Not sure if your shoes are dead? You work hard to break in your pointe shoes and get them performance ready - the perfect balance between flexibility and support. After reaching this sweet spot your pointe shoes will begin their steady, and often times, quick decline until they are officially ... dead.
Knowing when it's time to hang up that pair of pointe shoes for good (because they are too soft to support your feet) is very important. It will help prevent injury and ensure you continue on the path of correct technical development. Sometimes it can be hard to tell, especially if you are in your first few years of pointe work.
Read below to find out more about the pointe shoe lifecycle.
According to most manufacturers, pointe shoes typically last for 12-15 hours of work on pointe.
This number is based upon a "normal" pointe class for most dancers. For this reason, a dancer's first pair of pointe shoes will probably last the longest. When starting en pointe, you will be doing limited movements and will not put as much strain on the shoes. As you get more and more advanced, as your feet get stronger and more flexible, and as you learn more difficult choreography, your shoes will begin to last a shorter and shorter amount of time.
There are many factors that affect the lifespan of pointe shoes, including but not limited to: foot strength, foot flexibility, body weight and strength, specific choreography, specific ballet technique (e.g. Vaganova vs. RAD etc.), shoe care, break-in process, floor surface, and storage temperature.
You know that it’s time for new pointe shoes if:
- Your foot has grown or changed and the shoe feels too small. If this is the case, you will not be able to demi plie fully and you may feel your toes pressing against the tip of your shoe. This can cause issues with your achilles, in addition to pain in your toes
- The shank has become very soft. When this happens, the shoe is no longer supporting you and the ligaments in the top of your foot become susceptible to injury.
- The shoe has broken in in a way which will be bad for your developing technique. This can include pointe shoes breaking in too low, causing knuckling, wings breaking in unevenly, causing sickling, etc.
- The box/wings have become very soft. This can cause sinking into the shoe which can cause bruised toenails and other injuries.
- You no longer feel stable or supported in general. Remember, you can always stop by one of our Allegro locations to ask!
- You feel new or increased pain. This could be a sign of injury, or sometimes, it just means your shoes are dead and it's time for a new pair!
If you notice any of the above about your current pair of pointe shoes, it's time for a new pair! Dancing on dead pointe shoes can increase risk of injury and discomfort.
It is NOT time for new pointe shoes if:
- The satin is coming off the tip of the shoe. This is normal. Just cut it off with scissors to reveal the canvas underneath. Bonus: your shoes will become less slippery!
- The inner sole came out. Some pointe shoes have a piece of fabric in the interior of the shoe and it can occasionally come unglued because of all the sweat that happens while you are working. Glue it down again or rip it out, depending on your preference.
- The shank is not attached to the heel inside. Some shoes are actually made like this from the very beginning. If you are unsure, check with your fitter.
- The drawstring has come out. This does not mean your shoe if dead, but it sure can be tricky to fix. Bring it in for a drawstring rethreading at Allegro or try it yourself. Bonus: you can re-string with elasticized drawstring if it didn't already come with it.
- Your shoes stink. This is normal and does not necessarily mean your shoes are dead. Make sure you are airing them out after class!
- Your shoes are dirty. This is normal and happens to all pointe shoes. For this reason, most dancers keep a couple pairs of perfectly broken in and clean looking shoes ready for performance, so they look beautiful on stage. Save the dirty ones (that are not dead yet) for class. This is a performing art, afterall.
- Your ribbon and elastic have ripped out. This doesn't mean your shoes are dead. It just means you might need more sewing practice! Simply sew them back in again. And stop into Allegro for some tips if you are nearby one of our locations!