How Should Pointe Shoes Fit?

 Your Pointe shoes must be very snug and yet somewhat comfortable……

Here are some common mistakes and how to avoid them when being fitted for Pointe Shoes. It is not reccomended to buy pointe shoes online, unless you have been dancing on pointe for a while and know exactly what make and style and EXACTLY what size you need.

Some  dance store associates  tend to fit the shoes way too loosely. Tell them your teacher insists on a snug fit.They need to fit snugly so that the foot does not slide around while dancing. If you give it some thought, this is very logical. The shoes should fit like a glove and never leave room for growth. Trying to learn proper technique on pointe with shoes that are too large introduces many difficulties. In addition to causing blistering, it forces you into bad habits as you try to compensate for your foot sliding around within the pointe shoe. Such habits, once formed are difficult to correct.  When you are pointe shoe shopping, be prepared to try on perhaps 30 pairs of shoes, yet still walk out without buying if you are not completely satisified with the way that they fit. Do NOT succumb to seller pressure.   T he shoe should be snug but not painfully tight. Your toes should be able to lay straight inside the box of the shoe and NOT be jammed into the end. Be sure that your toes  are not overlapping.

In addition to being a snug fit, make sure the pointe shoes feel relatively good in the store. If you find pointe shoes that feel terrific and have a snug fit in relevé first, BUY THEM INSTANTLY!!! DO NOT purchase pointe shoes if they DO NOT feel good in the store. The shoes will not magically be pain free at the studio if they felt terrible in the store.

 DO NOT sew on elastics and/or ribbons until your teacher has checked the shoes in person for proper fit. Many sales associates have never worn pointe shoes and can not relate to their feel.  They may have to be returned.

In preparing to go for your Pointe shoe fitting make sure you have plenty of time and are not in a rush. Wear tights and be sure to cut your toe nails, but make sure that they are not too short.

The following is a portion from Freed of London’s website:

With both shoes on, stand with your weight on both feet and knees bent. In this position, your feet will be at their widest. Your shoes should feel snug but not pinch. You should also feel the block ‘cupping’ your toes. In addition, you should feel the little toe joint, the big toe joint and the center of the heel on the floor in this position.

 Next, place one foot on Pointe without transferring body weight. If the outer sole of the shoe remains flat against the pad of your heel, your shoe is the right width for you. If your sole twists away from your foot, the shoe is too narrow. At this time, you should also check that the block completely covers the toe joints.

 To check the length of the shoe, go on Pointe on both feet and transfer your body-weight onto your toes. If the outer sole of the shoe extends beyond the pad of your heel, the shoe is too long.

It is a good idea to learn at this time the parts of a Pointe Shoe so you can describe to the seller what part of the shoe is bothering you.

Going on Pointe is a wonderful time in your dancelife. Enjoy every minute of being able to do such an amazing form of dance!

                        

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57 Comments

57 thoughts on “How Should Pointe Shoes Fit?

    • Yes Bloch is a very nice shoe. However the pictures were just to enhance the article, not to promote any one shoe. I wear Bloch ballet slippers my self, however my daughter loves Bloch pointe shoes and that is all she wears.

  1. I am so glad I found this article! I needed to show my mom this info because I dance. I appreciate the knowledge. I myself have been dancing on Pointe for three years.

  2. I purchased pointe shoes and they fit prefectly while en pointe but on flat my big toe feels like it curls slightly, causing me trouble when rolling through demi pointe. Given that they are perfect while en pointe, should I just break them in and hope they get better while on flat? Thanks!

    • In my opinion, if your big toe curls while flat the the shoe is too short for your foot. You possibly need a 1/2 size longer. Your toes need to be totally flat while you are standing flat. You may feel comfortable while on full pointe because you may have a good arch in your foot. Next pair try a 1/2 size longer

  3. most people have one foot that is slightly longer than the other. If your toe is curling up then the shoe is too small. I always bought two pairs – one pair a half size bigger. This gave me two pairs that were right for my feet.

  4. I try to tell my mom that I need to go to a place to get my shoes fitted but she won’t listen to me and buys them online anyway, and because of that I have to stick to the same type of brand/make that I got the very first time I got pointe shoes. And I really want to try some other brands. Ugh

    • Possibly you should have your mom read my post on pointe shoes. I tell my dancers that they should be fitted at least once per year to be sure the size and type shoe are still what they require. Your feet do tend to change and your dancing should improve as you continue your training so different shanks and vamps may suit you better. If you buy several pair per year then it is ok to buy those online….but try to be fitted at least once per year.

