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Inline Skate/Boot Comfort Secrets Sorely Needed: Fix Rec & Speedskate Blisters, Ankle & Foot Problems--Socks, Heat Molding, Pads

MikeB's picture

In getting ready for the 2009 skate season it's become apparent that a little extra skate comfort could go a long way.  I remember finishing the 2008 Tour de Kale and wishing I had chosen the 25K instead of 60K.  Now granted - much of the pavement was rough, hills were steep, my pre-skate and event nourishment was lacking, etc. but after finishing, my feet were angry and my skates and I were not on speaking terms for the long ride home.

With a little help, this year can be different in the skate comfort department and that's where the Roadskater.net community can help. 

One place to turn will be Skatey-Mark's upcoming workshop.  Technique will certainly be covered and is instrumental to comfort + I bet he can offer additional comfort tips, e.g. better frame placement.

I'm looking to gain extra knowledge and tricks of the trade on all sorts of comfort but mainly in the boot department.  There's got to be a lot of trial and error out there we could all learn from.  Currently I use Powerslide R2s and while they've been good to me right out of the box, a little tweaking sure wouldn't hurt.  In an earlier exchange, Skart mentioned his best fitting skates are custom Simmons.  I'm not prepared to take that plunge just yet but they do look lighter and more comfy than my Spongebob slippers - and that's saying something!

Here are some steps I am prepared to take this season and hopefully some recommendations will trickle in:

1. Heat molding the boots (first timer - any tips?)

2. boot inserts ( I recall Skatey-Mark's A2A report where he went to Walgreens or Wal-Mart at the last minute and purchased insole cushions that worked like a dream)

3. EZeefit ankle booties look intriguing

4. new wheels (can't find the Hyper+G 100mm, so leaning toward Bont G3's)

5. anything else RSN can recommend

The goal is to not let foot fatigue be a limiting factor as it has sometimes been in the past. 



Bryan's picture

I’m not the most

I’m not the most knowledgeable, having only had one brand of speedskates, and only one pair of those that actually fit. But that said… Ezee Fit booties rock. Many foot pain issues I’ve had were solved by frame adjustment. The original Am-Wing SPs (not the Marathon variety) were the most comfortable for me on rough asphalt, but the Bont G3s are pretty good as well. As much as I love the feel of my multiply heat-moulded Bont Jets, the first five miles are still rather uncomfortable. After that though, I’m golden (assuming the rest of my body holds out). Eating a few aspirin prior to any skate longer than twenty miles has served me well so far. This year I’m going to attempt to join the ranks of those doing truly long skates, and part of my plan involves one chewable aspirin every ten miles. Yes, I’m serious.
MikeB's picture

Bootie details

did you use the full bootie or the half cut/open toe?  and what thickness?  I'm thinking of the thinnest option.

they rock huh?  why have the worked so well for you?

skatey-mark's picture

The ez-fit booties are

The ez-fit booties are indeed cool. I've tried them and they're not my cup o' tea personally, but a lot of people swear by them. I think they're especially well suited to people that like skating barefoot. For those wearing socks, the ez-fits are probably just masking a bigger problem of your heel moving around too much in your boot. That can be fixed with heat molding and better technique. (Toe pushing is the usual culprit here.) The Walgreens Double Foam Insoles are cheap and work great for absorbing road vibration, etc. Also good socks can go a long way. If you have room in your boots, get some socks with extra padding on the sole. But thicker socks can make your boots more uncomfortable if you don't have room. Any topic is fair game at the workshop! We can definitely talk about equipment and look at frame placement, etc. Since you brought it up, I'll put an extra plug in for it here... ;-) http://roadskater.net/skatestrong-inline-skating-rollerblading-workshop-... - SM -
roadskater's picture

