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Will having Wide Feet Hinder my ability to do Pointe?

Hi! My name is Alice.

I have a question about dancers with wide feet. The first dance store I went to said that my feet were too wide for any of the shoes she had there, so she referred me to a different store. Will the awkward width of my feet hinder my ability to do pointe?

Please Help!

Dear Alice,

Thank you so much for your question! It is a common one that gets asked by many students. There are so many different shaped feet, that often finding the shoe that fits perfectly is a little bit tricky!

While it often does not seem like the most graceful ballerina's foot, often a wider foot can actually be easier to work with and less painful whilst on pointe. Each different company makes a variety of different-width shoes; however, some companies go wider than others. Some girls with wider feet find that Sansha shoes fit well; however, keep in mind that many other companies also make wide-fit shoes. Unfortunately, the only way to find your perfect shoe is to go to a well-stocked store and try on several different styles with an experienced fitter.

Once you find a shoe that fits the width of your foot, take special note of how it fits at the heel. Often girls with a wide foot find that a shoe will fit well at the ball of the foot but is too wide at the heel. Try and find one that tapers, to snuggly fit the heel as well.With a very wide foot you may need to make some adjustments as to how you fit the shoe.

If your foot is very wide and you have short toes, you may need to build up the inside of the shoes to get a good fit. As the shoe is fitted to the width of your foot, your toes will not actually touch the top of the shoe even at the depth of your plié. In order to avoid a very blunt-looking pointe shoe, you can pick a shoe that is slightly longer. Then pad up the inside of the shoe by placing some padding (such as a carefully cut block of firm foam) inside the tip of the shoe, so that you can actually have some contact on the tips of your toes to gain some feedback.

The actual width of your feet will not hinder your ability to perform on pointe; it is purely an aesthetic issue. However, you may have problems if your feet are very wide and very flexible. If your foot looks narrow when off the ground but on the ground, it spreads out wide, you may have what we call a “compressible” foot. Sometimes this can change the fitting of your shoe. You must make sure that when your foot is actually in the pointe shoe and placed en pointe that it does not slide down too far. The shoe may feel slightly tight when standing flat, but when on pointe, the foot will be in a supported position.

Often girls with wide but compressible feet are fitted too wide and end up sliding down into their shoe. This often results in bruised toenails and painful blisters. If you have this kind of foot, it is necessary that you build up more strength to gain control of your arches and the position of your foot, before you start on pointe. Make sure you check out all of the videos on this site and also all of the previous articles about strengthening for pointe work.

Thanks for your question!

Talk to you soon.

Lisa

Pointe Resources
 

If you are looking to delve deeper into this topic, check out the following programs:

The Perfect Pointe Book: This course was originally designed to help students and dance teachers safely prepare for pointe work. The four stages of tests and exercises within the book are ideal for pre-pointe preparation classes, students close to achieving pointe shoes and students already en pointe looking for extra strength and technique training. 
Pointe Range: This online program comprises of 41 clear and concise videos, totalling just under 2 hours play time, this course begins with a series of assessments to establish exactly what structures are restricting your pointe range. It then explores a diverse array of massage techniques, joint mobility exercises and fascial mobilisers to safely improve your pointe range. This is followed by an in depth look at retraining all of the muscles that stabilise the foot and ankle to allow you to actually use your new found pointe range in class. 
Pointe Intensive: This online virtual workshop is designed for both Dance Teachers & Health Professionals working with dancers. This three day Intensive will give you the most up-to-date advice in the industry to help you understand your students’ needs, analyze their differences, and them you the tools to help your students become the best dancer they can be.  

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