Boot Fitting

mountainsideski-service-boot-fittingMountainside Ski Service offers a complete line of custom boot fitting, foot positioning and stance alignment, along with boot shell modifications and repairs.

  • Foot and Pain Asessment
  • Custom molded Insta Print Foot Beds
  • Semi Custom Heat Molded Zapz Footbeds
  • Foot Positioning and Stance Alignment
  • Shell Modifications/Repairs
  • Buckle Replacements/Boot Sole Replacement
  • Lifter Plates, Boot Planing

The following is a transcription from our two videos.

Todd: Hi, this is Todd from Mountainside Ski Service in warm Vermont. Next video you’re going to see is an assessment of an athlete taking a look at their foot for a custom boot fitting. We’ll be doing the physical measurements, and assessing the type of dynamic things that we’re going to have to have a boot do to work well for this athlete. So stay tuned, I’ll show you how that’s done.

I want to just look at vascular flow, how the blood flushes out and how quickly it comes back. So let’s go ahead and put some pressure on there, and you’ll watch it flush back. Same thing on the toes. We’ll flush out the blood and watch it come back. That’s a pretty good response. You’re getting good flowback.

Next thing I want to do is look at the arch, just unladen. This one’s fairly flat. If I come around this side, this one’s a little taller. Overall impression of the foot, muscular structure on the outside, strong protuberance on the inside here. Got to accommodate that in a boot, because really the foot is only a straight line like that, but it has a strong bony piece sticking out.

So now I want to measure you. I’m going to start with your right foot, set you right in back. I’m just going to have you sit first. The reason is I want to see the mechanics of what your foot does when you go unladen — go ahead and stand up. You can go ahead and stand up — to laden.

We didn’t see a lot of crushing here, but we did watch your foot roll in. Go ahead and sit. Now I watch it return to its normal shape. Go ahead and stand again. I watch it roll right in. So one of the things that makes you a candidate for a foot bed is to stabilize that part of your foot when you’re laden. Go ahead and have a seat, let’s look at your other foot.

I watch this one not necessarily roll in, but I can feel that arch compressing underneath. I slid my fingers underneath just to see how much pressure you had under there. Go ahead and sit. Now I’m going to do that again. I’m going to put my fingers right underneath the arch, and you go ahead and stand up. You probably feel my fingers under there pretty strong.

Woman: Yeah

Todd: So that spring that you have in here is actually collapsing. I’m going to look to stabilize that with a foot bed. So from a standpoint of length — go ahead and stand for me — you come up just shy of 23. But because of the structure of your foot, I suspect that even though you’re sub-23, you’re probably going to be a little greater than 23 in girth from the back point here nice and loose to the back point here. You come out to 24.

So this piece of anatomy for you is a little bigger than one-to-one. It’s not necessarily normal to be one-to-one, but that’s kind of a normal foot one-to-one. You’re a little bigger, a little thicker, a little stronger. A lot of muscle structure in here. So with that in mind, I’m going to look to accommodate both this part of your foot where you have a strong protuberance and down in here where you have a lot of muscle structure and the bottom of your foot and your leg come together.

All right, we’re going to look at flexibility and just how normally flexible you are. Lift your toes as high as you can. I’m getting a little bit of rise here, not a ton. Do this here. A little better there. And now I want you to cock your feet back as far as you can. Do you feel it really strong in the back here — really pulling in the back?

Woman: No, I feel it in the front

Todd: Okay, so the muscle structure, the ligaments, and everything that’s holding your foot together are pretty tight. With that in mind, the boot’s either going to work to help you or hurt you. If I get a boot that’s too soft, you’re going to overpower the cuff, and you’re going to really be stretching on this stuff. If I get one that’s too stiff, you’ll never flex it, so I want to be right in the middle.

All right, last thing I want to measure on you is your laden and unladen width. Go ahead and stand up for me. We watch that just bump out 3 millimeters to 90 millimeters overall. Go ahead and sit. We’re going to do the same thing, laden and unladen. Go ahead and stand for me. I just watched that one walk out 4 millimeters when you stood.

So as you stand, that foot is expanding. The spring is both flexing forward and your toes are expanding outward. This is what I need to accommodate in a ski boot, is that kind of flexation, because you’re going to put some energy on these feet, and they’re going to want to do what feet do. So go ahead and have a seat, and we’ll put some socks on you.

