Boot adjustment fail? | Golden Skate

Boot adjustment fail?

nomi darling

Rinkside
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
I'm wondering if anyone has experienced an issue that I suspect I've got on my hands (well, feet): boots returning to their original shape after heat molding and stretching modifications. That's the TLDR version, anyhow. (Note: Mine have not been exposed to temperature fluctuations, such as leaving in a hot car, that might ordinarily be a culprit.) I have an appointment with my fitter later this week, but I wanted to know if anyone had heard of a boot adjustment that simply did not "take."

Boot in question: Jackson Debut, 5.5 W, purchased January 2022 from reputable Salt Lake City fitter (DM for details); using Coronation Ace blades (purchased Sept. 2021) and worn with thin, hosiery-style figure skate socks
First adjustment: heat molding; stretched at 1st metatarsals to accommodate for width (temporarily resolved). Several skates in, pain (described below) prompted me to request additional modification.
Second adjustment: punch out inner/outer ankles (resolved); additional stretching at big toes to relieve excessive lateral pressure (initially resolved but currently worsening), install Matrix footbed to address: a) persistent gapping between stock insole and boot (resolved), and, b) dorsal and plantar pain across metatarsal heads, esp. big toe/ball of foot (dorsal pain improved; plantar remains unresolved); re-heat molded to address heel slip (resolved)
Self-adjustment: added metatarsal pads to address pain in balls of feet after second adjustment (mild but incomplete relief)

Current issue: Metatarsal head pain across bottom of foot, increasingly intense lateral pressure on sides where distal phalanges & metatarsal heads meet; tingling/numbing toes. Pain takes a while to settle upon removing the boots, but to my knowledge I have no foot issues outside the skates. (Previous skates were Jackson Freestyles, same size.)

While my fitter resolved a number of issues that materialized as I skated in these boots, the metatarsal head pain across the bottom of my feet (esp. ball of foot) has only worsened after the all-too-temporary relief brought about by his adjustments. Now, just 15 minutes of skating leaves me miserable, my feet emerging red and inflamed. Recently, the toe numbness that I thought resolved has also returned. Experimenting with different varieties of metatarsal pads provided a measure of comfort, though I'm still perfecting how to keep them perfectly in place (otherwise: blisters/callouses). The added bulk, while slight, makes me all the more aware of how tight these boots are.

In fact, they actually feel tighter along the sides of my feet than when I first got them. But is that even possible?? I recently heard that some fitters keep the boots in their vises for 24 hours to ensure they keep to the adjusted shape when punching them out. That was not what happened in my case... it was more like a couple hours.

As it stands, my feet feel like they're being strangled in these boots, especially laterally. Increased lateral pressure would certainly explain the resumption of toe-numbness.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts re. possibility of boot adjustment fails, or any other red flags I've overlooked. Thanks in advance!

About me
My feet: Oriental/Egyptian shape, medium-high arch (mild to moderate supination indicated by street shoe tread pattern).
Me: athletic, early 50s female; 5'2"; 125 lbs
Skating skills: Began skating last spring; presently working on single flip and lutz
Frequency/duration: This is harder to answer, as I was off ice for much of last autumn/winter due to injury. Returning to the consistent schedule I enjoyed pre-injury has proved more than a little challenging, but I'm typically at the rink 3-4x/week (lessons w/ coach 1-2x/week, plus one club lesson every other week) since being fully cleared to return to the ice last December.
 

WednesdayMarch

Final Flight
Joined
Mar 24, 2019
Country
United-Kingdom
Hm. Not good.

Three questions:-

1. Are these your first pair of Debuts?

2. Have you ever been happy with the fit?

3. Were you given the chance to try other brands/models or was it a case of, "These are the boots for you"?
 

nomi darling

Rinkside
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
Hm. Not good.

Three questions:-

1. Are these your first pair of Debuts?

2. Have you ever been happy with the fit?

3. Were you given the chance to try other brands/models or was it a case of, "These are the boots for you"?
Thanks for your questions!
1. They are my first Debuts. I did try a pair of 5.5W Premieres (the previous pre-duraguard model, unused of course) on for size, but could barely get my feet inside them. While my fitter said he could adapt them to fit, I decided against it (more on this at #3). I tried the current Premiere model as well, which was an immense off-the-shelf improvement over the older model, however, I ultimately chose to go with the Debut (more in #2). The only boots I’d ever worn before this were Freestyles.

