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Author Topic: Anyone tried moldable foam insoles or liners?  (Read 249 times)

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Online Query

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Anyone tried moldable foam insoles or liners?
« on: April 21, 2017, 06:58:13 PM »
I was glancing at http://www.podiatrym.com/cme/sep2004bcme.pdf and noticing that Plastazote molds at 140 degrees F - a high hair drier temperature, safe enough for brief skin contact. I wonder if one could take advantage of that to create and heat mold a perfectly fit insole, or even a full boot liner. 

http://www.alimed.com/search/?Keywords=plastazote says that Plastazote is mostly used as a top material in orthotics. Apparently, they often use a second foam layer for impact absorption.

Many other foams, including others mentioned in that article, mold at around 250 degrees and up, including many of the foams used in moldable skate and ski boot liners, I think like these http://www.myfit-custom.com I'm not sure how they can be safe to place against feet while molding...

Incidentally, moldable roller skate and ski boot liners can be quite expensive... E.g., $50-$180 / pair. Not something one tries casually. And you need boots large enough to accommodate your feet + the liner.

Anyway, anyone have any experience or knowledge of these things?

Offline Leif

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Re: Anyone tried moldable foam insoles or liners?
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2017, 09:29:41 AM »
Bauer sell heat moldable insoles whose purpose is to increase the area of contact between the foot and the skate, and consequently they provide arch support:

https://www.bauer.com/innovations/speed-plate

However, these are specifically for hockey skates, and I suspect they might not work with figure skates as I believe the 3D form of the foot bed will be different. My own experience is that the insole needs to be as thin as possible except where it provides support, so as not to change the fit of the skate (or ensure you fit the skate with the insole already inserted ).

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Re: Anyone tried moldable foam insoles or liners?
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2017, 03:20:46 PM »
I already tried that type of thin heat-moldable insole, which warp to fit the bottom of the foot. I tried a couple of brands, including, I think, ones from Superfeet, specifically designed for skates.

BTW, they don't really need to be so terribly thin if you remove the old insoles, or replace them with something thinner, cut to shape. And it makes sense to me, if you are willing to do what it takes to make them fit to start with boots that are slightly too large, because it is easier to fill space then to stretch to fit. (I've tried stretch fits too - the boot eventually unstretches, so you have to keep redoing the stretch, especially with modern thick boots.)

Those thin heat-moldable insoles didn't work well for me. Specifically, one brand rocked around inside the skate. The other brand fit tight, but exerted sufficient pressure on the sides of the boots to not rock very much, but the boots eventually changed their shape from that pressure, expanding outwards, so the fit became very loose. It is better to have the insole mold volumetrically - i.e., compress where needed to fit the foot.

Some ski shops use cork insoles, which are heated before foot insertion. Some people on this forum have used cork too. But I assume cork isn't very durable, and that it takes a fair amount of expertise and equipment - especially since it molds at a fairly high temperature e.g., https://www.pelsupply.com/products/productline/3/83 gives 200 - 275 degrees F for "Birko-cork", which is one such product. That sounds too hot for skin contact - I'm not sure what they do to make it safe. (Maybe it helps that cork, has a low heat capacity - so it is a little like walking on hot bubble-filled volcanic rock?)

What I have been most happy with so far is cutting a piece of foam (I currently use a high quality closed cell foam carpet pad) to 3D shape. It doesn't just go under the foot - I wrap it around anywhere there is excess space or insufficient contact pressure. I start with boots that are a little large, which eliminates the It's very cheap, and I can experiment, and I have by now got it down to a few minutes.

I am fortunate not to have the type of problem, that some skaters have, in which the arches collapse asymmetrically - i.e., if I place my edge down on the ice at a given depth, it stays at that edge depth when I put my full weight on it, which works well for figure skating. So all I need to do is to make the feet feel the same pressure everywhere, and everything will be fine. (Except, of course, that for various health reasons one should avoid sideways and front pressure on the toes, which is why people making foot casts to use in making lasts for custom shoes often use toe caps while making the cast. Also, you need extra space ahead of and behind the area above the ankle, so you can flex and point the ankle.)

But I'm diabetic. My feet are still sensitive to places that have more or less pressure on them, but it is quite common to get a condition called "diabetic feet", or "insensitive feet", in which the feet are numb and insensitive to pressure. If I stop being able to feel pressure, I won't be able to use that sensation to create a good fit.

I am also considering this as an issue for other people, who, when I describe the idea of cutting foam to shape in a 3 dimensional way to fit, say it is much too difficult. I figured out how to do this over a period of years, starting with a more primitive method, adding tape and adhesive foam to thin insoles, cut to the same peripheral shape as the original insoles. Perhaps that which by now seems to me intuitive, really isn't.

And I still dream of making my own skates, partly for fun, and maybe for others too. A removable moldable and washable liner, made of skin-safe materials, such as certain medical grade materials, would be a perfect starting point. Some high end roller skates, speed skates, and ski boots are already made with such a liner, and some people claim that the results are wonderful.


