Feet. If you’re into that kinda thing

The Adult Beginner has received a few questions about her feet.
Are they tapered?
Are the toes even?
What foot type-Giselle, Egyptian, Sasquatch?
And the answer is: I have no idea.
All I can say is they’re wide and the second toe on the right is longer than the second toe on the left. Oh, and I’ve just learned during my pointe fitting that the left foot is bigger.
So I’m opening it up to you, Gentle Reader.
Got feet like these? How would you describe them? What shoe do you wear?
Adult Beginner needs a hand with her feet!

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About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
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16 Responses to Feet. If you’re into that kinda thing

  1. Juliet says:

    Ms. Adult Beginner, your feet look like a lot like mine! That’s a strange thing to say, but true anyways, just that my second toe is a bit shorter than my first, so inevitably I’ve also felt the big toe pain you mentioned in an earlier post.

    So happy for you about the pointe shoes and can’t wait to hear about your first lesson en pointe!

  2. Laura says:

    My feet are somewhat like yours: they are a good bit wider across the ball than at the heel. But my toes are definitely tapered, each toe shorter than the one before. Also, my feet are what the Russian Pointe website calls “low profile”: very thin insteps. I think my kind of feet are “Egyptian” feet.

    My current shoes are, as I mentioned before, Bloch Serenades. For my next pair I want to try Grishko 2007, or maybe the Ulanova or Vaganova since they are V-shaped vamps.

    In the interest of evening the score, do I need to put a picture of my feet on my website?

  3. Kaija says:

    My feet are very much similar as well…tapered, big toe larger than the second, wider forefoot and narrow heel. Plus I have genetic bony bumps (not bunions, which are caused by stress and trauma) on both sides (side of my big toe AND side of my littlest toe, which makes my forefoot even wider and plays havoc with shoe fits of any kind, much less point shoes).

    My first pair of pointe shoes were Bloch Euro Balance, but they ended up being too square for my feet (too much pressure for my big toe) and right now I have Grishko 2007s which fit MUCH better (world of difference). I also have a high arch (underside) but not-so-high instep that is rather rigid, so I end up with low-profile thin feet that are weirdly shaped in every dimension…bah. I am trying to “enjoy the journey” of trying different pointes, but it *is* expensive and that stresses me out.

    I would really like to be fit into Russian Pointes too, because they are allegedly well suited for the “diamond shape” of my foot (pointy big toe with tapered other toes, narrow heel, wide forefoot. I am going on a work-related trip to a major city later this month and have already planned a trip to the big dance shop that carries them :)

  4. odile says:

    Semi tapered left foot, tapered right foot. You have narrow heels as well. Don’t stress too much. You can compensate a little.

    I just thought of this: Even though Smirnoff’s assistant and Mr. Fit fitted you, you’re supposed to have your actual teacher approve your first few pairs before you go sewing the ribbons on, etc. If you sewed them already, and Smirnoff doesn’t approve them, he won’t let you use them for class.

    In most manufacturers, the width of the shoe refers to the width at the metatarsal. The shape of the box is a different animal, and usually does not change with the width. So you are going to go with a wider width in a tapered to semi tapered shoe. You’re also going to look for something with a narrower heel.

    The big wide box is probably not going to work for you once you get away from the barre. For a first pair, the Balances will probably work, at first, anyways, but watch your placement (think of that 3/4 shank) and watch out for sickling.

    Your foot profile looks a little on the shallow side to me. Stay away from anything described as a “high platform.” You’ll sink into the shoe, and no amount of muscle will keep you lifted up out of them.

    The way they’re supposed to feel is this: Your metatarsals should feel tightly held by the box once you’re up. There shouldn’t be significant pressure points at the platform. The pressure should be distributed fairly evenly. You shouldn’t feel as if you are propped up by the shank, and you should not feel restricted by the vamp or the shank through demi-pointe once the shoes are broken in. (There are a couple of tricks to compensate for that.) They should feel very snug, they’re not moccasins, mind you, but they should not be digging in.

    I’d go with a 2007 (Grishko,) a Freed Studio, or possibly a Bloch Synergy (get a full shank, I think they come in both full and 3/4.) You can also revisit the Capezio Tendu II after you have a few months of pointe classes. The intrinsic muscles of your feet may have bulked up somewhat by then.

    In case it’s any comfort to you, it took me two years to find a shoe that worked as well as possible. The other ones were still danceable, but the difference between “close enough” and “excellent” is noticeable in terms of comfort and ease of use.

    Good luck in search of the Holy Grail–er, make that a great pair of shoes!

    You want a soft-to-medium shank depending on your weight. Beginners shouldn’t use a hard shank,

    If you do get to try on Russian Pointes, go for the Jewels line.

