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Skiing and Ballet Pointe

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Does anyone have any thoughts on the pros and cons of a 16 yr old female starting pointe, with respect to her skiing. As parents, we are concerned with possible ankle/foot stress, etc. Thanks.
post #2 of 14
Originally Posted by skihound View Post
Does anyone have any thoughts on the pros and cons of a 16 yr old female starting pointe, with respect to her skiing. As parents, we are concerned with possible ankle/foot stress, etc. Thanks.
my little sister did this for year(6 years i think?) as far as I know shes very healthy to this day. Actually crews for OU and runs 3 mile a morning as aprt of her training routine with that team. She used to ski to. I will pass this along to her and post her response up tonight sometime.
post #3 of 14
This is very controversial. You are probably not going to like my answer, so please don't kill the messenger! There will be more issues with ballet than there would be with modern dance. Dancers, like martial artists, have a low incidence of ACL injury. However, pointe shoes change the equation.

Back in college, I had a cutting-edge kinesiology teacher who used to argue with the dance students about the "pointe issue." Apparently, there are a number of problems associated with it that can be permanent. However, here is an interesting article about old vs. new style pointe shoes:

There are a few other issues. Some dancers get so used to working in turn out that they start doing that on the slopes, but that usually applies to new skiers. Also, many ballet teachers will try to discourage dancers from skiing.

In the end, it's a judgement call. Good luck with your decision.
post #4 of 14
One more thought: If she does stay with ballet pointe and skiing, encourage her to practice many dorsi flexion exercises. While ballet warmups involve both plantar and dorsi flexion exercises, on pointe, they are spending a good deal of time in plantar, which can cause a muscular imbalance.
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 


thanks everybody!
post #6 of 14
Sorry I didn't see this thread sooner. I can speak personally to this as a former dancer ( I was on pointe formally for 6+ years and recreationally beyond that, ie I danced on my own). I did ballet from the time I was 6yo on often being in dance classes 4-5 nights per week.

The only physical scar I have from dancing on pointe is the fact that my feet are slightly deformed but this does not cause me pain or really affect anything other than my feet looking different than others. The benefits of dancing long term are that I have great posture. I've maintained high levels of flexibility and good muscle tone in my lower body. It's been probably about 10 years since I've really danced, but I could probably put on my pointe shoes now if I were so disposed.

The conflict between skiing and dancing (as I've had to beat out of myself on the ski slope until it became habit) is in posture. A dancer is trained to keep her butt tucked under. The body should be straight up and in perfect posture. As we all know this doesn't work too well on the ski slope. I had to consciously remind myself that I needed to stick my butt out when I was learning. I have NEVER had a problem with trying to turnout on the ski slope, despite the fact that my resting standing posture often does have my feet slightly turned out. But once again the issues I'm mentioning apply to ballet as a whole, not specific to pointe.

I'm also curious why she would be starting pointe at 16? Generally serious dancers are started on pointe at 10-12. Has she been a dancer for a long time or did she start more recently?
post #7 of 14
Don't think you have to worry about it. As Persee points out, 16 is a little old to be starting on pointe, so she is not likely to be doing this professionally. This means that only part of her time in class is going to be on pointe, not likely long enough to do permanent damage to her. and she's not likely to be dancing on bad stages. Make sure her class has a sprung floor and she should be fine. Posture, i hadn't thought of that, but understand. And feet turning out can be a conflict, but certainly overcomeable. The benefits of proprioception and flexibility and strength will far outweigh the negatives for her skiing.
post #8 of 14
Actually, the turnout issue came form a funny story about one of my students in NYC. She was a former Ballanchine dancer, who, a few years after her career ended, met a guy who was a skier. She had never skied before. He brings her to the top of the hill, where she promptly assumed a beautiful first position turnout. Then, she began to slide the hill in that position. Needless to say, her legs slid into a perfect split! However, she was new skier, so I think if your daughter has skied before, that may not be as much of an issue.
post #9 of 14
I IMed my little sister. here was her take

Josh: your thoughts?
Sam: pointe is horrible for you health no one should be starting pointe unless consulting with a doctor or orthopedic surgeon
Josh: how long you do it?
Josh: what did it do to you?
Sam: 6 years
Sam: it is just bad for you
Josh: so you came out un scathed
Sam: your problems are down the road
Josh: what happen down the road?
Sam: you develop bunions and arthritis

after talking to her and several friends who have done this, my sister is the most crediable. she was as serious about dancing as I am about skiing. Also happens to be pre-med. For your daughter after talking with my little sister, the question she has to ask herself. Is this worth the pain and suffering down the road? For just a couple years of fun? If it was my choice I would say no, but I am just a guy what do I know?

I wish her and you the best of luck whatever she picks I hope my sister's info helps in the choice either way.
post #10 of 14
My oldest girl, 12 yo, loves dance. I will nefer agree to pointe. There is no added benfit to her other slyles of dance. The chance of screwed up feet and ankles is too great.

If she is dead set on it, foot hygene is essential. So is maintaining flexability with her feet and ankles.
post #11 of 14
Part of the problem is the fact that dance comapanies refgard the extreme point as an esthetic issue. I remember heated arguments between my kinesiology teacher and the dancers regarding this, since there is really no functional reason for it.
post #12 of 14
Would you refuse to let your kid ski because of an outside chance of an acl problem? If ballet is your child's passion, you should think hard before disallowing it. I know quite a few professional (retired now) ballet dancers and none of them have disabling permanent damage. (ugly feet maybe, but not significant damage) You make it sound like it's a given that dancing on pointe results in a certainty of foot damage. There must be statistics out there somewhere, but i sure don't see a whole lot of x-ballerinas hobbling or wheeling around. Heck, Plisetskaya and Fontaigne (sp?) danced well into their senior years without visible damage and I'd guess they spent a whole lot more time on pointe than your children ever will. They may get blisters and black toes, but then, so have i - from ski boots. Anyhow, it's a delicate decision, but my humble advice is don't discount their passion in the equasion.
post #13 of 14
Actually, I know quite a few ballerinas who are hobbling around. They were a major source of my income when I was living in NYC!

However, you are correct about the passion issue. If that's what she wants to do, it should not be discouraged. Heck, you can get hurt crossing the street.
post #14 of 14
Now with ski hound's response it should be clear that there's not much here to worry about. This girl is going to be trying it for *FUN*. She's not going to be on pointe all the time, or trying to become a professional dancer so I doubt there's any worry here. I mean if I were gonna scare away from an activity for risk of injury at a recreational level I'd be far more likely to not ski.

For the record the only time I've ever hurt my ankles was by falling down a set of stairs (racing some boys in catholic school) and slipping on an icy fire escape.
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