Hockey skates are well-protected and stiff. It is not uncommon that your feet might hurt or even get blisters when you buy new skates. So, before you buy your next pair of skates, it’s best to understand why skates might hurt your feet.
The main reason hockey skates hurt is improper sizing, which either leaves the feet too tight or too loose. When a skate is too tight, it can compromise circulation and cause pressure. If your feet have a lot of room, they lack the necessary support, which leads to strain.
An expensive investment like your skates shouldn’t be the reason for your pain. Leave that to blocking a shot. There are plenty of things you can do to find the right pair of skates. Read on and find out.
The main reason why your skates hurt your feet is improper sizing.
Skates hurt your feet because they aren’t correctly fitted. The feet either dance around or not have enough space to move. When a skate isn’t the right size, you might have to tie your laces extra tight, leading to loss of circulation and added pressure.
While skate boots are usually stiff, some are stiffer than others. When a skater chooses a soft boot, the ankles might lack the needed support, translating into pain.
Your skate’s depth will also affect how it fits. A boot that’s too shallow will cause pain because the laces press against the forefoot.
Finally, if a skate is new, the unworn materials’ overall tightness might cause discomfort, which will eventually go away. The best way to prevent pain or discomfort is to choose the right skate from the start.
How do I find the right skate?
To find the right size of skate, you need to understand the variables at play when it comes to sizing. The first variable to consider is the size of your feet.
According to the website Pure Hockey, when your skate is the ideal size, your toes should barely touch the cap, and you should have no more than ¼ inch of space in your heel. Your feet need to rest flat on the footbed. Your skate should feel snug and shouldn’t dance around.
If, for example, you can’t visit a store or you prefer to buy your skates online, there’s a general rule of thumb for skate size vs. shoe size. Most manufacturers make their skates so that the skate size is 1 to 1,5 sizes down from your shoe size. Brands like Bauer and CCM offer specific sizing charts, which compare shoe size to the right skate size.
Width is another variable to consider when fitting your skates.
Besides your skate size, how wide your feet are is also vital. If the skate is too narrow, the boot might exert pressure on your sides and cause pain.
According to the site Ice Warehouse, most manufacturers have codes for the different sizes they offer, and the most common are the following.
|Skate Width||Skate Fit|
|R||Wider than D|
If you usually have no problems with width in your regular shoes, you can opt for a D skate width.
What are some tips for finding the proper skate?
While these charts provide a clear guide when choosing skates, the best way to fit a skate is by measuring your feet.
When you are trying out skates, here are some tips you can follow…
• The pencil test: Put your skates one and don’t tie them down. Pull the tongue out, then place a pen across the eyelets, so that it rests on the boot. If the pen doesn’t move around and doesn’t touch your foot, then the depth is right for you. If it comes in contact with your foot without resting flat, then the boot is too shallow.
• The finger test: for this test, lace up your skates just as you would for a game. Then lean your legs forward and bend your knees as if you were skating. Try to fit your finger in the gap between your heel and the skate. You shouldn’t be able to reach the end of the boot.
• The standing test: when you are standing, wearing your skates as you would in a game, your toes should brush the cap, and if you lean forward, your heel should cradle in place, and your toes shouldn’t touch the cap. If they still do, then the skate is too short.
When it comes to a boot’s flexibility, more competitive, and heavier, skaters usually prefer a stiffer boot. However, skaters, in general, shouldn’t compromise on stiffness.
Finally, you should always test your skates with the socks that you will be wearing in a game.
How to break in skates faster?
The ideal moment in which to adjust your skates is before you buy them. Once you have tested them and are sure it’s the right fit, there should be no problem.
If your skates are ideal for you, you want to break them in for that perfect fit. The most traditional way of breaking them in is with hard work, aka skating. But don’t go all out just yet.
You want to skate around at a slower pace first, by yourself, or in practice. A new pair of skates will require about five or six sessions to break in, ten at the most. Then you can play a game. If, after ten sessions, your skates still hurt, you might have to change them.
But, there’s another way to help you break in skates. Baking a skate will allow it to conform to your foot, further helping you find the right fit. It’s best that you do this at the store before you buy them.
You can also do it at home and keep in mind that cheaper skates might not be able to be baked.
How can I make my hockey skates more comfortable?
As we have seen, with new skates, it’s normal to feel some level of discomfort at first. You might even get a random blister here and there, but your skate shouldn’t hurt. Once you’ve broken into your skates, there are some tips you can follow to increase your comfort.
First, find the ideal socks. Hockey socks are designed specifically for the sport and provide a cushion in the right areas without feeling too snug. When your sock is too thick, it might cause additional pressure and friction.
See the Socks section here: What to Wear Under Your Hockey Gear?
If you have a high foot arch, then you can try custom insoles. If you notice that the sides of your feet are hurting, then the skate might be too narrow, and you can have the boot punched at a specialized hockey store.
When you have pain coming from the top of your feet, it could be an issue of boot depth, and you might have to consider another skate.
My skates are perfect, but they still hurt. Why?
If you believe that your skate is a perfect fit and your feet still hurt, then you might have to change how you are tying them. Frequently, pain comes from having the laces too tight, specifically the top portion of the skates.
According to the website Hockey Tutorial, one tip that you can use is to tie your laces tight at the bottom, around the toes, then slightly looser in the midsection (the forefoot), then a little tighter around the top.
The right skate is crucial for your performance. A skate that doesn’t fit well and causes pain can lead you to change your game and gain some bad habits. Plus, an ill-fitting skate can lead to blisters or even injury.
If you are buying them online, take as many measurements as possible of your feet, and use the manufacturer’s charts to find the best fit.
It’s always best to buy your skate in person so that you can take your time and consider all the variables. Take your time choosing your skate, and don’t go for the first skate you try, but for the best skate out there.