2. When I put my feet in the Debuts, I was ecstatic; I literally said, "These are my boots!" So much support in those ankles! And while they aligned with what my coach described as a “competitive” fit, I wasn’t left with a "strangled” feeling. Naturally, that was before my blades were mounted and I began skating in them.

3. I expressed interest in Risports (which he carries), and he said he’d be happy to have me try them, but if I liked my Jacksons, why switch? I left it at that and tried both models of Premieres as well as the Debuts. No sales pressure - he even insisted I had life left in my Freestyles, but as I’m facing a move in a couple months, potentially to a location where fitters might be impossible to get to and my skills are advancing, I wanted to make sure I was prepared. Hope all this helps!!
 

Ic3Rabbit

Patineuse élite et professionnelle
Record Breaker
Joined
Jan 9, 2017
Country
Olympics
Boots give and take a bit after stretching, and will eventually go back to their original shape (esp if you don't have something you put in there to keep them stretched in b/t wears). Anyway, it mostly sounds to me like your boots weren't wide enough for your foot in the first place. And you also should have tried the Risports as well.

Good luck!
 

Sibelius

On the Ice
Joined
Mar 28, 2017
Jackson microfiber boots are difficult to stretch well, and quite prone to reverting to size after stretching and heat molding (especially if you don't put in LOTS of hours daily and weekly). We've been through 2 pairs of Debuts and one stock Premiere, all stretched and heat molded at one time or another so we have some experience with them. The latest is a custom Premiere in leather which, according to our fitter, will take much better to heat molding (actually molds to the foot instead of pinching like microfiber boots do) as well as holding a stretch for longer. After we ordered her foot grew half a size so they've been stretched up and have held it over 6 months now. We'll get them stretched more as she's grown a bit and hope it holds for a few months while we wait for a new custom pair.
 

WednesdayMarch

Final Flight
Joined
Mar 24, 2019
Country
United-Kingdom
I have a skater who is in wide fit Debuts that she bought second hand. She had considerable problems with them but after having them stretched by a good professional fitter in early December, she said that they were fine. She skated twice in them after stretching but then had a back injury that kept her off the ice from mid-December until today. When I asked about her feet today after her first hour of skating in a long time, she said that they were absolutely fine, with none of her previous problems at all, so I'm guessing the stretching and heat moulding did the trick and they stayed in the new shape!

Boots that don't fit your feet properly and comfortably can cause permanent problems with your feet and, given your consistent history of problems with them, you need a long, hard talk with your fitter. Good luck!
 

nomi darling

Rinkside
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
Thanks, all, for your replies. I've returned from the fitter and he said that he has indeed witnessed boots revert to their original shape and suggested he underestimated either the temperature at which mine were baked, the amount of time needed on the stretcher, or some combination of the two. I noticed him monitoring temperature even more fastidiously throughout the adjustment process this round, and I left cautiously optimistic, boots in hand.

Corroborating with both your comments, he agreed that the time I actually spent in the boots since I received them (or lack thereof) undoubtedly compounded the already-extant issues. In fact, when I received my first pair of boots (Freestyles) last year, I spent considerable time wearing them at my desk during workdays - even before the LTS lessons I'd bought them for began - to hasten the adjustment period I knew I'd be facing on ice. I failed to do the same with the Debuts. (I hope readers will be pleased to know I am wearing the freshly-modified boots even as I type 🙃).

@Ic3Rabbit , I absolutely concur that I should have pressed further re. the Risports during my initial fitting. Should my present boots ultimately prove untenable, I will insist upon it. Indeed, even if these Jacksons do end up working for me, I will try the Risports on for size when it comes time to replace the Debuts.

