Breaking In Pointe Shoes

New to pointe or wishing to learn a little more about the often confusing world of ballet? You've come to the right place! Breaking in pointe shoes can be frustrating, especially when it is your first time en pointe.

The best way to soften shoes is to work in them! Your dance teacher will take the class through a range of exercises which will allow the shoes to soften and mould in the most effective way possible - so stay clear of water and please resist the urge to bend the shoes with your hands! Allowing your feet to do the softening will ensure the shoes break in the correct spot, whilst correctly moulding and minimising the risk of breaking your shoes completely! (Trust me when I say this can happen!)

DISCLAIMER: Please consult permission from your dance teacher before attempting to break in pointe shoes on your own. It is highly encouraged that new shoes be broken in during class with teacher supervision and guidance.

PREPARATION

The following details 3 simple yet highly effective exercises you can do at home to gently break in your shoes, while also improving the strength in your feet. Please consider the following before commencing these exercises, to allow for safe dance practice - 

FEET. These exercises are all performed with feet in parallel (at no point will you need to turn out your feet).

SUPPORT. Pointe exercises must be done with the support of a barre or equally sturdy balance mechanism (i.e. a tabletop or secure chair).

FLOOR. Make sure you are on a non-slip surface - those with polished or tiled floors may like to place a towel or mat down on the ground.

BODY. Warm up your full body before commencing. A light cardio warm up, followed by some tendus and stretches is best. 

TECHNIQUE. Perform these exercises with great care - be sure to activate your core, pull up and lengthen your muscles, just as you would in ballet class!
 

EXERCISES

The following exercises should be performed in this order. If at any point you feel unsafe, uncomfortable or in pain, cease the activity immediately. Your safety is number one!

Here's a video where I demonstrate the exercises for you!
 


Exercise 1: Controlled Rises

  1. Begin with feet in parallel, both hands placed securely on your barre or support.
  2. Slowly rise with control, articulating every muscle in the feet.
  3. You should gradually push through each position of the foot, making sure you hit demi pointe and 3/4 pointe (when the toes have just begun to peel off the ground). This will really work all the muscles in your feet, and improve your strength and articulation - both necessary for controlled, stable pointe work.
  4. Pause for a moment once you have reached full pointe. Be sure to lengthen your legs and have your core activated for balance.
  5. Slowly and smoothly roll back down through the feet, again hitting each position with control.
  6. Repeat 8 times.

Exercise 2: Walking Through the Feet

  1. Begin with feet in parallel, both hands placed securely on your barre or support.
  2. Roll right foot slowly through demi pointe to full pointe, focusing on controlled articulation as you did in the first exercise.
  3. Transition the weight between the feet - your feet should meet in the middle at demi pointe.
  4. Transfer your weight until left foot reaches full pointe.
  5. The transfer should look like you are 'walking' or 'prancing' from side to side.
  6. Repeat 16 times, in a slow and controlled manner.

Exercise 3: Overstretch En Pointe

  1. Begin with feet in parallel, both hands placed securely on your barre or support.
  2. Rise slowly through the feet up to full pointe.
  3. Bend knees carefully to stretch the instep - your weight transferring a little past the platform.
  4. Straighten your knees, while trying to keep the feet as stretched over as possible (imagine someone is holding your heels in place, keeping your feet intact). You should feel your muscles stretch, however if there's any concerning pain, stop the exercise immediately.
  5. Bend and straighten knees a 2nd and 3rd time, before slowly rolling back down through the feet.
  6. Repeat 4 times.

I hope these exercises will be of some help to you! If you're a little lost by the lingo, be sure to watch the video which demonstrates all three exercises in a way which is easy to follow.

Any questions feel free to leave a comment!

Good luck working those feet!
Kimi.

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