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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Studies on pointe readiness & injury


natashabrown

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Are there any studies on age/readiness and pointe work? I've read all of the differing opinions. Even though the majority on this site say not before age 11/12, I don't understand where that information is coming from. Where is the proof that starting earlier will cause problems later? I'm not suggesting it doesn't, just asking if any studies have been done. And how do you even conduct such a study? There are SO many variables with students of the same age. Technique ability, core/ankle/feet strength, varying bone development. This universal acceptance of the bones being too soft early on causing problems...where did this orignate from? Was there a time when there was a huge rate of injury and they came to this conclusion that it was because they were all starting too early?

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Interesting qoute from the website you listed:

 

"The completion of bone growth in the feet is often given as a reason for choosing the age of 12 for beginning pointe work. However, this concept is basically erroneous, as bone growth in the average girl's foot is not complete at that age."

 

And one more:

 

"Mr. Justin Howse, retired Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon to the Royal Ballet Schools and the Royal Academy of Dancing (London, UK), says that "the only factor which matters is the state of development of the child, and to be dogmatic about an age does not make any reference to the child's maturity or immaturity."

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We also use the IADMS for questions like that.

 

I will also note that there are quite a few posts like this already on this site.

 

On a personal note, I will share that I started pointe as a young girl before I was really ready and sustained injuries to the bones in my feet that prompted my podiatrist to tell me at age 15 that I could either choose to walk or to dance. The necessary strength must be there, or you are really playing with fire in my opinion.

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I've seen a lot of threads on here about pointe age, I was just curious if there have been any studies done.

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In the absence of proof, is it really worth risking? Much of the information you are reading on this board about pointe readiness is written by highly qualified and experienced teachers and teacher moderators. I would worry more about her physical development, feet/legs/use of rotation/core strength, and the quantity and quality of training, and if those things are in place then trust the teacher.

 

I noticed that you mentioned in another topic that your dancer is hypermobile, and also having trouble with strength in the supporting leg due to hyperextension. The teacher should know how to place her properly in order to work with that. They need to learn how to place the body weight and work the quad muscles to not let the knee lock back. But you do not bend the knee.

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In regards to my other post- I didn't realize the knee shouldn't bend. Thank you for telling me that. Perhaps I wasn't understanding her correctly when dd was explaining it to me.

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There is a difference between preventing the knee to travel backwards/lock, and straightening it by using the quads and weight placement. I hope that her teacher understands this. But I would still be concerned about pointe work because of the hypermobility. I have a student currently who is extremely hypermobile, but she does not have core strength or control of rotation. She has good feet, but cannot use them well in the center, and the same goes for rotation, especially in one leg, which is always turned in. I would not put her in pointe shoes and she is over 13, maybe 15 by now..

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I talked to dd tonight and clarified the details. She said she's having a difficult time with it but at least I know the teacher is explaining it correctly.

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That is good to know.

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natashabrown, in regards to pointe work and hyper mobility, there is a general lack of strength that needs to be addressed before hyper mobile dancers can go up on pointe. My DD is almost 13 and we are waiting to get the green light for pointe work to begin because she has been working to build up the strength that she needs. With out enough strength the chance for injury increases greatly. My DD should be up before her 13th birthday given her progress.

 

So adding hyper mobility to the mix can delay pointe work. It really is a double edged sword!

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When my DD turned 10 her teachers felt strongly that she was ready for pointe shoes. I had always heard (not from any medical source, just in passing) that a child should be at least 12 before beginning pointe work, and my DD is a slow grower, so naturally I was hesitant. DD understood my concern, but she was eager to move to the next level, so we reached a deal. I would make her an appointment with a pediatric orthopedist if she agreed to abide by whatever he said. My assumption was that he would explain to her the risks involved, and tell her how long she needed to wait.

To my surprise, after examining my DD, the doctor recommended that I let her start right away. He said there really were no established medical studies or evidence to show that beginning pointe work "early" would be detrimental. According to him, that's just one of those things that everybody "knows" but nobody has actually proved… basically urban legend. Now, if DD developed pain or other problems, of course he would want her to stop or cut back till we could determine the cause… but otherwise he felt there was no need to keep her from participating in an activity that she loved.

 

That was over four years ago and thus far we've had no problems (beyond the usual blisters, etc.). That said, my DD is small but muscular, with a strong core; I'm sure both her doctor and her teachers took that into consideration when giving her the thumbs up. Certainly not every child would be ready at 10. But I was fine with bucking the conventional wisdom that NO child is ready, once I learned there may not be any factual basis behind it.

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Yes, that is my point I guess, where's the proof? Shouldn't it be entirely based on the individual and their body/abilities? Sara Mearns went up at 7...Tiler Peck at 9...both have said they credit their early sucess to their early and strong foundation. Sure they could have been successful if they had waited...but do we know that for sure? Nope. If there are many roads to Rome, maybe going up early for some (exceptional) kids, is the road for them...just a thought.

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Because it can cause problems doesn't mean it will cause problems for everyone. And, since most dancers have various and sundry injuries throughout their dancing lives, there is little to no proof of what causes many of them. There are educated theories for many, not so much for some. Were a dancers foot bone or joint or tendon problems caused by pointe too early, or by working incorrectly, or by working on bad floors, etc., etc. Most of the injuries could be caused by any or all of these things, or, maybe something else altogether.

 

Unfortunately, there are thousands of teachers out there who are not as well qualified or knowledgeable as they need to be to teach children correctly, and to know when they are ready for pointe, and how much pointe. There are young dancers all over the place taking one or two ballet classes a week and doing pointe after a couple of years of training and totally lacking in proper preparation, strength, placement, rotation, and physical facility. Why? Because they want it. The parent wants it. The teacher doesn't know any better, or maybe does but can't afford to lose a student.

 

I'm not saying that any of this is the case being discussed here, I'm saying that these things happen and we are here to try and educate so that they can make the best decisions for their children.

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I get what you're saying. I think the teachers know best, IMO. And I think the hours each week/body/strength/technique ability are absolute musts. If my dds teacher puts her up early, it certainly wouldn't be because my dd or I were asking for it. We never discuss it; we respect her teacher and know she will tell us when she's ready.

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