The Perfect Pointe Book

All The Tips, Tricks And Exercises You Need To Know About Starting En Pointe

How Do You Fit Pointe Shoes Correctly?

Having pointe shoes that fit well can make all the difference in you loving or hating pointe work, so it is important to get it right from the beginning. Ill fitting shoes can result in not only pain and discomfort while dancing, but also black toenails, blisters and stress fractures in the toes. I have made a video of how to fit your pointe shoes, however some girls wanted a printable version to take to the store with them, so here it is!!!
All brands make several different shapes and styles of pointe shoes, which are designed for different people and different uses. This is often very confusing for first time buyers, so if at all possible get your dance teacher, or an experienced dancer to go along to the fitting with you. The fitters in various stores can range from exceptional to very average, so it is a good idea to get a name of a good fitter on the recommendation of someone you trust.
While the person who fits your shoe should check all of the following things, it is good to know what to look for, and to feel, yourself. The fitter can look at how the shoe looks from the outside, but only you can feel what is going on inside.

If possible, ask your teacher to come with you the first time you get your pointe shoes fitted, so that they can check the fit. If they cannot go, always check the fit of the shoes with them with them before you sew on the ribbons, break in the shoe or dance in them. If you get them dirty by wearing them around the house, they my not be able to be returned to the store, and it can get to be a very expensive exercise.

Each part of the pointe shoe has a name. Try to learn the names for different parts of the shoe before you head to the store for the first time. That way you’ll know what the fitter is talking about if she asks “Is that vamp too high?”. There are many sites online that can help you with this. Always try the shoe on with any padding or ‘Ouch Pouches’ that you will wear while dancing, and check the shoe in each of the following positions.

A) Check the fit of the box – The foot should fit snugly in standing; with the toes not too squashed in (They should be able to lie flat). There should be no bulging of the skin over the top edge of the shoe in standing. The top of the box should sit against the skin of the top of your foot. You should be able to slide the tip of your finger in to the shoe over your toes, just. If the box is too round for a flat foot, there will be more of a space here. You can flatten the box slightly, but it will also alter the width.

B) Take a look at the length of the wings. The wings should come up to the side of the big toe joint. If they are too short, the box will pull the big toe in on an angle and may cause a bunion to form. If they are too long, it may be hard to work properly through the demi-pointe.
C) Check the position of the heel of the shoe. The satin of the heel should come 7/8 of the way up your heel bone. Too high, and you may get problems with the attachment of your Achilles tendon attachment. Too low, and you will get frustrated with the heel of the shoe popping off when you rise.
D) Watch the length of the vamp, the front of the shoe. If the vamp is too long you will not be able to rise through the demi-pointe effectively. If it is too sort for long toes however, you will feel like you are falling out of the front of the shoe.
E) When you plie in a wide seconde position, the foot is at its longest and widest, so it is important to check that there is enough room in the shoe for your foot while dancing. Your toes should stay long in the shoe, and just touch the end of the shoe at the depth of your plie. If you have very short toes, you may need to pad up inside the box of the shoe to get a nice line of the shoe, and a correctly fitting box.
F) It is important to check the fit of the shoe in an upright position before putting any weight on it. Place the tip of one shoe on the floor, with your weight on the other foot. Press down slightly to check the fit of the box. The foot should be supported in the box, and not sink down too much. Check the amount of satin at the back of the heel. If the foot has slid forward in the shoe, because the shoe is too wide, there will be more satin. If the top of the foot is bulging out, the box is too small. Make sure that both the big and little toe knuckle joints are supported by the wings. If they are too short the top of the wings will cut in and give an unsightly line to the toe of the shoe.

