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Author Topic: Changing feet = changing skates?  (Read 2893 times)

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Offline SkatEn

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Changing feet = changing skates?
« on: August 19, 2015, 06:11:41 AM »
I've been missing from here and the ice for a while. Glad to see that the board is still cozy  :love:

I'm 24 and skated about 5 times this year. I started at 16 and was last active at 21 (learning axels and doubles). A bunion is forming on my right foot and I've been getting blisters on my right arch when skating too. No pain whatsoever in my hockey skates tho.

Feet profile:
16-21: 233mm, (IIRC L 7 3/4" R 8" around) 235 Risports. I went from Eur36 to 36.5/37. 235 narrow in birks. Plantar fasciitis. High arches
Now: 235+mm, (L 8" R 8 1/4" around) 235 Risports too narrow and changed to 4.5M Graf last year. Currently Eur37.5 in asics, US6.5 in keds, 240 in birks. Less PF, but my arches became low. I have been using OTC orthotics and birks religiously.

There is still plenty of life in my Graf Edmonton (cheap and used from eBay - a girl used it for triples for a few months so it's broken in) and my only grouses are its melting rubber foam that stick to my socks and that my big toe is getting a bunion. Seems to be caused by my big toe shoved inwards in the boot. But... no boot will be straight, I think?

The last I asked, there is no punching out service.

Did your feet change with age and did you get new boots because of that? How should I deal with my skate problem? I intend to skate more often but the pain is not appealing. :-\

Offline saje

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Re: Changing feet = changing skates?
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2015, 07:27:21 AM »
I encountered a situation similar to yours about two years ago.  I, too, skated from the ages of 16-21 - also working on axel and doubles.  Then I quit skating and did not return until the age of 26.  When I returned, I skated in my old pair of broken-in SP-Teri's, which fit me perfectly before I quit.  However, upon return, the SP-Teri's were tight and painful.  I could not afford new skates at the time, so I went to a pro shop to see what they could do.  They measured my feet and told me that the SP-Teri's were now too small and too narrow for my feet.  They had some type of last or machine that they used and were able to stretch the skates to 1/2 a size larger, which helped with some of the pain.  Sorry to say it, but what helped me the most was when I saved up $$$ and was able to finally purchase a pair of new skates.  It was a night and day difference!!  My feet are so much more comfortable in the new skates because they are the correct size for my feet.
Current Skating Projects:
-Intermediate MITF (still...)
-Double toes + double loops
-Getting my camel back

Offline Query

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Re: Changing feet = changing skates?
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2015, 10:00:24 PM »
I heat-molded Graf Edmonton Specials to fit my feet using a hair drier. That will help a lot.

You may also need to check fit, and play with or replace your insole.

You can punch boots yourself using a ball and ring pliers, though the heat mold will do more. You can also add band-aids or other things to where you are developing blisters. But bunions can be serious business - if heat mold and punches aren't enough, things may not be ideal.

I'll send you a link to my page, where I discuss some of these things.

Offline SkatEn

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Re: Changing feet = changing skates?
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2015, 06:54:21 AM »
I encountered a situation similar to yours about two years ago.  I, too, skated from the ages of 16-21 - also working on axel and doubles.  Then I quit skating and did not return until the age of 26.  When I returned, I skated in my old pair of broken-in SP-Teri's, which fit me perfectly before I quit.  However, upon return, the SP-Teri's were tight and painful.  I could not afford new skates at the time, so I went to a pro shop to see what they could do.  They measured my feet and told me that the SP-Teri's were now too small and too narrow for my feet.  They had some type of last or machine that they used and were able to stretch the skates to 1/2 a size larger, which helped with some of the pain.  Sorry to say it, but what helped me the most was when I saved up $$$ and was able to finally purchase a pair of new skates.  It was a night and day difference!!  My feet are so much more comfortable in the new skates because they are the correct size for my feet.

Thanks Saje. Interesting how our feet changes similarly. My feet evidently grew a little and f[l]attened out a lot. Still, I'm trying to avoid splashing money :-[. Breaking in skates might be more pain than it's worth. By the way, did you go up but one size and width? Did the brand still work for you, just different size? The shape of my toes didn't change but I don't know if my past experience with different skates would still remain relevant. Going to wait before throwing my money away though.