So what I’ve selected is a boot that is a little wider than most and not terribly stiff. This is a 90 flex 102 millimeters across. The reason I’m interested in having a little bit wider boot is I want to accommodate this part of your foot without crushing you. If we add too much pressure this way, it’s like somebody grabbing your hand and squeezing it.

So we’re going to go ahead and drop you in a Roxy. This is an Alltrack, a very very competent ski boot. Little wider than most, got a fairly short cuff. Distance from the heel to the top of the cuff has been reduced primarily to accommodate the fact that your calf muscle goes towards the floor further than a guy would at your size. A man exactly your size and weight and shape and everything else, his calf muscle is going to extend towards the floor a little differently than yours. Yours is going to be lower, so we’re going to accommodate that in the boot.

Okay, go ahead and have a seat. The first thing I want to do is I want to get you in the back of the boot, and to do that, I’m going to use this bottom cuff as a fulcrum and I’m going to just close the bottom cuff. Everything else is loose. I’m going to ask you to go ahead and stand up for me. Drive your knee in to it like you’re skiing. I’m using the front of the boot to drive your heel into the heel cup.

At this point, I like to start adding some forefoot pressure. I’ve got all your weight up on your foot, and if I go too much, you’ll know. I always test the buckles to see if they explode when I let it go. So I don’t want that much pressure. I simply want to close the boot around your foot and let the boot do the work holding you to the floor. Go ahead and unload this a little bit for me while I get this top cuff done. So I’ve got you all the way in the back of the boot, and I have a ton of pressure going, and what I’m after is holding your foot to the floor with just the shape and size of the boot. Go ahead and flex into that for me. Drive your knee right in. Is your heel staying right on the floor?

Woman: Yeah, yeah.

Todd: That’s what I’m after. How about this forefoot? Are you too tight up in here?

Woman: No. It is so comfortable.

Todd: Okay, so the accommodating factors for you is that strong muscle out here and the fact that you have a pretty strong bone on that first knuckle. And I want to accommodate that. If this boot was too tight, I could push the plastic out to accommodate you. But the idea is to not customize every single thing unless it’s necessary.

So that’s a basic boot fit. Start with the foot, start with the athlete themselves, and take a look at what you’ve get to work with. Now, as she’s driving here knee in, I’m watching the alignment from the center of her kneecap and kind of lining it up to the center of the boot. Some people will fold in, folks that are bowlegged will fold out. We can accommodate that by moving the cuff to match the angle of their shin. Her shin falls perfectly in line from hip, right down through the femur, down through the fib tib, right out the middle of her foot. So your stance is just dead on. All right. Let’s go to foot beds.

Todd: Now we’re going to go ahead and build a footbed. We’re going to do the casting, we’re going to do the posting up, and we’re going to bring the material down to fit within the dimensions of the boot selection.

What we’re going to try to do is address that arch issue being a spring, and the evolution that produced – let me see your foot for a second – that produced this arch to act as a spring when you’re laden. I really want to stop that, because as the foot elongates, and your toes spread under athletic activity, I need to stop that so that the boot fits consistently under all loads – whether you’re sitting on a chairlift, or whether you pound it down from a mogul.

In order to do that, I’m going to create an impression of you on a rigid piece of material that’s going to suspend and stall that ability for that sprint to flex. How we’re going to do it, is we’re going to set a cast of your foot with the shape of your arch and the width of your forefoot. We’re going to use a thermoplastic blank – I’ll show you one that’s not been heated – a thermoplastic blank that I’m going to heat up, slip under your foot, put your foot back, and we’re going to make a reverse impression of your foot on laden.

Here I have a cooked up blank. It’s nice and flexible. Go ahead and pull your foot right up out of here. I’m going to set this blank right back in here. This is going to become your footbed. This material here will be shaped down to the size of your ski boot. You just stay put. I’m just going to pack the material in around you. Because of your muscle out here, I’m just going to remove the material so it doesn’t cup up in any way. I’m just going to leave you. Sit for a second and let it cool.

