En Pointe Orthotics – Orthotics or Just Padding?
Not everyone needs orthotics, even in street shoes. They're used to correct a problem with your foot - so if you don't have a problem, you don't need them! That's why I worried when I saw the makers of En Pointe Orthotics implying everyone should wear their product: if it is indeed an orthotic then only a minority of dancers should need them.
The company's marketing plays on a parent's natural concern for their child's welfare, by claiming that pointe work deforms and damages feet!! In fact, the risk of deformity from pointe shoes is much exaggerated: bunions, for instance, are hereditary (though pointe can make them worse). Damage can be caused by poorly fitting shoes, poor technique, or starting pointework too early - but in those cases, the solution is to fix the problem, not cover it up!
But actually, it may be true to say that every dancer could wear these - because the product looks far more like padding than an orthotic to me, and clearly most dancers need some form of padding in their pointe shoes. However, if it is just padding then it is very expensive padding indeed!
Customised Pointe Shoe Padding
There is a very similar product called the PerfectFit Pointe Shoe Insert. PerfectFit market their product as a clever, customised alternative to padding. But in their case, you make them yourself from a kit!
To make the insert, you mould the plasticine-like silicone around your foot, then walk around and roll up and down through demi-pointe to pointe as it hardens.
From the video, you'll see that they don't just mould to your foot, they also mould closely to the shape of your shoe - so it is possible you'll need to make new ones every time you change shoes. That's not such a problem with the PerfectFit version - but the En Pointe Orthotics must be fitted by a specially trained fitter at your pointe shoe fitting every time. That could be very expensive for a student whose feet are still growing.
You can contact PerfectFit through their Facebook page.
Are These A Good Idea?
One thing worries me: what if you have some bad habits? If you're inclined to curl your toes, for instance, how do you avoid curling your toes during the drying process?
I'm also a little worried about the amount if silicone which collects on the underside of the toes, which might interfere with the action of the small toe muscles. It's very important to activate and strengthen those correctly when learning pointe, and I'm not sure if the silicone would affect that.