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How to Relieve Speed Skate Boot Pain: Speedskates Socks Neoprene Heat Molding

roadskater's picture

Over on InlineNC there was a question from one of our team members about ankle pain with Powerslide R4 boots. Here are some links in case you're a member of InlineNC. I won't quote from others, but will start a discussion here so it's Googable:

We don't know much about skate shops as there are none here, basically, but you could go to the local rinks and ask around about a boot molding specialist. We usually do this stuff ourselves, rightly or wrongly.

Craig has had boots worked on before, and Craig and Tim and I have done heat molding before. If you want to try molding again maybe we can set a place and time to try that in the next day or two.

Meanwhile I would try some other remedies:

Kathy's reply mentions at least a couple of ideas I've used. The neoprene anklets can be found at local drug stores and WalChinaMart, though they may not be as good as what she has located, I admit. With T2T in 4 days, local sources sounds good to me. I recommend buying one that is NOT adjustable, that you pull on under or over your socks.

If you want a good cheap source of neoprene fabric, look in WalChinaMart for those weight loss belts or whatever they are, that go around your waist and make you sweat tons unsafely, or for weightlifting belts perhaps. neoprene's everywhere, usually royal blue on one side and black on the other.

Regarding socks. If you get blisters you can try 2 pair of very thin socks. This worked for me when I needed it, back in the rec skate days, and lately I've begun wearing 2 pair again as I noticed I was getting underfoot pain after 30 to 40 miles or so.

If you try the anklet and it still hurts, you might try cutting a hole in the anklet where your ankle hurts. At this point you've probably bruised your ankle from boot pressure, if you have pain but no blisters. You can make donuts or lifesavers out of neoprene, and we've used mouse pads for this in an emergency.

Mouse pads are also neoprene and are good for heat molding sometimes too if you don't have any real tools to work with, as I don't. Make a pyramid of round mousepad pieces that grow ever smaller, like quarter-, nickel-, penny- and dime-sized, or whatever. Put the pyramid where your foot hurts under a thin sock or two and put the hot boot on over all of this and tie it tightly while sitting on the edge of a chair in skating position (or better, not sitting). Then hope the pyramid pushes the boot out where you need it to. This worked for me but doesn't always work and I think it has much to do with the moldability of each manufacturer's boot material.

Regarding UNDER the ankle pain, Kathy's right that footbeds or other inserts can lift the ankle enough to get your weight off of the ankle. This can be molded as well of course, but if a thin footbed fixes it, great! Your whole weight resting on your ankles is a pain you will seldom forget!

Regarding footbeds, I tried some of the flexible soft ones that conform to your foot shape and I didn't like them but maybe I didn't try them long enough. I felt I had lost touch with the road and control of the skate. I decided to wear these in my "running" shoes for a few weeks then try them again in my skates. I haven't tried them yet. I tried my running shoes' original footbeds and didn't like them for similar reasons but I believe Tim has found good results therefrom.

I did recently add some WalChinaMart knock offs of Air-Pillow insoles to address issues underfoot involved with my putting HeliCoils (thread inserts) into my boots. I had two problems: the bolt or inserts may be in a bit too far, and as I drilled from the bottom, I may have gotten some aluminum or carbon fiber debris between the boot and the glued in footbed of the boot. I hate to touch the Verducci inner lining as it is supersweet craftwork. After A2A I may face this, but for now, I have added an extra washer to pull the bolt out a bit (helped) and inserted a thin insole.

The thin insoles soften things a bit without giving up too much control. I recently dismantled an old wallet to keep the leather, and I may fashion some sort of heel pads with that.

I looked for shorter bolts but not for long. I did find washers specifically made for 6mm bolts at Lowe's hardware, and they had the split lock washers, wavy lock washers and flat washers in packs of 10. I bought these and put them in my Camelbak so it would weigh more. None of Lowe's' 6mm bolts were short enough or trim-headed enough. I think this is a matter for Automotive Fasteners in Greensboro (Winston-Salem too I think) or some other specialty bolt company that features a variety of bolt heads.

Keep us posted on your story and feel free to add it to rsn2.com so others who are not members of InlineNC can benefit from your experience. Rsn2.com is there so this great info can be Googable (Yahble, Askable, MSNable, let's turn nouns in to verb forms in the USAmerican tradition!).

Let us know how it's going with the wheels and boots!



sommemi's picture

Red rubber baby bump.... I mean sponges

This is getting back to definate "old-school" and makeshift basics, but ever try putting a makeup pad in your skate where the pressure is? Grant it, if your boot is tight, it might not help, and I haven't tried using one of these on an ankle, but used to use these religiously for my arches on my old skates... they were RED RUBBER MAKEUP SPONGES. Go figure. Don't know if they'll help, but they might. And they're cheap.

(try looking here: http://www.makeup-mall.com/wonder-red-rubber-sponge-6pcs-01055-p-207.html?osCsid=a9973062c039fd40b5cf9da7b051fb5a)

Otherwise, I now SWEAR by my ezeefits. I got them at the 23rd A2A right before the race (chronic blister problems my entire skating life), and haven't gotten a blister since... well, as long as I remember to wear them. It's a little better than wearing 2 pairs of socks, which I also used to do religiously. (Reduces the friction on your skin.)

