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Indestructible soft blocks!!


Flit and float
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I've got a pair of Grishko soft blocks after quite a few years of just using canvas shoes...I've had the same ones before and don't remember them being quite so hard to break in! In fact the ones I had have holes in them & completely worn out.

 

I just cannot get these to soften, I can't bend at Demi pointe at as they slip off the heels (despite elastic) and dig in at the front...I tried on lots of pairs in the shop (length & width sizes around the ones I got) & they seemed fine, just new & stiff. I've been bending & massaging, bashing in the floor, steaming, warming in radiators & wearing, wearing inside thick warm socks, carefully putting water across the front where they'd bend on demi. In desperation I completely wet the left block, it got nice & soft & bendy - "yes!" I thought, squished it about, let it dry a bit & wore while still damp....that's my slightly smaller foot anyway but now it seems to have shrunk a lot and harder than ever! The right one that was all softened is harder than ever too! I can't even wear them to dance in yet!

 

Any ideas before I give up & put them down to an expensive mistake?! I know Grishko shoes are hard but I've had a few pairs of soft blocks/pointes & never as bad as this! On the other hand if you keep wearing out shoes too quickly then give Grishkos a try as they just keep rehardening themselves!

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Put them on and really work through from demi-pointe to pointe in them (non-weightbearing of course!) and see if they start to soften that way. Grishko softblocks pretty much are as hard as their normal pointe shoes (minus the shank) and they really need to be 'worked' before they even start to feel remotely comfortable! Another thing you can do is wear them then grab a theraband and work through your feet: heel, demi-point to pointe and reverse with legs out in front as you would in a normal foot warm up. Make sure your feet and leg muscles are warm before you do this, though!

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Thanks Skydancer, I've tried that (& I can go en pointe in them, that's how hard the boxes are!) the front of the box digs in when I try to Demi pointe, but I guess I'll just need to go with it. Haven't tried therabands for breaking shoes in but I'll give it a try. I think whoever made these just made them super hard!

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Guest chinafish

Warning: Proceed with extreme caution.

 

I had a pair of Bob Martin soft blocks -- hardness wise they are on par with Freed so nothing like how the Grishkos are, but to get them to go really soft for my Adv1 and Adv2 exams a while back, I... well.. stuck them into a washing machine with my laundry and went through a normal cold wash with it.

 

There's hardly any glue left in them but still sort of retained a box-ish shape.

 

But seeing that you said you completely wetted one of the boxes and it retained its hardness, I don't know how much of a use a washing machine will be, but just something to keep in mind.

 

And as for anyone stumbling upon this post, disclaimer: I will not be held responsible for any damage to any of your shoes should you decide to do what I've done! This is just something I have done on one particular brand of shoe which has worked for me. Depending on the shoe brand, glue type, your washing machine and its settings, different results might occur!

 

Fish

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I did think about washing them in the washing machine...I might just try it on an old pair first! Done the folding them in half, I did that when I wet the box, that's when I thought I'd cracked it! I think I'll just have to keep at it...they're too tight/hard to sleep in yet though.

 

My old Grishkos, although they softened up & I could actually dance in them, did reharden in the boxes between wearings, really properly reharden! I wonder what glue they use to make them so hard?

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My dd puts her demis in the washing machine if they are hard. You just have to remember to wear them while they dry - at least for the last part. She put a pair in recently and hung them on the line, it was a REALLY hot, dry day and they were dry in about half an hour, so of course they shrunk. She's going to wash them again and hope to stretch them on her foot. Good luck.

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Both my DD's have at various times had Grishko Demi's. The only way to soften them is to wrap them in a tea towel, take a metal hammer (we tried a wooden mallet and it didn't work) and hammer the living day lights out of them. Bash the tops, the sides and the sole. Eventually they start to crack them soften. It's takes a good 30 minutes for each shoe. No amount of 'working' the shoe in the usual a way works, they stay as hard as concrete. Despite this they do look lovely, both mine wore them for their Intermediate exam. Older DD now wearing Bloch, but younger DD still with Grishko, and I had a blister to prove it though the hammering. Good luck!

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Flit and float, I had the same problem with Grishko demi-pointes, I steamed them, shut them in the door, bent them in half, etc. I even got them so wet during steaming at one point, I thought I had really broken them in. However, as you said in your post, they just re-hardened when they dried!

 

I really liked how the shoes looked on my feet and didn't want to give up on them so quickly. But the other problem I had with them was when I go on demi-pointe, the bit where you tie the drawstring dug into my feet. Steaming, bashing, etc, didn't help soften that bit permanently either. Apart from being sore whenever I rose on demi-pointe, I also felt they were holding back my demi-pointe too much. I didn't want to give up on the shoes, so I tried to lower the vamp so that the drawsting was lower down. It took a lot of work to lower the vamp on both shoes, and after I did it, the drawstring stopped digging into my feet but I still could not get the shoes to soften (where I wanted them to soften) permanently. As you said, they seem to be made with some 'magic' re-hardening glue!

