Advice for learning to skate with a history of achilles injuries | Golden Skate

Advice for learning to skate with a history of achilles injuries

CharLutzSpiral

Rinkside
Joined
Nov 29, 2020
Hi all, I've been lurking in the GS boards for some time now but this is my first post, I apologize in advance if this is too wordy and if anything is incorrect in format!

Some background for this topic: I'm just getting ready to begin learning to skate as a 30yo adult and newly retired professional dancer. I've been wanting to skate for years but save for a couple series of basic skills lessons back when I was 8-9, adding skating into the mix has been on the back burner since I'm pretty sure my doctors and PT team would've put me in a straight jacket. Now that I'm not dancing anymore I'm eager for new challenges (just for enjoyment this time, and a new vocabulary of movement, feelings and technique) to finally get out on the ice. Which brings me to the preparation stage...

I've been saving up funds this semester and am planning to go for a fitting to purchase boots/blades at my soon-to-be rink's Pro shop in January. After some discussions with the rink, I'm also planning to begin private lessons as soon as scheduling and funds allow. From reading fitting guides and discussions all over the place, it sounds like having a proper fitting is the only place to start, but even before I get there, I was hoping to see if anyone here might have experience or advice with a couple areas of concern.

I've incurred quite a litany of injuries while dancing, (one factor for wanting to begin with privates to account for these and work on a more individualized timeline) one of the more recent of which was a vertical achilles tear. Although it's been nearly three years, no amount of post-op physical and laser therapy have restored it to "original factory settings" (ok wishful thinking!) by any stretch of the imagination. Tendonitis ranging from mild to severe has reared its head a number of times during the recovery process (admittedly while dancing through it) so this is on the radar as well. Although it's made immense improvements, my range on the right side is not what it used to be and there's been a strength imbalance between my two sides ever since. Without actively dancing every day now, I'm still working on strengthening at home, but I'm anticipating this imbalance will make itself known in all new ways on the ice soon.

I understand foot shape and size (plus true beginner status) should determine most of the factors in the upcoming fitting, but does anyone have any advice on particular aspects like boot stiffness, support, heel/ankle height varying by model, inserts or accessories that should be prioritized as well to help with this imbalance and hopefully reduce some underlying fear for re-injury? If inserts are recommended, should I purchase these in advance of the fitting to try them with the boots for sizing, or will this likely just drive the fitter mad? Any and all advice is welcome :)
 

Ic3Rabbit

Patineuse Ć©lite et professionnelle
Record Breaker
Joined
Jan 9, 2017
Country
Canada
Hi all, I've been lurking in the GS boards for some time now but this is my first post, I apologize in advance if this is too wordy and if anything is incorrect in format!

Some background for this topic: I'm just getting ready to begin learning to skate as a 30yo adult and newly retired professional dancer. I've been wanting to skate for years but save for a couple series of basic skills lessons back when I was 8-9, adding skating into the mix has been on the back burner since I'm pretty sure my doctors and PT team would've put me in a straight jacket. Now that I'm not dancing anymore I'm eager for new challenges (just for enjoyment this time, and a new vocabulary of movement, feelings and technique) to finally get out on the ice. Which brings me to the preparation stage...

I've been saving up funds this semester and am planning to go for a fitting to purchase boots/blades at my soon-to-be rink's Pro shop in January. After some discussions with the rink, I'm also planning to begin private lessons as soon as scheduling and funds allow. From reading fitting guides and discussions all over the place, it sounds like having a proper fitting is the only place to start, but even before I get there, I was hoping to see if anyone here might have experience or advice with a couple areas of concern.

I've incurred quite a litany of injuries while dancing, (one factor for wanting to begin with privates to account for these and work on a more individualized timeline) one of the more recent of which was a vertical achilles tear. Although it's been nearly three years, no amount of post-op physical and laser therapy have restored it to "original factory settings" (ok wishful thinking!) by any stretch of the imagination. Tendonitis ranging from mild to severe has reared its head a number of times during the recovery process (admittedly while dancing through it) so this is on the radar as well. Although it's made immense improvements, my range on the right side is not what it used to be and there's been a strength imbalance between my two sides ever since. Without actively dancing every day now, I'm still working on strengthening at home, but I'm anticipating this imbalance will make itself known in all new ways on the ice soon.

