Pointe Ouch !


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I have been dancing since I was about 3 years old. When I was 8 I started dancing en Pointe. Pointe is just like Ballet but you wear Pointe shoes  that are made to support your foot while dancing right on top of your toes. Last weekend I was in my Ballet class for the first time since last semester and my ankles were hurting. I thought to myself maybe after ten years of dancing like this I may have been damaging my feet and ankles. To find out I started to research the cause of Pointe injury's and how to prevent them and if any damage is permanent.

ponite1.jpg                        point3.jpg

                                

According to LER in their  "Breaking Pointe" article they touched on many points of common Pointe dance injury's. It can take up to 4 years to build up the correct legs, feet, and core muscles to support yourself when dancing en Pointe. A lot of injuries happen when dancers do not have all the right range and built for the technique. Writer of LER's article "Breaking Pointe" , Jeffery A. Russell  said : " The ankle is frequently injured in dance, accounting for up to 31% of dancers' reported injuries... When foot injuries are included, the combined total accounts for up to 57% of all dance injuries" . When fitted with a Pointe shoe that supports you correctly and you have the muscles necessary  Pointe dancing is not all that bad, but when injuries occur there is no room for support , literally. The shoe is so close fitting there is no room for tape, or braces which make recovery very difficult.

 

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Like I said my second question was "Is any damage permanent?" And the answer I found was "Yes".  For serious ballerinas who are dancing every day for hours and hours a day they develop abnormalities to their feet. As pictured below you can see how their feet (over years) have morphed into the shape of their shoe . Dancers who have such strong feet muscles can go through a pair of Pointe shoes in about two weeks because they break them in so fast.  This Video shows some stretches to help break in the shoe, stretching the feet muscles, and building up strength.

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In conclusion because of the constant pressure of the body that is put on the toes , ankle , and foot the muscles and bones have formed to accommodate that pressure. Because I am not a serious dancer anymore, only dancing twice a week en Pointe I will probably feel more discomfort because I need to rebuild the proper muscles necessary to dance. After doing the research I found there isn't anything to do to prevent the shaping of the foot, that naturally happens when your body is trying to compensate for the unnatural environment which is Pointe, but there are many exercises, stretches, along with plenty of practice that help reduce the amount of injury's to the feet, toes, and ankles that are bound to occur. 

5 Comments

Cara I found this post really interesting. I also started dancing around the age of three and although I stop after high school I danced pointe for about six years and although I never had any serious injures I have seen plenty of girls throughout the years that have and I always wondered how permanent the effects of pointe can be.

It just amazes me what our bodies can do. The fact that our feet bones and muscles can just adapt due to a certain activity is awesome. If you think about it, our bodies probably do this all the time, in a less severe manner. Could this be why I am sore after working out or running for the first time after a break from the gym or working out for a while? Our bodies can even regrow things if parts of us are injured that severely. For example, if someone bites off their tongue or part of it, our bodies are able to rebuild it, the human body is simply intriguing.

Cara, this is an astonishing fact that the damage is permeant! My sister has also danced for her entire life and her toes have morphed into the curling example such as the picture above. It causes me to believe that maybe someone should create a pointe shoe that compensates for this reshaping of the foot? Also it causes me to wonder about the people's feet before the pointe shoe was remodeled. Now there is a cushioning on the bottom along with the block, but before there was no cushioning and people were just on their toes; OUCH!

Cara, this post was really interesting to me because I have danced all my life and can easily relate to everything you said. Throughout high school I danced on pointe intensively and the physical ware and tear is evident. I have had several injuries and just by looking at my feet, you can tell I was a dancer. One thing that really surprised me about this was that the damage is permanent. I did not expect that because the damage can be brought on so quickly, so I figured it was possible to nurse one's feet back to health. It is also so interesting that we do something recreationally, even though it causes so much physical harm. I found this article very interesting because it talks about why people do pointe even though it is so harmful so maybe you will too!

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/point-pointe-article-1.967870

This really is fascinating! When I was little I always used to admire the older girls who got to do pointe while I was stuck in the 10 year old ballet class. I never knew the dangers of being on pointe until now! Every year I would go to the local theater to see different ballets and the leads on pointe always astounded me by how talented they were! I never realized the harm that they were doing to their feet! Check out this article on dancers and the harm to their feet: http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2006/sep/05/dance

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