That will begin the process of making a footbed. Once the blank is cooled, I’ll then post it on a material to give you a nice, stable platform underneath because it will me rounded and cupped. Then I’ll shape this down to exactly the same diameter and dimensions width-wise of your ski boot. If we go too wide, it will act like a canoe and add too much pressure on this part of your foot, so I need it perfectly flat from this point to this point. Couple things going to come of that:
1) We’re going to suspend the spring action of your foot.
2) I’m going to give you a leverage bar on the ski between these two points.

That constant flexing, reverse camber in your foot can really make it tired. By stopping that, many folks find that their feet are no longer tired, and just overall comfort in the boot is cranked up. Ski boots are different than every other boot that you put on. It is a fixed foot sport, which means that I’m looking to suspend all the evolution of forefoot expansion and that arch being a spring. As you get active on your feet, this is what your arch does. I want to suspend all that. In order to do that, I’m going to build something underneath it. That’s the whole purpose behind a footbed – to suspend evolution. That’s it. Go ahead and pull right up and out.

Amy: That was excellent. Excellent analogy.

Todd: This one, perfect.

Amy: Ahh, beautiful.

Todd: This one, I’m going to let it sit there for a minute.

I’m going to take this newly formed blank that was made for Amy. I’m going to cite the location of her first and fifth metatarsal head in the center of her heel. To do that, I’m simply going to run this back and forth across the bench and then slide this back and forth across the bench to scuff up a little bit those points.

These contact points are going to be the controlling factor inside the boot. When I’m done posting this, from here to here will be one straight, flush plane. Then next step is to build the post self. This is done by citing these on here, cutting them to size. This is for a 23.5 boot. I need to cut this down to 23.5. Nice, straight line. Then I’m going to cite these two things to be a nice, straight line.

The technique I use to make sure I get a line back up is I’ll score it with a Sharpie just to give me a couple of target lines on that so that when I put it back together, I’m looking to line that stuff up – same thing with the heel.

Those are my target lines once I get done gluing it. The next step in the process is to apply some adhesive to both materials: the posting material and the blank itself. This is a little thick, but it will do. I’m going to coat this nice and evenly, starting behind that line.
There’s no sense gluing in front of it, nothing’s going to be glued up there. Make myself a nice, buttery mess on the bottom of this to glue this whole thing together. There’s the back of the blank. This is the part that’s going to touch the foot. Then I’m going to take this piece, which I cut and marked, and I’m going to do the same thing.

I’m going to butter the inside of it. The beauty of contact cement is once it’s dried and you touch these two surfaces together, it will hold like a weld. I just want to make sure I get all this material saturated with it. I’m simply going to let it dry off. I don’t want to put them together until this material is pretty much dry.

We’re going to pick up where we left off. Got a casted blank shaped for Amy’s foot. We’ve trimmed down the posting material. We’ve marked where we’re going to lay it up. Now I’m going to use these two target marks to just line up the bow of this thing. Then I’m going to cite the heel over this hole.

Todd: Now I’m just going to adhere this posting material to the blank all the way around, and make sure we’re making good contact all the way through – down through the center, all through the arch, and across this forefoot between the first and fifth metatarsal head. Anywhere where I feel I can’t get a good bound, I’m just going to put a little bit of pressure on it and roll it right out.

Once I have that done, let’s just remove this excess. This is the general shape of the now posted blank. The next step in our process is to remove all the material that is too big to fit in Amy’s boot. We’ll show you the method I use to score and size these things.

The next part of this is to take this obviously larger than the interior of this boot and bring it down to size. In order to do that, I’m going to remove the bladder, and I’m going to remove the factory footbed that comes in it. You can see that there’s very little, if any, arch to that. Considerable difference when we’re done. This is the dimension that I’m looking to shape.

I’m going to set this down and I’m going to take everything away – including that line. This will bring it down dimensionally to what the inside of that boot is going to accommodate. This is just the first roughing. The final fitting will come when I set this trim down into the inner boot and make sure it doesn’t exceed the boundaries of the inner boot. As you can see, right now it clearly does.

My next step in the process is going to be to grind down all this excess material – including this scribe line – to fit the inner dimension of the boot. Once I’ve got that done, I’m going to go ahead and site and shape my plane from first to fifth metatarsal head and heel, so all that’s one plane. As I get busy doing this, I’m going to make a bunch of noise and a bunch of dust.