I heat-molded Graf Edmonton Specials to fit my feet using a hair drier. That will help a lot.

You may also need to check fit, and play with or replace your insole.

You can punch boots yourself using a ball and ring pliers, though the heat mold will do more. You can also add band-aids or other things to where you are developing blisters. But bunions can be serious business - if heat mold and punches aren't enough, things may not be ideal.

I'll send you a link to my page, where I discuss some of these things.

Query, could I ask how you heat molded? The boots are so hard that I don't know how to press them out, esp at the bunion area.  Thanks for the link!

I haven't been skating enough to justify buying a new pair, but my feet all along looked like those in the doctors office: standard and issue-free (on the surface). I don't want to destroy my feet, and I don't want to destroy the bank account either. 88)

[I note the stark comparison between me scrimping and the other recent post on Ice Fly :psychic Just sayin'!]

Offline FigureSpins

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Re: Changing feet = changing skates?
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2015, 08:25:40 AM »
Try a shoemaker - they might be able to punch out the tight spot.  Alternately, you can heat the spot/skate with a hairdryer as you press a thick broom handle against the tight spot to press it out.

Feet do change over time, especially with weight gain/loss.  Women often find that their skates don't fit properly after pregnancy, even if they lost all the baby weight.  I remember my mom always said that the reason people have wide feet is because they wear sneakers all the time, not lace-up shoes. 

In your case, you bought a pair of second-hand skates that were molded to someone else's foot.  That might not have been the right brand of skate for you in the first place, but you made it work.  Each manufacturer has their own "last" or foot model; some boots have a rounded toe box, others are more pointed; heel cups inside some skates are deeper than others. 

That's why fitting figure skates is such a specialty.  Fitters have a lot of knowledge and experience to suggest the right skate for the foot.
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Offline Loops

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Re: Changing feet = changing skates?
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2015, 11:26:24 AM »

I haven't been skating enough to justify buying a new pair, but my feet all along looked like those in the doctors office: standard and issue-free (on the surface). I don't want to destroy my feet, and I don't want to destroy the bank account either. 88)


My situation is a little different from yours because I went back to skating after ~25 years off.  My old skates still "fit" but I'd worn them at 15 when I was working on doubles.  I had intended to use them through the first season then get new ones.  But like yours, my feet had changed subtly and quickly the pain (and blood) became impossible.  Based on my experience, and guessing that you're going to continue skating in some capacity, I'd say get thee to a fitter sooner rather than later.  You may not want something as stiff as you had before, which could save you some $$, but you're young and may get your jumps back quickly. I dunno.

I'm also leery of second hand skates, for exactly the reasons FigureSpins mentions- being molded to someone else's foot.  It maybe that Risports are no longer the skate for you.  Or you just need a wider boot.  The fitter will be better able to tell you. 

Your feet are worth the $$.  Bunions and other foot problems are not your friends, and Dr bills are going to be more than a pair of skates. 

Offline saje

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Re: Changing feet = changing skates?
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2015, 11:43:30 AM »
Thanks Saje. Interesting how our feet changes similarly. My feet evidently grew a little and f[l]attened out a lot. Still, I'm trying to avoid splashing money :-[. Breaking in skates might be more pain than it's worth. By the way, did you go up but one size and width? Did the brand still work for you, just different size? The shape of my toes didn't change but I don't know if my past experience with different skates would still remain relevant. Going to wait before throwing my money away though.

That is exactly what happened to my feet too!  They grew and flattened.  The fitter I went to said that these types of changes actually aren't all that unusual as you age.  I believe I went up only 1/2 a size; however, the width of my feet changed a lot.  I was wearing a AAA/AAAA combo in SP Teri previously, but ended up getting a AA in Jackson.  So, yes, I did change brands.  This was mostly due to monetary reasons.  The Jacksons were over $100 less than the SP Teris.  I had worn Jacksons in the past, so I knew that they worked for my feet.  Also, I thought that the Jackson toe box felt roomier and more comfortable when comparing to SP-Teris. 

Just want to add that I feel your pain about having to purchase new skates.  It took me 10 long, painful months before I was able to save up enough money to purchase new boots.  Hopefully you'll be able to find some comfort for your feet much sooner than that!
Current Skating Projects:
-Intermediate MITF (still...)
-Double toes + double loops
-Getting my camel back

Offline Query

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Re: Changing feet = changing skates?
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2015, 09:27:02 PM »
Blisters form where boots are loose, bunions sometimes form where they are tight.

