Dance Physio – Specific Assessment and Treatment for Dancers by Dancers
There are many different styles of dance, and each place different demands on the dancer’s body. If the dancer is not conditioning their body and managing their load properly, this can increase their risk of injury. There are injuries that more commonly present in dancers compared to other sports and usually can be attributed to overuse of certain joints and muscles. These most commonly occur in the hips, knees, ankles and feet. Early management of injuries can prevent long-term pain and impairment as well as preventing recurrence in the future. Returning to dance after injury is very different to returning to other sports as the demands on a dancer’s body are very unique. Being assessed and treated by a physiotherapist who understands the specific demands of different styles of dance is very important for a successful recovery and full return to dance.
We have a Dance Physiotherapist in clinic, Shelby Candian, who will be able to assist you with prevention and management of dance injuries. Shelby has 18 years of dance experience in RAD ballet, jazz, contemporary, hip hop and Can Can, and is a dance teacher at Northcott Dance in New Lambton. Shelby loves assessing and treating dancers and completing pre-pointe assessments. From her own experience as a young teenager progressing to dancing en pointe, she has formed a passion for educating dancers, parents, and teachers on the importance of pre-pointe assessments in preventing injury and enabling a smooth transition onto pointe.
Dancing en point is most young ballet dancer’s dream! It is commonly the ultimate goal for many dancers, regardless if recreational or professional. However, a lot of determination and skill is required to advance to dancing en pointe.
Why Do A Pre-Pointe Assessment?
A pre-pointe assessment should be completed for any dancer considering dancing en pointe. Previously, age was the main factor determining if a dancer was ready to dance en pointe, however age-based criterion is not appropriate. If your teacher has mentioned dancing en pointe to you, you should complete a pre-pointe assessment first.
Dancing en pointe puts a big load on a dancer’s body. It increases forces on the foot by 12x their body weight… that’s a lot! Therefore, it requires excellent foot strength, ankle range of motion, stability, and control. Premature advancement of dancers increases their risk of injury if they do not have the strength and stability to support themselves en pointe.
Therefore, a pre-pointe assessment is important in keeping the dancers safe and preventing injury by identifying strengths and weakness and providing specific exercises to work on the weaknesses.
We know how important dancing is to dancers and are proud to have a passionate dancer and Physio in Shelby who knows exactly what it takes to keep your body going against the strong demands of dance!
What is a pre-pointe assessment and does it involve?
It is an assessment carried out by a qualified physiotherapist (preferably specialised in assessing and treating dancers) to determine if a dancer is ready to advance to dancing en pointe.
It involves taking a thorough history including:
- Dance school and main ballet teacher
- Age of first dance class and number of years of dance training
- Hours per week of ballet training
- Other forms of dance studied/hours per week
- Other forms of exercise/hours per week
- Dance goals
- Difficulties in class and corrections from teacher
- Past and current injuries
The physical examination will involve a number of assessments in the following areas: posture, feet, hips and core. Some of the assessments include dance positions and movements such as:
- First, second and fifth positions
- Demi and Grand Plié
- Single Knee Bends
- Relevé Passé
- Pirouette en Dehors
- Tendu En Croix
- Retiré Passé
There is a lot that can be assessed during a pre-pointe assessment and not all can be assessed during the first assessment. The dancer will not be cleared to dance en pointe on the first session as there are always areas to improve on to make the transition onto pointe smooth and to a decrease the risk of injury. After the initial assessment, Shelby will summarise her findings and make the appropriate recommendations. She will prescribe an exercise program to work on any identified weaknesses at home and send the findings in a letter to the ballet teacher and parent. The dancer will return for a reassessment in 3-6 weeks to measure improvements and once the dancer has met the criteria, they can be advanced to pointe.
What should I wear/bring?
Dancewear or activewear will be appropriate to ensure the physiotherapist can assess your alignment/posture clearly and that you can move freely. Most of the assessment will be completed barefoot, however, you should bring ballet flats.
Which Physio does the pre-pointe assessment?
We have a dance physiotherapist in clinic, Shelby Candian, who completes our pre-pointe assessments. Shelby has 17 years of dance experience in RAD ballet, jazz, contemporary, hip hop and Can Can, and is a dance teacher at Northcott Dance in New Lambton. Shelby loves completing pre-point assessments and assessing and treating dancers. From her own experience as a young teenager progressing to dancing en pointe, she has formed a passion for educating dancers, parents, and teachers on the importance of pre-pointe assessments in preventing injury and enabling a smooth transition onto pointe.
Fix It Physio and Bloch
Fix It Physiotherapy has a partnership with Bloch Charlestown, which means Shelby can recommend shoe styles and accessories based on your assessment which will guide the girls at Bloch in finding your perfect fit. You will also receive a 20% voucher for your first pair of pointe shoes and accessories once you have been cleared to dance en pointe.