Blackened toe nails, ulcers, bunions, corns and inflammation are common problems dancers face once they graduate to pointe shoes. Unfortunately some dancers (or parents of dancers!) do not realise the difference a custom-made pair of pointe shoes can make.
Pointe shoes are the most vital component of a ballet dancer’s kit. Below we’ve put together our top five reasons why dancers should invest in custom-made ones:
1. They will help prevent injuries
Injury prevention is the number one reason we recommend custom-made pointe shoes for dancers.
Ballet can put a lot of strain on the body, most notably as a result of repeated jumping on hard surfaces. We’ve listed below some of the ways poor fitting shoes can increase your chances of injury.
- If your shoes are too tight for your foot’s shape, you are increasing your risk of problems with your Achilles tendon – the body’s largest tendon. This is because the shoe will not support you to engage in correct technique.
- We’ve all had blisters and sore toe nails and might easily dismiss these injuries as minor problems. However, when dancers spend many hours a week training, minor problems like blisters and sore toe nails can go on to become chronic conditions. Wearing custom-made shoes can play a significant role in protecting the feet from these ailments.
- Pointe shoes selected purely because of aesthetics and price, rather than fit, may not provide the ankle support the dancer needs. This increases the likelihood of ankle rolling and potential nerve damage.
2. They will reduce pain and discomfort
Dancers performing at an elite level, train up to 7 hours per day, often 6 days a week. It’s therefore not surprising that at this level, dancers can often experience ongoing pain and discomfort as a result of dancing en pointe. However, we’ve seen young dancers attending classes at their local ballet school quit ballet entirely because of the level of pain they experience. Each individual case is different, and it may be that the dancer’s technique is the chief cause of pain, but a common cause of pain is related to the fact that their pointe shoes are not suited to their feet. It is a shame to see young dancers abandon the art simply because their equipment has let them down.
3. They will last longer
When your pointe shoes are custom-made; both to fit the shape of your feet and, to accommodate your personalised dancing technique they will last you longer. This is because your shoes will be working with you rather than against you, they’ll be having an easier time of it and therefore retain their supportive structure longer.
4. They’ll help you perform better
Just as tennis players customise their racquets to optimise their performance, dancers customise their shoes for a similar result. In custom-made quality pointe shoes, the box at the toes should wear evenly making it easier for dancers to maintain proper alignment. Not to mention that if your feet are comfortable in your shoes (and you’re not in pain) you are undoubtedly more likely to give your best performance.
5. They’ll reduce the risk of long-term problems in young feet
Young dancers are discouraged from dancing en pointe until about 13 years old. At this stage, by and large feet have stopped growing. However, bone tissue does not completely form in teenage girls until about the age of 20. Extra care must be taken when deciding on footwear for young feet as many foot problems in later life stem from incorrect footwear in the early years. For this reason, custom made pointe shoes are the best option for young feet.