Skate Customization

24 01 2012

I’ll be honest with you, skates don’t always come perfect for your foot. I remember skating as a kid, and boy did my feet hurt! Everyone just said to suck it up and it would get better. No one said, “go to your local pro shop and get them worked on”.

And that’s exactly where I am now: sitting in the Pro Shop looking all the skates being worked on. The Shop is a full service shop, not only selling equipment, but taking care of any skate, boot, blade needs you have. So let’s touch on some common issues that people have with their skates, brand new or 10 years old.

“Mommy, it feels tight on my toes” or “My skates feel too narrow”

I’m sure we’ve all heard this one before. Don’t get me wrong, some times the issue is the skates are getting too small. But before you run out and get new boots, pull the insole out. In a fairly broken in skate, you can see the imprint of where your skater’s foot sits. This gives you a good idea of if the skates are really too small, or if there is still room. If there is still room in the skates, it just means your skater’s toes are hitting the sides of the skate.

There are two ways to fix this. Option #1 We can punch out the skates, which simply puts a small bump on the outside of the boot, giving a little more room for the toes. Option #2 is to do a full stretch.  We simply put the skates on our strecher overnight and this can expand the toes from a D to almost a EEE.

“My foot is slipping in the skate”

This is more or less a sign that it is time to make a visit to the shop to get your skates looked at. Sometimes, the issue is that the heel pocket is wider than the heel itself. What we do in these situations is called a heel pinch. The boot gets heated up in the skate oven, wrapped with a towel and pinched by a wood clamp. This makes the heel pocket narrow and will hold the foot better. In drastic situations, while the skate is still hot, we will stick the skates in a fridge to super-cool all the layers of the skate.

“My new skate hurts”

Majority of new skates have ankle padding that has yet to be broken in. The padding is normally flat and your ankle bones are round so there is a lot of rubbing and a lot of pain. This is also common in other parts of your foot, most commonly your “navicular bone”(inside of your foot, slightly down diagonaly from your ankle bone) and “fifth metatarsal” (outside of your mid-foot). These all vary skater to skater, but a simple boot punch takes care of it all. Boot punches only take a couple minutes and saves you from a lot of pain and discomfort.

Well, there you have it. Some insight on your skates. I’ll touch on blades and sharpenings next time. But for now, if you have any questions come in and see our shop staff who are all professionally trained and can answer any of your questions!

Ice Skate Fitting Tips

12 12 2011

With the big holiday only 13 days away, we know there are a lot of wish lists for new skates so I thought I’d give you some insight on purchasing new skates. This article was written by Scott Noble, with some edits:

Unlike shoes, skates should be a snug fit, tight but not painfully so. The worst thing that a skater can do is purchase skates that are too big. Skates that are a little small can be fixed. Our Pro Shop uses couple of fitting techniques to enlarge skates. These include: punching – a quick process in which a small and very specific portion of the boot is stretched out; and power-stretching – an overnight process where the boots can be widened by at least a full width.

Skates that are too big are almost impossible to fix. Most people think a second pair of socks will help here. On the contrary, wearing an extra pair of socks is one of the worst things you can do in a pair of skates. The extra layers create room between your boot and yout foot, thus allowing your foot to move around, which makes it more likely you are to develop blisters and even spurs on your feet. Most serious skaters never wear socks and even when they do, they wear thin tights no thicker than heavy panty hose would be. Many hockey players and figure skaters forego socks altogether in favor of bare feet. While this ensures a better feel for the ice, it is very hard on your skates. They will stink and actually wear out faster as they soak up all the perspiration from your feet. I prefer a very thin, liner style sock, the Pro Shop sells Swiftwick socks as well as Mondor Knee Highs which work perfectly.

The first and most important rule in buying skates is to never buy a pair that you cannot try on first. As internet shoppers this probably isn’t what you hoped to hear.

Having worked in ice skate retail for over 7 years, I can tell you that it is annoying to have people come in and take up a long period of your time only to tell you they are going to buy the skates on the internet. If you do try skates on at a local shop, you might ask what services they include in the price. Here we provide the 1st initial sharpening and rocker as well as the heat mold and any boot punches for the life time of the skate. This can add up to be an $80 value. Now the price with shipping on the internet isn’t very different. So take the time to come in and try a pair of skates on, see how they feel and see what the shop offers.

When sitting with the boots first on and not laced, they might feel uncomfortably short. Don’t panic. First you should kick back into the boot. Kick the heel of the skate on the floor a couple of times to make sure your heel is settled back. Next lace the skates up and make sure they are tight. The forefoot area should be snug, but not crushing. As you get to where the eyelets start to turn towards the vertical portion of the boot, tighten these up a little tighter. This will pull your heel back into the proper position. When laced and still sitting, you might still feel like the skates are too short. Don’t make your judgment yet. Most boots these days are heat moldable – this is where we put the boot in an oven, as it heats up, the boot softens and molds to your foot when we lace it back up – and yout foot will sit back in the heel pocket even more. Once in a proper skating stride, your toes will curl back as well, giving you added room in the skate.

If you are unsure of the length a good way to check is by simply taking out the insoles of the skate and standing on them. An adult’s toes should come right to the end of the insole. A child who needs room for growth should never have more than about a finger’s width of toe space. This will get them through about a year without having skates so loose that they cannot skate without their ankles bent.

Now the other factors of width and foot shape are a little more abstract. If you have a full service shop like SDIA, (not some online retailer) sales people will be able to recommend skates based on the width of your foot and height of your instep.

Again, make sure that your skates are snug, but not uncomfortable. Pay attention to the fit of your heel, does it move? If it does, try on another pair. Do the laces feel like they are digging in to the top of your feet? Try another pair. Does the forefoot feel loose? Try another pair. Eventually one will likely feel significantly better than the others did. There are a lot of different models of skates, each one uniquely different. Like I said above, come in and try on different skates, it’s the only way you can tell which pair are the ones for you!


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