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Author Topic: Custom Orthotics for Skate Boots  (Read 298 times)

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Offline tstop4me

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Custom Orthotics for Skate Boots
« on: March 04, 2017, 09:26:48 AM »
Note:  I already make my own orthotics for my Jackson Elites.  I would like to avoid having this thread become a rehash of DIY tips; those have been addressed in previous threads.  I would also like to avoid a rehash of over-the-counter insoles such as Superfeet and the Riedell kit.

I would very much appreciate the experiences of skaters who have used custom orthotics  in their figure skating boots.  I have custom orthotics in my walking and running shoes and have had both good and bad experiences with them;  I know what the process is, and know what to look out for.  I also know that custom orthotics for skate boots need to be designed differently, and that I need a podiatrist specifically experienced with fitting orthotics for skate boots.

Assume I order custom orthotics to go with new boots (not necessarily custom boots) and that the new boots can be heat molded.  The boots are to be ordered based on measurements and tracings by an experienced skate tech.  With my running and walking shoes, I initially bring the shoes to the podiatrist, and he orders and customizes orthotics based on those pairs.  When I later need new shoes and wish to reuse the orthotics, I remove the insoles from the new shoes, insert my existing orthotics, and try out the new shoes.  What is the proper sequence for orthotics for new boots?

(a) Do I get the orthotics first, then bring them with me to the skate tech?  He then takes measurements and tracings of my feet with and without orthotics?  That would sound logical, to order new boots to accommodate the orthotics (but this assumes orthotics can be ordered in advance of the boots).

(b) Or do I get the boots first, then bring them to the podiatrist?  That would sound logical, because the design of the orthotic depends to some extent on the boot it’s inserted into.  Somewhat of a chicken-and-egg situation.

(c) Are there orthotics that can be baked while retaining their shape and other characteristics?  That is, for heat molding, are the orthotics inserted before the boots are heated, or are the orthotics inserted after the boots are heated?  Given that inserting orthotics can be a fussy operation, I assume it would be preferable to insert the orthotics prior to heating (but this assumes that the orthotics do not deteriorate during baking).

(d) Even if you went to a proper podiatrist and a proper skate tech, were you happy with the results, or did it turn out to be a colossal waste of money? 



Thanks.

Offline AgnesNitt

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Re: Custom Orthotics for Skate Boots
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2017, 10:34:43 AM »
I used custom orthotics for about a year. They were fitted by a podiatrist who was an experienced skater and built by a company in Canada that did a lot of skater orthotics.

I won't say they were worthless, maybe they did some good, but after one fell out of a boot and disappeared, I realized they didn't do me enough good to go buy another pair.

My complaint is the orthotics are fitted and built for a flat shoe. Skates aren't flat. I knew enough about my feet to take a pair of superfeet yellow and tweak those myself in the boot. For me, being able to tweak things in the boot really was what made the difference.

Do I want to pay several hundred dollars for a pair of orthotics if I still have to tweak them to work in the boot? I could do that with superfeet.

I realize there are skaters who have to have special orthotics. I used to think that I needed orthotics, etc. I had pain in my feet and long arches etc. I learned that I could skate through some kinds of pain that eventually went away as my feet got used to it, or modify my boots, or my tying, or tweak the insoles. I also learned how to identify (or get someone to identify for me) when I actually had a problem that I couldn't fix. It took me several years to get that level of experience. I need extra wide boot tongues. I mean how often do you hear about that? Did that cause some of my foot pain because the lack of support to the ankle? I don't know. But skate fitting is arcane and really not well understood--maybe it would be useful to have a thread on boot fitting techniques that we've identified.
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Offline tstop4me

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Re: Custom Orthotics for Skate Boots
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2017, 11:03:19 AM »
My complaint is the orthotics are fitted and built for a flat shoe. Skates aren't flat.

Thanks for sharing your experience.  I'm surprised that an orthotic specifically fitted for a skate boot would be configured for a flat shoe.  I thought that's the sort of error that a podiatrist not experienced with skates would make, but a podiatrist specifically experienced with skates would make the proper design modifications.

Offline AgnesNitt

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Re: Custom Orthotics for Skate Boots
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2017, 11:11:52 AM »
Thanks for sharing your experience.  I'm surprised that an orthotic specifically fitted for a skate boot would be configured for a flat shoe.  I thought that's the sort of error that a podiatrist not experienced with skates would make, but a podiatrist specifically experienced with skates would make the proper design modifications.