Heat molding is pretty easy. You blow a hot air drier (the hand-held type of hair drier people use to style their hair in bathrooms) on the boot, inside and outside the boot, near where you want to change the shape (maybe the whole boot), until it becomes soft enough to mold with your hands. Then you put the boot on, and lace it super tight, and give it 5 or 10 minutes to mold. Repeat until fit is good - i.e., snugly comfortable everywhere.

If that isn't enough, a ball and ring pliers to stretch out the worst parts is easy to use too - see the link I sent you. Once again, you use the hair drier, but you put the ball inside the boot where it needs to stretch, and the ring outside the boot there (with a cloth underneath, so you don't tear the leather), squeeze the pliers, and adjust the set screw to hold it tight. Give it 5 or 10 minutes. Repeat heating and re-squeezing and adjusting to push the leather out a little more, multiple times. If you have weak hands, get help to squeeze super-tight. (Like I said in the link, most ball and ring pliers don't have a strong enough set screw to use it to tighten - that's why squeezing with strong hands helps. And yes, the "boot press" some pro shops have develops more pressure and works a little better - but if you are patient, you can make do with a ball and ring pliers.)

Before you go too far with those, play with your insoles, as explained in that link. You can make yourself a fair bit of extra space by replacing the insole with something thin, then adding adhesive tape or foam to equalize the pressure on the bottom of your feet, and/or take up space where your foot is loose (if heat molding doesn't eliminate that).

BTW, if you leave your boots in a hot car, the boots will un-heat-mold themselves, so don't.


Offline SkatEn

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Re: Changing feet = changing skates?
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2015, 07:40:40 AM »
Thought I should give an update:

I have skated a few times since the bunion pain. For one, at home, I did heat molding (with a hair dryer) with a screw driver and lacing up tight while wearing the gel toe separator.


Two, before skating, I pried the forefoot part of the boot open to avoid squishing my foot while wearing, laced the part over the ball of my right foot looser than leftand wore the separator while skating.

The foot position took a while to get used to - little toe was little squished, and the tuberosity of the fifth metatarsal hurt. I had to experiment with lacing and my ankle gel sleeve positioning.

Good news is that after all these inconveniences, there is less pain. While not no pain, but less pain is acceptable for now.

That is exactly what happened to my feet too!  They grew and flattened.  The fitter I went to said that these types of changes actually aren't all that unusual as you age.  I believe I went up only 1/2 a size; however, the width of my feet changed a lot.  I was wearing a AAA/AAAA combo in SP Teri previously, but ended up getting a AA in Jackson.  So, yes, I did change brands.  This was mostly due to monetary reasons.  The Jacksons were over $100 less than the SP Teris.  I had worn Jacksons in the past, so I knew that they worked for my feet.  Also, I thought that the Jackson toe box felt roomier and more comfortable when comparing to SP-Teris. 

Just want to add that I feel your pain about having to purchase new skates.  It took me 10 long, painful months before I was able to save up enough money to purchase new boots.  Hopefully you'll be able to find some comfort for your feet much sooner than that!
I'm scared that once I commit to a new pair of skates, my feet would change again  88). These feet doesn't know money, I tell you. I'm looking at Edea Chorus and Risport RF3 on the European webs (-VAT, Edea would be about 100 to 200 bucks cheaper than buying here [which I cannot try unless I commit to buy :-X]). I have tried Jackson Premiere at another shop (that closed), but the ankle padding squishes my ankle bone and it feels too... foamy, as if I could move! Have your feet changed since buying new skates?

Blisters form where boots are loose, bunions sometimes form where they are tight.

Heat molding is pretty easy. You blow a hot air drier (the hand-held type of hair drier people use to style their hair in bathrooms) on the boot, inside and outside the boot, near where you want to change the shape (maybe the whole boot), until it becomes soft enough to mold with your hands. Then you put the boot on, and lace it super tight, and give it 5 or 10 minutes to mold. Repeat until fit is good - i.e., snugly comfortable everywhere.
Thanks Query! My boots didn't become soft enough for me to mold with my hands (I started smelling something and stopped heating!) but I used the head of the screwdriver to help push the bunion area out! It must have worked a little. I've never seen a ball-and-ring plier here. So far, so good tho!