  5. Hello. My daughter has very small feet and we cannot find pointe shoes in a size 12. The smallest size seems to be a 2. Do you know of an online company that sells them in a 12? I have not been able to find anything online.

    Thank you,
    Stacie

    • Hello Stacie

      My first question to you is, How old is your daughter? I do not put anyone on pointe until the age of 12 sometimes 11. So I have never come across this situation.
      This is an except from my February 7, 2012 post on Pointe Work:

      “The year at which a young dancer should begin pointe work is a matter of controversy. Because so much depends on the physique of the dancer, the standard of her technique and the rate of progress, it is impossible to set an exact age. A dedicated dancer, who loves to come to classes and makes no excuses for other activities, who has had continual ballet training for a minimum of three years and is twelve years old or more, would be a good candidate. It is extremely unwise for dancers under the age of twelve and without sufficient training to work in pointe shoes. The too soft bones of the feet can become dislocated because muscles used for the lifting of the weight of the body on to the toes are not yet sufficiently developed to protect them.

      The structure of the foot has its advantages also. The foot that has toes that are not too long and the first three being even in length are the ideal feet for pointe work. When standing on pointe, the toes should never curl under so that the weight of the body rests on the joints. This occurs when the pointe shoes are too big and don’t hold the foot, particularly the toes, firmly together.”

      Also visit online International Association for Dance Medicine and Science. Their bulletin of November 2015….

  6. I am so happy I read this article now I can show it to my mom in about two weeks I’m having my first pointe shoe fitting

  7. My toes are overlapping and curled, but when I had the fitted 8 months ago the professional said they were perfect. My instructor said she suggested I try another pair but left the ultimate decision up to me what should I do? Would toe spacers be an option?

    • Well I see two problems here, and possibly you should get another fitting. If your toes are curled, when you are en pointe, that could mean one of two things. Either the shoes are too big and your foot is sliding forward in the shoe or the shoe is too short and you are stuffing your foot into a shoe that is too short for your foot. When en pointe is there a lot of excess satin at the heel of your foot? If so, the shoe is too big and your foot is sliding forward which would cause the toes to curl. If the toes are curled when standing flat then the shoe is too short.

      If your toes are overlapping, then the box of your pointe shoe is not wide or broad enough for the width of your foot.

      In either case it sounds that you were improperly fitted, but I can not absolutely tell unless you were here in person. When standing flat your foot should lay totally flat within the shoe. No overlapping of toes no curling of toes. You should go for another fitting at a different dance shop.

      Is this your first pair of pointe shoes? I go with my students as a group field trip to the dance store when getting their first pair of pointe shoes. I am very fussy as to fit and a new student really does not know how the shoe is supposed to feel. When they are on their following pairs I just have them bring them in to the school for me to check before they are permitted to sew on the ribbons and elastics. No one is allowed to wear their new pointe shoes until I check them first.

      If you have not worn your new pointe shoes, I would save the receipt and go for another fitting at an different dance store. When fitting for the first pair of pointe shoes it sometimes takes up to a half hour or more to find the perfect style and size. Be sure to go to a store that is well stocked so you may try on different brands and styles. We have found a preference for Bloch pointe shoes. Although I myself grew up with Capezio, but now have found that Bloch has more variety. Grishko are also a favorite at our school.

      Good Luck in your dance journey….would love to hear your outcome

  8. I have been en Pointe for almost a year now and I feel like my shoes aren’t broken in yet. At this pointe (haha ) should my shoes be broken in, if so, how can I make them softer?

    • HI Lilly

      I am not a fan of doing anything to the shoes unless you have been en pointe for a while and with that, only if you have a performance coming up. Your shoes need to be a “second skin” and molded to your feet. With that said, your feet are the ones to break in your shoes. Either you are not working hard enough or your shoes are not fit correctly.

      By working hard enough, I mean, are you doing the proper exercises for a beginner pointe student? My beginners, normally need at minimum 2 pairs of shoes in about an 8 month period. We use one foot at a time and roll up to pointe and roll the foot back to flat, bending at the ball of the foot on the roll up and roll down. Once the foot is full pointe we push the arch forward. We also do a lot of eleves and roll down warm ups to strengthen the feet, raising with a straight leg, no plie, to work the muscles in the feet and slowly roll through the feet from pointe back down to flat. Theses are done parallel and turned out.

