Ice Hockey skates are intricately crafted in an attempt to balance comfort and performance, but of course, nothing can be perfect. Not all skates have the same amount of padding, support, or adjustable closures and not all foot arches and widths can fit the same skate. And so, comfort is lost somewhere along the way giving rise to the need to customize your skates.
This guide aims to tell you all about the importance of wearing comfortable skates while playing hockey and the steps you can take to make your skates more pleasant to your feet.
Common Problems and Importance of Wearing Comfortable Skates
From preventing accidents to making the game more enjoyable overall, the comfort of your feet plays a big role in all of them. Comfortable skates ensure your feet stay safe from injuries and let you stay in control, preventing further accidents like falling or ankle sprains.
When your feet are happy, you’ll be happy too. If your feet are constantly itching and have a prickly and damp feeling, you will never be able to focus on the game and events happening right in front of you. Comfortable skates allow you to give your all while you’re in the rink, without the skates being a hindrance to your performance.
It is important to stay vigilant towards the condition of your skates and how they affect your feet. Make adjustments and customize your skates if and whenever required. Also addressing one of the common problems, it is also important to make sure that the skates you buy are suited to your feet and that they’re comfortable, instead of getting an uncomfortable pair and customizing it later.
How to Make Your Ice Hockey Skates More Comfortable?
Ensure Proper Skate Sizing at the Time of Purchase
What’s better than meticulously going through the process of customising your skates requiring more expenses and time? Getting comfortable skates in the first place. At times we rush buying skates without actually properly trying them out for a good amount of time and paying attention to how your feet feel inside them.
Even if the skates feel good while wearing them, it is important to compare how different other skates might feel in the same category, in an attempt to potentially find something more comfortable. Buying skates with a decent return policy is also a very good practice to avoid being stuck with uncomfortable skates.
Use Specialized Insoles and Gel Pads
Most ice hockey skates have padding and cushiony insoles in them which provide decent support and comfort to the feet and ankles but they don’t usually last too long before giving in. Minor tears insoles, stiffness and usual wear and tear are signs of your insoles needing a replacement.
Certain specialised insoles are available in the market to help your feet better fit inside your skates. Some prominent ones like Superfeet, Bauer Performance Insoles, and CCM Total Comfort Insoles are specially crafted for better comfort while keeping performance in mind.
Gel pads are made with mostly taking the ankle in concern. They are soft and usually small inserts that go on your ankle inside the skates to prevent discomfort by reducing friction and dispersing pressure.
Use Proper Lacing Techniques
Skates being too tight or too loose cause all sorts of problems ranging from minor ones like bruises and blisters to more serious ones like ankle sprains and numbness in the feet. Laces being too loose allow your feet to move too much inside the skates and laces being too tight constrict the blood circulation in your feet.
It is important to know the different ways to tie your laces, so make sure you do proper research before experimenting with them. Also, never tie your laces around the ankles as while playing hockey, that makes you prone to lace bites and blisters without actually having any special benefits.
Try Different Socks and Orthotics
The socks you wear also play a huge role in determining how comfortable your feet might be in the skates. Thicker socks provide more comfort compared to thin socks and you should try different kinds to find the right one for you.
If you have any physical conditions related to the shape of your feet or arches, you can try to get orthotic inserts for your skates pertaining to the structure of your feet. There’s a lot of variety thus you need to experiment with some to find the most comfortable one.
Ensure Proper Breaking In of Skates
Giving enough time for your skates to break in is also crucial for your feet and skates to get used to each other. Beginning to skate casually with brand-new skates is the main cause of a lot of the foot pain and discomfort a lot of new players face.
Starting slow and gradually increasing the time on ice with new skates is the best course of action for breaking in. There is no specified breaking-in period for skates as it differs for everyone, so just take it slow and be patient until your skates feel comfortable.
Baking and Heat Moldable Skates
Skates have heat-moldable material embedded in them which reacts to heat and helps your skates better adjust to your feet. Baking and using hair dryers on your skate boots are some of the popular ways to achieve this.
Although most skates have this feature, some recreational and entry-level skates might not have them, so it is best to confirm with your provider once before you try anything on them to prevent accidental damage.
Get Custom Skates
Some brands and providers allow facilities like 3D modelling your feet to make boots and skates according to the shape of your feet, although unsurprisingly, this might cost you a pretty penny.
Alternatively, with a good provider, you can also just get recommendations based on the structure of your feet for already existing products, costing you less money.
While there are numerous ways to make your skates more comfortable, it won’t be easy to tell what to try at first glance. Customising your skates might not always be an easy task since it requires a lot of experimentation, so my advice is to just not rush it.
Be patient and see what works best for you. Any recommendations from fellow hockey players and other sources should always be welcome. It’s best to do proper research as well before trying anything, as hockey skates are an expensive investment and it would do you good to stay on the safe side.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to make skates more comfortable for feet with high arches?
Special insoles, in place of the default ones that come with your skates, can reduce or even completely remove the pain from skating with a high arch. Some insoles also provide adjustable arch support for extra customization.
How to make skates comfortable for flat feet?
Doing the laces criss-cross along the center or threading the laces through the eyelets from the inside out are one of the few methods of lacing that help with flat feet. Experiment and see what works best for you. You can also consult a professional to receive further aid and recommendations for insoles and orthotics.
Are there any precautions/tips for breaking in new skates?
The best tip anyone could give you for breaking in new skates is to go slow. There is no need to rush this delicate process and hurrying results in injuries. Start slow and keep going slowly until your feet get more and more used to the skates, and gradually increase the time and speed. It’s better to be cautious than sorry.
How long does the break in period usually last?
It varies from person to person; there is no definite time. It lasts as long as your feet need to get used to the new skates. There are no upper or lower limits on this timeframe and hence there is no need to rush either.
What are the best insoles for making ice hockey skates more comfortable?
There are a lot of different options so it’s important to see what works for you and what doesn’t. Some popular options include Superfeet, Bauer Performance Insoles, and CCM Total Comfort Insoles.