The Glorious World of Pointe Shoes

As many dancers know, figuring out what’s the best for your feet while wearing pointe shoes can be a constant journey. I can’t give you the magic key to what will fix your pointe shoes struggles, but I can inform you about the various tips that will help you on your journey. Miranda Layman, the athletic trainer of Belhaven University’s Dance Department, advised that some important points are:

  • Make sure the shoe fits.
  • Proper strengthening of the feet and ankles with TB prior to class.
  • Toe spacers or bunion guards as needed. (Depending on your foot shape, ask your teacher for further guidance)
  • Taping of the toes in friction areas under toe pads.
  • Keeping feet as dry as possible, wrapping towels around toes.

Blister Prevention

There are two main ways to ward off blister while wearing pointe shoes:

  1. Taping your feet: I personally tape my feet with Nexcare Absolute Waterproof Tape because it’s spongy and flexible forms itself to the shape of my toes. I suggest taping each place on your foot that is prone to blisters. For me, that’s both of my big toes and the lower knuckle of my pinkie toes.
  2. Using toe pads: There are a variety of different toe pads that you can use. I have used Discountdance.com to explore the options available and have used several throughout my pointe shoe journey. I will discuss the various kinds of toe pads available in my next blog post. So stay tuned!

Blister Treatment

There are many different theories for how to take care of a blister once you get one. Kinsey Folkers, a current senior Dance Major at Belhaven Universiy, shared with me what she has found to be the most effective:

“Once you have a blister that hasn’t popped, soak it in Epsom salt water (I personally prefer warm but others prefer cold). Do not pop the blister. If your blister popped in your shoe you can disinfect it with soap and water, Epsom salt soak, or antibiotic cream (like for cuts). I don’t recommend using liquid band-aid since it hurts like the dickens unless you have to immediately put your feet back in pointe shoes. It doesn’t alleviate pain in the shoe but does protect from infection. Orajel teeth numbing cream for babies is also great for numbing out your toes for broken nails or especially painful blisters that have not popped. I personally use Blister Bandaids – usually applied at night so it’ll stay on my feet – or Spenco’s 2nd Skin Squares that are little gel squares you can put directly on your blister. It’s cool and soothing but you have to tape them down so they don’t travel all over your shoe.”

If it’s a bubble blister then you’ll want to safely relieve the pressure with a disinfected needle which will make it feel a little better too. Cortisone cream/Neosporin will dry out and heal blisters as well. Basically, with blisters, you have to keep them covered and keep them clean until they heal. It’s important to keep the skin over the blister as long as possible so that the new, tender skin underneath isn’t exposed.

You are NOT Alone

There’s a lot that comes with wearing pointe shoes. Blisters are something all dancers deal with, so you don’t have to go through the struggle by yourself. Please seek the help of your teachers if you have a persistent and unbearable blister.