@Sibelius , your fitter's assessment of the leather (which sounds positively dreamy!) makes a lot of sense to me, especially in comparison to the stock microfiber (I'm thinking here of street shoes, which likewise conform over time, even without the benefit of a stretcher. The same can't be said of manmade materials.). I do wince contemplating what turnover looks like for custom boots at this moment. Current world events surely won't accelerate already-sluggish supply chain issues. I thought it excessive when one of my colleagues suffered through secondhand skates for almost four months whilst awaiting an order that would accommodate his unique foot issues, but my fitter has skaters who are approaching the one-year mark waiting on their custom orders! I can't even imagine how frustrating it must be to add growing feet to the equation.
 

nomi darling

Rinkside
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
I have a skater who is in wide fit Debuts that she bought second hand. She had considerable problems with them but after having them stretched by a good professional fitter in early December, she said that they were fine. She skated twice in them after stretching but then had a back injury that kept her off the ice from mid-December until today. When I asked about her feet today after her first hour of skating in a long time, she said that they were absolutely fine, with none of her previous problems at all, so I'm guessing the stretching and heat moulding did the trick and they stayed in the new shape!

Boots that don't fit your feet properly and comfortably can cause permanent problems with your feet and, given your consistent history of problems with them, you need a long, hard talk with your fitter. Good luck!
Oh! That is very useful information. Thank you. As such, I feel I should be seeing even fewer problems, given: 1. My boots don't have "inherited" troubles that second-hand ones anticipate, and, 2. I skated more than your skater did after the adjustments. 🧐 Mind, I wasn't skating nearly as much as I had prior to getting the new boots (hence the caveats about my skating frequency in my OP), but it was certainly more than twice!

Having just returned from the fitter, I do hope these most recent adjustments, paired with wearing targeted at keeping those adjustments in place, will lead to a better outcome than what we've achieved until now, but your skater's experience does give pause. I don't think it will be long before we find out if the third time really is the charm.

Rest assured, as much as I love my new sport, I am not prepared to sacrifice my foot health for it: my boot woes largely account for my skating so little since acquiring them. Rather than risk doing damage, I paused lessons and practice for the two weeks it took until my calendar was able accommodate the nearly two-hour round trip drive that seeing my fitter entails. I figure I can always get new boots. These feet I put into them? Not so much.
 

Query

Rinkside
Joined
Aug 28, 2015
BTW, if your boots get too hot, they will mostly return to the original shape. I've had that problem when I left boots in a car that got hot in the sun during the summer. It could also happen if you leave them on a hot radiator to dry out.

If what your fitter has done isn't enough, "ball and ring pliers" (there are other names, like "hoke and ball pliers", or some types of "bunion stretcher") like these can be applied yourself, when the boot returns to its original shape:

https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=ball+and+ring+pliers+stretch

They aren't as effective as the boot press your fitter probably has, but it will save you time and money. Also, most fitters don't leave the boots in the press long enough, IMO, for economic reasons.

It helps to use heat from a hair drier on the spot being stretched. I would avoid getting the spot hotter than about 180 degrees - unless you know what temperature the manufacturer recommends your boots be molded at, and it is hotter. Also, tighten as much as you can, leave for half an hour or so, and re-tighten, and keep doing that, ideally for at least a day. If you don't want to leave a marred spot on the outside of the boot, put a piece of cloth over it before putting the ring there.

Make sure you have one that has a set screw you can lock in place. And squeeze to tighten before tightening the set screw - they almost never make the set screw strong enough to be used to tighten without that.

Another idea: remove the insoles, and replace them with something thinner that you cut yourself. Probably the same outline, but thinner. That will create more space inside the boot. However, the boots may then be too loose in other places, or provide insufficient support somewhere. (I think any motion inside the boots below the ankles is bad). So you may need to apply athletic tape under and/or around the new insoles in appropriate places to tighten them up there, or cut foam to shape to do the same thing, or the same types of adjustment you have done.

Custom fit boots can help solve the problem, though they cost extra. It is extremely important that the person doing the fitting knows exactly what they are doing - many people either ask the boot maker for the best fitter within a day's drive, or even better go to the fitter's factory store, if they have one - or visit a competition where the boot maker is sending a factory trained fitter. A fitter who knows how to fit other brands of boot isn't good enough - as I learned the hard way.

Jackson is already a company whose stock toes are wider than most. But someone told me that when it comes to full custom boots, Harlick does more customization.

If none of these things are acceptable to you, alpine ski stores also have boot presses. There is some risk they might overdo it - some alpine ski boots are even more stiff than most skates.

I do have a web page with ideas for modifying boots - but I've covered the basics here.
 
Last edited:

Query

Rinkside
Joined
Aug 28, 2015
BTW, I would contact the boot maker for advice as soon as I could, maybe before doing any more work on them. Especially if they were customs, but maybe even if not, they might even be willing to fix or even replace them at cheaply or at no charge.

