3 Ways to Tell that it's Time to Replace Your Pointe Shoes
How long do pointe shoes last and how can you tell when it's time to replace them?
Well, as usual, it depends. If you're a young dancer new to pointe and still growing, you will most likely outgrow your shoes before they wear out. So, you'll replace them as your feet grow. As you gain strength and skill en pointe, your feet may also change shape, strength, and flexibility, which will all go into determining what you need in a shoe and if it's time to consider changing models. A shoe that fit your needs as a beginner to pointe may no longer work for you a year or two later.
If you're not outgrowing your pointe shoes, they will wear out based on the amount of time you spend dancing in them and the amount of wear and tear you put them through. Your skill level and the type of dancing you're doing play a big role in how your shoes wear out. Barre work generally puts less strain on your shoes than center work, so if you wear them in class and stay mostly at the barre, they will last longer than if you're rehearsing for Snow Queen in the Nutcracker. Heat and moisture break down the materials in pointe shoes, so you may also find that your shoes wear out more quickly in the summer or if you just have particularly sweaty feet.
A very general rule of thumb is that a pointe shoe will last for 8-10 full hours of center work. This is just an average, and of course, everyone will wear out their shoes at different rates. So, if you are a young ballet student who mostly wears your pointe shoes for part of class a few times a week, you can expect them to last about 2-3 months. More advanced students will need to replace them perhaps monthly. Pre-professional and professional dancers can easily run through several pairs of pointe shoes per week.
It's very important to replace your worn out pointe shoes. As the materials break down, the shoes will give you less support and cause more strain on the joints, bones, and muscles in your feet and ankles. You will be more prone to injuries such as sprains, stress fractures, bruised toenails, tendonitis, and bunions.
Now, how can you tell that your pointe shoes have worn out? Here are 3 telltale signs:
1. You can easily bend the shank in half (or worse, it snaps!).
The shank is the hard insole of the shoe and provides support to your arch while en pointe. If your arch is unsupported, more of your body weight will be transferred to the forefoot and midfoot, causing excess strain.
2. The platform feels "squishy" when you touch it.
This is a sign that the shoes are very worn out and will be harder to balance in.
3. The box and/or wings can be compressed or bent in easily.
The box and wings of a pointe shoe are where most of the support comes from. If they are too worn, they can't support the bones and joints of your forefoot and midfoot, and you may no longer be able to maintain proper alignment.