The Subjective inquiry and discovery:
Each skier has a spectrum of terrain (groomer, moguls, woods, etc) that they enjoy and a goal they want to achieve in their new boot such as warmth, edge control, turn initiation, high speed performance, ease of putting on, and so forth. These are important points to understand in order to help select a boot that most closely delivers the desired goal and terrain preferences. There are some points on the spectrum that are mutually exclusive, but through careful analysis these competing concernscan be balanced to get some of each characteristic in the new boot.
The Objective Assessment process:
Step 1 – The assessment of an athlete starts by evaluating their foot and ankle and getting a general impression. Then by doing the physical measurements, and assessing the dynamic mechanisms and any anomalies that will need to be considered to ensure a boot will work well for the athlete. Length of the foot (size) is one of eight or nine points we cover.
Step 2 – Evaluation of vascular flow is part of the process in order to determine how the blood flushes out and, more importantly, how quickly it comes back. To do this we apply some pressure to several points on the foot and look for visual feedback. We do the same process on the toes.
Step 3 – The examination and evaluation of the arch and metatarsal array is an important part of the process. Evaluation is done both weighted and un-weighted and measurements taken are both quantitative and subjective in nature. The overall impression of the foot, ankle and heel, together with muscle, bone and vascular structure are all part of the objective part of our work.
Step 4 – Next we measure your feet, both feet. We look for the mechanics of what your foot does when you bear weight to the natural shape un-weighted and record all the observed measurements. We examine several mechanisms, including bit not limited to; any rolling Inward or outward), arch displacement, shape and tone of muscle and bones, Surgical history, trauma, etc. All of this may indicate an increased or reduced need to stabilize the foot in the boot.
Other factors in assessment may include:
- Flexibility (leg, ankle and foot)
- Laden Length / width (weight bearing)
- Un-laden Length / width (non weight bearing)
- Ankle size : length of foot
- Arch height, length and dynamics
- Forefoot array and shape
Additionally, observating of the alignment from hip through the center of the kneecap and lining it up to the center of the boot will inform of where an adjustment is warranted. We can accommodate a modest amount of uneven inside / outside pressure by moving the cuff to match the angle of the shin. However, in profound instances, canting the boot sole may be required to achieve a level exit from the boot sole. Ultimately the goal is to get the ski flat on the snow.
A brief word about the benefits of a Foot Bed in a ski boot:
It is important to understand that the shape of your foot changes with the load and forces placed on it and that the interior of the ski boot is fixed and inflexible; it won’t give like a sneaker to lateral or linear forces. These two competing facts are the reason a foot bed is often used in a ski boot to balance the performance of the boot with the comfort of the athlete. A well made foot bed controls the amount of lateral and linear deflection of the foot when a load is places upon it. Additionally, a foot bed will aid in the dispersion of weight (from fore to aft) and allowing for a more even pressure across the entire sole of the foot. Lastly, a well made foot bed will establish an flush and level plane between metatarsal array and the heel strike point, providing the athlete with a greater level of control when adding or reducing edge pressure at any point in the turning sequence. Anomalies of anatomy such as dropped metatarsal heads, Morton’s Neuroma, Plantar Faschiitis, fallen arched and other conditions can most often be ameliorated through the use of a foot bed that has been properly constructed.
The Steps for Building a custom Foot Bed:
Step 1 – Casting of the foot bed blank is accomplished by forming an impression of the sole of the foot in the casting tray, with the athlete in a predetermined seated position. This ensures that the natural shape of the foot, including arch volume is captured with high resolution.
Step 2 – Posting the now formed shell on a posting blank establishes the horizontal plane which will be is used to interface the primary contact points on the sole of the foot with the boot board below the liner. It also establishes the rigidity required to maintain and control the foot under variable loads.
Step 3 – The“raw” foot bed must now be trimmed and ground down. The finished shaped must fit within the dimensions of the boot selected. An exact 2 dimensional match to the existing factory insert must be maintained.
Step 4 – Fitting of the now finished foot bed in to the liner of the new boot should be performed to confirm the fit.