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Do Ballet Toe Shoes Cause Bunions?

I heard a discussion recently about toe shoes and “How to prevent bunions“. As though it is a given that you will get bunions if you dance in pointe shoes. There is no reason to expect to get bunions from doing ballet on pointe.

Bunions are mostly caused by narrow shoes, pointed shoes, especially heeled boots or high heels. Picture for example cowboy boots with a heel. The toe boxes are pointed, and the body weight is sloping down, jamming the toes into the points.

The big toe is crushed on an angle toward the next toe. As the strain on the joint is prolonged over time, the base of the toe will begin to swell and hurt. Eventually that bump appears.

Genes do play a part in an individual being susceptible to developing bunions. However, any genetic predisposition must be triggered by something. An injury of some kind, or wearing narrow shoes over time (which creates an injury) can prompt bunion development.

The street shoes you choose, during the years you are taking ballet classes, before you get toe shoes, should be comfortable and roomy in the toes, fit well at the heels, and should not depend on pressure of the foot to stay on. For example ballet flats and most high heels, or any shoe without ties or straps, must be smaller than your feet, or they will slip off.

Therefore shoes with straps or ties are the only shoes that give your toes wiggle room. Your toes should never  press against the ends of shoes that you wear all day long.

If you already have bunions, your can try wearing a toe spacer between the big toe and second toe, in your shoes and your ballet shoes. The purpose of this is to line the big toe up properly and prevent any more pressure squishing the big toe into the next toe. Be sure that all your shoes are wide enough, especially your toe shoes. If your feet are narrow, get narrow toe shoes that fit, but try them on with the “widget” (you can find various kinds) next to your big toe, to make sure your toes don’t compress.

Whatever your situation, take good, in fact, pamper your ballet feet. Warm soaks and massages are worth your time. Adding Epsom Salts or Magnesium Chloride flakes are excellent for your ballet foot muscles.

Get more ballet tips from The Perfect Pointe Book.

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