Seven Deadly Sins of Pointe Work. Mistakes en pointe.

The Seven Deadly Sins

Pointe work can be exciting but pointe mistakes can be deadly. As I have mentioned before it is the right of passage for many young ballet students and even a goal for adult students. Caution and awareness are paramount.

In this post, I will list out the seven potential sins…

pointe mistakes

of Pointe Work!

They all are habits created prior to going en pointe, with the exception of the actual shoe.

If you prefer watching a video of this post with demos en pointe, scroll to the bottom of this page!

1-Clawing toes

Clawing or curling your toes under can lead to blisters and corns on pointe. It is also a weak knuckled position on pointe and demi pointe. If you curl your toes you won’t use correct muscles of the feet.

Note: Training can change. Teachers use to recommend that dancer gather a towel on the floor with their toes. That encourages toe scrunching– don’t do it!

Correction of this habit begins in a proper tendu. That is another great reason to wear socks at the barre if your teacher allows you. Here is an example of a barefoot tendu:

2-Rolling in & out

Supination and pronation (rolling out and rolling in) are very dangerous for pointe work. Some dancers will battle this all their dance life but precautions begin at the barre.

I recommend theraband exercises, standing in your true turnout and some muscle/mind training as mentioned in my last post on proprioception.

Dangers are

  • development of bunions
  • stress on the knee, hip issues overstretch and strain on inner or outer ankle tendons
  • strain on the entire big toe.

You may be en pointe already and have this issue. Continue with your strengthening work!

My e-book contains all the exercises needed to help with this issue and more.

Anterior tibialis pointe mistakes

3-Gripping tendons

Gripping your tendons at the front of your ankles can lead to some damaging injuries over time. I believe that it is caused by a weakness in your intrinsic foot muscles which leads to instability in the connections between your foot, ankle and leg. If left unchecked, you can develop a condition called FHL tendinitis or posterior tibial tendinitis.

Here is are some photos where I am demonstrating gripping of the tendons leading to your extrinsic muscles.

4-Poorly fitting pointe shoes

Shoes which have been fitted incorrectly can cause poor alignment on pointe and will encourage blisters, bruised toenails, lack of proper support and bunions. Wait to find the correct pair rather than compromising!

 Dance injuries typically fall into the overuse category. Given the numerous repetitive movements in dance, there is a higher incidence of overuse injuries, which usually occur during class or rehearsals as opposed to happening during performance. Approximately 50 percent of overuse dance injuries are foot and ankle injuries. http://www.podiatrytoday.com/article/3468

5-Heels up in plié

This habit can lead to several injuries which include achilles tendonitis, chronic tight calves and lack of fluidity in your dancing. It will make it more difficult to relevé and to land properly.  Over time, you can injure your knees since of the load has been transferred to them.  Add dancing en pointe to the equation with your heels not helping you and well, you have a recipe for injury!

6-Overworked Achilles Tendon

Achilles tendonitis is common in dancers and like many other foot/ankle injuries is related to overworked calves. Most students are not diligent about stretching and rolling out their calf muscles before and after class. If a calf muscle becomes overly tight, it will restrict your range of motion and lead to several foot issues~ including plantar fasciitis which takes many months to heal. When your leg muscles no longer respond to the standard calf releases– grab your rolling pin! See the video below.

7-Training at home

If you teach yourself pointe, you are setting yourself for injury and at the very least, poor habits. You should be dancing in a supervised ballet class with a qualified ballet teacher at least three days per week to dance en pointe. See my posts on pointe work at home for some positive solutions and a practice chart.

Thanks for reading through to the bottom of this post~ please share your pointe work mistakescomments below and let other dancers know about these terrible 7 deadly sins of pointe work! 

Read about the 7 Deadly Sins of Pointe Work! Don't be caught sinning and hurting your feet.Click To Tweet

Oh and judging by this picture~ there should be an 8th sin. Don’t wear shoes that are worn out! Look at her poor metatarsals!

To see a video of the ideas in action from this post, take a peek here!

Learn more about ballet in my e-book ““Dancer’s Guide to Strong and Beautiful Feet”.

About Sarah Arnold

Ballet blogger, ballet teacher and adult ballerina. Creator of TutusChic and Sans Souci Printables.

2 thoughts on “Seven Deadly Sins of Pointe Work. Mistakes en pointe.

  1. The end of the blog made me laugh when you commented on the photo. I have been “back” on pointe for about a year after a LONG time off. It is fun to feel the benefits of pointe work too as an adult, even with the very little that I do! Do you think there are any physical ballet benefits, such as feeling more turnout rotation or obviously spinning, other than the amazing artistic illusion that they give? just fun to thing about….

  2. Hi Nic~ I agree completely with you about the benefits of dancing en pointe for the rest of your technique! My favorite thing about pointe was getting higher on my leg which does facilitate increased turnout 🙂 It seems the body responds automatically to this lift and when I would put my flat shoes back on, I felt less lifted. It is almost as if it is more difficult on flat.

    You can turn faster with the less friction but most dancers find this a bit disconcerting at first.

    Welcome back to pointe– Hooray for you. I am focusing on pointe topics a bit more these months since we put a lot of dancers “en pointe” in late winter. Glad you enjoyed the article and the photo, à propos for a what-not-to article!

    Take care~
    Sarah

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