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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Age and/or Readiness for Pointe


Guest dima

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The growth plate, also known as the epiphyseal plate or physis, is the area of growing tissue near the ends of the long bones in children and adolescents. Each long bone has at least two growth plates: one at each end. The growth plate determines the future length and shape of the mature bone. When growth is complete - sometime during adolescence - the growth plates close and are replaced by solid bone.

Because the growth plates are the weakest areas of the growing skeleton - even weaker than the nearby ligaments and tendons that connect bones to other bones and muscles - they are vulnerable to injury. Injuries to the growth plate are called fractures.

 

Growth plate injuries can occur in growing children and adolescents. In a child, a serious injury to a joint is more likely to damage a growth plate than the ligaments that stabilize the joint. Trauma that would cause a sprain in an adult might cause a growth plate fracture in a child.

 

This is from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

 

What a pediatrisian should be able to tell you is how far away that maturing process is. While we all understand that the final formation does not occur until towards the end of adolescence, if there is any question at all, finding out how soft those areas are can give us much-needed information about placing a child en pointe.

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  • Victoria Leigh

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  • Mel Johnson

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  • mom57

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Thank you! I feel more prepared to talk to the pediatrician now. I know nothing about ballet from personal experience, but I've read this board widely, so I know 12 is considered a better age for beginning pointe. I know that our AD delays some girls that she believes are not yet ready, and she does not promote entire classes to pointe at once -- she evaluates them individually. But it seems that 10-11 (around 5th grade) is an average age, so it is younger than is recommended here, which does make me uncomfortable.

 

I'm preparing myself for the probability that I will need to tell the AD that DD will be waiting until she is older. The AD is a formidable personality with very strong opinions that she does things the right way. I tend to shy away from conflict, so I'm hoping that I can arm myself with some firm medical opinions to back me up. Clara 76, the medical information you provided and your suggestion about talking to some other schools are both very helpful.

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