To select the right pointe shoes, it's crucial to consider your foot's characteristics, including your toe shape and width, toe length, compression level, and foot profile height. The box shape of the pointe shoe is particularly important as choosing the wrong one can lead to discomfort, bruising, and pain.
There are three main box shapes used by pointe shoe manufacturers: tapered, slightly tapered, and square. However, relying solely on reviews and recommendations may not be the best approach, as every dancer's feet are unique. It's advisable to try different brands and models to find the box shape that closely matches your toe shape.
1. Box Type:
- The box shape of a pointe shoe is crucial because it directly impacts the comfort and fit. It should align with the shape of your toes.
- Tapered boxes are narrower at the tip and best for dancers with narrower or more pointed toes.
- Slightly tapered boxes are a middle ground and can work for many foot shapes.
- Square boxes are wider at the tip and are suitable for those with wider or square-shaped toes.
- The goal is to find a box shape that closely follows your toe shape without squeezing or leaving extra space.
Matching your toes to the right box shape means ensuring your toes align with the shape of the box without curling. This can be challenging, especially if you have different types of toes on each foot, such as Egyptian, Greek, or Giselle feet.
2. Matching Your Toes:
- To match your toes correctly, your toes should extend fully without curling inside the box.
- Different toe types, like Egyptian (long big toe), Greek (second toe longer), or Giselle (balanced toes), require specific attention to ensure proper alignment within the box.
Vamp length is another critical factor in achieving the perfect pointe shoe fit. It's influenced by factors like toe length, arch flexibility, degree of compression, and foot width. Choosing the correct vamp length is essential for proper support and preventing issues like rolling over the shoe.
3. Vamp Length:
- Vamp length, the part of the shoe that covers the top of your toes, is influenced by toe length, arch flexibility, compression level, and foot width.
- Short toes usually require a shorter vamp, while long toes may need a longer one.
- Arch flexibility determines how much support you need from the vamp. Rigid arches may require a lower vamp, while very flexible arches need a longer vamp for stability.
- Compression level refers to how much your foot can compress inside the shoe. A compressible foot may need extra support from a longer vamp.
Foot width is a complex aspect to determine accurately, as it varies from dancer to dancer. If your pointe shoes aren't providing adequate support with the right box shape and vamp length, you can experiment with different width options, but going too wide or narrow can have negative consequences.
4. Width of Your Feet:
- Pointe shoe width is a critical factor and varies widely among dancers.
- It's best to be fitted by a professional to determine the right width for your feet.
- Adjusting width can help if the box shape and vamp length are correct but you still need a better fit.
- Going too wide can lead to insufficient metatarsal support, while too narrow can cause discomfort and affect foot health.
Your foot profile height is affected by arch height, instep, and compression level. Achieving the perfect profile height may require trial and error or professional fitting. A snug fit in the throat of the shoe is an indicator of the correct profile height. However, be cautious during the break-in process, as it can widen the shoe, causing issues for dancers with compressible feet.
5. Foot Profile Height:
- Foot profile height is determined by arch height, instep, and compression level.
- Achieving the right profile height ensures a snug fit and proper support.
- During fitting, check if you can fit a finger or two in the throat of the shoe; this helps determine the profile height.
- Be cautious during the break-in process, as it can alter the profile height, especially for dancers with compressible feet.
Selecting the right shank strength depends on factors like arch type, foot strength, height, weight, instructor and dancer preferences. Beginners may start with soft shanks to build foot strength, while experienced dancers may prefer harder shanks for stability. Matching your arch type to the appropriate shank is crucial, and pre-arched pointe shoes can be beneficial for high-arched dancers.
6. Shank Strength:
- Shank strength preference varies depending on factors such as arch type, foot strength, height, weight, and personal preferences.
- Beginners may start with softer shanks to build foot strength, while experienced dancers may prefer harder shanks for stability.
- Matching the shank to your arch type is crucial, and pre-arched pointe shoes can be beneficial for high-arched dancers.
Choosing the right heel shape depends on your heel's appearance while standing flat and on pointe. Most manufacturers offer medium heels but also provide options for extra low or deep heels. The size of the heel is less important than ensuring it doesn't create excessive fabric on your heel while on pointe or dig into your Achilles tendon. If your heel significantly diminishes while on pointe, opt for a pointe shoe with a low or tapered heel.
7. Heel Type:
- The heel shape of the pointe shoe is essential for comfort and aesthetics.
- Manufacturers offer different heel types, including average, extra low, and deep heels.
- Excessive fabric at the heel or pressure on the Achilles tendon can indicate an improper heel fit.
- Some dancers have disappearing heels, and they should choose a pointe shoe with a low or tapered heel to avoid discomfort.
In summary, finding the perfect pointe shoe fit involves considering a combination of factors related to your foot's shape, size, and characteristics. Experimentation and fitting appointment with a fitter are necessary to determine the ideal pointe shoe for your unique needs and preferences.