Most young girls that do ballet will hope they’re able to go onto pointe shoes one day. Working in pointe shoes is such a fantastic feeling and is very much an achievement in itself for the dancer. Going ‘en pointe’ is easier said than done, and requires a high level of discipline and strength from the dancer.

When a dance teacher thinks their student is ready for pointe they will generally ask that the child be seen by a dance health practitioner that conducts pointe assessments. During this assessment the practitioner is assessing whether the dancer has appropriate strength in their lower legs and feet in order to handle the requirements of pointe shoes. Sometimes the dancer may have a few strength deficits, and will not be granted to progress onto pointe, because if they were and didn’t have appropraite strenght this may predipose them to potential ankle and knee injuries. Thus, an exercise program will be given to them to work on so they can strengthen themelves appropiately.

Recently an 11 year old girl came into the clinic, who had already done her pointe assessment, however was not quite ready to go onto pointe yet. It was identified that the client needed to develop strength in their claves, intrinsic muscles of the feet and also in their gluteal muscles to aid with their pelvic stability. Her exercise program consisted of 30 single leg calf rises, toe isolation exercises, foot doming and clams to help strengthen her glutes, to name a few. After working with this client for a few weeks she had her pointe assessment again and this time was successful! Once a child is granted pointe shoes, this does not mean that they can become complacent with maintaining their strength.

The practitioner will progress their exercise prescription as they get stronger and as they start to do more challenging steps on pointe, or in any genre of dance for that matter. This was the case for the client mentioned above; as they became stronger and confident with not only the exercises given to her but also with the pointe work she was doing in class, I then progressed her exercise program. We honed her foot intrinsic strengthening exercise and started to add in more pelvic stability and core control exercises.

The same principle of being diligent with exercise prescription is the same for any client, no matter if they’re an athlete, desk worker or somewhere in between. Exercise prescription is there to aid the client in reaching optimum health, thus if the client fails to be disciplined with their exercises they prolong their healing process.

By Sarah Nowland – Elite Myotherapist