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Pointe Shoe FAQ

What are the parts of a pointe shoe?

Before you can begin to understand how your pointe shoe should fit, it is important to know the anatomy of the pointe shoe. Each component plays a key role in providing the dancer with the proper support and function when wearing their pointe shoes. The diagram below show the key components of a pointe shoe.

How should my pointe shoes fit?

It is important to make sure pointe shoes are always fitting correctly to ensure that you are supported and safe while dancing. Our pointe shoe fitting experts take months to train and learn the proper fit techniques to be able to provide our customers with a pointe shoe fitting. If you are ordering your pointe shoes online, it is equally important for you know understand the principles of what makes a good fit. it's a common question we hear, "Are my pointe shoes fitting correctly?' Follow these simple steps to check the fit of your new pointe shoes.


Find a place near a mirror where you can see your feet. Stand only on a clean surface to protect the satin of the shoes. Gently loosen the drawstring of the pointe shoes so it moves freely inside its casing. Put on your pointe shoes and adjust the drawstrings and tie them in a shoelace knot. Make sure to try your pointe shoes on with all of the padding products and dance tights that will be used while dancing in them. It will be best to try them on with the support of a barre, and easy access to a mirror to help see your feet.


Standing in second position, take a deep plié. In plié make sure you can feel all your toes sitting flat in the shoes. Bending down, insert your finger into the top of the shoe over your toes. You should only be able to get the tip of your finger inside the shoe. If your finger goes in easily, the width and profile is too wide. If you can’t fit your finger in at all and, see your foot “puffing” up over the top of the shoe, the shoe is too narrow. It is important to have the correct width in order for the foot to sit properly in the shoe en pointe. It is also good to remember pointe shoes get wider as they break in. So, it is important to have them as fitted as possible without being too tight.


Drag your finger inside the top of shoe along to your pinky toe. Here you will be able to feel where the stiff wing of the shoe ends on your foot. For a proper wing fit, your pinky toe metatarsal should be entirely encased in the wing. If the wing is ending before or cutting into the pinky metatarsal joint, the wing is too short to support the foot properly.


From your pinky toe joint, continue dragging your finger, inside the shoe, along the outside of the foot towards your heel. In a proper length you should only be able to get your finger in the small space between your ankle joint and heel. If you are able to drag your finger all the way around your heel, the shoe is too long. Standing in second you should also feel your toes all the way to the end of the shoe and touching. Your toes should steel feel straight.


Standing parallel with your feet together, press one foot up en pointe, making sure to press correctly through the ankle. Next roll the heel of the shoe down and off your foot, so your heel is exposed. Bend down and check that the shank (the end of the sole) is ending in line with or lower than your heel. If the shank extends past your heel, the shoes are too long.


Now stepping up onto both feet, feel if the shank stays in line with the centre of your foot, or if it twists off to one side. The correct fit will stay centred and aligned with your foot. If the shank is twisting, this indicates you may need a wider fit or longer wings.


Standing parallel with your feet together, press up through both feet en pointe. Carefully repeat this step in parallel and in first position being mindful of feeling for any movement in the shoes. You should feel lifted and supported on all sides on the shoe. There should be no sliding or “sinking” down into the shoe as you roll up onto pointe.


It is always a good idea to show your pointe shoes to your dance teacher for approval on fit before sewing ribbons and elastics. Your teacher will understand the principles of what makes a good fit and, is always a good resource to use to help ensure you are wearing the right size of pointe shoes, especially if you are ordering them online and haven't been professionally fit in our store.

What should me new pointe shoes feel like?

Imagine Cinderella’s glass slipper, a perfect fit. Pointe shoes should feel snug and fitted all around your foot. The dancer should feel their toes touching the edge of the shoe, but still be able to wiggle their toes slightly inside the box. Standing in second position in demi-plie the big toe should feel all the way to the end, but not bent or curled in any way. Remember pointe shoes will not feel roomy and comfortable like everyday street shoes. When en pointe, the dancer should feel lifted and supported. There should be no sliding or sinking down into the bottom of the shoe while en pointe. If the dancer is sliding or sinking down into their shoes, a check in the width and shape of the box may be needed.


It is very dangerous for dancers to wear pointe shoes that are too big or have room for growth. In order for a dancer to work successfully in pointe shoes, they must be very fitted to the dancer's foot to support the foot properly. Any extra space allows the dancer's foot to shift and move inside the shoes. This movement can cause many injuries such as blisters, calluses, strained tendons and ligaments, bruised toenails and even broken bones. Also, a dancer in shoes that are too large will develop bad habits to compensate for insufficient support. Habits like these can take months or even years to correct, as the dancer has to retrain the muscle to the correct alignment. Never sacrifice safety for comfort by wearing a shoe that is too large.


It is important that dancers first develop the necessary strength to support themselves in pointe shoes. Without the necessary strength and technique, pointe shoes become quite dangerous. Most dancers who have been training since a young age do not start pointe work until the age of 10 – 12 years old. Dancers who have started their training later may take longer to develop the proper technique and strength and, should be patient. Because every dancer's ability and foot strength are different, your teacher will always be the best source to determine if a dancer is ready for pointe work. Dancers also must have the technical ability to maintain proper alignment while working in pointe shoes. Attempting pointe work without proper strength and technique or before bones have fully formed can lead to many serious injuries and the development of bad habits. Demi pointe shoes and stretch bands are a great tool for young dancers to strengthen and develop the necessary muscles to progress into pointe work.


Unfortunately, pointe shoes don’t last forever, and how long they last greatly depends on the dancer wearing them, but inevitably it will become time for a new pair. It is time for a new pair of shoes when you no longer feel supported in your shoes. You may feel your platform become soft and mushy and you may start “feeling the floor” under your toes a little bit more than you should. If you start falling too far over your shoe en pointe, and/or start feeling extra strain and tenderness in the muscles and ligaments on the top of your foot. Or finally if your shoe is as flat as a pancake on the floor, it may be time to purchase a new pair. Although wearing dead shoes may feel easier, and look appealing in the mirror, it is very unsafe and can cause serious injuries.

Our Pointe Shoe Fitting Experience

At Dancewear Centre, our goal is to provide dancers with the best pointe shoe fitting experience through our highly trained staff and selection.  Knowledge comes with experience.  All of our staff are all current and former dancers, who have all trained on pointe.  Before our staff is able to fit pointe shoes, each aspiring pointe shoe fitter goes through months of training in their pointe shoe fitting apprenticeship. The training begins with in-depth reading proper fitting technique comprehension.  Care is taken to walk through each aspiring fitter through the formation to help in retention and full understanding of everything from the anatomy of a point shoe to advanced fit techniques.  Testing is done before any aspiring fitter can begin shadowing trained pointe shoe fitters to help better understand the entire fit process.  Once the aspiring fitter has completed their shadowing, they will then be able to take the lead on fitting a dancer on pointe.  These fittings will be shadowed by management level fitter where constant feedback is provided.  It is only after many fittings have been shadowed and the new fitter has demonstrated complete understanding of their training and has shown the ability to consistently apply it properly.  This entire process takes months, but once completed our aspiring fitter can now be considered a pointe shoe fitting professional.  But really our training never stops.  Our staff is always learning about new techniques and products aimed to help fit better and to have our customers dance better when on pointe.  Whether you are a first time on pointe dancer, or one with many years of experience, our goal is to have to feel comfortable throughout your fitting knowing that you are in professional hands in guiding your fitting and have the peace of mind when you leave with your new pair that it is the right fit for you, and without any compromise.  Finding the right fit will not only make your dancing all that more enjoyable but, will help prevent injuries and provide you with the confidence to dance your best.


Feeling confident in your fit first begins with your professional pointe shoe fitting experience but, it also comes from knowing your fit was found without compromise.  This is achieved by our concerted effort in providing our customers with an unparalleled selection of pointe shoe styles and sizes Our ever growing selection currently comprises of over 55 stocked pointe shoe styles by Bloch, Grishko, Gaynor Minden, Russian Pointe, Freed of London, Capezio, Wear Moi, and Mirella.  We want our customers to be able to find their perfect fit, and this can only be done through an endless variety of styles to match each dancer’s unique feet.


It is important to be as comfortable as you can be in your pointe shoes. When participating in a pointe shoe fitting it is encouraged that you let the fitter know how you feel. Do you feel any pain in your feet? If so, where. Your fitter will be able to decipher is the pain you feel is ‘regular’ pointe shoe pain or if it is caused by the wrong fit or the wrong shoe. Communicating to your fitter will allow them to find the perfect shoe for you. Remember that comfort in your pointe shoes will be different than comfort in your other dance shoes.


We are so grateful you chose Dancewear Centre for your pointe shoes fitting.  We want your fitting to be fun and informative.  Each of our fittings will be done with one of our trained pointe shoe experts that will be with you through the fitting.  We recommend to come to your fitting fit your feet properly prepped.  Make sure your toe nails are all trimmed short and wrap any blisters, cuts, or sore areas. It is best to talk to your teacher prior to coming for your first pair of pointe shoes to get an understanding from them if they have any recommendations of styles or padding they want you to wear.  We recommend wearing convertible tights to be able to use padding easily as well as better help determine your exact fit.  If you have had pointe shoes before we highly recommend for you to bring your previous pair of pointe shoes.  This is a great starting point for our expert fitters to gain insight on what you liked and disliked about your last pair.  Bringing the padding you use in your pointe shoes is equally important.  Our pointe shoe experts will be able to help you determine if the padding you are using is best, and if there are other alternatives that might suit you better.  If you happen to forget your padding, you can always purchase them in store or use one of our try-on pairs.  


There is no perfect answer to this question, as everyone’s feet and experience level will be different.  We are looking to find your perfect fit and sometimes this is accomplished within the first few pairs, or sometimes it might take a dozen pairs.  In general, you can expect pointe shoe fittings to take around 20 - 60 minutes.  There will be a lot of back and forth interaction between you and our fitters.  They will bring out multiple pairs for you to try and will determine the next best step based on their feel on fit and your feedback.  Think of you and our expert fitters as a team to find your perfect fit.  The more information you can give them the easier it will be to find the best fit for you.  

Do I need an appointment for a pointe shoe fitting?

We offer the flexibility of pointe shoe fitting appointments and walk in pointe shoe fittings without an appointment.  You can book a pointe shoe fitting time here and choose one of the available time slots.  There will always be multiple professionally trained pointe shoe fitters on hand each day to conduct pointe fittings, so if you do not have an appointment you can always just walk in and get fitted as well.  Our store is equipped to comfortably have up to three pointe shoe fittings at a time.  We do our best to limit wait times, but for any walk in pointe fittings there may be a small wait time depending on the number of pointe fittings currently ongoing when you arrive at our store. We kindly ask that all pointe shoe customers arrive at least one hour before closing to ensure enough time for a proper fitting, especially if it is your first pair of pointe shoes.  Fitting times will vary in length but anticipate spending 30 - 60 minutes to ensure you find the right pair of pointe shoes.


Regular pointe shoe fitting are done on a one on one basis with our fitter and you, but we can also accommodate large group fittings at our store.  While we are able to fit up to 3 dancers at our pointe shoe bar, we can accommodate up to 5 fittings at a time for larger groups.  You will need to contact our customer service to arrange your pointe class or dance studio to have a group fitting.  For many group fittings we are able to accommodate them during our non-regular store hours and provide a private shopping experience and fun atmosphere.


It pays to get fit for pointe shoes at Dancewear Centre.  Whenever you come in to our store and purchase a pair of pointe shoes you will receive a Pointe Card and a stamp.  Keep your card and bring it in each time you buy a pair of pointe shoes to receive additional stamps.  When you receive 5 stamps you can use your card to purchase an additional pair of pointe shoes at 50% off.  This promotion is currently only available in store.

How do I protect my feet in pointe shoes?

Having the proper padding and protection is very important when wearing your pointe shoes. Padding can significantly change the size needed in your shoes, therefore you should always be chosen before a fitting. Ideally you want to have as minimal padding as you are comfortable with. Too much padding fills up the box and does not allow you to feel the floor properly in your shoes. Another thing to keep in mind is excessive padding will become compressed as you dance, meaning the longer you dance, the more compressed the padding will become, creating extra space and movement in the shoe. It is not uncommon for excessive padding to cause more problems (such as blisters) than they fix. If you are having problems with your padding or have questions we suggest you bring your shoes and padding to the store or call in and talk with one our expert pointe fitters to find the best solution for your feet.


Toe pads come in a variety of styles including thin fabric covered gels, thick silicone, foam, and lamb's wool. We recommend dancers use the fabric covered gel pads or ouch pouches. These pads provide ample protection but, they are not overly thick. You can find different gel padding shapes that will help cover your metatarsals without coming too high in the box.  With all padding, you are looking to find a balance between comfort and too much extra padding in your pointe shoes.


There are also a number of accessories to help alleviate frequent sensitive or problem areas that dancers experience.  This type of padding is very personal and will be different for each dancer.  Whether you are looking to achieve better toe alignment through the use of toe spacer, better arch definition and enhancement, bunion protection, or protection from other sensitive areas on your foot, there will be a specialized padding and accessories to help you with this.  Padding is not solely to help painful areas, it can also help aid in providing a better fit in your pointe shoe.  Depending on your foot shape, there are many fit and alignment aids that can help make your pointe shoe fit properly and help prevent injuries.  It is important to talk to one of our pointe experts to have them help determine what pointe accessories best fit your needs.


Keeping your toes and feet well cared for is essential to enable you to dance your best when on pointe.  Regular trimming of your toe nails will help reduce the possibility bruised or broken nail.  You will want to make sure your nails are clipped and filed to a length that is short enough that you are able to press against your toe and not feel your nail.  While doing this, you want to make sure you don’t trim your nails too short and cause soreness, cracking, and inflammation.  Overall foot care is just as important and begins with regular cleaning.  Nothing feels better after a long day of dancing than soaking your feet in warm epsom salts to help relax your muscles and reduce swelling.  It is important to keep your feet clean and dry after dance class to help prevent the spread of bacteria on your feet.  As you dance in your pointe shoes you will begin to develop calluses. These are helpful to dancers as they help toughen your skin and are less susceptible to blisters and tenderness.  

How do I care for my pointe shoes?

Taking the proper care with your pointe shoes will not only lengthen the lifespan of your pointe shoes but will also help reduce the risk of injury when dancing.  Pointe shoes aren’t meant to last forever, and the life of a pointe shoe greatly depends on the dancer using them and the care they take in properly mining them.


The length of which a pointe shoe will last depend on the dancer.  For recreational dancers, pointe shoes will generally last between 15 - 20 hours under normal circumstances.  Professional dancers can go through a pair of pointe shoes in once performance.  Pointe shoes are commonly made with pliable materials that mould to the dancer’s foot.  These materials break down quickly under the strains of supporting the dancer when on pointe and the heat and sweat they endure when dancing.  It is important to understand that pointe shoes are not built to last forever, and it is importune two replace your pointe shoes before you begin to feel a loss of support or control.  If you are going over too far in your pointe shoes or can feel the shoe and box are no longer supporting your feet, it is time to purchase a new pair.  


To get the most life out of a pair of pointe shoes, one of the most important things you can do is to allow them to fully dry out after your dance class.  This means letting your pointe shoes hang dry for 24-36 hours to ensure they are fully dry.  Most pointe shoes are made with a playable paste that will break down when it is left in a wet and humid environment. Leaving your pointe shoes in a wet state will cause the materials to break down faster and make your pointe shoes unwearable.  You want to make sure your pointe shoes have a chance to dry thoroughly after each use.  If you have a class after pointe, make sure your pointe shoes are hanging out to dry naturally.  It is best to not put your pointe shoes in your dance bag after they have been worn in class.  If you do put them in a bag, make sure you take them out of your bag and let them hang dry as soon as you get home.  Make sure that all padding is taken out of your pointe shoes after they have been worn.  leaving your padding in the shoes will not allow them to dry quickly and can leave to bacteria growing in your pointe shoes.  


A great way to extend the life of your shoes is to have two pairs of shoes to rotate between for classes and rehearsals. Having multiple pairs to alternate between will allow each pair to fully dry after use.  While buying more than one pair of pointe shoes at a time can be expensive, it will lengthen the lifespan of each pair by not allowing the materials to break down quite as fast. If you are taking multiple pointe classes a week, you may not be giving your shoes enough time to dry out in-between wears.


