Friday, March 2, 2012

Pronation Nation--Inside the Boot

So the first day of this series I wrote about the why of pronation. Yesterday I wrote about how strengthening the feet can help with your pronation. Today, I'm going to cover the wedging inside the boot.

In summary, what I'm aiming for is to gently rotate my feet to their outside edge, so that gravity pulls directly through the blade into the center of the foot, When I'm skating on one leg, I want to get a straight line from my hip to my knee, to my ankle, to my foot, to the blade, to the ice. If there are any angles in there, say at the ankle, I can to use my toes to rotate my foot to the outside. To prevent foot fatigue and pain I use a wedge in the boot to do most of the work.

 I started out with custom walking orthotics prescribed for me by an elderly orthopedic surgeon specializing in feet. (He was a consultant to the LA Rams, so yes, this was a loooong time ago.) These orthotics had to be in flat shoes so they wouldn't work in skates. My experience with the custom orthotics built for my skates last year, was that all the measurements etc. were taken as if they were for flat shoes. These expensive skating custom orthotics were a total waste of money. I tore them apart and used the sturdy plastic insole to support my own adjustments. That worked great. Then one of the orthotics disappeared when it fell out of my boot someplace. I then ended with the solution I'm about to describe.

 
Hey, it made me laugh


So, here's all the stuff I use.
1. Superfeet Skating insoles--I didn't think they'd be sturdy enough, but they are

2. A collection of neoprene and gel pads from the feet section of the drug store. I cut these up for padding and stuffing under the Superfeet insoles. I like the gel pads, but some places they're too thick so I use the neoprene instead. 

3. Thick felt chair tips from the hardware store (don't get the thin green ones used for lamps). These are put on the legs of tables and chairs to keep them from scratching wood floors. The best ones are the ones with a sticky back so you don't have to use glue.


4. An admonition--feet are different. What works in one boot, may not work in the other. Fit your boots separately.

Start with boots that fit you for length and width. This isn't a substitute for a good fit.

Step 1: I fit the forefoot of my boot so that my toes are comfortable, but so  they don't  have so much room they can flop around in the toe of the boot.This will mean I may need to put a pieces of a flat neoprene insole (and/or gel pads) under the Superfeet Skating insole. I  get the forefoot in the boot to fit so that when I curl my toes a just little, the top of the boot restrains them. I don't want to be able to curl them so much that they don't bump into the leather of the boot. And yes, I've had a boot fit that way.  Anyway, use the gel pads if you need a big change, and the neoprense pads if you need to make a small change. You can also use heel pads too, and just cut them to fit.

My experience has been I can't put a wedge in the forefoot that will do any good. I do all my wedging in the heel and it works well for me. I call it 'wedging' but you're not putting in a wedge. You're making the insole angle as if there is a wedge underneath it. This is why you need a good sturdy insole, and not a soft one.

Step 2: Putting in the wedges. Take the felt chair tips and peel off the paper backing. I then start by putting one felt tip at the outside (EDIT) inside edge of the underside of the heel of the superfeet insole. It's best to do this at the rink, because after I put the insoles back in the skates I'll want to go skate. If one chair tip doesn't work I try putting a second on top of it to angle the insole even more.  You can fiddle around all you want with this approach. Stack chair tips, put them side by side, whatever. It's up to you to find out what makes you skate better. When I test the boots, I do the wedging simultaneously. So it's not fix one boot then then other. It's fix both, experiment, fix, experiment.....

In the end the boots may not need identical adjustment. I skate with one boot without wedging, one with. 

That's pretty much all there is to it. Because I have an idea of what causes my pronation, I'm able to make adjustments in the boot.  If you try this and it works for you, you've saved a lot of money. If it doesn't work for you, you're out at most $50-60, of which $40 is for the Superfeet. If it doesn't work for you then you can always try out of the boot adjustments; moving the blade and shimming the blade. That's something you'll need to take up with your fitter.


12 comments:

  1. DW had wedges put between her boot and blade. I think the concept is pretty similar, but Rainbo did it for free, even though it was six months after the boots were purchased that a coach informed us the procedure was necessary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, that's the shimming you referred to. I should have read more carefully.