Offline Leif

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Re: Anyone tried moldable foam insoles or liners?
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2017, 01:32:19 AM »
I had Superfeet, but claimed my money back as they did not work out. They lifted my heels up, which ruined the fit of the skate. It also felt as if the arch support was in the wrong place for my feet.  :( In the case of my skates, I do need thin insoles as they generally fit well. That is an interesting idea about using insoles as space fillers, perhaps like a sock. I assume your carpet pad is what we (UK) call underlay, which goes under the carpet. I have some pads that go in the toe of the skate, at the top, to fill the void. They do help. They are self adhesive, though the skate in that area is hard plastic, so receptive to glues. I can imagine a sock like pad would help. From what I have seen, figure skates are closer fitting in the toes, presumably because they are not designed to withstand impacts from pucks and other skates. Are some heat moldable?

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Re: Anyone tried moldable foam insoles or liners?
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2017, 06:03:22 PM »
I have seen, figure skates are closer fitting in the toes, presumably because they are not designed to withstand impacts from pucks and other skates. Are some heat moldable?

Some brands are thinner than others at the front. And many boots can be ordered with at least 4 size parameters - overall size, which has to do with length and the distance from the heel to the bend at the ball of the foot, width at the heel, width at midfoot, and width at the toes. And various other customizations are available from all the major brands. Of course, customization adds to cost. Results vary somewhat.

Most high level figure skates, whether or not they are custom, like most high level hockey skates, are heat moldable - to some extent, and in some places.

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Re: Anyone tried moldable foam insoles or liners?
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2017, 04:14:46 AM »
Some brands are thinner than others at the front. And many boots can be ordered with at least 4 size parameters - overall size, which has to do with length and the distance from the heel to the bend at the ball of the foot, width at the heel, width at midfoot, and width at the toes. And various other customizations are available from all the major brands. Of course, customization adds to cost. Results vary somewhat.

Most high level figure skates, whether or not they are custom, like most high level hockey skates, are heat moldable - to some extent, and in some places.

It sounds like these figure skates have a more sensible approach to sizing. Hockey skates come in widths and lengths. However, Bauer for example do three lines - Vapor, Supreme and Nexus - and these differ in the foot shape. Nexus is wide at the heel and deep. Vapor is narrow at the heel and shallow. Supreme is in between. I guess there must be a good reason why Bauer et al do not follow the figure skate approach, maybe cost, since a pro skater can go through a pair of skates in 6 months, whereas I suspect figure skates last years, not that I know. Of course it is possible that figure skaters are more choosey about fit, since I would guess that you need a good fit to do the incredible jumps and spins many do.

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Re: Anyone tried moldable foam insoles or liners?
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2017, 06:53:56 PM »
NHL players aren't typical hockey players, and they can be rough on their equipment partly because they mostly get it for free. At the highest end of the figure skating community, it is frequent for figure skates to last as little as 3 - 4 months, supposedly even if fit correctly. I'm not sure, but I think Hockey and figure boots are roughly comparable in terms of longevity.

Blades are complicated. At the high end, figure skating blades cost more, they are somewhat harder to interchange, and they don't receive as rough treatment, so good figure skate sharpeners try to make them last a little longer, I think. (E.g., to get rid of particularly deep nicks, it is not unusual for a good hockey sharpener to remove .1 inches of metal per sharpening, whereas a good figure sharpener might remove about .003", unless the blades have worn to the point of having little or no hollow.) OTOH, you can take more metal off of a hockey blade and still have it function well, because hockey skates have no toe pick.

If I understand correctly, "custom" hockey boots are available too. And different brands of hockey skate, like different brands of figure skate, tend towards somewhat different fits, in terms of things like stock boot toe width. I'm not sure whether they come with as many stock width options.

I can't explain why high end figure skating vs hockey (boots and blades) are dominated by different brands.

But I don't sell or make skates. Maybe someone who does could tell you more.

Offline Leif

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Re: Anyone tried moldable foam insoles or liners?
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2017, 04:00:55 AM »
I got my money back for the Superfeet (they have a money back guarantee) and went for some Bauer Speed Plates. I know you (Query) have said these do not work for you, but they might work for others with arch issues. As you know they are inserts which are heat moulded to the shape of the foot. Their intended purpose is to increase the contact area between the skate and the foot, thereby increasing power and control, or so the manufacturer claims. I have dicky knees and hoped these would provide arch support. Also they take up very little space in the skate, as they are made form thin plastic a few mm thick (an 1/8" in old money) which means they should not change the fit of the skate, except beneath the foot of course. They do indeed increase the foot skate contact area, providing better feedback and control. But from my point of view what impressed me was that after 5+ hours of skating over several sessions my knees have dramatically improved. The weakness and discomfort I normally have has gone, although I do have a few aches in other joints due to the exercise! I am still a bit sceptical and want to see how these perform over the next few months, just to make sure the improvement is not a coincidence, but thus far these are a win win. The improved control is a bonus, since it is not why I bought them.