While allowing your pointe shoes to fully dry between uses and, having more than one pair to rotate through if you are dancing frequently on pointe are the best ways to extend the life of your pointe shoes, you can also help prolong the life of your pointe shoes by applying pointe shoe hardener.  Applying a thin layer of pointe shoe hardener, like Jet Glue, to the inside of the block and insole of your pointe shoes will help stop moisture from seeping into your pointe shoes when you wear them.  This will limit their exposure to moisture and slow down the breaking down process of your pointe shoes.  It is important to remember that using Jet Glue, or any hardener, will stiffen your pointe shoes, so these should only be applied when your shoes are dry and broken in to your liking.  Using Jet Glue is not intended to make your shoes like new again, and do not change the need to purchase new shoes if the ones you are hardening are no longer supportive, but it is a great product to extend your pointe shoe’s usability. 


When you purchase a new pair of pointe shoes, you are always working to break them in to fit your feet perfectly when dancing.  It is important to understand the difference between broken in pointe shoes and dead pointe shoes that need to be replaced.  Over worked, or dead pointe shoes, will not provide you with any of the proper support you need when dancing on pointe, and can lead to serious injuries.  Pointe shoes that have been worn for more than 15-20 hours and have become too soft to support your feet need to be replaced immediately.  The properties that make a proper fitting pointe shoe are no longer present in a dead pair of over used pointe shoes, and there are no remedies to make these pointe shoes safe to wear again.


As painful as it is to find the first scuff mark on your new pair of pointe shoes, resist the urge to wash it.  Your pointe shoes are made of satin and they will not react well to washing.  Hand washing your pointe shoes will smear the stain and will make it look worse.  Do not put your pointe shoes in the washing machine.  If you want to revitalize a dirty pair of pointe shoes, one option would be to paint them with pointe shoe paint.  This will give your worn pair some new life.


One of the biggest mistakes we see are dancers wanting to immediately break in their new pointe shoes with their hands as soon as they buy them.  It is important to resist this temptation.  When you buy a new pair of pointe shoes, it is important to realize that you don’t yet know exactly where you need to break them in.  The absolute best way to break in your pointe shoes is by wearing them. You want your pointe shoes to break in to the exact shape of your foot, and by wearing them you will get a better understanding of where the shoe will need to be broken in. Depending on the dancer’s strength it can take a few classes for the shoes to fully break in.  Don’t get ahead of yourself and try to break in your new pointe shoes by taking a hammer to them, slamming them in a door, and improperly bending them with your hands. You may have heard of a professional dancer breaking in their shoes this way, but it is important to remember that that dancer might go through multiple pairs in a performance and might not have time to break them in the right way. Taking shortcuts to break in your pointe shoes can shorten the life of your shoes and can lead to serious injuries.  It is important to take your time when breaking in your pointe shoes so that it is done carefully and properly.   Bending and breaking the shoes in the wrong spot will damage the shoe and not allow them to work properly. As you wear your new pointe shoes, they will begin to shape to your feet.  It is important to label them as left and right to help ensure they mould properly to each foot.


Properly breaking in your pointe shoes is a simple process that will lead to you better understanding your technique and your pointe shoes.  You want to begin my practicing some tendus to the side, while placing the majority of your weight onto the foot en pointe.  Doing this press will help identify where the natural arch breaks on the pointe shoe.  You want to repeat this movement several times.  Once you have done this a few times, you want to remove your pointe shoes.  You should be able to see the crease the bend in your arch has made in your shoes and you want to gently bend your shoes along this crease on both pointe shoes.  With your pointe shoes back on, you can begin to soften the block of your pointe shoes by standing at the barre and slowly working up to demi pointe, continuing to full pointe while holding the barre.  You can repeat this set a few times to being to feel your toe box softening and moulding to the contours of your feet.    If you are having a hard time breaking in the box, you can use a small amount of water or rubbing alcohol on a paper towel and dab it across the top of the box where the metatarsals bend.  This will moisten the material of the box and will soften its composition to help enable it to mould better to your feet.  These two steps, along with your wearing of your pointe shoes while you dance, will subject your pointe shoes to heat and perspiration that will continue to cause your shoes to mould to your feet. Aside from these techniques, it is important to talk with your teacher for insight on techniques on how to break in your new pair of pointe shoes.

