Ask Amy - Web Exclusive

Published in the April/May 2012 issue.

My teacher recently asked me to stop wearing toe pads and simply tape my toes. She says this will strengthen them. However, I don’t see the point in subjecting myself to more blisters and corns—especially since the pain detracts from my ability to focus on my dancing. What do you think? —Stephanie

Yikes! I have to agree with you on this one. As someone who recently suffered a nasty corn, I can attest to how debilitating sore toes can be. I could barely pirouette without gritting my teeth—I can’t imagine how it would’ve felt without padding!

Most dancers have their own methods for preparing their feet. Sure, some slap on their pointe shoes with little or no padding and feel fine. But most of us need a little help, whether it’s from gel pads, lamb’s wool, paper towels, toe spacers or sports tape (one girl I know even uses duct tape!). If what you use works for you, then I think you should stick with it.

Too much padding, however, can make it difficult to feel the floor and articulate your toes. Perhaps your teacher thinks your toe pads hinder your ability to properly roll through demi-pointe or spring up to relevé (which could be what she means when she says your toes need strengthening). If your feet look overly-stuffed inside your shoes, or if you have to wear the next size up to accommodate your pads, try something less bulky.