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Medical Studies & Rehab Stories

Gaynor Minden pointe shoes attracted the attention of dance medicine experts right from the start, and over the years have been the subject of various studies examining durability, alignment, stability, and impact absorption. Studies suggest that Gaynor Minden might have the potential to offer more protection to the foot and ankle.

Meanwhile, the anecdotal evidence grows too. Several dancers who were injured while wearing traditional shoes switched to Gaynor Minden for rehabilitation. Each had excellent medical supervision and the discipline dancers are famous for, and each made a complete comeback.

Durability StudyA study at The Orthopedic Biomechanics Laboratory of Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, evaluated the durability of various brands of pointe shoes using a machine that simulates relevé. Gaynor Minden was still going strong after 248,000 relevé cycles. The others didn’t even come close.

See Full Report.

Impact StudyIn addition, the Temple University team assessed shock absorption, using advanced
F-Scan technology, which enabled them to detect actual pressures to specific areas of
the foot during dancing.

Again, Gaynor Mindens proved superior.

All subjects in the Temple University studies were professional dancers.

See Full Report.

Alignment Study     Even highly trained dancers are better aligned in Gaynor Mindens, according to a study at the Exercise Science Department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Proper alignment is crucial for ballet technique, for correct muscular development and for protecting the joints from injury.

Forces to the ankle during vigorous dancing can reach 10 times body weight; misalignment can transmit these potentially injurious forces to the medial/lateral ankle structures.

Kinematic analysis of the dancers’ ankles showed that sickling is reduced and subjects stand straighter in Gaynor Mindens than in traditional shoes. See Full Report.

Researches from the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine also studied issues of stability and alignment, in this case using a pedabaragraph. Gaynor Minden again proved superior to other shoes and was shown to have a 38% greater useable platform area. See Full Report.

This may sound like a joke but it’s not. A pointe shoe maker in Russia, Grishko, circulated a study claiming that Gaynor Mindens are hazardous to human health — when heated to 250° C (500° F). Even though most everything in a theater gets pretty noxious at 500°, our lawyers insisted we do our own study proving that Gaynor Mindens, when used as directed, are perfectly safe.

For the record, the materials we use for our shoes are widely used in athletic equipment, prosthetics, and even for medical devices. They are fully compliant with The European Union’s R.E.A.C.H. regulations (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) and their RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) Directive. Full study available upon request.


Alina Cojocaru

As a student I trained mostly in Kiev in the Ukraine, where I was fortunate enough to have a maker in the theatre that made pointe shoes specifically for my feet. However, he eventually passed away and I couldn’t get the same shoes anymore. When I came to London, I tried every brand of pointe shoes that I could get my hands on — Bloch, Capezio, Freed, Grishko, Sansha, etc. — and also Gaynor Minden pointe shoes. As soon as I put them on, I noticed that my feet were so flat on the ground and the shoes were incredibly comfortable; I felt like I could wear them all day long! However, I wasn’t ready to make the switch to Gaynor Mindens and continued to wear traditional brands of shoes for the first few years after I was engaged at the Royal Ballet.

I didn’t begin seriously considering Gaynor Minden shoes until 2002 when a number of events motivated me to explore them further.

While dancing one day, I suffered a twisted ankle and was forced to take about 6 weeks off for the injury to heal. Many traditional pointe shoes are very wobbly when you stand flatfooted in them, due to the way the shank is made; I thought to myself, this cannot be good for an ankle injury. I remembered how flat the Gaynor Minden pointe shoes were when I tried them on a few years prior; for me this seemed so important as my ankle was healing, to have a shoe that was the least wobbly as possible.

In addition, one of my colleagues, Zenaida Yanowsky, with whom I was sharing a room at the Royal Opera House at the time, was beginning to wear Gaynor Minden pointe shoes. I saw her working with some of her sample shoes and observed the positive results that she had. This really made me eager to explore them for myself.

Finally, I had recently discovered the exact nature of an old injury that had developed during my first year as a professional dancer in Kiev. I was 17 and preparing Kitri in Don Quixote for the first time, when I started feeling pain in the mid-section of my foot. Unfortunately in Kiev they didn’t really have the equipment to correctly diagnose and correct the problem, so I continued to dance through the pain. Sometimes I couldn’t even walk after dancing; however I dealt with the pain for several years. Finally in 2002, after being in London at the Royal Ballet for a few seasons, I had an MRI/bone scan. They found an old stress fracture; it showed that the bone had actually splintered and then healed back crookedly. They told me that there was not much they could do to help the injury, as it was too old to intervene in any way. Essentially the injury was chronic and the only solution was to deal with the pain. I knew then that I really had to focus more on taking the best care of my feet that I could.

For me it was a definite period of adjustment to switch to Gaynor Minden shoes, as I was never really off pointe for a long time. The Gaynor Mindens were very comfortable for me — especially when you spend as much time as I do en pointe every day — but I found that initially I was able to use them more easily as a solo dancer than when dancing with a partner. However, this changed with time as I got more and more used to the shoes and I found that I didn’t need to switch shoes for doing different roles.

More importantly, the longer I wore Gaynor Mindens, the pains from my old injuries and foot problems began to lessen and even disappear altogether. I was also doing a lot of foot exercises (picking up napkins with toes, using therabands to pointe and flex the foot, etc.) as well as ankle exercises (keeping my foot still while doing ankle circles, etc.) and I found that all of the exercises, along with the Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, alleviated me from much of the pain I had been dealing with for so long.

With time and trials, I have found the particular size combination that allows me enough space for the different paddings and supports that I wear for my longer second toe and my bunions. Most pointe shoes would be too tight in this area but Gaynor Mindens give me enough space without being too loose. As a professional, it’s wonderful to find not only the correct size but also an asthetically pleasing look in one shoe.

One of the best benefits — and most surprising — is that the Gaynor Minden shoes have actually made my feet and ankles stronger. It happened so naturally with wearing the shoes that I didn’t even notice it until much later. Because the Gaynor Mindens allow you such a quick and straight up and down in relevé, you really have to work your foot to find the middle areas in between — the low, middle and high demi-pointe areas. I didn’t have to do this in at all in a traditional shoe, and therefore this middle area was quite weak. I found that Gaynor Mindens made this part of my foot stronger, and my ankles benefited from the evenness of the shoe and the lack of movement when standing flat.

I am very grateful to Gaynor Minden pointe shoes for allowing me to dance with less pain and for giving me added strength in my feet and ankles — which is no small thing for a professional dancer. No less important are the foot and ankle exercises that I do every day to keep my feet strong and healthy. Now, I cannot imagine going back to a traditional pointe shoe.

Read more about Alina Cojocaru by clicking here


Bridgett Zehr/ The National Ballet of Canada

Bridgett Zehr

In 2008, before I switched to Gaynor Mindens, I was finishing my run of Giselle and my feet were a little tired. I took off for a jump in class, and I heard a pop in my foot. I got chills up and down and I just knew right away [that] something was really wrong.

After two weeks [of] staying off my foot, I was told I should start dancing because it was just a torn ligament. When I started back dancing, the pain never went away and it finally got to the point where I could hardly even walk anymore. [So] I took a whole six months to see if it would heal by itself. Finally I had an MRI, and it showed that I had a “non-union” stress fracture in my mid-foot. The two bones never connected together again due to the scar tissue that had built up when I was still dancing on [the injury], and I was told that my foot would never heal.

Luckily we have a very good surgeon in Toronto; he agreed to do surgery by taking a bone graft from my hip and putting it into the space in my foot. I felt so confident with the surgeon and trusted him completely. Still, there’s always that thought, ‘what if it doesn’t work?’

My whole year off was a really hard experience and there were times when I thought I would never dance again. I read a lot of self-help books, to get back to being simple and good to myself, because it’s easy to become depressed. It helped to go watch rehearsals; John Neumeier came to do The Seagull and I went every day to hear him speak about the ballet. I [also] had a lot of free time to sit at home and watch YouTube videos. This was the closest way I could come to seeing other dancers outside of my own company.

I noticed that all my favorite dancers were wearing Gaynor Mindens; I thought, ‘there has to be something about this shoe that allows them to jump higher and turn more and have the shape of the foot that [is] so beautiful.’ More importantly I realized that I had never heard of any of them having feet problems like me. That was all I needed to make the switch, because all I wanted was to get back on stage — and I knew I didn’t want to go back to my old pointe shoe because that might have been what was causing my problems in the first place.

After not dancing for a whole year, I was so excited to try my Gaynor Mindens. On the first day [back], I tried them on my uninjured foot and they felt so good. There was a girl in the company that [had] told me, “try them, and you’re gonna think for maybe two or three weeks, ‘I can’t wear these; it’s too difficult for me,’ but after that, you’ll never want to go back to another shoe again.” After a month of starting back slowly in class, I felt ready to put pointe shoes on again. I did go through two weeks like that, where I thought, ‘nothing’s working, I can’t turn.’ Then all of a sudden, they just started to work for me. I was in the center, doing so much more than I expected.

Since then, I feel like I’m stronger than I was before. I releve using my whole body to do it, which is so much better. [I’m] able to use more of [my] hips, more of [my] upper back to get up onto pointe — not just muscling up onto pointe like most shoes make you do. I am able to roll through my feet so much better, [because] Gaynor Mindens promote all the small muscles on the ball of your foot. You’re so flat and so stable on the ground that you don’t have to hop up [onto pointe]. The way you hold yourself in the shoe, you’re able to do small adjustments without completely going off your foot. It’s been a whole new experience.

My technique has changed in so many ways from using the Gaynor Mindens. They have been able to free me to feel completely comfortable [so] I can concentrate on every section of the shoe. The shock absorption, it’s so therapeutic for my feet and my whole body. I don’t have to worry about little pains in my feet anymore. Coming back from my injury, I was expecting to have all sorts of ankle problems, but I’ve had none. [Also] I haven’t had any Achilles problems; I feel that my ankles have gotten much stronger. I’ve had comments from my coaches and from my artistic director, Karen Kain, that I am a stronger dancer than I was before my injury.

I feel that everything has changed. I feel like I don’t want to go back to another shoe, ever again. I’m able to do the things that I wanted to do with my other shoe, but couldn’t figure out how. My jumps are higher, my landings are softer, the shape of my feet is nicer — I point my foot and it hugs my arch. In my other shoe, I wasn’t sickling my feet, but my shoe would twist. With Gaynors, they’re like a glove — the longer I wear a pair the better they mold to my feet.

In the future I’m looking forward to continuing to wear Gaynor Mindens because I feel that they’ll make my career much longer. People might say that I’m an injury-prone dancer, but I feel that [was] because I was wearing a bad shoe. Now I have such a good shoe, so organic for my feet, that I can continue to dance for a much longer time. I never liked to jump because my feet always felt so fragile, but with Gaynor Mindens I’m looking forward to jumping, to turning, and doing more because finally I have a shoe that supports me. I feel really strong, good about how everything has turned out, and relieved.

Read more about Bridgett Zehr by clicking here


JC Headshot

Jennifer Cavanaugh

In the spring of 2001, before I began wearing Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, I began to experience pain in my left foot. I kept dancing with a great deal of discomfort until the end of the season (about one month or so) and by then I found myself unable to even walk comfortably. I saw a doctor in New Jersey who told me that I had arthritis in my foot, but I felt that wasn’t the entire story. So I ended up going to some other doctors to get second and third opinions, and my suspicions were confirmed — I had a stress fracture.

After many months of waiting to get better with rest and physio, crutches and a boot, and even trying to dance again, I still had a lot of pain in my foot. Nearly a year after the original diagnosis I finally had an MRI. As it turns out I had developed a bone spur on the second metatarsal bone on my left foot, which was caused by continuing to dance on the stress fracture during the month after the pain initially began. On April 1st, 2002, I underwent surgery to clean up the joint and soften the bone spur, with the goal of alleviating the terrible pain I was experiencing.

My rehab process after the surgery involved a variety of activities to get my whole body back into shape after not dancing for nearly a year: physio, then swimming, later adding the elliptical machine and of course the ballet barre. With time I worked my way to dancing in the center and eventually to full ballet class in June 2002, though I didn’t do any jumping because it was still painful. I began my season in August 2002 on Bloch pointe shoes, but I was still experiencing a lot of pain when jumping, particularly grand allegro — even going so far as to alter choreography to avoid big jumps.

A friend had sent me an article during my recuperation process about Gaynor Minden pointe shoes and how they were better for feet. When my husband read the article, he asked me if those were the shoes that one of the doctors had recommended. (As it turns out, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes had been recommended to me previously.) However I was reluctant to try them because I hadn’t liked the way they looked on a fellow dancer when they first came out.

At the beginning of 2003, my husband made me an appointment at the Gaynor Minden boutique on 16th Street in New York and took me there early one morning as a surprise. When I put the Gaynor Minden shoes on, I was immediately shocked at how comfortable they were and how lovely they looked on my feet. I went to work the next week with my first pair, and I was very pleased with how they felt to work in. In addition, I received compliments from my ballet mistress and boss on how they looked on me.

It took about one year after the operation for me to really be able to jump pain-free. However, once I began working with the Gaynor Mindens, the lingering pain I was experiencing began to decrease so I could finally start doing those big jumps again. The cushioned tips on the outside and inside of the shoe that absorb some of the impact of my landings, as well as the consistent support of the shoes over time, helped alleviate the discomfort I had felt when I first started back to dancing and jumping in other shoes.

I’ve been told by my fellow dancers, my boss, my ballet mistress that Gaynor Mindens look the best on my feet — and I think so too. The strength of the shoe is fantastic for the kind of work we do at American Repertory Ballet, much of which is contemporary. I can put the Gaynor Mindens through it all and yet they still support my feet and keep their shape. Also I enjoy that I’m able to keep one pair for a couple of weeks to a month and I don’t have to do anything to break them in — just sew and they’re ready to go.

Perhaps most of all, I love that I am still dancing. The doctor in New Jersery who performed the foot operation told me that I would have only another year or two of dancing after surgery — if it worked at all. After all, the goal was first and foremost for me to be able to walk without pain. It is amazing that I have been dancing quite comfortably in my Gaynor Mindens for at least seven years since the surgery. I really believe that these shoes have given me more time to dance.


The Royal Ballet 2008Gemma Pitchley-Gale

I’ve had two serious foot injuries, both of which were unfortunate accidents and both to the same bone in opposite feet.

My first [was] as a student at the Royal Ballet School when I was 16, in a non-ballet related incident. I broke the 5th metatarsal of my left foot with ligament damage, and afterwards I found that I could no longer dance pain free in the pointe shoes that I had been wearing. This was what lead me to Gaynor Minden pointe shoes at age 17 — they allowed me to continue dancing en pointe without suffering any pain.

After graduating from the Royal Ballet School, I joined the Royal Ballet company and began my professional career. However, at the age of 20, I sustained a second, more serious and complicated foot injury. I was wearing flat slippers during ballet class, when I landed badly from a grand allegro exercise and broke the 5th metatarsal bone of my right foot. The sound of my bone breaking was so loud that the other dancers in class thought it was the snap of the elastic breaking on my slipper.

This injury was not as straightforward as the first. The bones in my foot were so displaced and out of alignment (overlapped) that they would never be able to naturally heal to the standard needed to continue my dancing career. The doctors told me that surgery was the only way to correct the bones and fix them back into the right position again. So the very next day after breaking my foot, I had an operation fitting a titanium plate and five screws to my 5th right metatarsal bone.

As soon as my foot was out of the bandages from the surgery, I went to the physio and began the rehab by trying to wiggle my toes. During the following days and weeks I did more and more foot exercises to wake up the muscles in my foot and calf until I was able to walk unaided. My recovery process was very daunting; I had good days and bad days. Once the pain was gone and I had more strength and muscle tone, I began a basic flat barre in socks with a coach; when I felt I was strong enough, I joined company class but adapted the exercises to suit my recovery process.

After any kind of injury, it is always hard to return to one’s pre-injury standard, but this time, I felt it was harder. Not only was I working hard to get my body strong and back in shape, I was becoming accustomed to a foreign object in my foot. In addition to this, I was the first female dancer in the Royal Ballet to have this particular injury and operation. Although my rehab was on track and I was recovering well there was still a big question on everyone’s lips: how will my foot feel in a pointe shoe and up en pointe?

In total, I was out of pointe shoes for five months. When I finally felt ready to put them on again, I quickly found that I needed a wider width than my usual Gaynor Minden. The outside of my right foot was just too sensitive to pressure. But once I got my wider shoe I was happy; I couldn’t believe how comfortable I was up on pointe. I began with a lot of barre exercises which I found very strengthening, especially rises (rolling from flat through the foot onto pointe). I did a lot of rises, as they really gave me the chance to feel what my feet were doing in the shoes and also to get used to the feeling of pointe work again. From there I moved on to releves with plie and other barre exercises until I felt ready to go to center. It was a process of adding something new every week and testing out how much my foot could manage pain-free. I was getting more confident with things in the centre, but I still had days where I felt weak. Certain steps were difficult for me, so I would go back to the barre and repeat the exercise holding on. This really worked for me and I felt things improving quickly.

In the end it was whole year for me to feel fit, comfortable and confident again, both in the studio and on stage. However, my Gaynors definitely made my rehab easier. While I don’t think any rehabilitation is easy or painless, being able to go back into my Gaynor Mindens after such a horrific injury was a comfort for me. There is already so much to think about during the process that it was such a relief to know I was safe in my Gaynor Mindens — I could trust them. Tendinitis is very common when going back en pointe after an injury and can really slow down the recovery. In the past, with other shoes, I had experienced tendinitis problems but with my Gaynor Mindens I had none, so this time around I think I made a quicker recovery.

Now that I am fully recovered and dancing full time, I have found that my foot feels more supported when wearing my Gaynor Mindens than in flat ballet shoes. I use my foot more equally and am less likely to roll away from the 5th metatarsal bone, where the pain originated. Because of the support that Gaynor Mindens provide, I feel this will prevent future injuries; I wear them from the very start of class, and flat slippers only when required for a performance.

To rehab properly after an injury takes a lot of time and patience, but it is well worth the wait when eventually you get back on stage. I am back to being a happy and confident performer and I feel safe and secure wearing my Gaynor Mindens. I am certainly not planning on having any more metal put in my little foot!!!