'En Pointe' can be very dangerous


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     For those that don't know, En Pointe is a type of dance where the dancers use pointe shoes and use ballet moves on their tip toes (in simple terms). It's a beautiful art form and very majestic and classical. The dancers are very strong and train super hard to attain their structure. But apparently there are dangers to dancing this style. 
     Humans naturally don't walk on their tip toes all the time. When you're on your tip toes, you put a lot of pressure into your feet, which can get uncomfortable. Pointe dancers where pointe shoes (a special ballet slipper with a block of wood at the point) that help them to fully elevate and balance. Gel pads are usually inserted in the shoe to relieve the enormous amounts of pressure on the ballerina's toes. It is crucial that the dancers are fit and understand the technique or else they can seriously injury themselves. A pointe dancer must have incredibly strong ankles, sturdy legs,and flexibility. If they are not trained well or enough, their feet can become disfigure. If the dancer falls while on pointe, it's going to hurt from falling so high and they'll break their leg or ankle. Even stretches and simple ballet moves can be gruesome. It puts a lot of strain on the ankles and feet. The pointe shoe is not the most comfortable shoe to wear either. It's constantly rubbing against your skin and will usually give blisters, bumps, caulluses, bone degeneration, and much bleeding. Even hip injuries are common. The most shocking health issue with a pointe dancer is they can get arthritis in their feet.
     A study of eleven female pointe dancers getting MRI's on their feet. The results was that they all showed signs of osteoarthritis. This study is very small and from it they say that all pointe dancers will get arthritis. By chance those 11 girls could have had hereditary arthritis or they were young or even untrained, but that's my thought. Dr. Madeline Devey says this disease injury is mostly due to the unnatural positions and joints twist the dancers have to do. They tend to have hypermobility which is leading factor for arthritis.  But  other doctors will say it is because of the boxed shoe that causes the arthritis to occur. They'll even examine the dancers shoe to determine the situation at hand.Dr. Devey suggests that girls should wait until they are over the age of 12. While many ballet teachers find it best to start at a young age and vigorously train them.
     What could help prevent pointe dancers from all these injuries? Why should pointe still be a style taken when it causes so many health issues? Do you find the study valid and or true? 

3 Comments

This was an interesting post. I have several good friends who have been dancing since they could walk and dancing en pointe since they were in middle school-- maybe even earlier. While the style is visually striking and beautiful, I definitely think you have a valid point in bringing up the health risks. In my opinion, it should be mandatory that girls wait until their bones and such are done developing before they're allowed to dance en pointe. Was this topic picked from experience? Were you a dancer, too?

This is a very interesting post. A lot of my close friends dance En Pointe and seem to have days where they love it, and where they hate it. I remember when they were first told that they were finally experienced enough for pointe. It was hard enough to contain their elation for two seconds in order to figure out what had just happened, but even harder to get them to do anything BUT live in the shoes! I find pointe to be absolutely beautiful but find it sad that there are so many health risks associated with them it. If pointe were to stop (which I don't think it will regardless of countless injuries) I think it would have to be replaced with something just as beautiful and graceful. Thinking of age 12 point dancers, here's a cute video of a 12 year old dancing pointe. www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxFuQrnI-lE

I could not imagine working as a professional dancer where they are encouraged to be stoic about their pain. While I was reading the blog, I got to wonder if they have any insurance service for their after effects. I found out that many of dancers suffer from the inveterate pain from the feet after their career. Especially, for the little girls who decide to go on the field may suffer life long pain too. Since "beginning toe shoe training before the foot is fully formed can influence how the foot will form, creating lifelong foot problems", I want to know if there are efforts to make better shoes or any assisting forms.
(sources: http://www.wisegeek.com/is-dancing-en-pointe-bad-for-my-feet.htm)

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