Whether you are working in your first pair of pointe shoes, been dancing en pointe for years, or have retired your pointe shoes, read below for ways to keep your feet happy, healthy and strong. Tomiko Magario, ballet instructor at The School at Steps, who is currently working her Primary II dancers into their first pairs of pointe shoes has shared some of her tips.
Are you new to pointe?
- Do not try your pointe shoes on outside of class.
- Remember the importance of feeling the floor when you dance, therefore, less padding inside your pointe shoes is better.
- Take it slow and listen to your dance teacher.
Tip from Tomiko: To dance well en pointe requires more than just strong feet and ankles. Core strength and correct placement of your body are critical so add Pilates to your weekly dance regiment.
How should you care for your feet?
- Tape your toes in spots where your shoes rub. Use high-quality adhesive bandages and apply the tape before you start to sweat.
- To reduce swelling, soak your feet in Epsom salts and warm water.
- Dry your pointe shoes facing up, to prevent a build up of bacteria and fungus.
Tip from Tomiko: Take off your shoes when you are not dancing to allow your shoes and feet to dry. To prevent swelling between class, rehearsals and performances, elevate your feet above your heart.
What are the best ways to strengthen your feet?
- Practice doming exercises. Sitting in a chair, place your feet flat on the floor. With your toes together draw up your arches and hold this position for five seconds. Relax and repeat. Be sure not to curl your toes under, you should always be able to see your toe nails while doing this exercise.
- Use the floor as resistance. The harder you press into the floor, the stronger the resistance.
Tip from Tomiko: I give myself foot massages and practice doming exercises everyday. A good slow tendu will also strengthen your feet.
Interested in strengthening your ankles?
- Do several releves, beginning and ending in plies.
- Do several eleves, beginning and ending with straight legs.
- To incorporate improving your balance, try releves on one foot, with your other leg in coupe. Then switch legs!
- In class, each time you rise onto full pointe from the floor you are strengthening your ankles.
Tip from Tomiko: “I do theraband exercises before and after classes, rehearsals and performances.” When you repeat the same movement or stand too long, certain muscles and tendons are over used. Theraband exercises can help correct ankle placement.
Try a few theraband exercises with us here.
After a long day of dancing, how can you pamper your feet?
- Rub peppermint oil on your feet, the cooling sensation will feel amazing!
- Try a pair of Yoga Toes! By spreading and stretching your toes, they help improve circulation and realign your toes after being en pointe all day.
Tip from Tomiko: Buy street shoes with good support. “You may have to spend a little more money…but it is worth it.”
-In 1975, Charles Didelot was the first to allow dancers to rise up on their toes with the aid of wires, known as his “flying machine.”
– In 1832, Marie Taglioni was credited as being the first woman to dance on her toes without the use of wires.
-Pierina Legnani was the first dancer to perform 32 fouettes en pointe in 1893. Her partner, Michel Fokine, forgot he was onstage and applauded her.
More advice from Pointe Shoe Workshop panelists on fitting your pointe shoes: Love and Respect Your Feet