You'd think that, but how can he do that without knowing the height of your boot heel? Did your doctor ask for that? Or ask you to bring in your boots?
And he skated hockey, so it may not be as important from their perspective.

My bet is that it is either impossible to allow for the heel, or no one thinks about that. I've looked at orthotics off and on, and I've never seen any orthotic anywhere that takes the heel into account.
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Offline tstop4me

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Re: Custom Orthotics for Skate Boots
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2017, 01:16:06 PM »
You'd think that, but how can he do that without knowing the height of your boot heel? Did your doctor ask for that? Or ask you to bring in your boots?
And he skated hockey, so it may not be as important from their perspective.

My bet is that it is either impossible to allow for the heel, or no one thinks about that. I've looked at orthotics off and on, and I've never seen any orthotic anywhere that takes the heel into account.

As I wrote in my first post, for the orthotics in my running and walking shoes, I brought the shoes to my podiatrist.  I had two pairs of orthotics made, one for each pair of shoes [not simultaneously; once I was satisfied that the podiatrist did a good job with the walking shoes, I went ahead with the running shoes].  I was able to reuse a particular pair of orthotics in other shoes, as long as I used them in a similar pair of shoes.  My wife also wears orthotics.  She has one set for flats, another for high heels.  Hence, the question in my first post:  What comes first for new skate boots that are to be ordered, the orthotics or the boots?  That's also why I know it's important to find a podiatrist experienced with figure skating boots specifically, not hockey skates.  In my earlier posts, I did use "skate boots", but given the scope of this forum, I assume that readers would take it to mean "figure skating boots".  [By analogy, you need a sharpener who's experienced with figure skating blades specifically, not hockey blades.]

Offline rd350

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Re: Custom Orthotics for Skate Boots
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2017, 03:31:31 PM »
You can't really do the heat moldable type orthotics for your skates because your foot needs to be held in the right position for that type of orthotic and since it's a boot they can't really hold the foot.  I had that type done, but in my sneakers and trying to account for the differences.  It was an epic fail.  There was no room in my boot for the forefoot varus correction I needed.  It would need to be done concurrently, for me anyway.  There are multiple factors like what and how much you are trying to correct for and if there is room in your boot, or even if the boot could make enough accommodations when heat molding.  There are limits.
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Offline Jenna

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Re: Custom Orthotics for Skate Boots
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2017, 03:53:12 PM »
I've had my podiatrist make orthotics (he's also a former hockey player) and he's had me bring my boots in and they make them according to the original insole in the boot, then tweak them so they fit my skates.  He also makes them to take up less room than my other orthotics, so it doesn't change how my foot fits in the boot. 

Ive also been told by boot fitters that a boot can be fitted around an orthotic.  I just bought a pair of Jackson 5200 and we measured my foot and ordered the size based on just my foot, then heat molded them with my orthotics in them.  I have to get a longer blade, so I haven't gotten to skate in them, but I'm hopeful.

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Re: Custom Orthotics for Skate Boots
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2017, 04:58:33 PM »
I've had my podiatrist make orthotics (he's also a former hockey player) and he's had me bring my boots in and they make them according to the original insole in the boot, then tweak them so they fit my skates.  He also makes them to take up less room than my other orthotics, so it doesn't change how my foot fits in the boot. 

Ive also been told by boot fitters that a boot can be fitted around an orthotic.  I just bought a pair of Jackson 5200 and we measured my foot and ordered the size based on just my foot, then heat molded them with my orthotics in them.  I have to get a longer blade, so I haven't gotten to skate in them, but I'm hopeful.

Thanks.  Follow-up questions.

What boots were the orthotics originally fitted for, and were they the same size as the 5200?

Just to clarify, for the Jackson 5200, your existing orthotics were inserted into the boots prior to baking, the orthotics were baked inside the boots, and the orthotics did not deform or deteriorate.  Is that correct?  Did you check with your podiatrist in advance that your orthotics could be baked?  I'd be very interested in an update once you get your blades and get on the ice.  My next pair of boots (not for a while I hope) will likely be the men's equivalent of the 5200.

OK, your podiatrist is a hockey skater.  Did you check with him in advance whether he had experience fitting figure skating patients?

Offline tstop4me

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Re: Custom Orthotics for Skate Boots
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2017, 05:05:39 PM »
You can't really do the heat moldable type orthotics for your skates because your foot needs to be held in the right position for that type of orthotic and since it's a boot they can't really hold the foot.  I had that type done, but in my sneakers and trying to account for the differences.  It was an epic fail.  There was no room in my boot for the forefoot varus correction I needed.  It would need to be done concurrently, for me anyway.  There are multiple factors like what and how much you are trying to correct for and if there is room in your boot, or even if the boot could make enough accommodations when heat molding.  There are limits.


