Ask Amy: How to Find the Right Pointe Shoes if One Foot is More Flexible Than the Other

August 10, 2020

I’m 14, and I feel totally stable and on my box on my right foot on pointe. But my left foot? Not so much. How can I fix the problem of being on one box and not all the way on the other? —Summer

I spoke with Judy Weiss, master pointe shoe fitter for Grishko USA, about how best to address your problem. What you most likely need, she says, is a softer shank on the left shoe so that you can more easily rise onto pointe. Consider trying a shoe model that offers different shank strengths; buy one pair that feels comfortable on your right foot and another with a lighter shank to accommodate your stiffer left ankle. (You’ll need to buy two pairs at the same time.) “Do not wear two different brands, or even two different styles within the same brand, because the feeling will be too different,” says Weiss.

If your current shoe brand doesn’t offer varying strength options, bend and flex the left shank with your hands to make it more pliable, or remove the nail in the heel. Alternatively, you could special-order shoes with one regular shank and one softer shank, but this often requires a lot of trial and error and may take weeks or months for delivery.

Dancers often have one foot that’s a little stronger or more flexible. But since you seem to have such a big difference—and especially if you’re experiencing pain or discomfort—consider talking to a podiatrist to see whether the problem stems from ankle tightness or a more structural issue, such as an extra bone, or os trigonum.

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor in chief and former dancer Amy Brandt at askamy@dancemedia.com.