What is a Pre-Pointe Ballet Assessment?

What is a Pre Pointe assessment?

Dance schools will often assess your ability to start pointe, however it is important to have your feet medically cleared by a qualified professional to ensure that your feet are physically prepared for the demands of pointe work.

Pointe is a beautiful art however it is not a normal human function.

Part of pointe assessment involves testing the range of motion of the joints and strength and flexibility of the muscles of the feet and legs.

The Pre-Pointe Assessment Looks at the Following:

  • Stability and strength of the lower limb (foot, ankle, knee and hip)
  • Core alignment and stability
  • Postural control
  • Range of motion tests
  • Functional testing of the lower limb
  • Alignment and anatomical assessment
4 girls learning ballet

At the end of the assessment, each student is given a personalised take home strength and conditioning program to build up their strength and control to further prepare their bodies for the demands of pointe work.

This may include functional exercises, theraband work and stretching.

Our podiatrists at Dynamic Podiatry can conduct a comprehensive pointe assessment and prescribe appropriate exercises to prepare your feet for pointe.

When Should a Pre Pointe Assessment be Conducted?

bBallet dancers doing floor stretches

We recommend a pre-pointe assessment to be completed by all wishing to commence pointe work.

Ideally the pre-pointe assessment would take place 3-6 months before they wish to begin their pointe classes, so that we have adequate time to work on any areas requiring further strength and conditioning.

Avoid Common Ballet Injuries.

This can help to avoid common problems many face when first beginning pointe work such as:

  • Not being able to rise up onto the pointe box correctly
  • Bent knees when en pointe
  • Poor balance when en pointe
  • Pain in the foot or ankle when en pointe
  • Inability to maintain turnout en pointe

When am I Ready to Start Pointe?

Many things need to be taken into consideration before deciding to start pointe work, such as:

  • Dancer’s age (usually 11-12 years old)
  • Amount of ballet training (at least 3 years)
  • Solid ballet technique
  • Dancer’s alignment (spine, hip, knee and ankle/foot)
  • Dancer’s range of motion and strength

Ballet teachers usually indicate when a student is ready to begin pointe work, after which a pre-pointe assessment can take place to check all the other areas and ensure the student’s body is as best prepared as possible for the demands of pointe work.

A shot of a ballet dancer's feet en pointe

What are the risks of starting Point too early?

Dancers who begin pointe too early or without proper conditioning work (ie specific exercises) are at risk of damaging the development of the growth plates in their feet or serious injury.

When dancing on pointe, the force of body weight is 12 times higher through the foot and ankle. This extra force can leave the foot and ankle vulnerable to injury.

Joint hypermobility (flexibility) is prominent in dancers, which causes laxity in the joints, ligaments and tendons.

It is important for hypermobile dancers to undergo specific strengthening exercises to decrease their risk of injury.

To learn more about hypermobility read here.

Dancers with a rigid (stiff) lower limb can also be placed at an increased risk for injury as they don’t have the appropriate amount of range of movement which allows them to safely dance on pointe.

What is strength and conditioning for ballet?

Strength and conditioning is specified training using a wide range of exercises which focus on mobility, strength, stability, endurance and performance.

A thorough assessment may indicate areas of weakness, so a specialised exercise program is then designed to target those areas and improve them. 

An exercise program may involve:

3 Ballet dancers doing exercises
  • Theraband (resistance band) exercises
  • Stretching
  • Isometric (static) exercises
  • Dynamic exercises

What are Common Dance Injuries?

Because of the physical demands of ballet, dancers are 80% more at risk of injury than the general population.
Common injuries that dancer’s may face are:

  • Achilles tendon problems
  • Tendinopathies of the lower limb
  • Posterior impingement (pain at back on ankle)
  • Bunions
  • Ankle sprains
  • Stress fractures
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Corns and callouses
An injured ballet dancer holding her knee

At Dynamic Podiatry we have vast experience in dealing with lower limb related injuries to the foot and ankle. Early intervention and diagnosis is the key to correct rehabilitation and recovery.

You can book an appointment with one of our qualified podiatrists by calling 3351 8878

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