Pointe shoe tips and tricks are the subject of this post 🙂
I began to write out a list of helpful advice for the newcomers to pointe at my ballet school earlier this year.
This may be handy to other dancers new to pointe or simply those seeking handy tips and advice so here we go!:
• Finding “the shoe” for you can take years and a lot of trial and error. So don’t panic if you feel after a few different pairs you still haven’t found the shoe for you.
Plus feet and strength changes over time and so will your needs change with shoes.
• Wearing Demi pointe shoes in class (shoes that look and feel like pointe shoes but have no shank and are made for wearing on the flat and Demi pointe), will help you get used to pointe shoes and also build up strength.
You can transform a pair of dead pointe shoes into Demi pointes too.
Key facts and do’s and dont’s:
• Pointe shoes are supposed to last a total of 9 hours. So ensuring you dry your shoes between wears means you will get full usage from them.
Sometimes shoes can last longer than this time frame. It will vary depending on certain factors such as: foot strength, how often you are wearing the shoes, if you are drying them out correctly, etc.
• Everyone is different and has different feet and strengths therefore, everyone will have different lengths of time that their shoes last them.
For example a dancer with very strong feet and high arches might be more likely to kill a pair of shoes after just 4 lessons at 30 minutes per lesson.
Whereas a dancer who is newer en pointe and has lower arches may find her shoes can last up to 14 hours (at 30 mins per time)!
• Your feet and strength are a major factor as to how long your pointe shoes will last you regardless of how well you look after the shoes.
• Take note of when you purchased your shoes. This helps with seeing how much usage you can get from one pair before they die.
• Never store pointe shoes in the plastic bag they come in. This will kill your pointe shoes quicker.
• After wear make sure to store your shoes in a mesh bag so the air gets to them and when you get home hang them up to dry or place in an area where nothing can come into contact to damage the shoes and shorten their life.
• Never store your toe pads inside your pointe shoes! If you do, the moist from the toe pads will deteriorate the insides of the box of the shoes and shorten the shoes life.
• Ensure to wash your toe pads often. If you do not you will be at greater risk of getting a fungus infection in your toe nails.
Simply hand wash the toe pads using mild detergent or soap and rinse then place on the side to air dry.
• Do not wear your pointe shoes on carpet. They are not designed to do so and it’s also dangerous.
Breaking new shoes in:
•Patience is the key when it comes to breaking in new shoes. Especially when you are new to pointe as it can be incredibly frustrating! Take your time and they will eventually mould to your feet.
The idea is to get the shank to be conforming to your arch so that it supports you en pointe.
Ensuring that the shoe gets broken in enough so that you are on the full platform of the pointe shoe when actually en pointe, and not held back in the shoe at all.
• Wear them at home with socks over the top and the heat will help mould them to your feet.
• Stand in parallel and roll up with one foot to pointe and then alternate feet. This will help the shank conform to your arch.
• To flatten the box a little: crush with your hands gently or with one foot stand on the box but do not put too much pressure.
• If you are experiencing a problem area such as rubbing in a certain place on the box then applying a tiny bit of water onto the problem area using a cotton ball will help soften the part of the box where you are getting the rubbing.
But do not apply too much water otherwise you will kill the shoes.
Wearing the shoes
• Do ensure to wear your shoes with what you were fitted in.
So if you were fitted wearing a certain toe pad and say socks or tights then you must wear them how they were fitted.
Otherwise you could experience a difference in terms of sliding about in the shoe and getting blisters etc.
Pointe shoes need to be worn how they were fitted as when fitted they are fit to an exact length and width.
• Mark one shoe as your left and the other as the right. Be sure to keep each shoe to the foot you wear them on.
Changing what shoe you wear on what foot can make your shoes die quicker and will also feel strange because as you break the shoes in they mould to your foot.
• The drawstring should be pulled right enough so that it pulls the sides of the shoe more to your foot but not too tight that it put pressures on the back of your heels.
Drawstrings can be worn tied in a bow and left out on show or tucked inside the shoe.
It is also best to do your bow and trim the ends of the drawstrings so it doesn’t look unsightly and when tucked into your shoe doesn’t rub on your foot.
If your platforms on your pointe shoes become slippery whilst en pointe you can either:
1. Apply suede tips to them. This is personal preference. Some dancers don’t like them.
2. Cut the satin off the platform altogether and darn the entire platform or just around the edge of the platform.
3. And/or use rosin or hairspray. But please consult the teacher prior to use as this can make the dance studio floor sticky.
4. Score the platforms with a knife to rough them up abit.
• There is a whole variety of padding available so do experiment to find what suits you best.
Some dancers even wear nothing but abit of lambs wool! Do bare in mind, if you change padding after being fit with your first shoes then you may need to be refit as different padding means it affects the width and style of shoe.
Big toe pain:
• Big toe pain is the most common problem with going en pointe and the most common for new comers.
Being en pointe you can’t expect not to feel ANY pain but if you are feeling terrible pain then it could be down to your actual toe or toenail itself.
Or, down to the shoe style not being suitable for you plus even the fact your shoes are now dead and not offering the support you require.
HOWEVER: there are things you can try such as wearing a big toe sock made from gel (these are available from dance shops or even the foot care section of a chemist) or you can try wrapping the toe.
Infact there are many methods out there to help. It’s all about trial and error.
If you are still feeling bad pain do go see a chiropodist to ensure the toenail is not damaged and there is no fungus growth or anything that requires medical attention.
Wearing dead shoes is dangerous and can result in injury. To know when your shoes are dead will take a little getting used to at first but key things to look out for and feel include:
• Very bendy shank. Sometimes even broken.
• Squishy box.
• Feeling pain when en pointe in the shoes.
• Squishy platform when en pointe.