There are two main things that cause boot fitting problems: poorly fitting boots, and lack of underfoot support. We covered the topic of poorly fitting boots in our article on common boot fitting mistakes. Let us now look into the topic of underfoot support and how it can be aided by a pair of custom footbeds.
Often a foot that lacks support underneath will roll side-to-side in a ski boot. Your bones will jam into the panels of your boot and you’ll feel pain. The unstable foot not only brings discomfort, but it also reduces efficiency and control. A custom footbed can stabilize the foot and help with many boot fitting issues.
What are custom footbeds for ski boots?
Footbeds are insoles usually cushioned and contoured so as to provide orthopedic support (a definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary). Your ski boots come prepackaged with stock insoles made to accommodate a generic foot type. No two feet are the same however. In 90% of cases, stock insoles do not provide a stable platform for skiing. Custom footbeds, on the other hand, provide support in areas specific to your individual feet. They eliminate the void under your arch, thus providing a stable platform. You need a stable platform to perform the main bio-mechanical movements in skiing: pressure control, for-aft balance, turn initiation, etc.
The majority of custom footbeds are made of heat moldable layers of high quality laminated material. Harder layers are placed in the zone of the arch to provide support. Softer layers cover the heal and the ball of your feet for added comfort.
In a nutshell, custom footbeds eliminate unnecessary movement of the foot inside the ski boot. They provide a platform that distributes pressure evenly over the entire length of your foot. Custom footbeds aid power transfer and greatly increase skiing efficiency. With custom footbeds inside a proper fitting boot, you are more precise, less tired, and in full control.
Do I need a pair of custom footbeds? Can I do without?
Most skiers will benefit from a custom footbed. This is especially true for people with medium to high arches and good plantar flexibility of the foot. Skiers with flat arches and no flexibility will not benefit from a traditional custom footbed. They, however, may require additional cushioning, or heal-lifts.
Note: arch hight and plantar flexibility are checked during your boot fitting assessment. Your bootfitter will advise you if you would benefit from a custom footbed.
You can, of course, do very well without custom footbeds. After all, many of us have skied for years with the stock insoles under our feet. Not using custom footbeds is a bit like riding a bike with mud tires on smooth tarmac: you are still riding fast, but you are not as efficient as you can be. Custom footbeds not only increase control and efficiency, in many cases they help alleviate arch cramps and pain in the ball of your feet.
What is the right footbed for me?
Your bootfitter will help you find the right footbed. There are three main types of footbeds: pre-fabricated (or off-the-shelf), custom footbeds, and fully posted custom footbeds:
- Pre-fabricated footbeds are the cheapest option. They usually come in 3 different arch heights (low, medium, and high) and don’t require custom molding.
- Custom footbeds are heat moldable and finished to the contour of your feet. They are the most commonly used type of footbeds and recommended for most athletes.
- Fully posted custom footbeds provide a flat underside of the footbed for added stability. They are molded to the shape of the foot and further supported by adding layers of foam or cork underneath. Fully posted footbeds are closely resembling prescription orthotics but are not a substitute for orthotics.
Here is a good article describing different styles of custom footbeds: http://www.evo.com/how-to-buy-ski-snowboard-boot-footbeds-insoles.aspx
Contact Skisharki for more information on custom footbeds for skiing and other sports (e.g. running, trekking, cycling, skating, etc.). We will be more than happy to provide you with a free assessment and advise on whether you would benefit from a footbed. Skisharki offers custom footbeds from the leading Austrian manufacturer OrthoMove. We will gladly mold and trim a pair of footbeds for you.
Summary of benefits from custom footbeds
- stabilize the foot inside the ski boot
- distribute pressure evenly along the entire length of the underfoot
- provide for a more precise and closely fitting boot
- increase efficiency by eliminating unnecessary movements
- aid turn initiation and fore-aft pressure control
- prevent arch cramps
- reduce overall fatigue
Have more questions on boot fitting? Agree or disagree with our tips and advice? Leave us a comment bellow.
Skisharki is about to open it’s first shop in Sofia this autumn.
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