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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pointe Shoes and Pain


Gayle

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Hey, I have compressed feet too! Learn something new every day! I think that is one of the billion reasons why I was having such trouble finding a shoe that was narrow enough. On top of the compressed feet, I have a super narrow heel. Anyone else have this issue/if so, what shoes have they had luck with?

 

I like my current suffolk solo's in the most narrow width, but i definitely can see how they may stretch and the toe spacer may be required. Maybe I will look into getting those....

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My experience with the spacer has been that it helps keep my feet from becoming more narrow when en pointe, so my feet stay wider, which in turn, helps to keep them from sinking into the box, which in turn, helps to keep the stress, strain, pressure, you name it, off my big toe. That's just my own personal experience. Everyone's feet are different and will react in a different manner. You really need to experiment with what works for you. I'm saying this because we're all adults here and can do this. I think it's different for young teens who have completely different set of issues. I started pointe work as an adult and have not had any problems with my feet changing, but then I only do about 3 hours of pointe (in 3 different segments) per week.

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Does everyone use some sort of padding ( gel, lamb's wool, etc)? My teachers don't want us to use anything, so I don't, and I don't seem to mind it thus far. I bought the gel pads and lambs's wool, hate the gels and don't use the lamb's wool. I am curious as to whether or not there are others who don't use padding? Is not using padding a particuarly Russian thing to do?

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I think it is highly personal, like using a hair spray or not. Some people just don't need any kind of padding, some do. I personally do not need anything more than a pair of thin silicone pads with my GM's, with Grishkos I don't even need that much after the box is fully broken in. Some just use tapes, others may use paper towels/toilet papers and some others might use really thick padding. It depends on the pain you have, if you have any.

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For me, it depends on what shoes I'm wearing, how broken in the shoes are and even what day of the week it is! :party: (By this I mean how many classes I've already had, which studio I'm in, and the general overall condition of my feet at that time.)

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I use a big tip with the end cut off on each big toe on the knuckle, because that's virtually the only place I get any pain (a jabbing sensation). I also wear an ouch pouch, but that's more to do with fit (I have compressible feet and find that while the shoe is fine width-wise on the flat, I can suddenly have extra room when en pointe).

 

I did try to go without padding, but I found the jabbing sensation too sore - like being stabbed in the big toe joint with a blunt knife. Miss Clara talked elsewhere about the differences between children and adults starting pointe, and it is interesting to consider what I might have tolerated then versus what I would put up with now. I think I could have been trained into tolerating the discomfort as a child, but as an adult in a recreational class I don't think that it's worthwhile for me to be in pain.

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insidesoloist

I wear padding. I'm of the firm belief that using whatever works to protect your alignment and/or minimize pain isn't cheating, it's taking care of myself.

 

No pain, no gain is an old-school philosophy I just can't get on board with. No work, no gain, yes. But I really don't believe that pain has to be part of this equation. I danced 5-7 days/week for years and only ever had pain when my shoes were wrong for me or I wasn't using proper padding. Was I lucky, yes. But was I alone? No. I am absolutely here to say it is possible (at least for some people) to do pointe without pain.

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I'm old and decrepit. I use padding. Not a lot, mind you, but enough to make me reasonably competent on pointe with as minimal pain as possible. I strongly believe that since we older folk do it for fun (!!) that we should make it as comfy as possible.

 

As a young'un, I had totally ill-fitting shoes (no choices back then, at least where I was) and wasn't allowed padding. Now, as an old'un, it's my choice and I'll fight anyone who says it's a cop-out. *makes ready the gel-pad launcher at first offensive!"

 

The above said, one of the teachers at ADC is a contemporary and she still doesn't use padding when she does pointe work - at least, that's what she told me. When I told her of my pointe experiences as a youngster, she nodded sagely, remembering similar! LOL!

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I am absolutely here to say it is possible (at least for some people) to do pointe without pain

Yep, I agree with this. Discomfort - heck yes, no such thing as pointe shoes that feel like slippers, they physically cannot be loose and still do the job. But pain - no, there should not be a lot of pain. The problem is, what is one person's discomfort, is another person's pain. I find it interesting that I don't really notice any pain or real discomfort until we do our final bow and we're walking to our dance bags, then - ouch! And, hobble, hobble, hobble. :party:

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I also found Clara's comments about adults vs teens on pointe interesting. As an adult, I can certainly say that there is only so much pain I am willing to endure in order to dance on pointe. I'm doing this for fun, after all. But on a different side of the issue is this: are teens physically better able to endure pain than adults or is pointe simply more painful for older dancers because of changes in our physiognomy, such as less subcutaneous fat, thinner skin, etc?

 

And as Dancepig says, we all have different pain thresholds.

 

In answer to Sharon B--I have found that gel pouches offer me the most comfortable pointe experience. The pink ones work best, although I've also used the purples with a small spacer between my pinkie toe and its neighbor. I'm trying on some different shoes later this week (shorter vamp, more tapered), and if I end up buying a new pair, I expect my padding needs to change.

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I find it interesting that I don't really notice any pain or real discomfort until we do our final bow and we're walking to our dance bags, then - ouch! And, hobble, hobble, hobble. :(

 

I've noticed the same thing! As I long as I keep moving and dancing, I don't notice a lot of discomfort. But if I've been en pointe for over 90 minutes, I hobble when we stop too. Thankfully this time has been increasing the longer I've been back en pointe. When I first returned after many years away, I could only make it about 20 minutes.

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  • 1 year later...
Je Suis Aimee

Can someone please tell me how exactly does one use loose lamb's wool?

 

Over the weekend I got new shoes on clearance, so because of this there was a limited selection, and I got a size that fits perfectly, only without padding. It doesn't hurt at all to go en pointe with no padding whatsoever, but of course, dancing around in them for an hour is another matter.

 

They let me try it out in the shop and, doing my best to recall that scene from The Dancer where Anneli Alhanko is putting on her shoes to perform as the Swan Queen, I took a bit of the wool - not much at all - and spread it over my toes and foot, then slipped the shoe on. It felt really wonderful and silky (and I wasn't even wearing tights). But I am wondering if for an actual class, I would need more. Should it be so that I feel an actual cushioning at the tips of my toes, or is it meant to provide that silky feeling to prevent blisters? Or both? Should I tape vulnerable toes as well? :flowers:

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Can't hurt to tape provided you don't tape too tight!!

 

Just form the lamb's wool into a 'toe pad' and voila!

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Je Suis Aimee

Ah OK, that sounds simple enough! Thanks Clara! :o I am definitely going to tape my pinkies... trying to dance en pointe with blisters just one time was enough to traumatize me into never letting them form again! :thumbsup:

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intothefire

Has anyone got any suggestions to prevent blisters with pointe shoes? I have just got my first pair of pointe shoes (and I'm super thrilled :thumbsup:), but just from having short wear of them at some to try and soften them in demi-pointe and going onto pointe for short periods of time I an feel that they are going to give me blisters on my toes. I have feet that blister every time I wear new street shoes, so I am fully anticipating at least a few blisters.

 

I've heard of people using rubbing alcohol to toughen the skin, but thats going to take time. Is taping effective over areas where you anticipate blisters or are there other methods to prevent or reduce severity of blisters?

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