Thanks for sharing your experience.  Just to clarify, I wasn't referring to heat molding the orthotics themselves.  I was asking about whether there are orthotics available that can withstand the heat molding of the boots without damaging the orthotics if the orthotics are inserted into the boots first and then baked along with the boots (as discussed further in the post by Jenna). 

Offline Jenna

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Re: Custom Orthotics for Skate Boots
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2017, 10:28:27 PM »
Thanks.  Follow-up questions.

What boots were the orthotics originally fitted for, and were they the same size as the 5200?

Just to clarify, for the Jackson 5200, your existing orthotics were inserted into the boots prior to baking, the orthotics were baked inside the boots, and the orthotics did not deform or deteriorate.  Is that correct?  Did you check with your podiatrist in advance that your orthotics could be baked?  I'd be very interested in an update once you get your blades and get on the ice.  My next pair of boots (not for a while I hope) will likely be the men's equivalent of the 5200.

OK, your podiatrist is a hockey skater.  Did you check with him in advance whether he had experience fitting figure skating patients?


I got this pair of orthotics for a pair of Edeas that I bought last year, but they fit well in the new Jacksons.  I will take my boots and orthotics back to my dr to make sure the fit is good and see if we can make some tweaks  that the Jackson rep I talked to suggested.

No, I would never expose a $400 pair of orthotics to high heat of any kind, even if my dr said it was fine.  The original insoles were taken out, the boots were heated and my orthotics got put in  my boots right before my feet did. 

My podiatrist was picked because he's a good dr.  My foot issues (chronic plantar fasciitis) affect my life when it flares up, so I didn't care about anything else when I stated seeing him.  I didn't know he played hockey until I asked him about making a pair for my skates.  I do think that his familiarity with ice skates in general help.  He understands about making them in a way that doesn't take up excess room in the boot (since there really shouldn't be any) and about making the foot stable and keeping my weight distributed properly. 

I think finding a dr or pedorthist who have a lot of experience with figure skaters would be difficult in an area that doesn't have a large number of skaters.  I know there are people who specialize in making orthotics for figure skaters, but there are apparently only 3 in the entire US.  While I think having a pair of orthotics made by one of them would be amazing, I also think my dr does a great job (and he knows all my foot history).

I hope my new skates work out well.  The Edeas ended up being a bit of a nightmare and caused my PF to flare up.  I'm eager to try them!

Offline tstop4me

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Re: Custom Orthotics for Skate Boots
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2017, 11:54:56 PM »
Thanks, Jenna.  Exactly the sort of info I'm looking for.  Good luck with the new boots!

Offline Leif

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Re: Custom Orthotics for Skate Boots
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2017, 02:12:09 PM »
Why do you need orthotics?

Ideally I need arch support, as I was getting very bad knees when running. Forgive my mentioning Superfeet, but I tried some yellows in my hockey ice skates and they raised my heel, and pulled back my toes ruining the fit of the skates and I got lace bite. The lesson is that - for me anyway - insoles should support the arch, but not otherwise take up space unless both skate and insole are fitted to my feet. The closest I have seen to a support insole over the counter are Bauer Speed Plates which are heat moulded to your feet, and which seem to be like stock insoles but with arch support. I haven't seen custom orthotics, so I don't know what you are looking for.

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Re: Custom Orthotics for Skate Boots
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2017, 03:21:29 PM »
I had orthotics in my shoes and Don Klingbeil replicated them for my custom Klingbeil boots years ago.  They were fine - he molded and sculpted them with leather and sturdy foam.  Much easier than monkeying with store-bought insoles.  I need arch support along with a "lift" to keep my foot balanced. (Without them, my feet lean towards the insides, causing pain and misalignment.)  My podiatrist recommended having a skate-knowledgeable maker create the skate insoles, which is how Don was pressed into service.

Since then, I've tried stock insoles:

The Superfeet Yellow arch was in the wrong spot for me so I tried Sole insoles in my last skates. 
Sole's footbeds are heat-moldable in the oven - put them inside the skate and lace up until they cool.  They worked fine in my too-small SP-Teris since they didn't take up too much room in the forefoot.

