Avoiding pain from your figure and hockey skates

It’s been an odd couple of years for skating, with indoor ice arenas initially closed but outdoor rinks open. Some ice pads have closed and not reopened yet, such as Ice pad A in the Earl Nichols Recreation Centre in London ON which has been converted into a COVID-19 vaccine clinic.

One thing is certain: we simply haven’t skated nearly as much in the last 18 months as in previous years.

As a result, you may have noticed that your figure skates or hockey skates are not as comfortable or as supportive as you remember. A season spent gently drying in your shoe cupboard might have made your skate boot leather less flexible. Your blades may be rusty. Most of all, your gait may have changed, and boots that were a perfect fit before the pandemic started may no longer fit you or support your foot properly.


Your checklist for better fitting skates

Before you step out onto the ice again, first check the condition of your skates. Take a good look at all parts of your skates, and check:

  • Skate boot leather upper for cracks caused by drying out or rotting
  • Boot interior for mould if the boots were damp when put away
  • Skate insoles for odour and wear
  • Laces for signs of tears, fraying or stiffness
  • Blades for signs of rust or discolouration
  • Blade mounting screws are secure (but not overtightened)
  • Boot eyelets and hooks for signs of wear or corrosion


Give your skates some TLC

If your ice skates are not fitting you well, give them some TLC first.

  • Clean and treat your skating boots to restore the leather and protect against a new season of wet, ice and sweaty feet.
  • Invest in new laces that are strong and flexible and replace every three to four months.
  • Ensure your blades are clean, sharp and protected by good quality blade guards that fit snugly.
  • Get your boots professionally disinfected to avoid fungal foot and nail infections (we can help with this!)


Skates rubbing after training or practice?

If your boots are rubbing, or not giving you the support you need, consider the following:

• Have you changed foot size? Ice skates are usually between 1 and 1.5 sizes smaller than your usual shoe size. If you have changed foot size, perhaps after gaining or losing weight in our lockdowns, you may need a new pair of skates.

• Has your gait changed? Our gait (they way we walk) can be affected by a whole variety of physical changes, from an increase or decrease in weight, injury, or even sitting at home working. If you find that your knees, hips or joints ache after walking, or your have foot pain, your gait may have changed.

Are you wearing the right socks? Ensure you are wearing the same size and style of socks for training as you do for games or competitions. Changing the thickness of socks can affect the fit of your skates and your subsequent performance.

• Are you skating for sport or recreation? Recreational skating for fun generally puts less strain on your joints and skates as playing a fast and furious game of hockey, or competitive figure skating.


Skates still causing you pain?

If your skates give you foot, ankle or joint pain after skating, don’t just rush out and buy a new pair. Instead, come for a consultation here at Hunt Footcare. As the list above suggests, the problem may not be with your skates, but your gait. This is where custom orthotics can help, and even improve your performance.

Custom orthotics gently correct your gait, realigning your body and helping you walk better. These custom-made inserts are moulded to your feet, so they fit your feet – and nobody else’s! You can have a pair of orthotics specially made to your skating or sporting requirements, and swap orthotics from one pair of skating boots to another. To maintain the improvement to your gait when off the ice, our foot clinic team may suggest a second pair of orthotics for everyday wear in your shoes and snow boots.


Get back on the ice with Hunt Footcare

For more information and advice on orthotics, or any hockey-related foot injury, contact any of our sports injury experts https://www.huntfootcare.com/services/sports-injuries at our specialist feet clinics in Ontario.

• Stratford foot clinic
Ingersoll footcare clinic
London footcare clinic

Published On: October 21, 2021