Pointe Shoes Accessories - Customize Your Shoes

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Gather Your Accessories

Gather pointe shoe accessories
Tracy Wicklund

Before you sit down to put on your pointe shoes, gather any pointe shoe accessories that you may need. Wearing pointe shoes is extremely personal, as no two feet are the same, not even your own. After dancing en pointe for awhile, you will learn certain methods and tricks that work best for your feet. You will learn how to customize your pointe shoes to meet your own needs.

Some ballet dancers prefer not to use any sort of padding inside their pointe shoes, while others have an entire assortment of pads, cushions, and wraps. If you are just starting out in pointe shoes, you may be tempted to stuff the toe boxes of your shoes with all sorts of soft padding in order to cushion your toes. However, you will quickly learn that less is more in dealing with pointe shoe padding. In order to dance correctly en pointe, it is necessary to be able to feel the floor with your toes, not just the cushioning inside. Also, you don't want to prevent callouses...you actually want to build callouses on your toes! Also, too much padding makes your toes squished in the box and feels uncomfortable. You will be able to balance easier with less padding.

Use padding wherever you think you need it, but always try to use as little as possible.

Pointe Shoe Padding Options:

  • Toe pads (foam, wool, gel)
  • Loose lambs wool
  • Cotton
  • Paper towel

Pointe Shoe Blister Preventing Options:

  • Bandages
  • Medical tape
  • Duct tape

Pointe Shoe Extra Comfort Options:

  • Toe spacers
  • Toe covers
  • Gel spots
  • Heel grips

As you dance in your pointe shoes, you will learn what accessories you need to use in order to make your feet comfortable. A dance consultant at a dancewear store will be able to look at your feet and suggest certain accessories that may work well with your particular feet. Your ballet instructor may also have a few tips and tricks to share.

The ballet dancer featured in the following step-by-step presentation has found the perfect combination of pointe shoe accessories for her particular feet.

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Prepare Your Toes

Prepare toes
Tracy Wicklund

The toes tend to take quite a beating in pointe shoes. If you find that your toes blister or chafe easily, you may try protecting them with tape or bandages. Some people find that medical tape or special toe tapes work better than simple bandages. If you do prefer bandages, make sure to purchase cloth instead of plastic, as plastic bandages don't stick as well to the skin.

You will be able to easily determine which toes need wrapping upon removing your pointe shoes after a ballet class. The toes that feel the most pressure will be red and possibly swollen. Take care to wrap those sensitive toes to keep them from blistering.

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Prepare Your Heels

Prepare your heels
Tracy Wicklund

The fit of your pointe shoes must be precise. If your heels become sore or blistered while wearing your pointe shoes, the shoes may not fit your feet exactly right. Check the fit to make sure the shoes are not too big. Your shoes shouldn't slip off your heels while dancing. If the fit is right, however, and your heels still slip out, you may want to try a heel gripper. Most heel grippers have peel-and-stick adhesive backings that adhere directly to your shoes and help keep the shoes on your feet.

If your heels blister easily, apply small cloth bandages to sore areas.

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Apply Toe Spacers

Apply toe spacers
Tracy Wicklund

Many ballet dancers suffer from painful bunions. If you experience pain at the bunion joint, or between your big toe and first toe, you may need a toe spacer. Toe spacers are often needed if your second toe is longer than your first. A toe spacer is made of gel and is used to space and align your toes.

Carefully place the toe spacer between your first two toes.

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Apply Toe Socks

Toe sock
Tracy Wicklund

Toe socks are fabric coated gel tubes made to slip over your toes. Toe socks are used to help prevent bruised toenails, caused by pressure. Toe socks are available in different sizes...large ones to fit your big toes and smaller ones to fit your smaller toes.

After carefully cutting a toe sock to size, slip it onto your big toe.

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Slip on Toe Pads

Toe pads
Tracy Wicklund

Toe pads have come a long way. Depending on your preference, toe pads are made of various materials, including foam, wool, and gel. Toe pads are available in different sizes, so make sure to obtain guidance from a professional before making a purchase.

Slip your toe pad directly over your toes. Some toe pads are longer on one side than the other. Make sure your baby toes are covered by the longer side.

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Slip Tights Over Feet

Pull on tights
Tracy Wicklund

Now that your feet are ready for action, it's time to slip on your tights. Tights will help to keep all of your pointe shoe accessories in their proper places.

Pull the foot of your tights down over your foot, taking care not to move any of your cushions or pads.

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Pull on Pointe Shoes

Put on pointe shoe
Tracy Wicklund

Your feet are covered and feeling good. Your toes are protected and ready for battle. The last step is to slip on your pointe shoes.

Grasping the pointe shoe with both hands, slide your foot down into the toe box, then pull the back of the shoe up over your heel.

Now you are ready to tie your pointe shoes.