    • This is super-helpful. Have always associated the word ‘tapered’ with the words ‘narrow, elegant, slimming’, which in my head could not possibly apply to these clod-hoppers. But now I see what tapered actually means in reference to feet, and how feet can be both wide and tapered and narrow at the heel.
      Heck of a lot more to think about that just a size number.
      Thank you for the shoe recommendations, sounds like the Grisko 2007 is the bombdotcom, next shoe shop I’ll be so much informed: I’ll know what the shoe is meant to feel like, other than hurts/doesn’t hurt, I’ll have at least half a clue what the shank does, and I’ll hunt down a store according to what brands they carry.
      Oh, and I brought my shoes to ballet class for Smirnoff to have a look at, and he was like, what, you haven’t sewn the ribbons yet? Well then there’s nothing for me to look at!
      So I guess that’s an approval, I’ll go ahead and sew them now.

  5. Emma says:

    I know I have an egyption foot. My big toe is considerably longer than my others with others tapered to side. Which although means you can get nice tapered shoes pits a lot of pressure on big toes. I Never measured to check if my foot tapered or wide. But I do know that it is classed as compressible. My foot is much wider on flat than on pointe. It made for a difficult fitting as in shoe that fit on flat I was sliding into the box.

    There are a few websites that help you to work out your foot type for pointe

    • amy says:

      Emma, I have feet like yours. Very tapered, compressible, big toe much longer than other toes (like 1/2 inch longer). I was in agony until I used a big toe gel cap with a Toe Saver, and also I use small makeup triangle pads on top of the other toes. And a Pro Pad ouch pouch. Maybe too much padding but as a beginner it works great for me at this stage.

  6. candice says:

    Mine are similar… And the only picture I can find of mine which isn’t in shoes they’re all taped up. I’ve had two different pairs of russian pointes and was not that impressed; my current pair are grishko maya 6-4x wide and the tapered toe is making me happy. I wouldn’t have started out in those, though.

    (I started pointe at 27, fwiw. Stopped and started a couple of times between then and now but after a year of the hour-a-week I am starting to not suck.)

    Odile’s description is sound, that’s about what they say about mine. I also have high arches and tall feet – the height of the top of your arch from the floor is another determining factor in shoes.

    Making sure that annoying bone on the side doesn’t rub like mad or get caught up too high is important – I have to go a lot wider than I would in a street shoe because of it.
    I made the mistake of going into a too wide of a box at the same time; the tapers were really the right shoe.

    Good luck!!!

  7. Jen says:

    Also bend your toes back to see if you have Morton’s Foot – where the bone of the second toe (in your foot) is longer than the bone of your big toe. If you do, it will affect weight distribution and is easily fixable with some moleskin in your regular shoes under the bone of your big toe to even things out (I have it, and don’t wear the moleskine during class). Important to point out my second toes aren’t noticeably longer than big toes. Here’s a link! http://www.triggerpointbook.com/mortons.htm

  8. Jen says:

    PS, I mean weight distribution on flat feet. I’m not a pointe dancer, but I think that is why some dancers pad the toe box of their shoes. Some expert will need to tell you that. :)

  9. Sarah Dani says:

    AB,
    You have such cute feet! They’re definitely not ugly… yet! Just wait until you are on pointe for a while. My poor toes are kinda gnarly, and I’ve only been en pointe for 3 years.

    But we have very similar feet shape, my big toes always hurt after class. It helps though to sometimes use athletic tape or moleskins. The ouchpouch is great for beginners though. I were Gaynor Mindens and I only use athletic tape and lambswool.

  10. odile says:

    There seems to be a real trend in the past ten years or so to get dancers on the widest platform possible, and naturally, that coincides with the widest box. The reason is that, well, a big platform feels pretty secure, especially when you’re just starting out. But if there are no actual toes in light contact with that platform, it doesn’t make all that much difference in terms of security. In fact, it can even make you LESS secure, because of the wobble factor.

    Remember, I said watch out for sickling? If you have a big old platform and you sickle slightly, that is going to throw your side-to-side balance off. A correctly sized box, with its slightly smaller platform, just won’t let you get there in the first place. Much less risk of a sprain.

    But like I said, don’t sweat it too much in a first pair of shoes. You’re not going to be doing anything in this pair where you’re going to assume that kind of risk. The shoes will be dead probably before you let go of the barre. What you MAY experience with a too-big box in your first couple of classes is pain on the inside corner of your big toenail.

    Here’s the compensatory trick. You will need some kind of thin cushioning material, plus tape. Try moleskin. Cut a piece of moleskin so that it wraps around the corner of the vamp of the shoe, it will just be in contact with the inside of the vamp and the inside of the side of the shoe. Right there in the corner. Just do this if you are feeling pain in that spot after your first class (after you let the shoes dry out.) You’re only going to need a piece maybe 1 inch by two inches, tops. Stick that into the inside corner, but not on the inside of the platform. It will function as a sort of shim to take up the taper and fill in the gap a little so that you aren’t sliding down onto that toe. If you’re not sure of exactly where, try it before you remove the backing from the moleskin. Another compensatory trick is to use a small spacer between your big and second toes. In fact, looking at the picture of your feet, I would recommend that you use spacers and wear them to your next pointe fitting.

    None of the stuff I suggested to put in your shoes or on your feet is going to interfere with the contact with the floor. You need that to get appropriate feedback for your balance and placement.

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