Neoprene ankle braces and homemade doughnuts

Since getting my stock Powerslide C4s I have not needed any booties, padding, or other accessories. I will sometimes wear two socks instead of one, especially if going over 30 miles or so. Sometimes we'll pack dry socks at the 38-mile point at Athens to Atlanta's 87-miler. Sometimes we'll pack some if doing 62 on the Silver Comet Trail (to the tunnel and back). However, here's a look back at things that have worked for me, mostly before I had my Verduccis, or maybe shortly after I got those, when I was using the Mogemas, or after some minor injury. I have not had problems with blisters for the most part, but occasionally if I ignored pain during a skate event, it turned out later I had some problem I might have avoided had I stopped and readjusted a sock, a frame that had drastically moved, my lacing, a poorly put on boot, or had I taken the tiny bits of gravel out of there! For recreational and fitness and even for customs, I recommend trying two pair of thin, non-cotton, socks. This is an old hiker's trick, and some say that in the military some use ankle hose for the same purpose. The two pair of thin socks rub against each other instead of rubbing the skin off of your feet. I used this for a very long time and it worked well. The kind of socks I'm talking about are somewhat high, and are thin. You might call them support socks or so. Anyway, this set up cured problems I had with some pairs of skates, and were I to have a problem with a blister, this would be part of my solution. The other part of the solution for a blister would be to buy some Nu-Skin (I think that's it). This smells like nail polish and might be as far as I know. Anyway, the few times I've had a blister I put this stuff on and used the double sock trick with at least the inner sock being a thin, snug one, and that worked. I have sometimes used a Compeed (now Band-Aid Natural Healing) bandage under the thin sock, but your foot had better be totally dry when you put the bandage on...not possible during a skate event). I have at times used a homemade neoprene doughnut to protect the blister. Once I went to WallofChina-Mart and they had an "exercise belt" made of neoprene that was a nice thickness, so I bought that for cheap material from which to make doughnuts and pyramids (the latter for heat molding, stacks of ever larger circles of neoprene). Doughnuts are just circular pads larger than your blister, with a hole in the center the size of or slightly larger than your blister. The idea is to keep the boot away from the blister (or bone bruise) but NOT over the injury itself. Sometimes this works. WallofChina-Mart and drug stores often have neoprene ankle braces, and the best of these are like the booties people talk about. I've never used the special ones, just the ones I could find and check out in the store to make sure they seemed a good thickness and entirely smooth. Don't bother if it's not neoprene. You don't want something that will grind a pattern into your skin all day, right? I've used neoprene ankle braces mostly for Rec and Fitness skates, but maybe once or twice with speedskates. Were it to be certain slogging rain for A2A or Carolina Century I might adopt a 2 very thin socks with a thin neoprene ankle brace approach, had I time to test such a thing. A key thing to reinforce is that I think it best to stay away from cotton in socks, as they retain moisture instead of wicking, and this will soften your feet, which can help blister them. It's just my opinion, but it is my opinion. Now I tend to use one sock, sometimes thick, sometimes a bit thinner, and sometimes a thin with a thick one over the top, for the long mileages (50 or more). As for heat molding, I haven't had to mold the Powerslide C4 stock boots. I did mold the Verducci V-Teks, but am not sure but what I just needed to learn to skate pain free with them. What I mean is that when you first get hard speed boots the pain will let you know you have some technique to learn. Heel blisters are a sign of needing to learn a bit. Rubs and blisters are obviously a sign of movement, and this may be a toe-push issue (or might not). Bone bruises and pressure points are a sign of boots being too tight, or perhaps too loose if you are cocking the ankle in or out and putting your body weight on the ankle while pressed against the side wall (ouch!). Frame placement is important there. Just to repeat the standard frame placement advice, it's usually stated as center at the back and between the big toe and "pointing?" or "index?" toe at the front. Having said this, I think it is important to find the center at the back not by external geometry of the boot (because boot wall thickness and curvature can be asymmetrical) but by standing in your boots to see if your ankle wants to go outward or inward. If your ankle wants to cock outward, move your frame out until it doesn't want to do that. If it wants to bend inward, move your frame inward. This is the value of skate festivals for you fasties. While you are standing around waiting on the rekkies, you should be able to tell if you are standing comfortably! If not, I say your frame position is wrong. Of course I'm not a fastie, so take it with a grain of potassium. I find that there are other signs of frame position changes. For me, I tend to develop callouses even from the way I run in running shoes. I think I must roll inward at the end of the running stride and I tend to do this skating as well when not skating "within myself." When I am chasing too much to keep up with someone I have not trained sufficiently to accompany, my form deteriorates with leaning forward and increasing pressure on the insides of the toes. This can happen if someone is standing with too much weight on their toes instead of letting the balls of the feet take the pressure too. I also noticed that I had a particular callous build up on the inside rear of the arches when I had the Verducci V-Teks set like I liked them. When I got the Powerslide C4, I noticed I didn't get that callous. Guess what! At one point my frame moved weeks later, or I moved it, I don't recall, and the same callouses appeared. So frame position is important! Get it balanced so you can stand with your ankles not pressing against either side of the hard boot, and you'll have a chance to skate that way. I also like the thin or double thin (twice as thick as one thin) insoles, which WallofChina-Mart sells as the Air-Pillow model or the knock-off. Yes it is tempting to try all sorts of materials for footbeds, and I say try them, but you'll find you want something thin and only moderately springy. If you put something thick and springy in your boots, you'll lose control of your skate to some extent, and your power will be lost a bit, or at least control of it. That's my take. Oh, and one more thing. Take care that you don't put bolts in that are a bit too long and end up sticking through your boots. At various points along the way when I simply could not afford new skates, I had to use T-nuts and epoxy and other mumbo to keep my skates together. This allowed me to skate A2A instead of sitting out, but with great pain. One thing I tried that didn't work was to use a thin cutting board (yes, I said it) as a flat footbed to protect the bottom of my foot from my hacked repairs. This was at the Elon ride, some of you may recall! Well a few miles down the road I removed these forever. Now I will say that one thing that did give some relief was a part from a broken mail tray provided by USPS. It was a corrugated plastic material, perhaps a bit like some of the instaprinted sign boards. This durable material held up well, and I was able to poke a dent into it where I needed to accommodate the T-nut repair. It worked well enough for one A2A. I guess I've done 3 runs of A2A, maybe 4, with last night repairs using materials from the Walgreens in Athens. Pretty sad! Of course if it's just a bolt being a bit long, put an extra washer between the head and frame, if you have room. And look for "automotive fasteners" in the yellow pages if you need to find metric bolts with the right threads and heads for skating stuff, once you've given up on the big box hardware stores. That's all I think of at the moment! Hope it helps. Solutions from the cheap side.
MikeB's picture