When I said 180 degrees, I meant 180 degrees Fahrenheit, not Centigrade. And I've never used microfiber boots - so you really ask the boot maker what temperature your boots can be heat molded at. They will probably start by warning you to have it done by a competent dealer - and in theory that is best, unless you can't find or get to one who can do a good job.

You can stretch most boot materials without heat - it just isn't as effective or long lasting.

There have been times when I pretty much had to leave a ball and ring pliers somewhere on one of my boots any time I wasn't skating in them. Of course that was because those boots weren't fit right in the first place.
 

Ic3Rabbit

Patineuse élite et professionnelle
Record Breaker
Joined
Jan 9, 2017
Country
Olympics
Just FYI: Alot of these things have been solved and/or the person has moved on.
It's great that you have a bunch of knowledge to share, but I'd hate to see you just posting and "screaming it into the nothingness" lol.

Nice to meet you and welcome btw. :)
 

nomi darling

Rinkside
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
Apologies for the very delayed update in the boot situation (and once again, many thanks for the suggestions and contributions to the thread). I'm afraid I've been mired in personal matters but am relieved to finally have a few moments to open a non-required tab in my browser! To the boot:

The third adjustment, followed by wearing them regularly (on and off ice) did seem to pause the Debut's reversion tendencies. While I was happy to be freed from their python grip, said adjustments failed to rectify the nagging ball-of-foot pain. We subsequently tried more combinations of wrapping/padding/insole variations than I can recount. Frustratingly, the best of the variants involved a 20-minute ritual of taping, wrapping, and padding placement before putting my feet into the boots. If losing at least an hour per week towards making my skates usable wasn't bad enough, said ritual only provided relief for shorter skates; longer sessions left me sore once more.

The fitter re-mounted my present blades to my old boots last week -- I wanted to skate without pain, and my fitter wanted to confirm that my pain wasn't stemming from changes in my foot that weren't visible to the eye, which no amount of boot-switching would resolve. Several skates later, I can say with confidence that I DON'T suffer the same ball-of-foot pain in the old boots that I experienced in the Debuts.

While at the fitter's, I tried on Riedells, Edeas (C width), and Risports (he only had a B width on hand, and only in the far-too-stiff Royal Prime). Predictably, the Riedells were torturous. Both the Edeas and Risports felt better than the Debuts, albeit in very different ways. However, my balance felt more centered on the Risports (not so much due to the stiffness as how the sole made contact with the ground, though I'm unsure whether that translates on blades). I am, however, EXTREMELY wary in trusting my judgment, as I missed the mark -- badly -- when I chose the Debuts, which I deemed "perfect" when first trying them on at the fitter's.

I will be returning to the fitter this week to confirm measurements before ordering Risports, and suspect he will suggest RF3 Pros. In the meantime, I agree that a discussion with Jackson is in order to see if the troubles I experienced might be due to a manufacturing error.

As this is an ongoing saga, I will update as promptly as possible, and look forward to any other insights the group may have!
 

nomi darling

Rinkside
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
Just FYI: Alot of these things have been solved and/or the person has moved on.
It's great that you have a bunch of knowledge to share, but I'd hate to see you just posting and "screaming it into the nothingness" lol.

Nice to meet you and welcome btw. :)
Apologies; due to external circumstances, my reply has indeed been tardy! My gratitude for these helpful replies, however, remains undiminished. Sadly, my plight is ongoing. I intend to update as soon as I have anything new to report, and in the meantime, hope that this thread is useful to anyone who may be experiencing similar issues. Many thanks!
 

nomi darling

Rinkside
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
BTW, if your boots get too hot, they will mostly return to the original shape. I've had that problem when I left boots in a car that got hot in the sun during the summer. It could also happen if you leave them on a hot radiator to dry out.

If what your fitter has done isn't enough, "ball and ring pliers" (there are other names, like "hoke and ball pliers", or some types of "bunion stretcher") like these can be applied yourself, when the boot returns to its original shape:

https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=ball+and+ring+pliers+stretch

They aren't as effective as the boot press your fitter probably has, but it will save you time and money. Also, most fitters don't leave the boots in the press long enough, IMO, for economic reasons.