      But first you must decide if you were fitted properly, that often times it the reason for the shoes not cooperating….they may be too big for you.

      Another reason is how long are you shoes on your feet each week? How long is your pointe class? How many classes per week do you do en pointe?

      Hope this helps

  9. I recently rolled my ankle on pointe and now I’m having trouble getting over the fear of that happening again. Is there anything I can do to help my fear because I’m not giving up pointe.

    • Do not give up….before you can understand why you rolled your ankle, ask yourself these questions:
      Are you pulling up through your legs and applying your core muscles, when you releve onto full pointe?
      Have you worked on the difference between eleve and releve?
      Are you rolling up to full pointe or jumping up?
      These are important aspects of achieving good pointe work compared to injury.
      At the barre, practice eleve excerises, that is, rolling up to full pointe from a straight leg, you will find your center easier, and strengthen the muscles of the feet.
      Also at the barre, when practicing releve, use a deep plie and be sure you have a straight back when in plie, do not lean forward.
      While en pointe, look at the box of your pointe shoe in the mirror, is it placed correctly on the floor? I have my beginner pointe students darn the rim of the pointe shoe to help them find that position on their shoes. It helps to place the foot correctly on the floor.

      Ultimately, what has your teacher recommended? Have you spoken to her/him. Your teacher is there to visually see your imperfections and guide you, correctly.

      Once again….never give up, practice instead. You will never regret good practice time. Keep in touch with your progress…..

      • I just had my first pointe class after recovering from my injury. My teacher said that it was up to me to decide whether I was ready or not to go back up. I’m not sure how I feel. On one hand, I was given the green light to go on pointe but I feel like I’m not ready. What should I do?

  10. I’m so excited! I’m getting my first pointe shoes fitted tomorrow! My sister has Grishko and my other sister has Russian Pointe so it’s hilarious when they argue which one is better!

    • Well congratulations!
      Each pointe shoe has it’s value and integrity, but everyone’s feet are different. So each person will value a different shoe! Enjoy your first pair, which ever they maybe….Most of my students prefer Bloch….LOL

  11. I was fitted about a week ago but when I go en pointe , I feel like the heel of the shoe is slipping off. Should I be refitted or is it just something common?

    • I don’t feel like you were fitted correctly. The heel may fall off if either the shoes are too big or too small. How do they feel when you are flat. Are your toes laying flat and the foot is touching the front and back of the shoe? Or is there lots of room in the shoe, where as you are en pointe and there is excess fabric in the back? It is difficult to say unless I was able to see you en pointe. What does your teacher say about it? Discuss it with him/her.

  12. Hi I always feel that the tip of my big toe is too pushed or flattened on flat and en pointe. Is that normal or is the fit of my poine shoes wrong. To follow up, Would that mean that I need a longer vamp or bigger size of shoe? Thanks!

    • Well without being able to actually see how your shoes fit, it is difficult to comment. You need to know there are three types of feet. Greek type where the second toe is longer, Egyptian where the big toe is longer and Square type where the first 3 toes are about even. With that said, look at your feet, are you the Egyptian type? If so you are balancing all of your weight on you big toe. You made need to purchase a big toe sock from Bunheads for extra protection.

  13. Hi
    When I go en pointe, I feel like my heels are popping after a while. At first I thought it was just because I was en pointe, but now even in slippers, after being a while on releve , my heels are popping.

    • Gee Sara, I don’t think that is a question for me as I am not a doctor. Possibly you should have a podiatrist take a look at your feet. How old were you when you first went en pointe?

  14. Hello, I was just re-fitted today after about 2 years off of pointe. I had to take some time out of dance for medical reasons. I was put in a pair of Capezio’s and I also have my Russian Pointe’s both feel great except for my toenail on my big toes. I have European feet with a super low profile and high arches. The bit of meat on the sides is super sensitive, even in slippers. Could I have cut my toenails too short? Not sure if it matters but I am 24 years old. This has never happened to me in the past. Also, any advice on getting my foot strength back quickly? Thanks!

    • Well, being off pointe for a while will have your feet become more sensitive. And yes, check your toenail length. I am not too sure what you mean by a European Foot. A Roman foot has the first 2 or 3 toes even and is ideal for pointe work, distributing the weight among the first 2 or 3 toes. if Roman is what you are referring to. To strength your feet, try picking up marbles with you toes. We do this with the beginner pointe students as a game. I pour out a box of marbles and they put them in and out of a hula hoop that is placed on the floor. Fun race game for them but a great foot strengthener!