@Loops and @figurespins: Yeah, it felt like someone else's boots but felt better after I mounted my blades. It worked out eventually and didn't take much to get used to. Felt much better than my Risport for a while until my foot decided to grow fat! While I gained 5kg from working and all the fat went to my tummy, butt and right foot. I agree that my feet is worth the money - but throwing money at skates that I may not fit? Not so sure. Tried my friend's normal width (B?) Edea Chorus, Concerto and Ice Fly, and it was heavenly on the left foot. Heavenly! Right foot needed much coaxing and yanking to shove into the boot, especially Chorus and Concerto. I don't have good fitters here - a couple of skaters got the wrong sizes :(

Thanks all for helping!

Offline Loops

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Re: Changing feet = changing skates?
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2015, 08:17:08 AM »
Glad you got it working out!  With my alternative lacing (which my coaches have each noticed and questioned) things are better.  I'm curious about the brace you show pictured.  I wear the I-shaped gel between my first two toes, and have an over the counter cloth brace that doesn't work too well.  Please tell me about that brace and how well it works.  Is it all gel?  Does it really work to pull the great toe into better alignment, and ease pain on the bunion?  How physically large is it- could it fit inside skates, or is it just for street-shoe wear?

Offline Doubletoe

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Re: Changing feet = changing skates?
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2015, 01:55:52 PM »
If the only discomfort you felt when you tried on the Jacksons was the foam/cushioning material, you might consider buying them and just having that material flattened out, punched out (or, if foam, carved out), where it feels too thick.  The padding always flattens out with use over time, but you can help accelerate that process.

Offline Query

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Re: Changing feet = changing skates?
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2015, 02:12:01 PM »
Ball and ring pliers are available on eBay, though they may call them "Bunion stretchers". You want one sturdy enough to stretch skates. Mine look like

  http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-LIGHTNING-FULTON-ILL-BUNION-SHOE-STRETCHER-/221865131307?hash=item33a8313d2b

(some are available at auction at eBay for less.

Something similar that looks heavier duty is at

http://iceskateology.com/Skateology/tender_Spot_Eradicator.html

But no price is listed..

Many fancy shoe and ski stores have a professional version (which is better): a "boot punch." Do you have ski stores?

If I smelled something burning, I would get worried too! What I adjusted on Grafs was on top, not in the toes. I might also be less sensitive to smell than you.

I guess the screw driver is pretty similar in idea, though I would cover it with cloth to avoid ripping the boot. But if it isn't warm enough, I don't see how you could succeed very well. It is a very stiff boot.

Honestly, Graf boots tend to have somewhat narrow toes. I don't think I could make them work, if mine weren't oversized. Getting an oversized boot, using thick socks, and cutting a foam insole to exactly the shape you need is another solution - but there is a learning curve. It sounds like you aren't afraid of working with your hands, so you might consider it.

BTW A lot of people with wide toes are told to use Jackson boots, or especially if they can afford custom boots, Harlick.

This is a very expensive possible solution: go see a podiatrist who specializes in sports medicine. They might be able to help. They might even work to create a foot cast for Avanta custom boots - not cheap, but some people seem to like them.

Good luck, and take care of your feet.

BTW - did you try removing your insoles, and using very thin socks or going barefoot inside the boot? Just to make space. It might solve your whole problem.

Offline beginner skater

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Re: Changing feet = changing skates?
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2015, 02:27:57 PM »
Not sure where you are skatEn, but ring and ball pliers are on amazon uk for £50, I searched to  see what they are!

Loops, I got a couple of those bunion things from amazon for my very mild bunion. I sometimes wear it of an evening when my buniony joint aches a bit. Mine is quite large, and might not fit even into my trainers, but I dont feel the need to wear it when I am shod. The whole thing is very squidgy, the side bit is also (very thin) gel, and in my opinion would not act as a brace, might stop the side of a shoe feeling too hard on the joint. The amount of space is pretty much how it seems in skatEn's picture, so it depends if your skate has room for your toes to do that. One seller on Amazon did do small, med & large ones, but with no indication of actual size.
A podiatrist told me there is no scientific evidence they are beneficial, but some people find it improves pain. Which it does for me, although for my purposes, a bit of cotton wool, or a rolled up sock in the summer, would be just as good

Offline Query

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Re: Changing feet = changing skates?
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2015, 03:28:48 AM »
The eBay example I gave was only $25 - less than £50. And there are used ones available for auction at less.

