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How should a new boot fit?

A proper fit is often unique to each individual skater. However, in general, the boots should be just slightly longer than the length of the foot or ½ or ¾ size larger than the foot for a growing child.

The ball of the foot should lay flat and the toes pushed slightly together. A little wiggle room for the toes is acceptable. The width should not be so wide that you can curl your toes under or have to put two pairs of growth innersoles to take up the space.

The heel must be very snug. The best possible fit would be to have the heels locked in place and no up and down movement. As the boots break-in, the heel pocket may widen a little. Therefore, if the boots are fitted wide in the heel, they will feel sloppy or loose after break-in.

SP-Teri realized decades ago that the heel fit was the most frustrating issue for skaters and skate shops. We developed the combination ball and heel sizing on stock boots. This allows the skater to be fitted in a more comfortable width for the ball and a tighter width in heel. The combination size stock boots are available in all the stock models and all size ranges. The combination is restricted to a one-width difference from the heel to the ball. For instance; an AA heel and an A ball, or B heel and C ball. If the skater needs more than a one-width combination, a custom boot is required. With custom boots, we can make several width differences between the heel and ball.

Why would a skater need custom boots? 

It is understandable that parents would like to keep their skater in stock boots as long as possible. Stock boots cost less, prices range from $250 to $475. They are also quicker to get, sometimes the same day of the fitting or within a few weeks.

In some cases, a stock boot does not fit the design requirements or fitting needs of the skater. Although SP-Teri stock boots can be ordered with a one-width combination, custom insoles and special tongue covers, some issues can only be corrected or accommodated by a custom boot design.

Most issues include one or more of the following reasons:

  • The skater needs two different lengths or widths

  • The skater needs a heel and ball combination of two or more widths

  • Design requirements such as; scallop cuts for dance flexibility, low cut back for toe pointing, asymmetrical ankle pattern or high instep, ankle pad channeling for stress relief

  • Wide range of color choices

  • Orthotic allowance

  • The ankle support may be different on the right and left boot

  • LDS pads may be needed to stiffen the instep area (a feature only available on SP-Teri custom boots)

  • Special sole and heel requirements for blade positioning

  • Orthopedic design for missing toes, fussed joints, or to allow for bone break repaired with medical hardware.

For further information, talk to a pro shop specialist in your area or call SP-Teri for advice. Voice communication is highly recommended since we will need background information. We will ask questions concerning skating level, previous injuries and equipment and other relevant facts.

What is the right way to break-in my new skating boots? 

By far the best way to break-in new boots is to skate in them. First, start by spending a session or two just stroking forward, stroking backward and doing simple spinning. When the boots feel comfortable, add the basic jumps you can land consistently.

You may find that when the boots are new, you may have to relace the boots during the session to allow the lace to stretch, leather stretching and foam tongues compression. The top hooks should be left unlaced until you feel you need more support for jumps. Lacing the top hooks at the beginning may cause shin splints, tendentious and bursitis or may cause the heel of the boot to separate. In addition, if you lace the boot to the top and do not bend properly, the crease may develop at the ankle, but down below the lower instep area.

When you try to break-in boots by walking in them or wearing them while watching television, you do not get the crease in the right place. Walking in skates results in a walking gait, a heel strike and then transferring weight to the ball and then pushing off the first toe. This is not the same action as stroking. Walking gait will cause the creasing to develop forward of the instep.

I find I am on an inside edge most of the time. What could be causing this problem?

Usually when a skater falls to the inside edge, the reasons could be the boots are broken down, the blade position is to far to the outside, the blade edge may be uneven, and/or the skater has a bio-mechanical problem such as pronation.

In most cases, a skater has problems on an inside edge because of pronation. Eighty percent of the population pronates. Some very minimally, most noticeable and again some others very drastically. Those that have minimal pronation, usually may have edge problems that require more than just a blade position adjustment. The bulk of the pronators require heel wedges, custom insoles, vacuum molded insoles or orthotics.

What are the differences between custom insoles and orthotics? 

Custom insoles and over-the-counter corrective devices have generic arch supports, heel lifts or heel wedges. These types of insoles are made to accommodate the average pronation that can be corrected without a doctor’s prescription and can be placed in stock boots with little or no size modification.

The SP-Teri custom insole is made to fit the SP-Teri toe and heel shape and SP-Teri lengths. The insole lifts the heel and tilts it to the outside and supports under the arch. It is three quarters length from the back of the heel to the metatarsal heads. The insole will usually have a vinyl top cover, but may be ordered with a leather or poron™ top cover instead. The insole does not require additional room in the boots or upsizing to allow space. Custom insoles can be sold as an after sale item or when the boots are ordered. You can at anytime call or write to SP-Teri and order custom insoles to fit your current stock or custom boots.

Over-the-counter insoles on the other hand can be purchased at most drug stores and sports shops. They usually lift the arch and may tilt the heels. The insoles are typically made to fit a dress shoe and athletic shoes and must be trimmed down to fit into skating boots. Also, the forefoot portion is thicker then the SP-Teri custom insole and takes up more room in the toe box then is normally allowed for a proper fit.