G) Check the length of the shoe by peeling the satin of the shoe off the heel and folding it back under the shoe. Place the foot back en pointe, and check where the sole finishes. The end of the sole/shank should be just short of the end of the heel. If the shoe is too long (as in the picture on the right), there may be bagging of the satin at the back of the shoe, as the satin is cut to cup the heel. If the shank is too short however, the foot will tend to wobble more, and the satin will pull too low. This results in the back of the shoe often poping off when rising from demi to full pointe and can be very annoying.
H) Look to see that the shank sits in line with the sole of the foot when the foot is en pointe. If the shank of the shoe is twisting, check the alignment of the foot first. As long as the box is sitting square and the foot is in good alignment, it should be ok. Often twisting of the shoe is due to the shank not conforming to the shape of the arch and can be remedied by breaking in the heel of the shoe before wearing. However, the shank may also twist on the foot if the box is too narrow, so recheck this area again.
Once you have a good fit, you may try weight-bearing through the shoe by stepping up onto pointe. Hold onto the back of a stable chair or bench, and place one foot en pointe. Put some weight through that shoe and then bring the other foot up onto pointe. Make sure your toes are pointed long in the shoe and that there are no areas of severe pressure on any toe. Isolated areas of pressure may be solved by use of specific padding in the shoe, but should be avoided with a good fit if at all possible.
Lisa Howell (B.Phty) is a Physical Therapist (Physiotherapist) based in Sydney, Australia, who specialises in the assessment and treatment of dancers of all ages, from young students to professional level, and teachers. She is dedicated to the education of dancers to help prevent injury, and to develop optimal performance at every level. She produces a FREE weekly dancers newsletter with tips on all aspects of dance to help spread her knowledge to the world. To find out more about “The Perfect Pointe Book” or to receive the newsletter, go to http://www.theperfectpointebook.com.

46 Comments»

  jeleh wrote @

HI!! Its my first time to buy pointes and I’m not sure if I’m going to buy Gaynor minden pointes or bloch pointes. In our ballet school we fitted already and my ballet teacher told me that the size of my pointe shoe for Gaynor is size 8 but its kinda expensive so I tried other shops and i saw this brand (bloch) which lot cheaper and its not yet broken… And I’m really having a hard time in fitting the right shoe. Can you please suggest any brand of a good pointe shoe for a beginner like me!!!

  Sydney wrote @

Don’t get Gaynor Mindens! They are “cheat shoes”

  Gizmo372 wrote @

Please don’t get gaynor middens they aren’t good I’ve been dancing en point for 2 years and Bloch have never been a problem whereas my first pair,gaynor middens,lasted about a month and I do 3 ballet classes a week 2 of them en point.
Hope this helps

  Gizmo372 wrote @

Above was my friend Im only Demi pointe hopefully dancing un pointe next year

  MeiMei wrote @

Get Gaynor Mindens. They are very good shoes. But if you have wider feet get the Blochs. I have had both, but I only wear Gaynor MIndens now.

  Kayla wrote @

Hi! Never use Gayoners for your first pointe shoes< they are designed to make pointe work effortless< and weakens the foot. :)
Bloch is the best!

  Katy wrote @

Hi, I just started en pointe too. I was going to get Gaynors, but my feet weren’t right for the shoe (wide at the bottom and narrow at the heal). Anyways, I ended up getting griskos. I was a bit disappointed because the gaynors last longer and are more durable in a humid climate. However, the griskos work too. They are apparently good for beginners and are easy to break in. It really depends on your foot though..if you have a strong arch or a flat foot.

Hope this helps,

Katy

  megan wrote @

Hi i am starting pointe next week for the first time and am wondering what a good brand of shoe would be i have a weird foo that’s no narrow but not quiet average sized so i have no idea what kind of brand to get. if you could give me some tips and a good brand for me

thanks heaps!
Megan

  penny wrote @

HI!!
I’m also just starting pointe, and my teacher told me to go ahead and get fitted. The people at the dance store put me in a size 6 capezio chasse, but my toes are a little scrunched. They tried me in the next size up and said those were too big, so I wold have to just deal with the slightly smaller ones and break them in so they fit better. But for right now, I can’t even really walk…Should I get the next size up?
Thanks!
Penny

  Rebekah wrote @

i just got bloch serenades and i have the same problem with my toes being scrunched (especially my big toe!) just like you penny. but they said in the shop that the next size up was too big. It was slipping off at my heel! anyone who has any suggestions on if i should keep the smaller shoe or get the next size up that would be great thanks. Rebekah.

  ellis wrote @

I have the same problem and i just bought mine! My toes really sore and i find it difficult to walk in them,… but im not sure if im just being a baby! Help?

