Disappearing heel and your pointe shoes. How to fix?
Disappearing heel and your pointe shoes. How to fix?
What’s the matter with these nasty crimpled heels with “air” inside? Why is it so difficult to fix it?
When you are standing flat on the floor, your pointe shoe heels fit just perfectly! Yes but only until you start rolling up en pointe. While you’re on your demi pointe, you already feel that there is an empty space in your heel. The higher you go, the bigger it gets. You compare your reflection with the ideal photo in the catalogue of pointe-shoes, or your classmates, and realize that something’s wrong...So where did your heel go? Let's see!
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So, we are given the following: when en pointe, there is an empty space in the heel. (Btw: if your heels feel loose even when you are standing flat, your pointe shoes are just longer than needed).
There can be two reasons for that extra fabric in the heel:
1.The pointe shoe box is too wide, the foot “falls” to the bottom of the pointe-shoe and your toes are moaning under your body weight. If this is your case, your feet (toes, knuckles, bunions, midfoot) may start hurting right from the first moment of your class, or a few minutes later.
2. The second reason is exactly what this post is about. The width is right, the shoebox fits perfectly, and the foot doesn’t slip in. It's just, when your foot raises on tiptoes, the heel bone “slides inwards”. While one other dancers’ heels would stay as is, round and full, yours goes flat. It doesn’t hurt, or doesn’t influence your movement on pointe but it leaves that empty “bulge” in the heel part. The issue is called "Disappearing heel".
What is important?
- Not to confuse the first and the second reasons. The first reason has to be dealt with immediately - check out our article about the compressible feet; the second one has to be accepted... and disguised, to a certain extent.
Oh, another important thing! Often, dance teachers see this empty “bag” on a student and conclude that the pointe-shoes are too big/long. As a result, dancer ends up with new pointe shoes that are too short for him/her now, and the binding of the heel is tearing the Achilles tendon.
What can you do about the disappearing heel?
You can search for a solution among pointe shoe models that were developped by different brands, with this issue in mind.
If you like those DIY lifehacks, here are some heel adjustments that I learned from my clients.
If you are not sure if this is your case, or wondering if your pointe shoes are just too long, you can always ask our fitter's opinion: fill out the "Get Fitted" questionnaire today, and let us do our magic!
The issue of a beautiful pointe shoe heel has always been on the table for all pointe-shoemakers. Everybody wants to find a perfect solution. From our previous post, however, we realized that it is hardly achievable.
There are some interesting tips that you can find quite helpful. Let’s see:
How do pointe-shoemakers solve the issue of “a beautiful heel”?
Many brands aim to fix the heel perfectly, so they make the inner layer of pointe-shoes anti-sliding. Capezio, for example, has an entire pointe-shoe lined with this material, while Smart Pointe has the heel part lined with an additional "fleece" layer. This layer also makes the heel part tighter, so it doesn’t crimple.
The same with RC R-class collection, as well as Gaynor Minden pointe-shoes – much thicker satin looks more esthetic on heels.
Capezio took a step further – in one of their bestseller models, Ava, the heel is lined from the inside with a thick elastic layer in the area of the heel stitch – it’svery tight and non-flexible. Actually they offer a “laid on heel”
Gaynor Minden offers a selection of heel depth in their models. There are two depths available: High and Low, H or L - it’s the last letter in any model code. If you have a small heel then choose Low. There are also those Self-adhesive Heel Grippers by GM that help the fabric stay put.
Bthw, despite the fact that other brands don’t offer this choice of heel depth in their default models, this option can be easily amended in a custom order.
Bloch plays around with elastic satin. Such models as Eurostretch or Synthesis fit perfectly – they tightly “wrap” the foot and the heel. This elasticity, however, is not everyone’s cup of tea, and here is why:
The Siberian Swan brand has also tried usind elastic fabric – only in the heel part, but very soon they gave up this idea: professionals (who are the main target of the brand) didn’t like that the heel wasn’t fixed properly, and “hang loosely”.
As a fitter, what do I personally think and suggest, on heel subject?
Well... I do know you care a lot about how the heel looks. Indeed, those tight rounded heels look so perfect! But, for a fitter, heel is absolutely not my 1st priority. I will take it into account only after I’m confident about:
✔️ideal width and lateral support
If all the above features are perfect and the heel is the only problem, I’ll suggest one of the “do-it-yourself” hacks.
Let's start with the common and obvious solution: this is what the elastic ribbons are for. Take a strong thin elastic ribbon fold it in a loop and sew around the ankle, then fasten it to the binding of the heel. When you are on pointe, the elastic ribbon will pull the heel fabric higher and the bulge will flatten. NB: avoid stitches on the Achilles tendon.
Sew a broad transparent elastic ribbon in a slightly different way - fasten it deep into the heel – it will provide elasticity over the entire length.You can make a loop out of it, or you can sew it crosswayat an acute angle (swipe to see). Tip: these elastics are quite harsh. Whеn sewn the inside of the shoe, they often scratch and disturb, but they cаn be stitched frоm the outside of a pointe shoe - they are almost invisible, you can only see them if you look at the pointe shoe frоm a clоse distance.
If the heel is a little short, you can lengthen it by unripping the binding. The R-class brand, in their RC-17 model, did it for you already –their pointe-shoes are made with the un-stitched binding at the heel.
You can adjust the heel part by doing the following: 1. remove part of the fabric frоm under the binding (by unripping and sewing it back), or 2. cut out part of the material frоm the middle of the heel. One of my clients, after removing some extra fabric, inserts a "patch" frоm the waistband instead. I really like the result! Of course, not every ballerina is as skillful sewer and is willing to spend time on it...