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Reasons to 3/4 those shanks. (karma: 6)
By Crystlee
On Mon Sep 15, 2008 08:17 PM
Edited by Crystlee (155173) on 2008-09-15 20:21:47
Edited by Crystlee (155173) on 2008-09-15 20:22:17
Edited by Crystlee (155173) on 2008-09-15 20:25:34
Made sticky by Theresa (28613) on 2008-09-19 09:12:51

Okay, to start off, let's have a question and answer session:

What exactly is a shank?
according to
The shank is the part of the shoe that runs between the heel and the outsole, and sits under the arch of the foot. The shank supports the foot and helps give a shoe its structure.

In a pointe shoe, it's a piece of material (usually many layers of glue-hardened burlap, thick non-corrugated cardboard, thick leather, or sometimes plastic) that is inside the shoe, along the sole of your foot.

What does 3/4ing my shanks entail?

The basic idea is that you're going to cut the shank at the point which your foot bends when you point it. I'll describe how to do this better later.

But doesn't that ruin the shoe?

No. It actually makes the shank and the shoe last longer.

How does that work?

Point your foot. Notice it's shape. It's arched, isn't it? Maybe not as arched as you would like or maybe too arched, but either way, it bends. Now, go find a ruler. Have it? Good, now point your foot and place the ruler so that one end is against your heel, and the other is against your metatarsals. Now, holding the ruler in the same position, try to press the ruler up against your arch. There are only two ways that this is possible without moving the ruler; it bent, or it broke. If either happen to your shoe inn the wrong place, it's dead. No more shoe. Keep the ruler. You will need it again in a moment.
Now go find a piece of sturdy, unbent cardboard and sit on a wood or tile floor with it (carpet is too squishy). Put the cardboard perpendicular to the floor, push straight down, and see hard you have to push to get it to bend. It should hold up to a fair amount of pressure. Now, hold the cardboard at a slight angle with one hand and press straight down with the other. It should bend fairly easily. Oh, no! Your shank is dead.
Now, take your ruler again. Place one end of it against the deepest part of your arch. It will lay flatter against your foot than when you had it against your heel and metatarsal. Less bend equals less likely to break.
In your shoes, to balance en pointe, your platform has to be parallel to the floor. The shank of the shoe is perpendicular to the platform, so therefore, perpendicular to the floor, which is very good, until you add your heel, which pushes it onto an angle.
Got it? I'm willing to answer questions about this if need be.

But what if my feet are so archy that they push the shank to the other angle?

If you're having a problem that your feet go so far over that it's scary, you will probably need long vamps to keep your arches under control, and to 3/4 the shanks to prevent yourself from breaking your foot. Get out that ruler again!
Take your ruler and place it perpendicular to the floor. Now, take your hand, and place the palm and fingers flat against the ruler. Push straight down, keeping the tips of your fingers and the heel of your palm against the ruler. Your hand will collapse. This is what happens to a person with high arches' foot with full shanks. Aka, not a good idea at all. Put that ruler up again, flex your hand as if 'pointing' it and place the deepest part of that bend on top of the free end of the ruler. Press down. Your hand doesn't collapse. Thus, 3/4 shanks for high arches are a good idea.

What about lower arches?

3/4 shanks will help you get fully on the platform of your shoes. Remember that your platform is perpendicular to your shank. If the shank is on an angle, so is your platform, ending you up on the back ridge of your shoe. They will also make your shoes look better on your feet. Imagine that!

My shoes are already 3/4 cut.

Even so, check and see if the end of the shank maches up with the deepest part of your arch. If they extend further up towards your heel than that point, you need to cut them, if they are closer to your toes than that, you need longer shanks. If they hit that spot well, then lucky you, you don't have to do anything with them.

Okay, I'm hooked. How do I 3/4 my shanks?

Get your shoes(use an old pair for the first time), a pen, and a box cutter. Slip the right shoe on your right foot, without elastics or ribbons, and place your foot on full pointe, with a little bit of pressure on it. Fold the heel down, and look at your foot in profile. Find the deepest part of your arch, and with the pen, mark that spot on your shoe. Take off your shoe again, and cut a little bit above the place that you marked, remove the peices, and stand en pointe in the shoe, and see if you need to cut out more of the shank. Before you do this, however, inspect how the shoe is made. Some shoes(like Blochs, and Freeds) have a leather insole that you should pull back before you cut, and place a stitch in the heel to hold down after. Some (like Grishkos) glue everything together, meaning that you should cut it all, and put moleskin on top to prevent blistering. Some(like Russian Pointes) sew everything together, in which you can just score the shank around the stitches, rather than taking the cut pieces out of the shoe.

There you go! Now you should know why and how to 3/4 your shanks. If I can, I'll find pictures of this process and put them up.

For those of you too lazy to read this whole post, here's a summary:

~The shank is supposed to work as an extra bone in your shoe by helping to hold your heel up. If you 3/4 the shank, the bone will be straight, and therefore less likely to break, making the shoe last longer.
~3/4 shanks make your arches look better by pressing the shoe to your foot, and showing off your arches.
~3/4 shanks help you get straight on the platform of your shoe.
~3/4 shanks support some of your weight, taking some of the pressure of of your poor tootsies.
~3/4 shanks look better in extensions. Think of the difference of full soled shoes vs. split sole shoes

Okay, I'm done.. :P

56 Replies to Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.

re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By festivaldancer
On Tue Sep 16, 2008 01:16 PM
My teacher just did this to my pointe shoes - and I love how it feels! I was just searching this site for info on how to do it myself ( since she did it during class and i wasn't watching). Thanks!
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By Crystlee
On Tue Sep 16, 2008 10:26 PM
Edited by Crystlee (155173) on 2008-09-16 22:27:02
You're welcome. I'm glad I could help :)
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By prettypinkpointemember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Sep 16, 2008 10:41 PM
Brilliant. This should be a sticky! I'm hooked... but now I just wish I could've done it to all my old shoes! lol
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks. (karma: 1)
By Crystlee
On Tue Sep 16, 2008 10:52 PM
If you still have some of those old pairs, and they still fit, try it. It might give them some extra life (unless the shanks have already broken too low :P )
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By odile53
On Wed Sep 17, 2008 06:40 PM
I have given you karma, but I will repeat my remark here: This is an intelligent guide that explains the purpose of 3/4ing shanks, as well as the technique. The practical models will demonstrate to the new dancer the exact purpose of a shank, and can only help to improve her technique. A truly educated dancer makes it her business to understand why she is doing what she is doing, and you are helping many people do exactly that! After all, we need to be able to dance with our brains as well as our feet!

