Ballet dancing is fantastic. The key to making the magic happen are the dancer’s pointe shoes. The majestic acts would be impossible without them. But every ballet dancer had to pour effort, hard work, and passion into their art. Being able to exquisitely glide, turn, and jump on a ballet dancer’s pointe shoes takes years to achieve, but the process is fun and surely an experience that is one for the dancer’s books. With the mentioned circumstances above, are pointe shoes really hard to use?
Yes, pointe shoes are quite difficult to use. The training required takes a lot of time. And even professionals can get injured using them.
The Long Journey to Pointe Shoes: Arduous Training
According to the Washington University Orthopedics, a ballerina in the making must pass certain levels and enhance themselves during rigorous ballet training before they can be allowed to wear pointe shoes as prematurely trained dancers can be at risk of physical problems when they wear one. The first requirement on wearing one is the student must be at the age of 11, for the reason that the bones of the feet shall be trained this age bracket as it is not fully developed yet; nor hard nor too underdeveloped that will put the dancer at risk of dislocation. After this, the student must be of normal weight and pass rigorous and consistent training sessions that can take up months to years.
After an ample amount of time, sweat, muscle aches, and foot blisters, finally it is time to wear the pointe shoe. However, one should brace themselves as this process will probably numb their toe joints, inflict more bruises and sore feet, because it will definitely hurt. According to Master pointe shoe fitter— Mary Carpenter, “there is no such thing as pain-free pointe shoe”. The human foot is never accustomed to very technical and complicated shoe wear, and that is why comfort on mastering the pointe shoe will not always be present, but it will be manageable in the long run. Pointework will be uncomfortable and to the extent, painful, but the mindset of mastering it to become a precise and flawless dancer will help to at least alleviate it. Although physically speaking, having a good pamper and hygiene on the feet will also help in not generating any unwanted infections. A footcare is a must on the pointe shoe journey.
The Struggles of Wearing Pointe Shoes
Because of the design and material of pointe shoes, injury is not uncommon. These include:
Pain in the Bunion- In the field of ballet dancing, bunion (a bony bump caused by dislocation or misalignment of joints in the big toe bone) is awfully common. The dancers can get the bump on their ballet training sessions as their feet on this process is under a lot of rigorous activities. The bunion, however, is even exacerbated when wearing pointe shoes according to the Step by Step Dancewear. Pointe shoes add a lot of pressure on the already forming bunion that cause pain
Toenail Problems- With lots of tiptoeing and feet routines in ballet dancing, the toe nails are susceptible to damages and infections. According to Sports Rec, the pressure that is pushed on the toenails can cause a significant amount of damages such as dark purple and bruised toenails. Moreover, it is also noted that when wearing pointe shoes, a professional recommendation of shoe size shall be consulted to an expert, as fitting is a very important thing to do when choosing the pointe shoe to wear. Little gaps that are perfect on the feet size can help to reduce toenail problems.
Foot problems in the long run– From simple blisters, foot corns, and muscle pains— long term pointe shoe wearing can produce lots of trojan problems that may resurface in a ballet dancer’s late dancing life or in their 20s to 30s. The damage on tendons and nerves can take years to eventually manifest. The constant ballet dancing on pointe shoes are also known to suppress and alter the foot growth, causing feet shapes to be irregular and sometimes deformed. More than that, there are various bone conditions that come along with pointe shoe wearing after effects. According to the Healthcare HQ, these are the possible long-term repercussions on wearing the said shoes: arthrosis, sesamoiditis, ulcers, heel spurs, hammertoes, severely bruised thick toenails et cetera.
As you can see, some of these are quite serious. See a doctor if you develop any of them.
The ‘golden question’: Are they really hard to use?
With all these factors mentioned above, it is safe to conclude that pointe shoes are indeed hard to use. More than the fact that they can be hard to master in dancing itself, they can also be dangerous on one’s health once the risks are ignored. The pointe shoes may have been the tool to perform well on the art of ballet dancing, but it also causes certain limitations to the moves of its dancers. Pointe shoe dancing can impact a dancer’s ability to perform freely. The pointe shoes are harsh footwears that are difficult to wear, especially on those dancers that do not have flexible ankles and bigger body builts.
Being able to wear pointe shoes finally after long months of training is probably one of the happiest moments of a ballerina’s life. However, wearing also carries responsibilities that they should do and commit to as neglection of these things can lead to serious problems. If ‘no pain, no gain’ can be applied to art forms, ballet dancing is one of them. The journey to be able to wear pointe shoes is already a lot of work to do, and when they finally reach the stage where they can wear one, there are plenty of vulnerabilities and risks that they have to brave. The hardness of wearing pointe shoes are literally and figuratively, they are hard to master and their hard texture will undoubtedly hurt the feet. They’ll also certainly go through a lot of pairs over their career.
So the next time you watch a ballet dancing show, you might as well consider cheering for these magnificent ballet dancers as they keep their problems below— literally, just to give you an entertaining performance in the arts.