      • That’s a great idea! I’ll need to invest in some marbles. I ment Egyptian feet, so sorry! I also believe I have flexible metatarsals. I can grab my metatarsals and basically told my foot in half so my my big toe is touching my pinky toe. Also my shoes feel perfect when I’m up on pointe but when I’m flat on my feet my big toes can’t even stretch out or lay flat. So I’m at a dilemma, should I go bigger in hopes to make the shoe fit better when I’m just standing? Or should I keep them small so that when I’m up on pointe I feel okay? What would you suggest? Thanks again!

      • Your feet are like my daughter’s where as the weight is on the big toe when en pointe. As far as standing flat I can only assume the that the shoe is too short. So maybe a 1/2 size longer, as long as your foot doesn’t slide forward when en pointe.

      • Also maybe try a different style….My daughter likes Bloch European Suprima Pointe shoes and wears a toe sock on the big toe. She is a beautiful dancer.

  15. Okay, so I got fitted for pointe shoes yesterday. I HATE them. She had me trying on Russians and I said that a particular shoe felt better than the Capezio pair. When I tried them on she said the Russians didn’t look as good as the Capezios did. They felt the same almost, but the Russians were more comfortable a little, but now I’m stuck with pointe shoes that have 0 room for wool under any of my toes, except for my pinky toe.

    • I can not comment on this unless I was able to fit you myself. However, you are the consumer, and the dancer. Is this your first pair? If it is then maybe the dancewear dealer is correct on the fit and you should trust her. If you have been en pointe for a while then you should know how the fit should be. Also, if you have been dancing en pointe you should be removing as much of the lamb’s wool as possible. I have my dancers work towards just a piece of paper towel over their toes after being en pointe for a year.

  16. Hello. My daughter has been fitted for pointe shoes each time we buy a new pair as she is growing. Her newest shoes are the Grishko Nova. She wore a 4.5 in the Grishko 2007 and was very happy with them. The pointe shoe fitter said they were too big and had too much fabric in the back of the shoe.We trusted her judgmement and purchased the shoes 1/2 size smaller in a size 4. My daughter said that her big toe is touching the top of the shoe while standing in parallel. When on releve she feels a lot of pressure on her big toenail that she never had before. Should I trust the judgement of the fitter who insists that these shoes fit well and my daughter just needs to adjust or should I take her somewhere else? The shoes cannot be returned or exchanged. Thanks for your help

    • Was this fitter different than the one who fitted her for the 4.5 Grishko? From what you daughter is saying I am assuming that the shoes are too small. I can not be sure with out seeing them myself. If she has been en pointe for a while she should know this herself and refused the shoes. I would have her fit from some one else and possibly sell the shoes to a classmate, or she will be discouraged in class by wearing them.

  17. Thank you so much for your response. Yes the fitter was different. She said that although my daughter’s shoes were comfortable (the 4.5) they were too big. She said that the 4 fit as a pointe shoe should and that because she had gotten used to a larger size she needed to adjust to a properly fitted shoe. My daughter is 10 years old and this is her 4th pair of shoes. The fitter was a professional ballerina with several companies and I am new to buying pointe shoes. We have since purchased another pair in size 4.5 and my daughter is happy again. Thank you again for your help!

  18. I just had my first pair of pointe shoes fitted. In the store they felt wonderful! Only upon trying them on at home to check for where I wanted my ribbons I discovered that when standing flat my big toe is pushed all the way against the platform and is slightly painful. Is this normal or are my shoes too small? They are the Bloch stretch pointe so I have heard they may stretch all the way to a half size up.

    • I love the Bloch Euro Stretch pointe shoes, however I do not let my beginner pointe students use them because of the stretch. I assume they were approved by your teacher? The reason being is that they do stretch and the box is not felt accurately by the beginning student. But with that said and you have already bought them, how is your heel? Does it fit in the shoe snugly or does is slide up and down. If it slides up and down it may be because your foot slid too far forward when you are standing flat. Is your big toe laying flat or is it slightly bent at the knuckle? Do you have any type of toe protection on your foot? If not you need to go back to the store with what ever you are going to wear on your toes for comfort and be re-fit, Your foot should lay flat from tip of your toe to heel of your foot when not on pointe. you should somewhat feel the box of the shoe. I hope this helps.