cheap solutions are good solutions

Thanks for excellent tips.  Learning from your trial and error helps me and I'm sure others as well.  Looks like WallOfChina-Mart and I have a date for tomorrow. 

And more tips on heat molding would be helpful, if you have some.  I'll poke around online, maybe try Richard Nett, etc. and report on any useable tips.  The hockey pro shop has a dedicated oven to heat mold hockey skates, perhaps they'll let me use it.

eebee's picture

My winning combination

Winning as in foot comfort, not races :-).

1) Loose rather than snug-fitting boots.

2) Two pairs of moderately thick, spongey and stretchy socks. Golf socks typically work very well. The 2 pairs even out discrepancies between my feet and the boots.

3) Frame placement My skates must fit me where my lower calf and ankle meet (at my cankles :-)), so that my inner and outer ankle bones aren't bearing the brunt of keeping the boots on my feet. I.e., lower cut boots like Simmons won't do for my feet, legs and skating style.

My summary is that I probably don't have the determination, time and obsession to mold any boots exactly to my feet, so I keep them loose around my trouble spots (inner ankle bones).

MikeB's picture

So far,,,excellent info/feedback

Cankles? Cankles? Really?.........Really? Is that like ribdomen or Spanglish? That's awesome. But I hear ya. * Loosening the skate was a good change * Ezeefit booties will be on order * Bont G3s will be on order * Reducing toe push is a must (hockey habit) * Heat molding to be done * Walgreens Dble Foam Insoles sound worth a try * Might tweak the frame placement to promote a little more use of outside edge * Always draft - never pull ;-) * Not sold on 2 pairs of socks just yet, thought is EZ booties will be preferred * Might keep thicker/spongier foot tape on board too, for any nagging areas * A couple on board aspirin or ibu isn't a bad idea Wow - I guess there's a lot that can be done here. Thanks and keep the ideas coming.
MikeB's picture

checking things off the Comfort Checklist

So far so good: * EZfit booties are in * Bont G3 wheels are in (thanks to Skatey-Mark's solid referral - Glenn Koshi at Bont.com in Cali. Glenn came through big. * Dble foam insoles cut to fit * liking a slightly looser lacing A few more things listed earlier are still yet to be tried but I'm feeling pretty good about '09. Hope you are too.
roadskater's picture

Keep us posted on the experiments, especially the failures

Urr...I mean learning experiences.

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