Getting to the Pointe

At Walk 500 Miles, this year’s joint BASEM and FSEM Conference, Dr Phil Bell, Consultant in Sport and Exercise Medicine, will be getting right to the pointe by chairing our session dedicated completely to ballet, including four speakers plus live demonstrations from The Royal Ballet School.

The session opens in the Music Room, at Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms on Friday 3rd October at 9am, with Dr Ian McCurdie’s Patterns of Injury on Pointe. Dr McCurdie, a Consultant in Rheumatology and Rehabilitation Medicine, will take us through statistics from the multi-disciplinary Sport and Exercise Medicine team on site at The Royal Ballet School, reviewing the numbers and patterns of injuries among students at the School over recent years. The underlying trends and impact of different injuries, including time loss, will also be discussed.

Once we are familiar with the injury trends in Ballet, the session will move on to Managing Training Load – lessons we can take from ballet by Dr Nick Allen, Clinical Director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet.  This session will explore the intrinsic qualities of dancers and how they are able to perform in 150 shows a year. It will look to blend experience with evidence from the literature in providing practical solutions in managing training load for those working in dance and those looking to take the principals into other sporting environments.

The session will then quickly move on to Cases and Curiosities – ballet specific case studies and observations by Dr Philippa Woodward, a GP with a special interest in Sport and Exercise Medicine and Emergency Medicine.  Ballet dancing tests the body to its limits in terms of range of movement, agility, endurance and artistry. Even with perfect ballet technique, the repetitive stress and extreme positions attained can result in unusual injuries. Dr Woodward will present a few cases from The Royal Ballet School.

Mr Luke Abnett, Physiotherapist from The Royal Ballet School, will finish the Music Hall dance session with Tutus and Tutorials – life at a pre-professional ballet school. Young dancers are selected on a unique set of aesthetic physical characteristics. Features such as excessive hip external rotation and ankle plantarflexion, hypermobility, and low BMI contribute to this aesthetic and also influence biomechanics. Ballet class is at the centre of a highly structured traditional training regime designed to perfect reliable technique. As ballet repertoire evolves the physical demands on the dancer increase. This presentation will discuss the implications these unique conditions have on treating the athlete within the artist.

To book your place at Walk 500 miles visit the conference web page at