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Author Topic: Ankle protection? Help!  (Read 288 times)

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Offline Sam_Bryant

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Ankle protection? Help!
« on: October 12, 2017, 09:27:13 AM »

I've been quiet for quite a while now (as I've been lost in the skating world and it's awesome! <3) But I am having a rather major issue that I am unsure if another pair of skates will fix or if I just have to endure and break in my skates. They are absolutely wrecking the side of my calves and its getting to the point where I end up bleeding through my socks and have to remove my skates gingerly at the end of each session.

Any tips on how to keep this from happening? I've had them fitted properly and all that so I don't know if fit is the problem. I've been told it's just the break-in phase. But it really IS getting painful.

Thanks a ton!

Check out my blog as an adult getting back into figure skating! All input is appreciated ^_^

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Online Bill_S

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Re: Ankle protection? Help!
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2017, 09:47:25 AM »
When I was breaking in a stubborn pair of skates years ago, I was having a lot of pain and skin abrasion/bleeding. I bought a set of Bunga Pads (my issues included the ankle bone) and Bunga ankle sleeves for it, and it worked marvelously. The sleeves were a soft gel type material covered with a fabric on one side. I'd use them again when I break in new skates.

There are probably other competing products that I haven't used, so maybe some others can chime in on their experiences.
Bill Schneider

Offline Query

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Re: Ankle protection? Help!
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2017, 01:32:11 PM »
One possibility is that they don't yet completely fit the shape of your feet and lower leg. In particular, if the boot fits loosely against some parts of your feet and lower leg, and tightly against others, it may slip and rub against the loose places, creating blisters, which can sometimes make you bleed, and press very hard against the tight places, creating other problems. If you can even out the pressure, and no longer need as much pressure to try to make the boot conform to your feet, the problem might disappear. (If blisters are the only problem, tightening your laces as much as you can may fix it. But if one problem is an excessively high pressure point, that would make it worse.)

For example, at one point I had a pair of boots that fit very tight against my ankle bones, and my big a little toes, and barely touched anywhere else on the sides of my feet and lower leg. They hurt a lot. The bottom of my feet, due to a slant-mismatch, only created pressure on one side of the foot - fixed by re-shaping the insole - but that isn't your problem. But the incompetent fitter (they were full custom boots that would have fit perfectly if he had done his job right) claimed they fit, so I had to find my own answers over a period of years. (He didn't tell me that the custom boot maker, like most custom boot makers, would have freely fixed the misfit, as mentioned below.)

If this is the case, the first thing you should have done, if possible, is a heat mold, which many shops can do. If that doesn't do the job, pad the loose places by sticking an adhesive foam like moleskin onto the inner surface of the boot, and press out the tight places with a boot press (which many good pro shops have - they do the work). The moleskin may eventually rub off, so keep a little extra with you.

I don't have a boot press. A good fitter more or less fixed it, but the stretch was big enough that it didn't last. So I bought a cheaper (but slower) cast iron boot stretching tool, a ball-and-ring pliers (also called hoke-and-ball pliers, or bunion stretching pliers; which some of us have bought for ourselves) that looks like one of these:

There are slightly cheaper ones that don't have a set screw, so you need to use another tool to keep it closed - probably not worth the bother: (same issue)

If the boot gradually unstretches over time, as mine did, you may need to redo the stretch. (If you aren't strong enough, you may need help to clamp it tight.) It helps to apply alcohol to the inside leather to be stretched, if it isn't covered with padding, and heat it up with a hand-held hair drier. If it is a big stretch, do it over a day or so, and keep re-tightening the pliers. Don't use the set screw to tighten - it probably isn't strong enough - just to hold it in place once tightened.

There are also wooden bunion stretchers, that are cheaper, but I'm not sure they are strong enough, or are capable of reaching far enough inside the boot to help. The cast-iron pliers I showed here could probably even all reach all the way down to the toe area, if you unlace the boot first and insert them near the bottom of the tongue. They are fun toys to play with.

The Bunga pads, or equivalent might relieve the loose areas. Whether they can relieve the tight areas will depend on how much space is available inside the boot. But a lot of people do use them, and are very happy with them.

There is another fast answer, if there is enough room inside your boot. Wear thick squish-able socks, like the fleece socks they sell in camping and ski stores. Some people, think that provides too little control over the boot, but at least for me, it has sometimes worked. You COULD also wear multiple pairs of thinner socks - but that allows a lot of slippage, and consequent loss of control over the boot. In the end I preferred reshaping the boots, but thick socks were a quick answer to boots that were also a bit over-size.

Personally, I like boots that are well padded, like the upper end Jackson boots often are, and have a "rolled cuff" at the top. That reduces the affects of ill fit a lot, though I know some skaters like the feel and control that bare leather provide. But you have the boots you have, so if the Bunga pads or thick socks don't satisfy, it is worth trying a reshape.

A GOOD skate tech at a pro shop will often fix all these problems on new boots for free if you ordered the boots through him or her - so, ask. If the first person you talk to doesn't say yes, ask to talk to the store manager, who is often better at his or her job than some of the workers.

In the end, if you can't get things right, or if you happen to live near the factory, call the boot maker, and ask what to do. If they were custom boots, the fix may be free, if you can get to the factory, or to a good authorized fitter. Even if they aren't custom, they can do it for a fee. If they were full custom, but were grossly misfit, they may make you new boots at no added cost.

Incidentally, a podiatrist or a suitably trained sports-PT might be able to help - at a cost. At least a dozen of the aforementioned incompetent fitter's customers went to the same podiatrist for similar problems. I might have too, if I had known such people existed, before I spent years figuring out ways to handle it. It is best to find a sports-podiatrist who specializes in skating or skiing customers. (Alpine skiers also use edges, and also frequently use very tight, stiff boots. Many ski shops also have boot presses or ball-and-ring-pliers, as do a few other high end shoe and boot shops, and some shoe and boot repair places.)

If fit IS the issue, stay far away from the pro-shop that ordered and adjusted your boots. They will likely mess everything else up, like sharpening. E.g., I've been told by the employees of one pro shop that mostly handles hockey that they take about 1 - 3 mm of steel off the blades every time they sharpen, to get out the big nicks that often develop in hockey blades - over an order of magnitude more than the 0.003" (.0762 mm) that is frequently advocated for figure skates. So blades sharpened by those standards will last through 1 - 2 orders of magnitude fewer sharpenings than at a first class figure skate pro shop. People on this board have told other horror stories of what bad pro shops do, like reshaping the blades to be like hockey blades. Bad pro shops just aren't worth it.

Offline Loops

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Re: Ankle protection? Help!
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2017, 10:44:40 PM »
Silipos gel sleeves.

Worth every penny.

Offline tstop4me

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Re: Ankle protection? Help!
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2017, 04:20:07 PM »
What type of socks are you wearing?  In my experience, nylon is more abrasive than cotton, and socks with coarse ribs bite in more than those with fine ribs.  I agree with the suggestions to wear Bunga or Silipos ankle sleeves under the socks (gel surface against the skin); also apply skin cream before putting on the sleeves.