      Delete
  2. Thank you so much for this article. I used this information combined with some from skatingforums.com to make some wedges for my daughter's skates. (She just started skating this winter; currently in USFS Basic 2) I used craft foam, cutting out three different shapes for each heel, so that there are three layers of foam under the inner edge of the heel, one layer at the center of the heel, and two layers at the mid point (of the inner edge and the center of the heel). I took her skating today, and the ankle tilt inward seemed less. More importantly, her one foot glides improved quite a bit over the practice session. I think just practice time is the bigger factor, but I suspect the wedges are help some, too. Once again, thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope it works out for you. Glad to be of help.

      Delete
    2. wow what a good mom, so attentive and thoughtful, responding to the issue, and helping!

      Delete
  3. Thx for this article. Been trying to learn skating for the longest time, butbthe pronation and collapsed arches prevent me from doing so.

    Thx sooo much for the idea.

    ReplyDelete
  4. building up muscles don't help with pronation. There was a famous study that was done that proved that people who strengthened their intrinsic foot muscles their arches collapsed and became flat. People who had muscle atrophy in their intrinsic foot muscles developed a high arch. There is no correlation between pronation and intrinsic muscles of the foot.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for this article. I've been on the research 'hunt' since our arena 'pro' told me I have pronation, hence, my resistant right skate. It never glided, always scraped the ice and created snow. They are custom black Harlick's (I am SO in love with these skates!) and even the superfeet yellow arch doesn't change my situation. Fortunately, I'm an adult, and my feet won't grow anymore, so I have an appointment with a sports podiatrist, will bring my skates and have a custom orthotic made to address this issue that I didn't know I even had until skating. I have no back/hip/knee pain due to structural mis-alignment, but skating brought to light this biomechanical imbalance. As I can't wait to get back on the ice, I just may try your idea for the gel inserts beneath the yellow arch until I get the orthotics.....thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you find that you can 'self adjust' the boots because custom orthotics are reaaaally expensive.

      Delete
  6. Very good blog. My 7 year old son slightly pronates in his hockey skates. The skate fitter shimmed them (on the outside of the heel, between the holder and boot) but he still pronates slightly in his right foot. It is difficult for him to get an edge on the right skate. So my question is using some of your suggestions with the felt pads, would you continue them along the outside of the insole? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know nothing about hockey skates construction, so no idea.

      Delete
  7. Over the past 3 or 4 years I have posted several times about this issue mostly on - ModSquadForums.com - This is the exact method of posting on the inside medial edge (medial is the that part of the skate closest to the "other" knee or "leg") using the Superfeet. I would use small shims cut from 1.5mm puckboard (plastic) and about 2" long and taking up half the width of the space in the heel. Round the edge of both pieces to accommodate the curve in the back of the heel. You can use regular insoles but they are a bit flimsy and you want an insole that will stand some bridging as you will understand shortly. The older style Superfeet (not Carbon Superfeet) are better for this fix and the older models have their medial edge slightly longer posts than the other side, but hard to notice, but are longer on the inside edge and that is why they help mild over pronators immediately. It pushes up that inside of the heel correcting the over pronation. Once you need more correction add another piece of plastic or something. Use thin electrical tape to keep the pieces together if more than one and always double check just before the skates go on the foot that the that the shims are still on the medial side of both skates. They can slide or just be put in the wrong skates by mistake! You don't have to use plastic, but something with little give is the best as is stated in this thread. You can find pieces of plastic around the house or visit a local supplier of plastics, they will sell or give you small pieces. Now, when the skates are "fixed" from the outside, meaning between the boot and the skate blade, then the process has to be done opposite to the inside fix. That means the shim now has to go on the lateral side on the outward side of the skate, away from the players body. I find that this fix does work, but is not as exact as the inside fix and also means that rivets have to be removed and replaced. An orthotic could be a good choice, made especially for your son and they do make smaller skate orthotics that just may be your better solution initially. Also, it can be shimmed from the inside like my Superfeet method, if the pronation worsens. This will be interesting - A good way to tell if your son is starting to pronate more is to have him put on some short pants and lace up his skates part way, but not not tight at all (this is a bit subjective so do it differently a few times). Have him put his hands on his knees and then get him to bend his knees until his hands are over the toes of his skates. This is where you view him from the back and see if his tendon guards are bending inwards, relative to the rest of his legs, if so he is having more problems with pronation. The tendon guards should normally follow the calf muscle up the leg if there were no problems. Good luck, Alan

    ReplyDelete