I understand foot shape and size (plus true beginner status) should determine most of the factors in the upcoming fitting, but does anyone have any advice on particular aspects like boot stiffness, support, heel/ankle height varying by model, inserts or accessories that should be prioritized as well to help with this imbalance and hopefully reduce some underlying fear for re-injury? If inserts are recommended, should I purchase these in advance of the fitting to try them with the boots for sizing, or will this likely just drive the fitter mad? Any and all advice is welcome :)
In my many years of competitive skating, I've gotten my share of "fun" and horrifying injuries. Tendonitis in my ankles and Achilles is one of them, and I'm not going to tell you that it's easy or incredibly comfortable skating with said injury, it will nag you. But if you're used to dancing with those said nagging injuries, then skating won't be too terrible (the boot will impact this though, I'm not going to say it won't).
I wear very stiff boots though due to my former level and now being a pro. You won't need anything near as stiff as my boots.
That said, if you can see your orthopedist and ask about a brace to wear that would fit in the boot, as well as orthotics that fit in the heel part of the boot and help with your balance issues, that would be advised by myself (I have a brace I wear on my worst ankle and heel orthotics because of my pronation issues). I would get them prior to fitting boots.

You don't want a boot that is going to be too soft, but you also don't want something too stiff. If you want specific recommendations, you can inbox me and I will be glad to help. I will also tell you that the boot is going to supply sufficient help with supporting your injury.

Good luck! :biggrin:
 

CharLutzSpiral

Rinkside
Joined
Nov 29, 2020
In my many years of competitive skating, I've gotten my share of "fun" and horrifying injuries. Tendonitis in my ankles and Achilles is one of them, and I'm not going to tell you that it's easy or incredibly comfortable skating with said injury, it will nag you. But if you're used to dancing with those said nagging injuries, then skating won't be too terrible (the boot will impact this though, I'm not going to say it won't).
I wear very stiff boots though due to my former level and now being a pro. You won't need anything near as stiff as my boots.
That said, if you can see your orthopedist and ask about a brace to wear that would fit in the boot, as well as orthotics that fit in the heel part of the boot and help with your balance issues, that would be advised by myself (I have a brace I wear on my worst ankle and heel orthotics because of my pronation issues). I would get them prior to fitting boots.

You don't want a boot that is going to be too soft, but you also don't want something too stiff. If you want specific recommendations, you can inbox me and I will be glad to help. I will also tell you that the boot is going to supply sufficient help with supporting your injury.

Good luck! :biggrin:
Thank you so much for your reply and advice! And although I'm truly sorry for all the injuries you've skated through, I appreciate you sharing this- it's great to hear from professional experience and oddly reassuring to know some residual nagging and discomfort will not make it impossible. Ah, a good idea to check in with one of my orthopedic docs beforehand too, thanks for this reminder. I'm not sure any of the braces I have already would work inside boots since I used to wear most outside of pointe and flat shoes, and I could barely fit them into trainers or everyday life boots with the laces fully stretched. I'm happy to hear you say the boot will supply sufficient help in supporting the injuries though- something that definitely could not have been said for my former work footwear šŸ˜„
Thanks again, I really appreciate your help and may just message you for some of those recommendations too!
 

WednesdayMarch

On the Ice
Joined
Mar 24, 2019
Country
United-Kingdom
What Ic3Rabbit said. Every word. Definitely work with your foot specialist first to get the right orthotics, etc. That was, the boot fitter knows exactly what they have to deal with. I have Achilles problems and tendonitis (much worse in my right foot) and find that orthotics help massively, so much that I wear them in my "normal" footwear too.

Good luck and enjoy your skating journey. It's a wonderful way of moving.
 

CharLutzSpiral

Rinkside
Joined
Nov 29, 2020
What Ic3Rabbit said. Every word. Definitely work with your foot specialist first to get the right orthotics, etc. That was, the boot fitter knows exactly what they have to deal with. I have Achilles problems and tendonitis (much worse in my right foot) and find that orthotics help massively, so much that I wear them in my "normal" footwear too.

Good luck and enjoy your skating journey. It's a wonderful way of moving.
Thank you! I'm sorry for your Achilles challenges but glad to hear orthotics have been of such help. I always wear some in my street footwear too but I'm going to reach out to the ortho docs who have gotten me through most of my lower extremity tears aches and breaks and see what they'd recommend for me inside skates. :)
 
Top