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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Is She Ready for Pointe?: Tina Sferra, dance medicine physical therapist at Elite Performance Physical Therapy of Westchester.

Aug 04, 2015 01:46PM

When should a dancer begin training en pointe? That’s a question ballet instructors hear often, and the answer can be complicated, says Tina Sferra, a dance medicine physical therapist at Elite Performance Physical Therapy of Westchester.

Traditionally, three factors have been used to determine pointe readiness, Sferra says: age, number of years dancing, and a specific type of flexibility in the foot and ankle that dance medicine professionals call “ankle plantar flexion range of motion.” (Most dance schools use age as the primary criterion, moving students to pointe training around age 12.) But Sferra says a newly published study by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Harkness Center for Dance Injuries recommends that three tests that measure trunk control and lower extremity alignment can also be assessed before a dancer moves to pointe. Rapid, growth-related changes during puberty cause a decline in motor ability and dynamic balance, and these three functional tests, while not foolproof, can help “provide general benchmarks” to determine pointe readiness, the researchers noted.

Sferra, who has a Master of Science in physical therapy, is trained to help parents determine their daughters’ readiness for pointe training. “I can evaluate, assess and prescribe an individual program to set your daughter on the right track,” she says.

Elite Performance Physical Therapy of Westchester, PC, is located at 41 Main St. (at Katonah Yoga), Bedford Hills, NY. For info or appointments, call 917.847.9487 or visit

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