How To Take Care Of Your Feet On Pointe

Pointework takes a toll on your feet. Placing your entire body weight onto the equivalent of a silver dollar puts strain on your joints, not to mention wrecks your pedicure. It’s typical to experience some discomfort, but there are options to reduce the damage. Try these three methods for less painful pointework.

1. Toe Pads

toe pads

Toe pads encase all the toes and are interchangeable. The most common are lambswool pads. They act as a pillow between the tips of the toes and hard platform. However, the disadvantage of wearing lambswool is it doesn’t last long. Like cotton candy, they start off fluffy, but when moisture hits them, they flatten and become practically useless. Synthetic pads made of elastic polymer look like plastic and have a jelly-like texture. They offer more protection than lambswool, but can lessen sensation in the toes. My absolute favorite pads on the market are Ouch Pouches, a thin, gel-based insert sewn into a fabric pouch. They are soft, lightweight, and provide protection while still allowing you to “feel the floor”. Most toe pads can be tossed in the wash, but others require spot-cleaning.

2. Bandaids

bandaids

A classic quick fix is to wrap each toe with a bandaid. It buffers the knuckle from the abrasive canvas of the pointe shoe, reducing the development of blisters. You can also use bandaids or athletic tape around the big toe joint to prevent bunions. Try to avoid wrapping the very tips of the toes. Bind individual joints and give special attention to the pinky toes. With repeated rubbing against the stiff wings of the shoe, they usually take a beating sooner than the others. Though it’s the smallest toe, if it’s not protected, it can surprisingly cause more pain than anything else. Some dancers like to use bandaids on specific toes, then fold a paper towel over all toes like a toe pad. I wouldn’t recommend this since they provide virtually no cushioning, and sweaty paper towels end up shredding and causing a mess.

3. Foot Soak

footsoak

Take care of your feet with a post-class foot soak. Use pure essential oils for a relaxing aromatherapy experience. Some blisters, even toenails, may soften and fall off. Let this happen naturally. Don’t exacerbate these sensitive spots by poking and peeling. After a warm bath, pamper your toes with some shea butter and slip into some comfy socks. Avoid perfumed lotions and alcohol-based rubs on any exposed skin. Use antibiotic gel and gently bandage the area. Second Skin is also a great product you can find in your local drugstore. It can sting upon applying, but is an alternative to bandaids. Also try to refrain from wearing excessively tight shoes outside of class that could increase strain on your feet.

There’s no way around it: pointework hurts. Of course, the more you practice in pointe shoes the more you will adapt to it. In fact, after a while, I preferred to wear footless tights for pointework so I could “become one” with my shoes. Some hardcore dancers literally build such a thick skin they don’t wearing any protection at all. More power to them. Nonetheless, you can learn to dance on pointe without dying in the process.

(Feature, 2)
image credit: Balletstar011
Creative Commons license Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
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image credit: Beth and (Jim, Emma & Chloe) Holmes
Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
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image credit: Alex Dram
Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
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