Comment #7564849 deleted
Removed by oz_helen (35388) on 2008-09-19 06:18:15 Double post.

re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By Crystlee
On Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:03 PM
Thank you for your remark, odile53. It's always good to know that people read what you write and are appreciative. :)
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By Sarahmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Oct 13, 2008 02:42 AM
Great post!

The Shoe Room (Toronto) saved my life by cutting the shanks of my pointe shoes to 3/4. I don't have the best arches and it really cut down on the pain and cramping of having to push extra hard just to get on the box! Now I can get all the way up so easily, and it makes dancing a lot smoother and more comfortable. I really recommend it.
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By pointegrl22
On Sun Nov 02, 2008 01:49 PM
thank you. this was a bit confusing. but i asked my teacher and she explained it all to me. one question:
where are your metatarsals? I know where the akyles tendon is, just not the matatarsals. thank you so much.
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By Count8member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun Nov 02, 2008 02:11 PM
I deshanked an old pair some time ago and it feels great being up on pointe, but it kind of hurts when I'm standing flat. The edge where I deshanked somewhat hurts my foot even though I put the old layer of tissue over it.
Anyway I can make it stop hurting me?
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By The_Awkward_Swan
On Thu Nov 06, 2008 06:21 PM
I'm curious: how would this work with Gaynor Mindens? Or would it be better not to do it to them?
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By Saramember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Nov 15, 2008 02:26 PM
Count8, if you deshanked your shoes, you definitely should NOT go en pointe in them.
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By tresbienmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Nov 25, 2008 01:16 PM
my pointe shoes are deshanked but they dont hurt me
I dont have an arch in my foot though!! =]
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By returntothesky
On Sun Dec 07, 2008 11:57 PM
Thank you so much, this is amazing. It is really going to improve my pointe :)
The nails in my Blochs were a little difficult to work around, but I got there in the end! A box cutter definitely made things easier than scissors or a knife, too.
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By sugerplumfairy
On Fri Dec 12, 2008 10:10 AM
I don't have the most amazing feet and I need like three pairs broken by monday would this help me break them faster.
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By mandi77x3
On Sun Dec 21, 2008 01:54 PM
i feel like this could be cheating yourself, but im very tempted to try. With the shoes i have now, its really hard to break them in!! especially when i don't have a great arch.
i think i'm gonna do it ;)

thanks! --Amanda
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By ayyyshugamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Thu Jan 01, 2009 10:28 PM
I tried 3/4 shanking my blochs, but when I go en pointe the end of the shank (where I cut it) digs into my arch and hurts really bad! Any idea why or how to fix it? Should I cut it lower maybe?
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By Bella_rina1993
On Sat Jan 03, 2009 02:57 AM
This is interesting. I've always been told not to do anything to my shoes except bend them at the and at the demi pointe when breaking them in, and your feet will do the rest.

What have been other people experiences with 3/4ing their shanks?
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By twinkletoes88member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Jan 13, 2009 02:46 AM
I've just started deshanking my shoes...It makes your arch look beautiful and I've found that I can really work through my feet better. I did it slightly differently however (the cutting not measuring) which may help those who find it digs in too much. What I did was, after measuring the point on your shoe, take a stanley knife (box cutter to you i think) and just score the cardboard/leather until the cut is about halfway through. Then peel back the top few layers (you may have to do this in a couple of batches depending on the make of the shoe) Then using your blade taper off the thick edge until it blends nicely with the 3/4 ed section. I've found that this way you get the flexability and verticalness of the shank but keeping some of the main structures intact.
I hope that makes some sort of sense. Feel free to PM me if you need any extra help.

Great post by the way...lots of effort put in. Thanks
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By tinydancer2009
On Fri Jan 16, 2009 01:34 PM
This is a great sticky!

I have wanted to cut my shank for a while now, but never got around to it because I wasn't sure how. Now I do. Thanks!

*Give Peace a Dance
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By enpointe12
On Sat Jan 24, 2009 07:09 PM
Thank you so much! This really helped me. It's so well written and helps me understand so much better! I love ballet so much, and this really helped inspire me.
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By Crystlee
On Tue Feb 10, 2009 12:36 AM
Edited by Crystlee (155173) on 2009-02-10 00:43:21
I'm glad that this is helping people :)

TO Awkward_Swan:

I don't know how well this would work with Gaynors, as I have never worn them. It probably is possible to do, but you'll want to experiment with an unusable pair first.
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By edgyveggie
On Mon Feb 23, 2009 02:50 PM
You gotta be careful with 3/4ing your shoes, though. Once I did it and ended up with horrible cramps in my foot from the pressure of the cut edge.
re: Reasons to 3/4 those shanks.
By graceful94
On Thu Apr 09, 2009 10:41 AM
If I were to get a 3/4 shank, would the shank go into my arch and be uncomfortable... when my full shanks brake on my shoes at my arch if really hurts.. I'm assuming though, that it doesn't right?
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