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Age and/or Readiness for Pointe


Guest dima

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Thank you. I think I'll also take her to the doctor to make sure her feet are strong enough. I now realize I should have done this first. Live and learn!

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It's not just strength, it's also knowledge, and one hour classes twice a week are not going to prepare a student for pointe work that I would find acceptable. That doesn't mean it isn't done, in lots of schools, but I don't have to like it.

 

My understanding socal, was that she was just having a couple of hours a week of ballet, is that right, or did I mix it up? You said she could take more next year, right?

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She takes 4 hours of ballet a week (three days). Pointe is the last 5-10 minutes of one of the classes, so the rest is technique. The schedule will be similar next year although I'm guessing the amount of time on pointe will increase. Ballet isn't her focus so she's not on a pre-pro track, but I still want to make sure she's strong enough for the pointe class.

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I would pay attention to any new aches/pains when she is on pointe (aside from the normal pointe discomfort). My daughter went on pointe before she had developed the core strength to support her flexibility and she was also hyperextending her knees. She ended up with severe hip flexor strain that took a really long time to heal, causing her to cancel last year's summer intensive and having the procedure to rule out a labral tear. In retrospect, I think it started with the pointe work, although she was not on long. She worked very hard on technique and in physical therapy and pilates. She is not yet back on pointe though.

 

Reading this thread prompts a question. In the fall when she was out injured (actually, after healing from the hip flexor injury, she broke her foot in a non-dance accident), she started to get her period. I think it happened a few times. Since she started dancing again in January, it has not returned. Does ballet delay menstruation? I recall in my past that during a period of a lot of exercise, I stopped menstruating, and the doctor said it was because I had dropped below the requisite body fat. He gave me a pill and I gained 7 pounds immediately and it started again. (Hard to believe I once once below that point(!!!).

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Mom57 - My dd's periods stop when she's dancing increased hours. She usually then has a period during breaks. Her pediatrician works with other serious athletes (which our children are if they are on pre-pro tracks as teens) and she says this is not dangerous as long as she's getting good nutrition, adequate rest, etc. I'm careful with dd's nutrition, and when she's not sneaking out to the computer to Skype with friends in the wee hours (ahem), she gets plenty of rest. Teens!

 

My dd's ballet teacher requested that she do pilates regularly before she was put on pointe and to continue through the first six months of being on pointe. She had underdeveloped core strength, and she is hyperextended in the knees. She put my dd on pointe long after her classmates went up. She, of course, was quite upset about this, but I am grateful for it. Now, 3 1/2 years later, she is very strong on pointe and is not a bit behind. She continues to this day to have a private pilates session each week. She has had times when she's quit her regular pilates sessions for a few months at a time, but almost invariably, she would end up with knee issues, hip issues, etc. For her, it makes the difference between chronic injuries and almost no injuries.

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Sounds like her teachers were very careful with her about pointe, Bela Nina, and I appreciate that very much! They did the right thing for sure. :)

 

Now, please let us get back to the topic of pointe readiness, and take any further discussion of menstruation to the N&H forum! :thumbsup:

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Interesting to hear about the hip flexor pain being related to pointe. Is that usually the case? My dd has been complaining of hip flexor pain and I'm planning to take her to the doctor on Friday. We don't have a ballet-focused pediatrician. Will a general pediatrician be able to determine if pointe is causing the pain? Are there specific questions I should ask? Great suggestion on the pilates. They have a class for the older girls that maybe she can join.

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It is somewhat unlikely that a regular pediatrician is going to know anything about ballet and pointe. It is possible that the pain is being caused by pointe, but actually more likely that it is just something overworked in ballet.

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Hello pointe2perfection, welcome to the Moms and Dads forum here on Ballet Talk for Dancers :)

 

It sounds like you did all that was necessary to learn whether your daughter was ready for pointe or not, and it's great that she is doing so well! There are many factors involved in this decision, and of course it is quite individual. The age factor is important, however, everyone grows at a different rate, and the overall strength and, most importantly the technique, must be considered as well. So many children are not in schools with the quality or quantity of training to properly prepare them for pointe at any age, much less a younger than usual age, so, your daughter is evidently quite fortunate. :thumbsup:

As my DD approaches the time when she is being considered for pointe, my concerns are increasing. I can (and will!) take her to a doctor to evaluate whether her foot is sufficiently ossified to go up and, assuming the doctor is competent, be assured of her readiness in that respect. But what of her technical ability? I have seen a number of girls at her studio who look fully (enough) grown that I am sure their feet are fine from a growth stance, but their technique, IMH and admittedly untrained, O, looks lacking. How can I be assured that my DD is technically ready to go up? I know the general factors to look for -- strength, straight legs, good turnout -- but how good do these areas have to be? Is there a way I can assess it or must I defer to her teachers? I presume you don't have to be of professional calibre to go up, but how good should you be before you don that first pair of pointe shoes?

