Finding the right pointe shoe for you is more than just finding the right size. A well-fitted pointe shoe should be like a second skin on your foot, adhering to its curves and lines, while still supporting your movements and encouraging you to dance with confidence.
Most importantly, a well-fitted pointe shoe allows you to enjoy your pointe work training, leaving injuries, blisters and other risks to a minimum and helping you to improve your technique.
But finding a pointe shoe that fits perfectly to your foot isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Pointe shoe brands have created so many different styles and models to accommodate the different foot characteristics and shoe uses, that the search for the right pointe shoe can be long and overwhelming.
That is why dancers are encouraged to get fitted for a pointe shoe. A pointe shoe fitting allows you to try on various shoe styles and fits, while also having a trained professional on hand to help you with your decision.
Even though a fitting is necessary for finding your ideal pointe shoe, it’s important to educate yourself on what a well-fitted pointe shoe should look and feel like, so you can properly articulate how each shoe feels to your fitting professional for a quick and seamless process.
Before we uncover the ways to know your pointe shoe fits well, it helps to become acquainted with the anatomy of the pointe shoe and all its components.
Here is an image to help you visually understand what parts make up a pointe shoe!
Now that you can identify the different parts of a pointe shoe, how do you know when a pointe shoe is the perfect fit? Here is a list of what to look for as you begin your journey to finding your ideal pointe shoe.
Box of the Shoe
The box of the shoe should fit snugly when you stand straight, but it should still be loose enough that all five toes lie flat on the ground. If your toes are unable to lie flat, this means that the box is too tight and you may need a shoe with a bigger or wider box.
Ideally the top of the box should just graze the edge of your big toe. If there is extra room above your toe, the shoe may be too long for your foot.
The fabric on the heel of the shoe should come up just short of the top of your heel bone (about ⅞ of the way). A shoe that sits too high on your heel can run the risk of injuring your Achilles tendon. If it sits too low, you may notice your heel popping out of the shoe as you move. Overall it should fit snugly around your heel, leaving minimal excess fabric to pinch together.
Length of the Vamp
You can tell if the vamp, or front of the shoe, is too long if you are unable to easily rise into a demi-pointe. You may feel the vamp limiting the movement by getting in the way of the bend in the foot. If you feel as though your toes have little coverage and can easily come out of the shoe, the vamp is likely too short.
Those with longer toes or higher arches may need a shoe with a longer vamp so that they can get sufficient coverage. If you have shorter toes and are susceptible to unions, a shorter vamp will likely be more comfortable.
Length of the Wings
The wings of your pointe shoe should align with the main joint of your big toe. If the wings are too short, they will pull into the foot on an angle.
Length of the Shoe
While en pointe, pull and bend back the heel of the shoe to see where the shoe’s sole/shank ends. Ideally, the shank should land just short of the end of your heel.
If you find a lot of excess fabric sagging on your heel, the shoe is likely too long for your foot. If the shoe is too short, the fabric may sit low on your heel and you can lose support, causing instability while en pointe and your heel to pop out of the back of your shoe.
While en pointe, the shank of the pointe shoe should align smoothly with the arch and curve of your foot.
If you find the shoe twisting, it may be caused by the shank not forming well to the foot. This can often be solved by breaking in the shank. However, it could also be caused by a box that is too narrow for your foot.
En Pointe Alignment
While one or both feet are en pointe, look at how the shoe aligns to your foot. Ideally, the pointe shoe should follow the foot’s curves and extend the line of your leg. It should also support your foot, stopping it from sliding down into the front of the box.
If your foot does slide down, the box is likely too wide. When this happens you will also see excess fabric bagging up on your heel. Leaving a shoe with too much room for your foot causes you to compensate for the lost support, which can create strain on your legs, ankles, and feet. The lack of support also raises the chances of ankle sprains and dangerous falls.
If you find your foot bulging out from the vamp, this could be an indicator that the box is too small for your foot.
Overall, a perfectly fitted pointe shoe is one that forms to the curves and arch of your foot, fits snugly but not painfully tight, supports your movement and technique, and delivers a clean line for your feet.
Finding this shoe is a long process that requires a ton of patience and some trial and error, but once you find the pointe shoe for you, you’ll never look back!
Before you go, here are some tips, tricks, and takeaways to keep with you:
- PLIÉ IN SECOND POSITION
- Be sure to plié in second position during your fitting, as this is when your foot is at its longest and widest. This is the ultimate test to see if a shoe is too tight for your foot.
- PAIN = PROBLEM
- A well-fitted pointe shoe shouldn’t cause pain in isolated areas. If you experience pain and discomfort, your shoe may be too small!
- SIGNS A POINTE SHOE IS TOO BIG
- Excess fabric on the heel
- Foot moves around in the shoe or slides to the front of the box
- Gaping on the sides
- SIGNS A POINTE SHOE IS TOO SMALL
- Pinching of your toes
- Blisters on the heel of your foot
- Toes don’t sit flat in the box
Ready to find the perfect pointe shoe for you? Start by contacting us to book a pointe shoe fitting at Dance Essentials!