Learning Your Foot Type-- For The Best Pointe Fit
This post has generated thousands and thousands of hits from dancers all over the world. I'm thrilled and humbled! This has inspired me to create an entire website based on pointe fitting and the world's first Pointe Shoe Finder!
To get the most detailed information about your foot type and what shoes might be your perfect pointe shoes, please click the banner below to head over to PointePerfect.com!
With the Pointe Shoe Finder, you can select the specific characteristics of your feet and the Finder will give you a list of shoes that match the characteristics you are looking for!
Read on if you wish, but please know that PointePerfect has MUCH more detailed info than the article below.
Regardless, thank you so much for reading!
Do you know your foot type?
I mean, do you TRULY know your foot type? Aside from the typical US shoe fitting terms, such as "Normal Width" and "Wide Width"? Did you know that there are a huge array of different foot characteristics, all of which translate to different pointe shoe fits? Did you know that each aspect of your foot impacts multiple aspects of the pointe shoe?
It might not be possible to find one shoe that fits every characteristic of your foot, but you can learn what your foot type is, and what is most important to you in a shoe.
First Step: What is your toe type?
Since this post went live in February of 2013, it has attracted many readers. Throughout my research, I've learned that the Greek style of foot has some variation, so I've split the Greek style into two different versions. Greek square, and Greek taper.
This is all about your toe shape. It's important to evaluate your foot shape twice!
1. With your feet relaxed and standing barefoot. Your toes will be completely spread out.
Example: When I stand with my feet totally relaxed and barefoot, my feet look very wide & Square.
2. With your toes pointed and stretched, not curled.
Example: When I point my toes, my feet are Peasant shaped.
What do these findings mean?
Ultimately, the pointe shoe that fits your foot best will usually be the one that fits your pointed foot, not your standing flat/barefoot one.
This concept is a weird one. It's completely opposite from the way street shoes are fit. Room to grow and spacious width are NOT acceptable in pointe shoes. So what's a girl to do? Fit for the pointe. That means fit the shoes so they are tolerable and don't give you big toe pain on flat, but they aren't nice cushy running shoes. You need metatarsal support. The box needs to fit the contour of your forefoot so you aren't in agony all the time.
For example-- I was fitted in a pair of Capezio Arias. They are beautiful shoes and look nice on my feet, but they are all wrong for my foot shape. The Aria is meant for a square type foot, where all toes are mostly the same length and need a wide box. My feet are slightly tapered. This caused immense pressure on my big toe, as my metatarsals weren't supported at all. I ultimately needed to buy a new pair of shoes.
Next Step: What is your arch type?There are several types of arches, but the following are the most common.
Flat Arch: People with a flat or collapsed arch have very little to no arch when standing flat. Flat feet are a medical condition that some people are born with, and some develop later in life. It’s called “pes planus”, and there are two different types.
Normal Arch: This one is perhaps a bit exaggerated, but a person with a "Normal" arch has a flat supported exterior foot, but also a fairly significant instep compared to their flat footed counterpart. People with "Normal" arches can wear most shank strenghts per their preference.
High Arch: The High Arched person has very little amount of supportive outsole, and a very pronounced instep. This type of foot creates a beautiful desirable line, but people with a high arch often have weak feet. A harder shank and a higher vamp will stop those with high arches from falling out of the front of their shoes.
Very/Extremely High Arch: People with extremely high arches can literally slide a pencil through their whole arch while standing flat. These feet are often called "banana feet", and tend to completely roll over their shoes. Just like high arched counterparts, strong shanks and deep vamps will help hold your feet back in the shoe so you don't roll over them.
It's very important to know if you've got compressible feet. A good pointe shoe fitter will check for this, but neither of my first two fitters did. You should go in knowing this information and bring it up during your fitting.
Step Three: Foot Flexibility and Compressible Feet
To determine if you have compressible feet, do the following:
Stand flat, and gently squeeze your feet in the same areas you see the arrows above. If your foot squishes in and compresses, VOILA! You've got compressible feet!
Also, the flexibility of your feet impact the vamp length and shank strength you'll need. Very flexible feet will need to be sure they aren't rolling over the shoe, and inflexible feet will need to be sure they can get over the box.
I've got compressible feet, what does this mean for me??
If you've just learned that you have compressible feet, have no fear. This just means you need to pay close attention to how your shoes fit when standing en pointe. You should feel supported en pointe in the areas you just squeezed. If you don't, try a narrower shoe.
These are the most common and basic things you need to know about your feet before being fitted for pointe shoes. If you are a teenager about to get your first pair, be sure your mom knows all of this too. The way your pointe shoes fit can seriously boost your progress, or completely hinder it.
As an example, I'll explain my feet. Here they are, in all of their weird foot glory:
As I mentioned above, my feet look square-ish shaped when I'm standing flat and relaxed, like the upper left. I've got a huge space between my 1st and 2nd toes, and they look really wide. I have high arches.
Now here is my foot in a pointe shoe, and also pointing my opposite foot. You can see how very different my compressible feet look when standing flat and compressed.
Here we go again: Egyptian feet need Tapered shoes, and Square feet need Square shoes!
Do YOU know your foot type?
Are you still confused? Would a gallery of sample foot types help? Click below:
Or, would you just like much more detailed information on determining your foot type? Click below: