The shank of a pointe shoe is the hard sole on the inside of the shoe that supports the arch of your foot. There are hard shanks, medium shanks and soft shanks. Hard shanks are sometimes recommended for beginners because the dancer will strengthen her feet by having to work against the resistance of the hard shank. However, sometimes the shank may need to be softened to maximize comfort and to make it easier for the dancer to dance in.
How to soften the shank:
- Hand bending: Gently bend the pointe shoe shank at the three-quarter pointe. Be extra careful not to "break" the shank, as this will make the shoe unwearable. The shank will soften as you gently bend it back and forth.
- Door bending: Bend the pointe shoe shank in a door frame at the three-quarter pointe. Door bending may significantly lessen the lifespan of your pointe shoes, so use caution.