So you've started working in your brand new pair of pointe shoes and everything is going wonderfully... that is until your shoes begin to feel uncomfortable. When you're new to pointe or are unfamiliar with the intricacies of pointe shoes, it can be tricky to know when your shoes are due for an upgrade. Here are 4 clues to look out for when trying to figure out if you need a new pair of pointe shoes!
1. The Shoes Have Gone Soft
Even if you've never worn pointe shoes before, you'll know when your shoes have become too soft. Although pointe shoes naturally soften slightly as they are broken in and mould to the shape of the dancer's foot, the shoes should still be hard through the shank (sole) and box (the block). If either of these two areas become too soft, it is likely time for a new pair of pointe shoes. Easy ways to tell how soft is too soft -
a. Are you still feeling supported when standing en pointe?
(Are you 'sinking' in the shoes? Are you going too far over the platform?)
b. Has the shoe lost it's shape?
(Is the box looking flat? Is the shank too flexible?)
c. Do the shoes feel damp all the time?
(Moisture (sweat) can soften shoes - the more you dance in them, the more sweat that can be absorbed by the shoe!)
It is incredibly important that you do not continue to dance in shoes that are too soft. It is dangerous and you risk injury. If you're unsure, come in store for a fitting and we can help decipher whether your shoes are ready to be replaced!
2. The Shoes Are Too Tight
For those who are going en pointe for the first time in the tween/teen age group, it is normal to expect your shoes to become too small before they become too soft. Those beginning pointe at an age where growing has not yet ceased, also tend to be doing only a very small amount of pointe training each week. Unfortunately, there's little that can be done to prevent this situation! If toes are feeling curled or pushing too firmly at the end of the shoe, and/or the heels of the shoe are sitting very tightly against the foot - this is a strong indication that it may be time for a bigger size.
3. The Shoes Are Making Weird Noises
This isn't always the case, however I can say from personal experience that my shoes often made a rather bizarre squeaky noise when they were on their way out! This is very much dependent on brand and style of shoe, as well as the amount of hours per day/week spent en pointe. It must be said that it is common for pointe shoes to make noises irrelevant of the life stage they're at (so don't fret if you have a brand new pair of shoes that are creaking!).
4. The Shoes Don't 'Feel Right'
Sometimes, your pointe shoes show no physical signs of needing replacing. The shoe may be technically in good working condition, but something else is causing the shoes to feel like a mismatch for your feet. This may be one of two things -
Change in Foot Strength/Improved Technique
As ballet and pointe training increases, so to can foot strength. It should come to no surprise that a stronger shoe may be required to keep up with the demands of training. An improvement in technique and better understanding of correct foot placement may also require a different strength or style of shoe.
Change in Foot Shape
It is also very common for feet to change shape - either as a result of growing, or the impact of training. Some dancers may find their foot grows longer or wider with age, whilst others may develop bunions or calluses. Changes in foot shape can require a change the size (length or width), style or even brand of pointe shoe.
If you're ever unsure about whether or not to invest in a new pair of pointe shoes, consider the signals mentioned above. And if it's time for an upgrade, we take pointe shoe fittings in store daily! Contact us to book an appointment and for those living out of town, check out our range of pointe shoes online!