It helps to use heat from a hair drier on the spot being stretched. I would avoid getting the spot hotter than about 180 degrees - unless you know what temperature the manufacturer recommends your boots be molded at, and it is hotter. Also, tighten as much as you can, leave for half an hour or so, and re-tighten, and keep doing that, ideally for at least a day. If you don't want to leave a marred spot on the outside of the boot, put a piece of cloth over it before putting the ring there.

Make sure you have one that has a set screw you can lock in place. And squeeze to tighten before tightening the set screw - they almost never make the set screw strong enough to be used to tighten without that.

Another idea: remove the insoles, and replace them with something thinner that you cut yourself. Probably the same outline, but thinner. That will create more space inside the boot. However, the boots may then be too loose in other places, or provide insufficient support somewhere. (I think any motion inside the boots below the ankles is bad). So you may need to apply athletic tape under and/or around the new insoles in appropriate places to tighten them up there, or cut foam to shape to do the same thing, or the same types of adjustment you have done.

Custom fit boots can help solve the problem, though they cost extra. It is extremely important that the person doing the fitting knows exactly what they are doing - many people either ask the boot maker for the best fitter within a day's drive, or even better go to the fitter's factory store, if they have one - or visit a competition where the boot maker is sending a factory trained fitter. A fitter who knows how to fit other brands of boot isn't good enough - as I learned the hard way.

Jackson is already a company whose stock toes are wider than most. But someone told me that when it comes to full custom boots, Harlick does more customization.

If none of these things are acceptable to you, alpine ski stores also have boot presses. There is some risk they might overdo it - some alpine ski boots are even more stiff than most skates.

I do have a web page with ideas for modifying boots - but I've covered the basics here.
Many thanks for this true wealth of information!

The reversion issue certainly had me puzzled, as I'd only heard that I should never leave my boots in a hot car/on a radiator for the very reasons you mentioned. Increasing the frequency and total time they were on my feet, however, did seem to resolve that issue. I suspect that they'll revert quickly now that I'm no longer wearing them to keep them stretched.

I love the idea of using the ball and ring press to make room. As far as insoles are concerned, I tried different insole/taping variations to relieve the sole pain issues with varying success.

I'm loathe to go the custom route, being as low level as I am (I'm aiming to get my axel and double sals before the year ends, but I suspect I'll be happy enough to refine skills rather than learn new tricks at that point), but if my feet prove too obstinate, I can't see any way around it.

I will check in with Risport to see if they have any fitter recommendations that I might travel to before I pull the trigger on ordering the new boots!

Thanks again!!
 

Sibelius

On the Ice
Joined
Mar 28, 2017
Glad you're working things out. You know, something I forgot to mention about the Debut's is that Jackson raised the heel pitch on that line some time ago with the introduction of the Fusion sole. That might explain your ball of foot pain. I discovered that when I was asking why the blade length recommendations had changed. Perhaps that little bit of extra pitch put too much force on the ball and resulted in pain. I hope the Risports work out for you.
 

nomi darling

Rinkside
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
Glad you're working things out. You know, something I forgot to mention about the Debut's is that Jackson raised the heel pitch on that line some time ago with the introduction of the Fusion sole. That might explain your ball of foot pain. I discovered that when I was asking why the blade length recommendations had changed. Perhaps that little bit of extra pitch put too much force on the ball and resulted in pain. I hope the Risports work out for you.
I hadn’t considered the heel pitch, but it sounds like one of the most logical explanations for this very specific pain I’ve heard thus far 🤔
 

nomi darling

Rinkside
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
Yet another update (of sorts). Just before I'd planned to see the fitter, I fell, injuring my elbow. Unable to drive without use of my shifting arm, new boot prospects were shelved, and fitter appointment re-scheduled for this week. In the meantime, I was antsy to get back on the ice, and went to the rink with a mostly-recovered, if still a bit tender and bruised, arm this past weekend. Where I further postponed seeing the fitter, thanks to receiving a concussion from falling backwards, hard. Which I suppose isn't much of a boot update at all... however, if I'm silent, it's because looking into the bright lights of a computer doesn't sit so well at the moment. (My CT scan showed an otherwise healthy brain, so thank goodness for silver linings.) Fingers crossed my next update contains something a bit more encouraging. As I remarked to my coach, "I wish this sport loved me as much as I love it."
 
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