I admit that seems like a lot for something you may only use once - but if it is a very poor fit, you may need to do it multiple times, because the boot will keep returning to a less stretched version. Be sure not to leave the boots in a hot car, or anywhere else hot - that will undo any stretching you do.

It is possible you might have a slight smell when baking the boot. Here is what Graf sent me on 4/8/2015:

Quote
We do not suggest baking your skates at home, since all ovens are different and we cannot predict how each one will work.

That being said, retailer heating instructions are as follows:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees

-Place boots in oven, allow boots to be heated for 3 minutes (less if they are JR 9035's) -Remove boots from oven and check that the boots have reached proper molding temperature -To ensure proper molding temperature, check the heel counter pliability. This is done by squeezing the outside of the heel counter. It should be soft and flexible, not stiff.

-Once the boot is hot enough to mold, place on the athlete's foot. Make sure the athlete kicks the heel back hard into the heel counter.

-Tie the skate snug, but do not over tighten.

-Keep skates on for approximately 15 minutes, or until they no longer feel warm.

-Untie the skates. The skates are now game ready once they have been cooled off to room temperature.

-It is very important that at no time the athlete stands or applies any pressure to the heated boot so that the skate can take shape to the foot in lock position.

-Any pressure points that remain after heat fitting can be pressed out using a ball and ring press.

-You can bake your skates more than once if need be.

1. 180 degrees is in Fahrenheit - about 82 degrees Centigrade.

2. Cooking ovens vary a lot - they may cycle up and down about 25 degrees Fahrenheit (about 14 degrees centigrade) from the set temperature, and are often set incorrectly by an additional 25 - 50 degrees Fahrenheit. So cooking ovens aren't a good idea.

3. The temperatures and times indicated may only be for one brand and type of boot. Other boots have other temperatures and times.

4. As a compromise, aim your hair drier at high setting at an oven thermometer, fairly close, long enough for it to come to a definite temperature. You will probably get a temperature somewhat less than 180; if you though get over 180, increase the distance from the drier. Once you get 180 or below, you can safely aim the drier, at the same distance, at the boot, for about the 3 minutes indicated. The inside of the boot is most important. If you want to take some risk, start by warming the outside for 30-45 seconds, then warm the outside for about 3 minutes, to make up for the fact that the hair drier can't warm up both at once.

5. Remember to put something next to your toes, so that the boot pushes out a little more than you need there.

6. I just re-heat-molded one of mine, because I accidentally left them in a hot car. They molded fairly well at about 165 degrees. (The hottest of 3 hand-held hair driers I tried.) It wasn't quite as pliable as I wanted, but I tied the boot very tight, as fast as I could, before it could any cooler.

7. If your hair drier gets significantly less hot, you may not get anywhere. Borrow someone else's, or try a bathroom hand drier.

8. I suggested in a prior post that you remove the insoles to make space. But I notice that the construction nails poke through on the bottom of my boots - you may need to have some insole, perhaps one a little thinner, so the nails don't press against your skin!

9. The comment:

Quote
-It is very important that at no time the athlete stands or applies any pressure to the heated boot so that the skate can take shape to the foot in lock position.

I'm not sure that applies in your case. Putting weight on the foot flattens it, and widens it - which may be exactly what you want.

9. As always, there are no guarantees. It is of course possible to damage your boot if you do something wrong.

Offline Loops

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Re: Changing feet = changing skates?
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2015, 04:21:56 AM »
The eBay example I gave was only $25 - less than £50. And there are used ones available for auction at less.


This is one of the great frustrations of living in Europe.  Things on this side of the pond are frequently 2x+ the price of products available stateside...

Offline SkatEn

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Re: Changing feet = changing skates?
« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2015, 09:43:22 AM »
Glad you got it working out!  With my alternative lacing (which my coaches have each noticed and questioned) things are better.  I'm curious about the brace you show pictured.  I wear the I-shaped gel between my first two toes, and have an over the counter cloth brace that doesn't work too well.  Please tell me about that brace and how well it works.  Is it all gel?  Does it really work to pull the great toe into better alignment, and ease pain on the bunion?  How physically large is it- could it fit inside skates, or is it just for street-shoe wear?