  Melissa wrote @

As you wear in your pointe shoes the box will change shape slightly to fit to your foot. Having the shoes too big will be worse than too small because they will fit after time :) hang in there.

  paulina wrote @

hi i just started pointe too!
but the thing is when i went to my first fitting i couldn’t put weight on the shoe because they said you have to bring toe pads. i didn’t have any and they didnt have sample ones. so i couldnt buy any. im going to another store and maybe they’ll have sample ones.

are capezio’s a good brand because ive been using this brand ever scince i started ballet?

  Alyssa wrote @

I need to decide between 2 brands Grishko & Bloch Ive been using bloch ever since……. well about 9 years. & grishko for about 2 years

  Samira wrote @

Hi :)
So my right foot is just a teeny tiny bit smaller than my left by half a european size or a quarter of a UK size. My teacher says that depending on the pointe shoe that fits, i may or may not need to buy two different sized pairs. If the difference is not that great, will i be able to add some extra padding into the right shoe such as some lambs wool or paper towels or whatever and fit the bigger foot?? Or will it affect my dancing??

  Sydney wrote @

I have the same problem, I just stuff the smaller shoe with a paper towel.

  Diana wrote @

I want to take Ballet and En Pointe so badlyy.. :'( classes r expensive in USA.

  Rhubarb wrote @

Hi!
So the problem is that i used to do dance but my teacher did not like me at all. So im interested in buying a pair or pointe shoes for myself. It sounds silly but thats all ive been thinking about for the past year. Ive researched multiple websites but they didnt help with sizing. Could you help me?

  Brock wrote @

Hi Rhubarb, I’m in a similar position. I need to buy them myself while I look for another class. Trying to figure out all the styles and sizing is stressful! Good luck!

  L. wrote @

Rhubarb, please please please don’t start doing pointe all by yourself! And DON’T buy your first pair of pointe shoes online, without proper fitting! It’s money and time well spent to go to a professional fitter and get the right shoes for your specific needs. You might think you know it all, but these folks have been fitting shoes for years and only want what’s best for you! :) If you get shoes without proper support or the right fit, your first attempt to go on pointe might well be your last. I’m not kidding, it’s very easy to roll off and break your ankle if you have not been taught the proper technique by a teacher. And if you break your ankle or tear off you Archilles , you can pretty much forget about daning or going on pointe ever again… So please, take the time to fit pointe shoes IRL and seek other dance schools with more professional teachers. It’s an investment in you and your health! Good luck :)

  Allison wrote @

A good pointe shoe are also Russians. I tried Griskos and Bloch, but you can get Russians customly fitted to your feet so you ccan change any one thing to make them better :)

  Rose wrote @

This isn’t about pointe shoes but it’s about demi pointe shoes. Is there a special kind of demi pointe shoes… like that are regular ballet shoes but with special laces around the ankle like pointe shoes? Because I’m going en pointe this fall and I want to know if I need that type of shoe or rather if it even exists. No older pointe dancers have that kind of shoe and my teacher hasn’t said anything about it but I thought they might be a kind of shoe that would help get the feeling of the laces around the ankle. Anyway… please reply! :) :)

  Rose wrote @

Sorry I’m not going en pointe but I’m going en demi pointe.

  Therese wrote @

hiya :) I quit ballet lessons about two years ago .. as I felt I wasnt getting anywhere due to the fact that no matter how hard I tried I found it very very difficult to go en pointe.. and that was very frustating!! I realize now that my first and only pair of pointe shoes had not been fitted correctly by the sales person in the shop that I purchased them in! My toes were too cramped, the sole of the shoe ended before the heel of my foot and they were exteremly tight! Do you think this is why I found it impossible to go en pointe or was it just my own personal ability that was lacking..? Please reply!! :’) I have been thinking about this alot recently! :)

  Toe Shoes | Put Pointe Shoes Video Toe Shoes wrote @

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  Venessa wrote @

Hi! I’m having trouble with my new Grishko 2007s, I have a very high but weak arch! I have broken in the heel but the shoe just won’t mold to my arch no matter how many rises I do!!! What should I do!!! The shoe looks really bad on my foot and when I go en pointe, my toes don’t touch the floor! And when I go en pointe, the whole shoe is really straight until the heel of the shoe, is this normal!? It makes my arch look so ugly…
PLEASE HELP :(

  Grace wrote @

That’s what happened to mine too. I think it’s just the durability of the shank, it’s very hard to break in