    • I have never worn Freed’s pointe shoes, so I can not truthful comment. I do know that with perspiration of the feet any pointe shoe will soften. Allow your shoes to dry outside of your dance bag. Capezio makes net bags for that reason.

  19. I have been on pointe for 4 years and I have switched from shoe to shoe. I started with Russian pointe lumina to grishko maya back to russian pointe but this time RP rubin and they worked for a long time. But now due to problems with my ankles and Achilles tendons (not tendonitis) I struggle to go all the way to my box and I hab bagging on the edgeswhile on pointe but while on flat they are perfect. Should I change shoes again??

    • Please know that I am no orthopedic doctor, and can not give advice on your ankles and Achilles tendon. But I do know that they are not related to what shoe you wear. Have you had your ankles and Achilles tendon checked by a doctor. There may be some orthopedic problems. On the other hand if your shoe is baggy on the sides while en pointe it means that your foot is sliding forward, the shoe may be either too long or too wide for your foot. Our students with this type of fitting have had great success with Bloch pointe shoes. I do not endorse any particular brand of shoe, it is just that I have seen them fit better when a student has this problem. You may want to try a style with the stretch satin. See a professional fitter, I mean one who is educated in fitting pointe shoes, but first see an orthopedic doctor before you do permanent damage to your ankles and Achilles tendon.

  20. Hi! I am an older dancer going on pointe for the first time(had my 4th lesson yesterday) and I have just turned 30. My shoes were fitted what I thought seemed correctly (however I didn’t know how they were supposed to feel) and whenever I roll up or down I get awful pain in my 4th and particularly 5th toes on both feet but more painful on the left. It’s affecting my dancing. I am not sure what to suggest when going back to the shop, the girl who fitted me was only about 16 herself. Does this sound like they could be incorrectly fitted or is it an issue with being a bit older and heavier?

    • Well, your 4th and 5th toes should not be weight bearing. Are you placing you feet correctly on the box? Assuming you are, without actually seeing the shoes on your feet, is the box type correct for your feet? Is the pain from the outside into your feet or from the tip of the toes? Are all of your toes laying flat? Pointe shoe styles come with many different boxes due to dancers having many different types of feet. Again without actually seeing the shoes on your feet I can only assume that the box was fitted incorrectly. Being placed en pointe for the first time at 30, has nothing to do with your ability as long as you have been properly trained in class. Never let your age dictate your ability. Enjoy your classes and try hard. I believe that you have the wrong box for your type foot.

  21. Hello! I just barely got fitted for my second pair of pointe shoes, and I they felt great while in store. However I came home and tried them on at home, and they felt great while en pointe, but they were not long enough when I wasn’t. My heel was completely off of the wood part at the very bottom outside of the shoe. The back on the achillies did not seem to be high enough. The elastic they sewed on did feel particularly tight. Is this enough of a problem that I have to get new shoes? Or will fixing the tight elastic help solve this problem? Thank you!

    • Depending on the style of the shoe would determine how high the back of the shoe fits your heel. Your foot from front to back should have no room. You can try moving the elastic. Is it sewn on crossed in the front? This is how I have my students sew it on. The elastic should almost meet in the back by the seam. What style of shoe did you purchase? Do you have a naturally narrow heel of your foot? I have a student with a narrow heel who can not wear the Bloch’s stretch satin split soles. They constantly come off her foot in the back and she was fit properly for size. It is just when en pointe the shoe slips off. Is that what is happening to you? We had to do a trial and error on where to place the elastic as to not waste the shoes. She has since gone back to a normal satin shoe and all is well.

  22. Hi, I went for my first shoe fitting. They gave me Grishko 2007. When I have the toe caps on it feels really snug, pressing to the side of my feet and when worn for a bit, I have a fold in the middle of the pad of my foot. They sometimes feel as if they sit a wee bit to tight, but they told me it will wear out. Without the toe caps, they feel wonderful and then I feel slight pressure and when going on the point it is only my big toe that takes strain and it can com uncomfortable. Are they the right fit?

    • It seems to me that the box may not be wide enough for the front of your foot. I can not determine with out actually seeing in person. The other problem may be that the “toe caps”, I am assuming you meant the silicone toe pads, may be too thick for the box. Pointe shoe styles are all trial and error. Be sure you had seen a professional fitter.

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