Ballet Pointe Shoes - Sudden Extreme Pain En Pointe?

by Carrie

Ballet Pointe Shoes - Sudden Extreme Pain En Pointe?

Hi Odette,
My name is Carrie and I have been dancing for 12 years now. I started en pointe approximately two years ago. My first pair of pointe shoes I was so excited, and I practiced very often, as pointe work came easily to me. My teacher was astounded at how easily I could get up en pointe at such an early stage.(You should know that I do not dance for two months in the summer, and as my pointe shoes were worn out at the end of our season, I couldn't practice for that time.) However, a few months ago I purchased my second pair of pointe shoes, after wearing my first pair out. Due to the lack of support in the final days of my first shoes I damaged my toenails on the big toes of my feet resulting in one being very week and flexible, and the other coming off partially. Although this is not supposed to be painful I find it increasingly extremely difficult to do the more complex and demanding moves, even the easier, basic moves I find challenging. I find this extremely discouraging because I had such a great year previously en pointe, and I found it felt natural - or as natural as pointe could feel. Also, recently my ankles, especially the right one has had excessive swelling out of no where! I am certain that it is not my walking/running shoes because they have alot of support and are still fairly new. The ankles have only started swelling since I've gotten my new pointe shoes... I try to break them in, but the pain is unbearable (I have by this point, but it took much longer than my first pair) I now find it hard to keep up with my class, especially when I'm wrapping my ankle to keep down swelling, it causes for limited flexibility. I use ouch pouches, and tape on swollen toe joints and around the damaged toenails. I honestly am lost for answers, even my teacher is unsure of where these sudden problems have come from. Could it be arthritis (I'm only 16!!)? The thought of that makes me so worried, as rheumatory arthritis runs in my family. I am so discouraged because of this, and I find it difficult to practice when I can only bear a short period at a time. Also, my first pair of pointe shoes is the exact same size as the pair now, and they were professionally fitted (my feet have not grown, either). It is so painful now, and honestly I'm not usually one to complain. I am so confused as to what the problem is, please help! Thank-you!


Reply by Odette
To:- Ballet Pointe Shoes - Sudden Extreme Pain En Pointe?

ballet pre-pointe
Remember, just like I did before I went en pointe, ballet students MUST take responsibility for their own strengthening prior to beginning pointe work.
Australian dancer, Lisa Howell has made a video which explains how pre-point strengthening works.
Don't leave it to your teacher!
You can watch this pre-pointe video
yourself here
(just wait for the page to load up then the video is on the top right of the page).

Hi Carrie,
Thank you for contacting me, it is great to hear from you even though I'm sorry to hear the pain you are having on pointe. Firstly, look at the video above, because Lisa Howell explains all the tips and clues to dancing more effortlessly on pointe. You don't have to be a beginner to read the eBook, as I think it will benefit you to solve any problems you are having on pointe.

I've never experienced swelling ankles before, but don't panick, I am sure there will be a solution to solve this. It almost sounds like you need a small break from pointe work if everything continues to cause you such pain. It won't harm doing more Demi-pointe work just until your ankles stop swelling and your toe nails recover. As a dancer, you have to be really careful not to keep dancing on painful injuries because it could make it worse. Often, rest and care can solve many pains and aches.

I have had my toe nails come off too, as with many dancers. For me, it has never caused extreme pain as there has always been a new layer of nail underneath. Make sure you keep the toe well protected and take your pointe shoes off if you are struggling to get through the class. Don't feel worried by not wearing your pointe shoes whilst this pain is causing you trouble.

Try seeing your doctor just to get some professional advise on your swelling ankles. It may not be a huge problem at all, but it's best to be absolute sure.

Mainly, try to be aware of the support in your pointe shoes to make sure you always have a new pair ready. As you have felt, older pointe shoes can cause unnecessary pain so keep an eye of your shoes. Just give yourself time to let everything heal, and I hope you would come back soon fresh and ready for pointe again.

Best wishes,

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