My current custom Harlicks were sized to allow an orthotic-style insole.  In these skates, the Soles just didn't take up enough space, despite my providing them to the boot maker.  So, I'm using Superfeet Black at this time and they're fine - supportive and molding to my feet properly. Best of all, the cushioning protects my heels against the ridge where the heel meets the sole.   I've also "graduated" to stock insoles for my shoes/sneakers, so yay me!  (Weight loss and exercises)

Mr. Edge has a page devoted to orthotics in figure skates:  http://www.askmredge.com/learning-center.php
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Offline tstop4me

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Re: Custom Orthotics for Skate Boots
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2017, 03:29:34 PM »
Why do you need orthotics?

Ideally I need arch support, as I was getting very bad knees when running. Forgive my mentioning Superfeet, but I tried some yellows in my hockey ice skates and they raised my heel, and pulled back my toes ruining the fit of the skates and I got lace bite. The lesson is that - for me anyway - insoles should support the arch, but not otherwise take up space unless both skate and insole are fitted to my feet. The closest I have seen to a support insole over the counter are Bauer Speed Plates which are heat moulded to your feet, and which seem to be like stock insoles but with arch support. I haven't seen custom orthotics, so I don't know what you are looking for.

I have flat feet resulting from fallen (collapsed) arches, among other defects.  You won't find custom orthotics at a sports or shoe shop.  You need to go to a podiatrist, who takes molds of your feet.  The molds are sent to a lab, which makes orthotics from the molds to correct your particular defects; hence, the term "custom" or "prescription" orthotics in distinction to over-the-counter orthotics.

Offline Leif

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Re: Custom Orthotics for Skate Boots
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2017, 02:35:45 AM »
I have flat feet resulting from fallen (collapsed) arches, among other defects.  You won't find custom orthotics at a sports or shoe shop.  You need to go to a podiatrist, who takes molds of your feet.  The molds are sent to a lab, which makes orthotics from the molds to correct your particular defects; hence, the term "custom" or "prescription" orthotics in distinction to over-the-counter orthotics.

Thanks for the explanation. From the above link I can see how they differ from over the counter ones.

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Re: Custom Orthotics for Skate Boots
« Reply #15 on: March 06, 2017, 03:28:54 PM »
As I recall, some skate boot makers want you to send your orthotics to them when ordering custom boots, so they can make sure the orthotics fit in the boots.

(That makes some sense TO ME. Your foot+the orthotic have to fit. And you don't want it to rock around because the bottom shapes don't match.)

But the way I see it, a properly fit custom boot should BE an orthotic, that fits you perfectly, and does everything your foot and body needs it to do.

Last I knew, one boot maker, Avanta (which includes some of Klingbeil's former staff), has a podiatrist at the factory store, who performs the fit, a process that included making actual full casts of your feet. If you don't live in the area, that might be an expensive route, but you are probably more likely to get a good fit. I believe they also accept fit measurements from some other podiatrists. Some people on this board have used Avanta, BTW - you could search it for "Avanta".

Why not call the boot maker you choose to find out what they think will work best?

BTW, I had a problem with stiff store-bought "customizable" (heat moldable) orthotics. (Or would you call them customizable insoles? I think of "orthotic" as something fit to you by someone with medical credentials.) They were a bit wide for the skates. They gradually widened the boots, until the boots were too loose.

I've been playing with the idea that if you make your own orthotics out of closed-cell foam (as I do, using closed-cell carpet foam), you can make them collapse asymmetrically to compensate for any asymmetry in the way your feet collapse. (E.g., if your feet set down on the ice in one orientation, but pronate or supinate when you put your weight on them.) In particular, you might be able to use a wire brush to turn the closed-cell foam into a somewhat open-cell foam on one side, or wherever you need it to collapse more, by popping some or all of the bubbles there. I don't have that particular foot problem - I collapse symmetrically.

But, since you like to play with equipment, if your feet collapse asymmetrically under load, you could do try it and tell us if it works.

The idea is to use an external orthotic to compensate for asymmetric support internal to the feet. But I'm not sure if you can pop enough bubbles with a wire brush to do enough, or gives you enough degrees of freedom to take care of all possible internal asymmetries - in part because internal support problems might be very nonlinear. E.g., a ligament or muscle might be loose, then suddenly come under tension when the foot collapses to a certain point. It MIGHT work to use the wire brush where needed only to a certain depth - so that part collapses easily, but the foam becomes stiffer once the popped foam is compressed. You might also need to experiment to get it right. Fortunately, carpet padding foam is cheap. E.g., a few dollars for a yard of 12' wide padding. Use the highest grade foam the carpet store sells, the one that requires more pounds per square inch to collapse (they are rated by PSI); otherwise it is too soft.

If you've the right feet for this, could I persuade you to try playing with it?