Tips to break-in your dance shoes

There’s nothing worse than those awful blisters caused by wearing a brand-new pair of dance shoes. Here are a few tips and tricks to efficiently break-in your fresh pointe, tap, and character shoes so that you can show off your new style without suffering the pain that so often comes along with it! Remember, it’s always a good idea to prep your feet for new shoes, too.  Wear athletic tape, Band-Aids, or socks to help ease your feet as they start dancing in brand-new shoes.

Pointe shoes: Walk around on demi-pointe and practice some simple rélevés. Use your heel to step on and soften the toe box.  Using your hands, bend the shank in both directions at the point of your natural arch. Wearing your pointe shoes during barre warm-up is another great way to break-in a new pair of pointe shoes.

Tap shoes: Wear your tap shoes around the house with a pair of thick socks to help stretch out the tight leather.  (Slip a pair of old socks over your shoes, too, if you don’t have carpeted floors). Massage and maneuver the heel with your hands to relax the stiffness.

Character heels: Use moleskin or duct tape on the stiff edge of the heel to add comfort.  Wear thick socks in your shoes when you’re at home. To add flexibility to your arches, fold your shoes in half (if they are soft-soled) and tuck the toe to the heel.

If you do find yourself with some fresh blisters, here’s how to take care of them:

-Wash the area with soap and water.  If the blister has popped naturally, place a loose bandage over the affected area.  If you need to pop a blister, use a needle sterilized with rubbing alcohol.  After the blister has drained, apply antibiotic ointment and cover loosely with a Band-Aid so that the wound can breathe and heal quickly.

-If you have to dance with a blister, purchase some foam donut rounds or 2nd Skin squares to take the pressure off of the blister itself.

When you’re first wearing a new pair of dance shoes, be sure to also pack an older, comfortable pair of shoes in your bag.  Breaking-in dance shoes often takes a few classes before the shoes finally feel pain-free.  Pushing through terrible shoe pain will lead to bad blisters and even more days of uncomfortable dancing.

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