 

I've actually stopped wearing them because of the re-hardening problem. But if I wanted to give them another go, I'm definitely tempted to try the washing machine tip!

Edited by Dancer Sugar Plum
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If you hammer enough so they completely soften and go 'mushy', they don't re harden... anything less and they do. If they re harden there can be nasty spikey areas inside the box and then they become impossible to wear. If I have to bash another pair, I will video before and after, if I can work out how to post. BTW DH thinks we are crazy taking a hammer so manically to new expensive shoes, but it the only way, no problems with digging into the feet on demi pointe. as DSP says, they do look gorgeous.

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Wow thanks for all the suggestions, I'll bash them to death and try washing an old pair to see how they go. Dancer sugar plum, yeah it's the digging in that bothers me the most. I had thought about lowering the vamp but just seemed so complicated! My ancient pair were hard but I could break them in with minimal softening, maybe my feet were much stronger then. If all else fails I might try & get Bloch/Sansha/Freed ones when I'm in London next month, the shop here only has Grishko as they said nobody wanted any other makes anymore, & other dance shops don't sell soft blocks. So I'm imagining all the dancers in Glasgow spending hours bashing up their Grishkos!

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We found that Bloch soft blocks were also quite a challenge to break and bash to DD's satisfaction ;-) Deshanked pointe shoes, suitably attacked, seem to be the way to go for now. And yes, I have also run over soft blocks/deshanked pointe shoes in the car to get the required level of mushiness!

 

We do find shoe bashing a wonderful way of releasing tension/stress/aggression....

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Slightly off topic sorry, I've never owned a pair of soft blocks so I can't give any tips for softening them, but why are they all so hard? I though that the point of soft blocks was that they were softer than a normal pointe shoe, but worn to train the dancer to get used to dancing in pointe shoes (but on demi pointe) and working the feet harder etc. but by the sounds of it that's not the case. Can anyone help explain this?

Edited by VBee
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Yeah they are supposed to be an "inbetween" soft shoes & pointe shoes, hard box but not as fully blocked as a pointe shoe, they have a sort of shank but again, not a full pointe shoe one. They make it harder to balance & work your feet work harder to pointe eg in tendus, so strengthen them.

 

I've had Bloch, Gamba (I wish they still made them, they were perfect!) and Grishko before, none seemed to be quite as hard as these...I think I've actually broken in pointe shoes easier! Maybe they make them harder now, it's been at least 5 years since I bought a pair (& eek how much more expensive they are now!)

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How strange! I've worn grishko softblocks to class for about 2yrs now and never had a problem breaking in? I find that massaging the top of the block along the drawstring area by bending back and forth using thumb and fore finger is enough Demi pointe to be possible. Then squash box slightly by using heel of hand...then wear them. The heat and sweat from my feet then softens them and I store rolled back in themselves and tied in a ball as described above.

The box does re-harden once dry, so it's important to reshape, so I use "pillows for pointe" cedar sachets - which absorb moisture and stop smells!

 

I did have a problem with breaking in a pair of triumph pointe shoes as I needed them softened quickly, so confess to sleeping in them (one night with socks over) and it worked a treat!

Edited by Sheila Beelam
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Perhaps you've just got a duff pair (after everyone's comments about their own Grishkos - my daughter's were never a problem either) . How about taking them back to the shop and asking to feel another pair to compare?

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Don't think I could take them back now having sewn the ribbons & elastic & bashed them about! Plus I didn't notice much difference in hardness between all the pairs I tried on. I know it's weird, I never had issues before but maybe they've upped the hardness!

 

Anyway, I've washed an ancient Gamba soft pointe (that I only wore a few times as I didn't like how they fit, so still hard) in the washing machine, and they appear to have softened nicely while still keeping the shape of the box ok. Shank seems just the same. I've got it on slightly damp and it might actually shape to my foot better, so I think full steam ahead for bashing & washing the Grishkos! :)

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My dd had the same problem with their soft blocks and had to do her exam in them. We a friend bend them. My dd slept in them they were so hard. She changed to block and in comparasion they are amazing the back almost bends in half.i was told after I should have took them back but as it was her first pair I thought that was how they were and like her pointes she had to break them in. Can you take them back?

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Update on the soft blocks....washed them in washing machine, let them dry a bit folded up then put them on and wore to bed last night. Wore to class today - wow! What a difference! I highly recommend machine washing your Grishkos! Just make sure to put them on a bit damp as they do shrink a bit but seem to have stretched out ok.

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