When a skater is being fitted for boots and an over-the-counter insole is used for fitting, the skater, in most cases, requires a half size longer boot or a width wider boot. The upsizing for serious competitive skaters can be a problem when an accurate tight fit is needed.

Orthotics are underfoot appliances purchased through a doctor, physical therapist or clinic with a doctors prescription; and, made at a lab by trained technicians who specialize in biomechanical corrections. The appliances are most accurate to the skater’s specific needs to correct for biomechanical problems or leg length discrepancy.

The orthotics is made either full length or ¾ length. Some ¾ length orthotics will have a top cover extending to the end of the toes. There are many different materials used to make orthotics. The best materials for skate orthotics are made of graphite, fiberglass or light plastic. These are lightweight and rigid.

When orthotics are used in skates, the device must lay neatly in the boots and without interference of the counter of the boots. If the boot does not have sufficient room for the orthotics, (that part from the metatarsal heads to the back of the heel). The orthotic may tilt to the outside, slide forward, or rock up and down.

In most cases, an orthotic can not be placed in a stock boot without sacrificing the accuracy of the arch and heel correction. The recommended accommodation for orthotics is to have custom boots made with an allowance for the orthotics. This way a void space or cavity can be created in the custom boot to allow for the proper width, arch height and pitch of the orthotics. The skater gets the proper size length boot with the orthotic serving as the underfoot support.

SP-Teri must be supplied with the orthotic that is going to be used in the custom boots when the boots are being made in order to design the correct upper pattern and construct the foot Last with the required space for the orthotics.

If we send a plaster of paris cast to SP-Teri, will the boots be made from the cast? 

Often times, we have heard that skaters sent casts to boot companies and are told the boots will be made off the cast itself. Unfortunately, it is untrue. A boot can not be made from a plaster cast. Full positive casts are helpful for a three dimensional presentation of the skaters feet, and help identify abnormalities such as bunions, hammer toes, navicular spurs, haglund's deformities (heel spurs), large or pointed anklebones, and flat or low arches.

However, due to the construction of footwear, the boots need to be made with a Last. A Last is a wooden or plastic foot shape that is unique to a manufacturers particular sizing. The Last controls the shape of the toe box, arch, heel and determines the height of the boot heel. The top part of the boots, called the upper, is pulled over the Last and attached to the insole. The insole itself is nailed to the Last. Once the boot is lasted, the soles are attached by gluing and high pressure pressing. The soles are pressed on with 1,000 pounds of pressure. The soles are trimmed and the Last is then removed from the boot.

If a boot was attempted to be made by using the cast as a Last, the plaster cast would fracture from the hammering during the lasting process and would further disintegrate during sole pressing. It would also not have the proper heel angle to accommodate the normal height heel.

We do encourage customers to submit plaster casts to us when ordering custom boots. The casts help us identify problem areas on the foot that are not presented sufficiently on the tracings.

SP-Teri sells casting socks specially designed for full positive casting and is available through your local pro shop.

Some skaters order custom boots by supplying a foam foot impression, does that help get a better fit? 

Quite frankly, the foot impressions are worthless. Since the impressions are only showing the underfoot and side of the foot below the ankles, there is not much information a manufacturer can get from the foot impression.The impression can not be used for foot length sizing because it may not be deep enough to capture the total length or may be made too deep and cause the toes to crumble the foam material itself.

Important circumference measurements are impossible to take because the impressions do not capture the top of the toes, instep or ankle areas. The impression does not present the entire foot with meaningful information for the manufacturer.

The only method, right now, available to copy the foot in a three dimensional representation meaningful for the manufacturer is with a full positive cast. SP-Teri has casting socks for that purpose. The casting socks have been very successful for skaters who have supplied casts when they ordered SP-Teri custom boots.

I often see the boot tongue twist to the outside, why does this happen? 

The tongue twisting to the outside is a common problem and has been around for a very long time. The reason is that the boots are made symmetrical (meaning the same on both sides) but the foot is not symmetrical. The inside ankle is larger than the outside ankle. It is also more forward toward the centerline of the foot than is the outside ankle. The inside half of the foot comes up higher than the outside and takes up more volume in the boot than the inside does. In addition, the ankle mechanics causes the leg to go slightly to the inside when the leg is bent forward. Subsequently, when the leg bends forward, the inside ankle hits the edge of the tongue and pushes the tongue forward. The outside half of the instep area usually has a little space between the foot and the boot, thereby allowing the tongue to twist and fill the space.

The more a skater bends, the more the tongue will be pushed to the outside. In addition, pronation contributes to the tongue being pushed to the outside. Other contributing factors are; boots that are fitted too wide, breakdown, high insteps and skaters legs that are slightly larger than the upper allows for.

SP-Teri has addressed the problem several years ago with the plastic lace loop inserted in the tongue. This allowed skaters to lace through the loop in the tongue, pull the tongue to the inside and secure it in the center position. We have now made a lace hook a permanent feature in all our stock boots. We now see less tongue twisting with skaters who wear SP-Teri boots.