  Grace wrote @

I have been en pointe for four years now, and haven’t found my dream shoe yet. I started out in Bloch and absolutely hated them. I have other friends that Bloch worked very well for though. Then, I went to gaynor minden, for about 3 years. They fit my feet well, but not exact. After a struggle with them, I for grishkos. I would not suggest getting them. I have had them for over a month now and are still struggling to break the shank in. Truthfully, it’s just trial an error until you find the pair that fit your feet

  maddog wrote @

i, going en pointe in 4 days and i dont no wat type pf pointe shoes i should get, please tell me wat kind i should get i have no idea if it will work out correctly, will they go dead too fast? if so i need answers im flipping out and dont no wat to do!!!

  Maggi wrote @

I have been en pointe for a year and a half now and i have always bough Bloch europeans but now they dont fit my feet right anymore.My foot is wide in the front and narrow in the back which brand is the best any answers would help!

  Mikayla wrote @

Freed! I have feet like that too and capezio was too narrow I went to Freed and wallah! ;)

  “drag” wrote @

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  http://Www.Mjjn.cn/ wrote @

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  alex13 wrote @

Im going up on pointe in 4 days! I have no idea wattype of shoes to get! I have a strong foot/arch!!! HELP!!!!

  Mikayla wrote @

Freed! Best variety ever! ;)

  Mel0782 wrote @

I just got my first pair of pointe shoes and I got them fitted by someone who was recommended to me by my teacher. They felt fine in the shop and the man said they were perfect but they are a 5.5 and my feet are 6.5. They are Bloch serenades and I know that they are supposed to fit to standard shoes sizes.
Should I trust the man or go and try a bigger size?

  MeiMei wrote @

Trust the man. He is right. Pointe shoes are supposed to be two sizes smaller than your street size. hope this helps!

  Rose GA wrote @

Hi! I went up to London to get my first pair of points, we went to Dancia international. I got them fitted and we were all excited, I was still quite unsure for them being small. I got home and tried them on they felt small and I couldn’t put any more padding in than just the toe protector. I couldn’t go back to London do I sent the shoes of (bloch) and got half a size bigger. They’re a lot better however slip of a bit at the back? Should I see on elastics to prevent this? Did I make the wrong choice!?

  Victoria wrote @

I love ballet but quit at 15 when my Pointe work failed Being older now I know there was issues with the shoes (I only had one choice of shoe) and issues with the teacher who didn’t like me or train me. But also I’m wondering if the shape of my foot is a factor because my big toe is where all the pressure and intense pain went being bigger than and not level with the next toes. I could never seem to properly rest on or over the box as is desirable, never quite making it to full Pointe. All the other girls seemed to have toes level with each other for best support. Although I’m sure my shoes and teacher were a major issue here, what about the big toe issue, is it possible to do Pointe work on the big toe?

  Samantha wrote @

Hello there! I’m going to be starting pointe next fall and I would like to know which brand is best/better. Which is better, Freed or Capezio? Or are those brands not so great? Which brand do you recommend for me to start off with?

  Mikayla wrote @

I totally suggest Freed! The capezio brand was to narrow for my feet. Freed had a better style for my foot type.

  Mikayla wrote @

Thanks so much! I took this when I went to anew dance store to get shoes after I had ordered them and they didn’t fit right! Thanks again!

  Amanda Trouillefou wrote @

I am looking for a good pair of point shoes but the sizing confuses me. I am about a perfect size seven in a regular shoe. What would I be in a ballet pointe?

~ Amanda ~

  Christina Yang wrote @

I need help. I have been on pointe for 2 years now. I started with Russian Pointe (don’t know the exact type of Russian). It fitted really well, but as soon as I started to dance in it, I couldn’t get on the box. Then I tried Bloch (don’t know the exact type of Bloch either), but I didn’t like it. I am back to the same type of Russian Pointe I got. It fit better this time, but I still can’t get on the top of my shoe. Now, I am thinking of trying Russian Pointe Almaz, but I also think that Sulffolk (forgot the exact type of Sulffolk) fits as well. Which one should I get for my next pointe shoe: Russian Pointe Almaz, Sulffolk (the type doesn’t matter), or stick with the same shoes I am wearing right now?


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