Wish I had better advice for the ankle bone though. ....ouch.

"Well behaved Women rarely make History." - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Frame Placement

  I have done many of the above suggestions. All can be successful to a degree in which you've identified the correct problem. A properly sized and fitting boot will still hurt if pressure is focused on one place, such as the outside ankle area. Problems fitting that description are fixed with frame placement. If you pronate, frames need to be moved in. Sometimes even ill fitting boots will feel better as the pressure will be displaced to another spot and give you a little relief.


  Find a better skater than yourself to get the quickest results. Have that skater follow you and tell you what your tendencies are. Do you ankles collapse in or out? Move the frames accordingly. Many times this is very difficult to do when the damage has already been done as you'll skate in a protective mode, not wanting to add to the injury.


  I will also add that I have the same boots and can't see myself wearing anything else, but that doesn't mean that you have the perfectly matched foot for a Powerslide last . . . unfortunately.

roadskater's picture

Frame Placement and Inline Speed Skate Boot Pain

Excellent point. Yes it's a great idea to check frame placement. I don't know if I do it properly, but I try to put the back of my frame in the center where the cuff comes to its lowest point. I use a long Allen wrench to help me sight this. But this is a starting point.


On the front I try to make the centerline go between my big and 2nd toe. This is also a starting point.


Standing in my skates I can usually tell if I've done it right, as I'll be able to stand without putting much force either left or right, but skating is the true test, and having someone else look at your skating from behind is essential. Your ankles will tell you also if you're caving in or out.


Finding the best placement is a hassle, but well worth the time as it can make a huge difference in how easy it feels to skate. Once you find great positioning, MARK IT on the frames or even on the boots. I usually put a dot on the front of my boots that shows the correct front position, so I can just look down while cruising down a hill and confirm that at least the front hasn't moved.


Frame Placement & Inline Speed Skate Pain

  I like your suggestion of marking the front of your boots so that you can quickly check that the frame position hasn't changed.  A little mark in the toe area could be rather reassuring, particularly when preparing to "bomb" down a hill.

eebee's picture

Quick-fix for the meantime

I don't have any heat-molding advice to offer, but I can tell you what I did for about 3 years when my various skate boots hammered my inner-ankle bones, which may serve as a quick fix until you can get to the root of the problem. The skater formerly known as AthensAnnie, also had a boot irritation problem. We had problems finding tape that would not roll off under our socks from sweat and cause a whole new set of blisters/bone bruises. Finally we found Elastikon, which can be found at horse supply places (they tape horses feet with it, I believe), or local high-school sporting goods stores, where they sell it as football player wrap, and various places online. This stuff is so sticky it stays put under socks and tight-fitting boots, for miles and miles (100 even!). You really only need to go around your ankle one time with it, and it's not bulky at all so it won't cause other rubbings elsewhere. It can be hard to pull off after the skating is done but that was a small price to pay, to be able to skate in my speed boots, in my opinion. What I used to do to ease my ankle bone bruises with the Elastikon (and thanks to Blake for this technical advice!) was to use some sort of neoprene rubber material (such as a thin mouse pad) and cut out a donut shape (two or three of them, depending on the level of agony), stick them over my anklebones to form a buffer between them and the boot, and apply the magic tape. This might tide you over until you can really get your boots fixed with a heat gun or something.


Heat molding didn't do a thing for me, either, and you will sustain longer lasting damage that might keep you off your skates for several months, if you keep hammering away at those ankle bones. This year for some reason I haven't had one single problem with my boots or ankle bones. I'm happily mystified as to why. It may be simply that I was off of my skates for so many months for other reasons that they finally had time to heal. About a year ago, I did move the toe section of my frames as far to the middle as they'd go, leaving the back section exactly in the middle of my heel, but this was because I was supinating, not pronating. Go figure.

eebee's picture

Skate set-down & ankle problems

This next thought may instigate a barrage of very helpful advice from everybody on the site about technique and what has helped them. In any case, it's mostly useful to pick one skill and work on that, rather than try to apply it all at once, to frustratingly disasterous ends. Brings to mind nervous performance moments on the golf course, with three other people each yelling out three points for me to concentrate on my drive. Swing and a miss!!


I suspect that focusing on one particular aspect of my skating stroke - the 'set down' - has been a crucial factor in saving my ankle bones. I simply try as much as possible to 'set' my skate down centrally underneath my body, rather than to the outside under the same side's shoulder (as in the Frankenskate), as well as setting it down slightly further forward than I feel I normally do (which actually brings it to directly underneath again, rather than further back behind me). This benefits my feet in that I feel like I am able to use my larger quad muscles to influence my skating direction, instead of leaving it up to my li'l ol' feet to wrestle with my skates and the pavement. I believe this is something I rediscovered haphazardly, in trying to recall some of the drills learned at one of Eddy Matzger's workshops.  

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