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BalletMom8, I went back through your posts, and it seems that your daughter is barely 10 now. Is that right? It also appears that you are searching for a new school. Let's keep things in order here: First, a Pre-professional school, with a program where she gets enough training and the quality training to take her to pointe level. Second, trust the faculty if you are sure that you have found the right school. If they are good, they will notice right away the alignment problem and the feet, and should be in no major hurry whatsoever to put her on pointe.

 

When you take her in for an audition or placement level at the new school, they should spend some time talking to you about her training and her potential, and what she needs at this time.

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Again, thank you for the advice. She is unsure of what avenue to take when it comes to dance because she doesn't have the best feet for ballet in the first place. We are currently seeing an podiatrist for special orthodics to help in this area!

 

 

:)

 

My DD wears AFO orthotics (plastic leg braces from her toes to her knees). Our drs actually took in account her love of dance to ensure that she recieved the best braces that would work with the muscles she needed for dance and not against them. It took longer then just getting a custom brace b/c they really had to listen and understand her dance needs.

 

We used DAFO, they have brilliant staff there who knew quite a bit about dance and feet/legs.

 

Just a FYI.

 

Oh, I guess this is an older thread by the look of the dates. My info was directed at the mother who said her DD was getting orthotics.

 

I may leave my post as it is tho incase anyone has a similiar issue if that is okay?

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"Interesting to hear about the hip flexor pain being related to pointe. Is that usually the case? "

 

Nobody actually told us that and from my readings hip flexor is mainly caused by overworking. I think the pointe just accelerated the alignment/strength issues she needed to correct--she was overusing her right hip flexor because her alignment needed to be corrected. The most knowledgeable person in our process was a PT who specialized in dance and worked with my daughter for several months as she healed. I think what happened in my daughter's case is that she borders on hypermobility and did not develop the core strength and was hyperextending her knees which threw her whole alignment off. She went on pointe with the rest of her class and then took off for the Nutcracker and then went back and started with a non-specific hip pain that we sort of ignored until it got really really painful. She actually got a lot worse after she went to the first physical therapist who supposedly specialized in dance. That therapist was cuing my daughter to press in her back and when we started pilates, the pilates instructor was really upset about that because she said her spine needed to be neutral. So, a parent contacted me (I think from this listserve) and told me where to research and I found a terrific PT who was on the same page with the pilates instructor. She started improving immediately but it still took a while to figure out what was going on. Our doctor who chairs the pediatric sports medicine department of a major hospital started just deferring to whatever the PT advised because I don't think that she intially though the neutral spine was an issue.

 

We both learned a lot but I still don't think she is paying enough attention to her body's signals as she should--but she is only 12.

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  • 7 months later...

My daughter's teacher told her that she will probably go en pointe this fall. I have some concerns, since she is only 10 (she will be 10 3/4 in the fall). I trust the teacher to know when she is ready technically, but I want to seek out the opinion of a medical professional before I agree. We are seeing her pediatrician this week, and I will discuss it with him, but I'm guessing we will need to see some kind of specialist as well. What kind of doctor should we see? And when should we do it? Should we wait until late summer, closer to the start of the pointe class?

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Well, since you're asking this question here I think deep down, you know that this is too early. Trust your instincts.

 

What the pediatrician can do is check her growth plates, which will give you more information to go on. Another option might be to take her to a few promising area schools, and have a placement class along with a chat where you can ask each time when they might put her en pointe.

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My DD's pediatrician didn't have a clue. She said no one had ever asked her about that before (knowing if the foot is ready for pointe). She said that the growth plates don't start hardening until the start of menses (which DD started the week after our appointment). One mom did find a sports medicine doctor that seemed to know about dancer's feet, but I'm not sure what he did or told her. Her daughter started pointe, so I'm guessing it was favorable.

 

Good luck!

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