It is critically important for your pointe shoes to fit your foot like a glove in order to feel comfortable, provide the necessary support, and maximize control.
But have you ever felt like Cinderella, searching for the one and only “glass slipper” pointe shoe that fits your foot perfectly? We know that achieving this elusive “perfect fit” can be quite a challenge.
Why is it so hard to find the "perfect fit"?
The in-store fitting process.
Inexperienced fitters, limited shoe stock, and an exhausting trial-and-error procedure can all make this experience feel like wandering through a maze.
The natural disparity between the shape of the pointe shoe and the foot.
If you have noticed that your foot is not shaped like a tapered, squared-off block, you are not alone. The fact that the unique shape of your foot does not match the interior geometry of the pointe shoe creates very uneven weight distribution, particularly when you are standing en pointe. Where your foot contacts the shoe, painful and damaging high pressure points appear.
The less of your foot in contact with the shoe interior (and the more voids there are within the shoe box), the greater the pressure that accumulates at these high stress points.
Dancers’ feet (and toes) are as different as their faces.
It’s not something we typically think about in street shoes, but differences such as toe configuration can dramatically affect comfort and fit in a pointe shoe, since the entire weight of the dancer’s body is distributed over such a small area. It is estimated that one-third of the population has a first toe longer than the second, one-third has a longer second toe, and one-third has both toes the same length.
Consequently, where a dancer experiences pain depends entirely on her foot shape and how well it fits the shoe. This unique set of pressure points varies widely from dancer to dancer, so how can one padding solution address them all?
Is there currently anything out there to help?
Behind the Times?
Despite the fact that professional ballet dancers are just as athletic as any other professional athlete, dancers have yet to see the benefits of advances in shoe technology contribute to an improved fit or superior comfort for pointe shoes.
There is also no aspect of shoes or padding solutions currently on the market that is truly customizable or individualized. Yes, pointe shoes come in many different sizes, widths, and box shapes, but that’s it. Most dancers can't afford the bespoke shoes that professional dancers are given.
A Flawed Way of Thinking
As far as toe pads, most are the same shape for all feet and are one uniform thickness (which does nothing to improve weight distribution or the fit of the shoe), or even worse, are overly padded in known pressure areas. These types of toe pads, as well as separate accessories designed to pad pressure points, not only reduce the critical ability to feel the shoe and the floor, but also often increase the pressure in those areas. This is a flawed way to think.
It is far more effective to take a proactive approach by filling the voids around the pressure points (so as to offload pressure), rather than taking a reactive approach of padding the pressure points.