I've busted the ends of the laces so I cannot re-lace - ooops.
The separator (http://www.ebay.com.sg/itm/Silicone-Gel-Toe-Straighteners-Separator-Bunion-Corrector-Protector-Pain-Relief-/261867667720?var=&hash=item3cf8878108) prevents the big toe from going towards my second toe too much, and thus alleviates a bit of the pain. Usually the pain gets worst with the big toe deviating to second toe together with more pressure ie, toe jumps. Also, the gel area across the bunion area diffuses pressure. Yes, it takes up space in the toe area, thus I needed to be careful about toe placement. Might be why the little toe was squished, but that could be fixed too.

Query, I don't think i'll do the ring and ball method. It doesn't show up on eBay in Singapore, where I live. Also, I'm not allowed to use the oven for non-food items  :-X I did the heat molding pretty much as you described, heating outside and inside and wearing thicker material than usual to exert more pressure. I doubt low temperature was a factor - as I said, it started smelling off. Also, there are arch cushions in my skates so I must have insoles. Besides, it looks a little gross without the insoles - rust spots, black and brown things... ... Graf seemed to be very kind to my toe shape - I find the toes wide enough for me (first 3 are about the same height, and the last toe is the height of the midle toe) unlike Riedell. It's just the bunion bothering me, really.

Loops, I got a couple of those bunion things from amazon for my very mild bunion. I sometimes wear it of an evening when my buniony joint aches a bit. Mine is quite large, and might not fit even into my trainers, but I dont feel the need to wear it when I am shod. The whole thing is very squidgy, the side bit is also (very thin) gel, and in my opinion would not act as a brace, might stop the side of a shoe feeling too hard on the joint.
It is as you described! BTW, my bunion is really mild too and doesn't match the pain it gives. Does your bunion affect your skating?

If the only discomfort you felt when you tried on the Jacksons was the foam/cushioning material, you might consider buying them and just having that material flattened out, punched out (or, if foam, carved out), where it feels too thick.  The padding always flattens out with use over time, but you can help accelerate that process.

Jackson felt different on my feet. Not a bad different, but not a WOW different either. Just feels... different. It didn't impress me on the comfort level! You had a good experience with Jackson?

Actually, I wonder why figure skating manufacturers can't take heed from the comfort of hockey or the technology from speed. I skated them both and each has its own merits!

Offline sarahspins

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Re: Changing feet = changing skates?
« Reply #16 on: September 13, 2015, 01:52:03 PM »
I've busted the ends of the laces so I cannot re-lace - ooops.

Get the things designed for flossing when you have braces (they are usually easy to find at any pharmacy, you can probably find them at most grocery stores too) - you can re-lace fairly easily using those if you no longer have aglets on your laces for whatever reason :)

Offline beginner skater

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Re: Changing feet = changing skates?
« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2015, 02:06:36 PM »
SkatEn, my bunion only aches a bit when I kick off my shoes in the evening. I started noticing it a few months before I took up skating (I started skating a year ago), otherwise \I might have blamed the skating or the skates. It made my right skate very painful to break in off-ice, I wore wet socks and wore them in the house for 6 hours, and they did give, but for a while I thought I had made a mistake buying them. They're only Jackson Artistes (stiffness 25); I don't know if they should have taken that long. It was my right skate that was the main problem, and my right foot has always been slightly bigger, and of course that is the one with the bunion. I am nowhere near doing jumps, toe or otherwise, but it doesn't hurt when I skate, or more in the evening after skating.
I showed it to a physiotherapist, and she suggested regularly stretching it by flexing the toe and putting my bodyweight on it. That did help, but I didn't keep it up. Then I started doing interval training using sprinting, and that completely stopped the aching, but it started again a few weeks after I stopped sprinting 3 times a week. So I know what I should be doing  :D Stretching and maintaining mobility in all joints is the big thing in preventing physical deterioration with age, there are whole books on that

But look what I found on eBay, and they're in Hong Kong, too

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2x-Mini-Shoe-Boots-Stretchers-Shaper-Width-Extenders-Adjustable-Mens-Womens-/371250856480?hash=item5670468220


And while they're not as heavy duty as ring and ball pliers, leaving them in your skates at the right amount of tension will probably help ease skates width wise. And a cheap experiment!