have lost strength due to time off or an injury, as this will help them get back to full strength faster. It is a great motivator for other students to keep up with their exercises!
I am also very strict with the rule of spending at least 3 months at the barre when first en pointe, and believe that a student should have her pointe shoes for at least a year before attempting any solos en pointe. Far too often I hear stories of students getting their shoes so that they can dance en pointe in their end of year concert. This is NOT a good idea and not only makes the child’s performance suffer, but can encourage incorrect motor patterning to be developed that can be very hard to break.
If you would like more information regarding how to best prepare yourself or your students for pointe click on 'The Perfect Pointe Book' banner below. Purchasing the online edition will give you access to the online videos and Ebook. If you would like to purchase the hardcopy edition, please do this through our Amazon store. If you are a dance teacher or health professional who would like to master the art of a pre-pointe assessment, learn how to prevent injuries on pointe and more, take a look at our Pointe Intensive Workshop!