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Lou's Performance Centre - How Can I Guarantee Comfortable Boots? Part 3

In the last paragraph of Part 2 I made a subtle, but in my opinion, confusing error that fortunately opens the way nicely for the next topic, normal and permissible motion inside a ski boot. In the paragraph I used the words motion and movement as though they are synonymous, when in fact there is a subtle difference. Movement according to Webster, requires relocation. In other words, the object being moved must end up in a new location. Motion, such as spinning can happen around a stationary axis. In ski boots motion must be allowed, while movement must as much as possible be resisted.

Movement most often happens when a boot is too large in volume and many skier’s boots are too large. The additional space between the boot inner shell walls and foot permits the foot to migrate (move) inside the boot. Get slightly in the back seat and your foot easily moves forward bashing your toes.  Feels as if your boot is too short!  It isn’t, it is too big. Gently up unweight while transitioning from one turn to the next and your heels float upwards off the bottom of the boot. Your boot is too big!  Steer your feet into the next turn and all you feel is your feet spinning inside your boot with little or no effect on the position of your skis. Your boots are too big. No matter how tightly you buckle, which of course hurts most impressively, your feet move inside your boot. Your boot is too big!

Buckling the lower two buckles tightly, painfully crushes the many joints of our feet together, reduces even eliminates circulation, pinches nerves and perhaps most importantly reduces foot motion necessary for balance and most importantly for skiing restricts our ability to move with any separation between our lower and upper body and remember how hard you’ve been working on that.

Lower body movements of knees and hips, especially rotary (steering) or edging requires our feet to either pronate or supinate constantly. Pronation and supination are complex movements but from above or from a mirror reflection roughly can be seen as the inward or outward rolling of our feet around an axis (longitudinal) passing from the center of our heel through the second toe.

Stand in front of a mirror, barefoot with feet parallel and hip width apart. Flex at the knees and ankles and steer your knees to the left and right. Each foot will move around the longitudinal axis from a pronated to supinated position. Now try holding your feet rigid in an attempt to eliminate pronation and supination.  Your knees are now nearly locked, aren’t they? Therefore, easily and smoothly steering skis requires room inside boots for our feet to pronate and supinate. Roughly speaking movement inside our boots should be eliminated, but motion must be allowed. Good boot fit requires enough snugness without buckling tightly to resist movement of our feet but enough space side to side in the ankle and midfoot area to permit our feet to move between pronation and supination with every turn.

Restricting pronation by having a boot that is too close in the inner ankle and midfoot area causes our foot to contact the side of the shell while edging our downhill ski. Equal and opposite rule means the force developed between the shell and our feet, pushes (moves) our feet in the opposite direction inside the shell which substantially loads our fifth toe and fifth metatarsal area. Our boots now feel too narrow when in fact we once again have a situation where our feet are moving inside the shell, but this time the movement is caused by improperly restricting motion. You get your boots punched in the little toe area and immediately in the shop they feel better. Immediately on the hill there is no improvement. Boots are punched again even larger.  Immediate relief in the shop, but mysteriously immediate pain on the hill. Until you eliminate the cause of foot movement inside the boot the punch can’t work. The cause of foot movement in this case is our boot improperly restricting foot motion.

The secret to all day boot comfort and performance skiing is a boot that gently resists foot movement while permitting necessary foot motion.  Many times smaller is better. Don’t correct boot discomfort by buying a bigger boot. Instead find a shop that understands, “boots out of the box don’t fit most people, but the correct one is a great vehicle for modifications to that permit proper foot motion.”

Happy skiing!

Check out  www.lous.ca for more details.

Published - January 24, 2018.

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