How Pointe Shoes Can Damage Your Feet – Dancer’s Guide

Pointe Shoes

Pointe shoes are a type of ballet shoes that are designed to support dancers when they perform en pointe. The shoes are made of a material that distributes the whole weight of a dancer on the toe. 

Pointe shoes can also damage your feet if they are not properly fitted or if not used in the correct manner.

If you are learning ballet dance or starting pointe work, it is important to speak to a qualified dance teacher to make sure that you are ready for that. Your feet and legs are ready for the challenges of the pointe technique.

Before you start practicing en pointe in pointe shoes, make sure you have completed your training and have learned the art of pointe technique to avoid damage to your feet. 

Do Pointe Shoes Hurt?

Yes, they do a bit!

Pointe shoes can hurt your feet to some extent in certain cases. 

When learning ballet dance, your feet may experience mild pain. The pain is unavoidable at this stage because your feet are positioned in a way that causes stress and pain to them. 

Our feet are turned 180 degrees and twisted fully to perform the pointe technique. It’s like turning, twisting feet in sports like skating and doing sports involving extreme legs and footwork. 

This pain can only be avoided with proper training, positioning of feet, and leveling up your feet on the dance floor. 

Even professional dance trainers say that pointe work is a painful process and every dancer has to go through it. 

But you need to understand the causes first to prevent damage to your feet. 

Our feet are very sensitive, they can be damaged if we don’t place them in the right position. Since ballet dance requires the movement of feet vertically, it stresses our feet and can cause damage to them.

Using pointe shoes can lead to minor to severe damage to your feet. Pointe shoes can cause many problems for your feet like bunions, blisters, and other foot problems.

What are Some of the Common Injuries associated with Pointe Shoes?

Let’s discuss the following problems pointe shoes can create for dancers:


This is one of the common problems pointe shoes create for dancers. It happens due to poor fitting of the shoes. When a dancer moves on feet using such shoes, it creates friction between the shoes and feet, resulting in the formation of the blisters on feet. 

Ballerinas can prevent such blisters using socks with pointe shoes or they can use proper-fitting ballet shoes to prevent blisters during ballet dance. 

There are a few more ways that ballet dancers can use to prevent blisters on their feet i.e. breaking the pointe shoes before using them for the pointe technique. 


Bunions are another form of damage that pointe shoes can cause to ballet dancers. When a ballet dancer or student learning en pointe technique doesn’t shift all the body weight on toes evenly, it results in bunions. 

When a ballerina performs en pointe, the whole body weight shifts on the toes. However, the weight must be distributed on all toes of the feet equally. Otherwise, it will stress the big toe or adjoining toe, resulting in stressing of the big toe and joints of a foot. 

When you use improper pointe shoes with the wrong fitting, it can result in damaging your feet while performing ballet dance. 

Ingrown Toenails

It is a common condition ballet dancers face even during the learning phase in ballet class.  In this condition, toenails start growing inside the skin due to pressure exerted on the toes during ballet training. 

It causes pain and swelling in the toes and surrounding toes. 

Obesity and Extra Weight

Maybe your teachers have told you about this factor. It is one of the crucial elements in practicing en pointe with perfection. 

Washington University Physicians have set out criteria for pointe work, but there is no clear mention of the minimum body weight a ballet dancer should have to perform en pointe. 

“The criteria set by the University say that the student must have normal weight”. 

The “big toe” hurts the most in pointe shoes.

Let Your Feet Not Hurt In Pointe Shoes?

Although your feet may hurt in pointe shoes, there are some precautions that you can take to stop hurting your feet or even minimize the pain in your feet. 

Understanding your feet is the crucial step in finding the best pointe shoes with the right fitting. You can also consult with a professional shoe fitter who can get you the right pair of pointe shoes without any hassles. 

The shoe box is the most important element in the pointe shoe and you have to check the size of the box in a shoe before buying one for yourself. 

The toe box is usually made of hard plastic, wood, or leather to hold the weight of your body onto them. So, they can possibly hurt your shoes during practice and ballet dance. 

The following precautions can be taken to stop hurting your shoes from pointe shoes:

  • To prevent your feet from the tox, you can use toe pads or cushions for pointe shoes. 
  • In case your toes hurt due to extra toenails, you can trim your nails or use toe protectors to avoid damage to your toenails. 
  • Toe knuckles can get damaged due to friction between the foot and the shoe. So, ballerinas can use extra padding to cure their feet. 
  • The shoe fittings must be perfect. It neither should be tight nor too loose to create problems for ballerinas while dancing. 
  • If you have a problem with new pointe shoes, you can break in the shoe to get a snug fit and prevent damage to your feet.
  • Choose the right shoes for your feet, it will surely help in relieving pain when doing en pointe.

All these injuries can be prevented with the right selection of pointe shoes and applying the correct pointe technique during ballet rehearsal. 

You can consult a professional ballet fitter to get you the right pair of shoes according to the size of your feet and heel. 

Don’t just pick any random pointe shoes for ballet or en pointe. Take recommendations from your teachers or choreographer before buying a pair of pointe shoes.

How Do Ballerinas Stand On Their Toes?

This is a mystery for many of us who don’t know much about the pointe technique or ballet dance.

However, dancers understand the science of standing on their toes.

Performing the art of en pointe or moving on your foot toes requires mastering the skill of ballet dance or toe work.

The composition of pointe shoes plays an important role in helping ballet dancers to perform the art of en pointe.

The magic box or “toe box” is a specialized part of the pointe shoes that hold the feet of a dancer firmly and makes it possible for them to maneuver on their feet toe. 

The toe box has a unique shape that not only holds the foot but also keeps it stable on the floor. This toebox is supported by the shank and platform of the shoe to make it easy for ballerinas to stand on the tip of their toes. 

If the right technique is applied by dancers, they can easily stand on their toes with pointe shoes on their feet. When a dancer learns to balance on the toe, she can perform en pointe. 

These shoes not only allow dancers to perform on toes, but they can also perform various steps, moves, and turns using these shoes.