Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Self-Taught Ballerinas Go Online

© Steve Pepple. Image from BigStockPhoto.com

Wall Street Journal had an article this morning on self-taught ballerinas producing videos for YouTube of their efforts.

"Aspiring ballerinas are recording videos of themselves dancing and posting the results for people to look at and critique on the Internet."

"Young hopefuls put video cameras on their kitchen or bathroom floor, then do simple exercises in pointe shoes. The videos, which generally aren't more than a minute long, attract viewer chat pointing out mistakes and offering tips."

On Their Toes and Asking for Trouble, Self-Taught Ballerinas Go Online
YouTube Peer Review Horrifies Dance Schools; En Pointe Accidents Waiting to Happen
June 3, 2008; Page A1 Wall Street Journal

The predictions for injuries to these self-taught ballerinas are dire and most likely correct. But even a carefully tutored ballerina is potentially headed for injury because the foot was not meant to toe point.

Toe point relies on the locking wedge of the foot. It is a mechanism in the middle of the foot that helps to lock and unlock the foot when we walk. It is centered around the middle cuneiform which locks into position to help stabilize the foot. It wasn't meant to be jammed from the top.

"Possible injuries include stress fractures, sprained ankles, tendinitis, damage to the growth plates in the feet, shinsplints and bunions. Shoes that don't fit properly can permanently deform young feet."

If our young ballerina has a longer second toe (which is fairly common) even more force is applied to the locking wedge. The force goes right down the shaft of the toe directly into the locking wedge of the foot.

But judging from the article there is little or no way to dissuade these ballerinas or aspiring YouTube ballerinas from applying forces to their feet that can cause lasting damage. It is about like telling a young woman about high heels and the damage they cause. Good luck.

Kevin Kunz

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