Happy Feet, Happy Skiing: The Importance of Well Fit Ski Boots
If you were to ask any experienced skier if proper boot fit is important, the answer would be “The most important”.
Boots are the foundation for all skiing. A wise man once told me, “ You marry your boots, and date your skis.” Buying boots can be the hardest part of the sport. “Think about it, you are jamming 100 muscles, 26 bones, 33 joints, and a whole bunch of tendons, ligaments, and nerves into a rigid plastic shell with a liner that needs to be broken in or heated and fit to your foot to feel good” (Berne Broudy). These parts of the foot need to flex and move. A well-fitting boot will allow for your foot to move naturally and set you in its neutral position on the snow. This position will let you feel and respond to what is going on underneath your skis.
If you were to ask any experienced skier if proper boot fit is important, the answer would be “The most important”. It is the connection between you and a plank that is sliding on ice, it is important that when you re-act the ski reacts. Hence better fitting equals better skiing. I have been fitting boots for nearly two decades. I am here to help you understand just how important a better fitting ski boot is for your ski day.
“If your boots fit right, you gain two seconds.”“If your wax is right, you gain two tenths.”“If your uniform is right, you gain two one-hundreths.”
Using this ideology, even if time is not the most important you can see how important a well fit boot can help with your connection to the snow. This goes for all boots types. You might ask: How do I make sure that I get the right ski boot for what I do? First, find an experienced boot fitter. It is not hard to find the correct boot once the boot fitter has assessed your feet. A general process professional boot-fitters looks something like this:
1. Analyze each foot, check the overall length and arch length, instep height and width (this makes sure that the boot fitter gets you in the right size and shape boot)
2. Ask questions to help understand what kind of skiing you like doing and the type of skier you are (this helps with figuring out the type of flex pattern you should be skiing in)
3. A discussion of what you are currently skiing on or what you would be purchasing.
These are some basic questions that a boot fitter should be asking to make sure you are being taken care of and being put in the correct boot for whatever activity you are doing.
We start from the bottom one of the most important aspects of a well-fitted boot starts with a custom footbed, also known as an orthotic. After the initial sizing, a boot fitter should be looking at the biomechanics of your foot, asking if you’ve had issues with boots in the past or past injuries. Then he or she should offer you the finest ipa and or espresso in sight. After so, we will look at your feet in their subtalar neutral position. Assessing your pronation or supination, along with forefoot and rear-foot varus. Identifying the needs for each of your feet, a boot fitter can build a custom footbed for each foot's needs.
What does a footbed do?
Essentially a footbed or orthotic is attempting to stabilize your rear foot and help keep your bones in what we call subtalar neutral. In the neutral position, the foot is neither pronating nor supinating. If the foot is pronating or supinating during the stance phase of gate cycle when it ought to be in a neutral position, a biomechanical problem may exist. This is where a footbed or orthotic comes into play. Stabilizing your feet inside a boot is of the utmost importance. It can make a world of difference for most feet when fitting a boot. It can help shorten the foot and put it in its strongest anatomical position for fitting along with providing better power transference from foot to boot to ski. Footbeds should be put in any boot for an optimum fit. There are mainly two types of footbeds out there: Drop-ins and customs. Drop-ins are designed for the average feet from low to high arches and you can expect to spend $40-$70. Custom (suggested) gets specific from one foot to the other, since we have two different feet this would be the best option for the best fit, you can expect to spend $150- $200.
Finding the correct boot shell size
Have a boot fitter evaluate your shell, not a patio furniture reseller. If you are not in the correct size or shape for your foot, there is not much that would help. One of the quickest ways to check if the size is correct is quite easy, and many shops will do this free of charge. They will remove the liner and put your foot in the shell itself with your toes lightly touching the front of the boot and see how much room you have behind your heel. We look roughly for a finger to a finger in and a half behind the heel about ¾ to an inch. Anymore more than this or less can cause many issues. All boot fitters will agree that getting properly fit by a trained fitter in a boot that mimics your foot shape with an orthotic will result in better days of skiing without foot, knee or back pain. Here at Boone when buying your ski boots you are buying the service that goes with it, this service can be the difference between a great day, week or season instead of skiing in pain.
“Companies have created heat-moldable plastics. If you have issues with ankle pain, navicular pain, forefoot pain. This technology is for you. ”
Ski boot plastics today have changed in so many ways, for the better. Companies have created heat-moldable plastics. If you have issues with ankle pain, navicular pain, forefoot pain. This technology is for you. You can actually put the shell into a special oven, heat it and put it on and the shell will mold around your foot. This can give you the optimum space needed for troubled areas and allow your foot to move and flex the way it needs to, giving you better balance and power. This process should not be done at home, the ovens used are dialed in so you don't damage the boot itself. It is easy to melt a perfect pair of boots if you don't know what you are doing. Boot modifications can be done to any boot but heat-moldable shells are specific to certain companies. The cost of this sort of modification can vary from $25-$40 per boot.
What Does Heat Molding Your Liners Do?
Most boots today come with what we call a heat-moldable liner. This is a different process than molding the shell. Essentially, what this does is helps with the break-in process and quickens the process. It softens the foam and allows for it to pack out around areas that would get packed out with a few more days of skiing. It makes the boot more comfortable quicker. This process takes about 20 minutes and costs about $25. Again do not do this at home it is easy to ruin your liners if you don't have the right equipment. Here at Boone, we have used popular models of liners such as zip fit and intuition. However, the latest and greatest in liner technology was just developed by Atomic. It's called the Mimic liner, we are so excited about this! Unlike the other options out there Atomic has taken an anatomically pre-molded liner and added moldable plastics inside the liner allowing for custom mold-ability and rigidity. This is the first truly customizable liner, it doesn't just pack out around your foot it will mold around your foot. This is a great way to extend your boot's life if your shell is still in good condition.
When Should I Get New Boots?
If you own your boots and are having issues with them there are many things that a boot fitter can do to help alleviate those problems. If you are having trouble with your existing boot there are many ways we can help. Remember the more information you can give us the better we can help. DO NOT SKI IN PAIN, “ Happy feet, is happy skiing period!” The smallest of changes can make an enormous difference inside a boot and help with your skiing ability and overall ski day. Most boot alterations cost $25 per boot at an hourly rate of $60-$75.