More pointe shoe answers + how to's


Pointe shoes are not made to be the most comfortable shoes you wear. However, there are things you can do to make sure your shoes are the most comfortable they can be. Getting a proper pointe shoe fitting by a professional pointe shoe fitter is the best way to ensure you get the right fit, the fitter’s job is to find the best fitting shoe for your foot type so that you feel more comfortable. Pointe accessories such as toe pads, spacers, lamb’s wool, and more can all help relieve any un-comfort caused by the shoes. If you are unsure of what accessories can help you, reach out to your teacher or to your pointe shoe fitter.


If your feet are cramping in your pointe shoes it is most likely from over-use of the muscles and/or your feet are building necessary strength that they don’t yet have causing your feet to cramp. Be sure to take care of your feet before and after pointe class to eliminate any pain and cramping. To do this, you can use a foot roller, a ball, or your hands to massage and roll out the muscles in the foot. Epsom salt foot baths can be beneficial as well to relieve the muscles.


There are a few reasons your pointe shoes could be sliding off of your heels. If there is a lot of extra fabric at the back of the heel when you are on pointe, it can mean two things, you could be wearing a shoe that is too long for you ( check the length of the shank ) or, you could have what’s called a disappearing heel. Some shoes have more fabric at the back of the heel than others even when it is the perfect fitting shoe. If your shoe is still slipping off your heel with the perfect fit, a simple adjustment of the elastics can usually fix the problem.  Pro tip: try crossing your elastics for an extra-close fit.


No. As you grow, progress, and mature, so will your pointe shoe needs! A beginner student may need a more pliable shoe in order to start training and understand proper alignment, but as she becomes stronger she may require a different shoe entirely. Also, as dancers tend to start pointe work in their preteen years, their feet are still growing and changing shape, and it’s important to keep your pointe shoe shape as close to your foot shape as possible. Finally, it’s never bad to try something new! Companies are constantly creating new styles and upgrading old ones. Our fitters are always happy to show you new styles in-store or answer any questions you may have about styles.


The sizing varies between brands so the best way to determine your size when switching to a new brand is by getting a professional pointe shoe fitting. The size you currently wear could be completely different when you try a new brand. Most brands of pointe shoes are in EU sizing but in some cases, the shoes are designed to fit in USA sizing. 


Because pointe shoes fit more - snug than a street shoe, the size you wear for your sneakers most likely won’t be the same size as your pointe shoe. Our pointe shoe fitters will start with your street shoe size and convert it to match which ever brand they think will fit you best. Unlike your street shoe, pointe shoes have many different widths as well making the size of your shoe harder to determine. 


There is no designated left or right foot for new pointe shoes. Similar to soft ballet shoes, pointe shoes will gradually mould and shape to your feet, creating a left and right foot. It is important to label your shoes once worn to keep them on the correct foot.


Everyone has different shaped feet which is why most pointe shoes don’t come pre-sewn with ribbons and elastics. The placing of the ribbons and elastics depends on the shape of your unique foot shape which is why we suggest taking your shoes to your teacher before you sew them on. Then, your teacher can show you exactly how and where to place your ribbons and elastics. There are also many videos online to help you if you are still unsure of the placement. Another reason they don’t come pre-sewn is because there are many different kinds of ribbons and elastics to choose from. Sometimes, your teacher will offer their opinion and suggest a specific style or brand of ribbon and elastics but in most cases, you choose your ribbons and elastics based on your personal needs to provide comfort and support to the ankles.  the only style that we carry that comes with pre-sewn ribbons are the Wear Moi Omega.


Demi pointe shoes or soft blocks are not the same as pointe shoes. Demi pointes are used to strengthen the feet pre-pointe shoes. The main difference between the two shoes is that demi pointes do not have a strong box to hold and support the foot while en pointe whereas, pointe shoes do have a hard box. If you have never done pointe before, demi pointes can be a great starting point to wear in class to strengthen the muscles in the feet and prepare you for what it feels like to stand flat in pointe shoes and how to work through the foot even more than a regular ballet slipper. Again, demi pointes should never be used in place as a pointe shoe as they are not made to go onto pointe in.


The reason pointe shoes are priced at a higher price point is because of the way they are constructed. Many and most pointe shoes are handmade in pointe shoe factories. They are constructed with care through every layer of the shoe to ensure they are perfectly made. 

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