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Plug boots: persistent pressure and deep, dull pain along the outside of the foot

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I use Nordica Dobermann Pro 130, 98 mm last boots. I am in the process of having a new pair of those worked on and I have some questions on how to mitigate a problem that developed slowly with the previous pair.


OK, these boots are narrow-ish, so at first reading I feel pressure either on the "sixth toe" and/or further forward along the foot. So, the pressure spot gets pushed out [or ground] and I try the boot again. This time I feel pressure at some other spot along the same line - we expand that area too. Then I try again and now I feel some pressure back at either the first spot or yet another area along the outside. I am not sure how long this can go - eventually either I or the fitter runs ut of patience :-) Anyway, my feeling is that this is almost a zero sum game - you take the pressure off one spot only to deliver it to others.


This is more or less what happened slowly during the last 3-4 seasons, with some variations, remissions, and unrelated problems taking the focus off this problem, until things got realy bad. I really can't take any serious pressure on the outside anymore. The pain may not be much initially, but builds up as I ski and lingers for weeks and months after that.


I guess my questions here would be ...


1. Does anyone know of any "special trick" :-)


2. I have this feeling that, even without skiing, there is some force that tends to push my feet out against the shell. As if the boots are tight, but I can't feel any significant pressure on the inside - why is that? I have been told that the bones on the inside just happen to be much bigger and tougher, so you don't feel the pressure the same way - really?


3. Should I also ask to have some work done on the opposite side of the shell - e.g. maybe expand the navicular area, so that it does not push my foot out as it pronates?


Anyway - this is getting longish.


Thanks for any serious advice!


PS: Oh, yes "Do you have custom footbeds?" - Yes and no. I had a pair of Superfeet initially made and the problem started during their reign. After experimenting, it appears not to matter much whether I use them or some cheap heat moldable ones - e.g. Archmolds [with maybe some belt-sanding of the substrate to achieve the desired thickness].

post #2 of 8

more information


how many days on the boots?


what's one of your days look like?


both feet the same?


get new boot fitter


get new footbed


get new boot


flatten boot board


to go that long (3 or 4 seasons) without solving your problem?




send a picture of your feet


send a video of your skiing



post #3 of 8

got to go with jim on this one, we need a whole lot more information... the fact that when one area is stretched the pressure moves a little would suggest to me (and this is a guess based on what you have said and without seeing your feet and the boots) that either the footbed is not doing what it should or the inner edge of your foot is hitting the shell around the ankle/navicular area and and flipping your foot to the outside

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the interest and speedy replies! Below are as many answers to your questions as I can supply at the moment.


1. How many days on the old boots: 5 seasons * 3.5 mo * 4 wk * (2.0 to 2.5) days/week = 140 to 175 days [my best guess; reasonable?! - I hope!]


2. Typical scenario: 1.5 - 2 hours non-stop skiing; mostly weekdays; perhaps 75% free skiing; 25% in gates - depends on luck :-) Used to do beer league. Still do an occasional masters race.


3. Both feet exhibit the problem, but it is much worse for the left foot - I'd say 7:1, if ever possible to give a number.


4. How come the problem was not resolved for so long - tough question - let me try:

  • The first season it was not a very prominent problem - there were other issues that were more pressing - ankles, heel bump, etc.
  • I guess, up to a certain point, I could tolerate the pressure. They kept saying "But these are race boots - they are supposed to be like that!" - nonsense, I think nowadays.
  • The problem tends to be more pronounced at the start of the season and, after some suffering, tends to get better by Feb/Mar. Therefore, I tended to say "Ha, maybe I'll be fine from now on!".
  • The pain is not immediate, nor is it pin-point localized. It is not like your ankle rubs and you know the exact spot and you can almost immediately tell if a tweak works or not. I can't always tell on the spot.
  • Many boot fitters tend to be a bit timid in taking dramatic steps - make a small modification, try it, come again - it all takes time, trials, no two days are the same; you think something works for a while, then you realize it does not. The time passes ...

... I can keep going - that's probably enough for now :-)


I am uploading some photos of my feet (loaded - i.e. I am standing) and one pic of the old boots. It may not be what you want - let me know me know what specific details you want to see and from what angles!









Finally, let me respond to your generic proposals:


get new boot fitter: Sure, but there are only so many around. I have tried 3-4 in my vicinity - I have no strong complaint from any one of them. OTOH ... clearly none has convincingly resolved the problem or made any breakthrough. I am feeling more and more that I have to figure it out myself and just convince them to do it :-)


get new footbed: OK, sure - don't mind. But ... what exactly I should be looking for? Everyone touts their footbeds, but ... I really want to hear WHY! Why will a footbed dramatically change things, which at least at first glance, don't seem to be related to footbeds. And my first footbeds were not a smashing success either :-) To cap it off, I have a nasty sesamoidal sensitivity - I really want my thick 3.2 mm polyurethane :-) This adds further constraints ... Anyway - is there any brand that you particularly recommend?


get new boot: Well the Dobs have been the best fitting ones from the ones I have tried. And I have been otherwise happy with them. And - yeah, I have a new pair - last season's model. I have not been able to try many other models - e.g. never had luck finding Lange, Atomic, etc in my size. Technica fits similar, but even tighter. Dalbello Scorpions - wanted to try these, but couldn't get the the 130 flex; the 110 flex seem to fit similar to Nordica. Fewer and fewer stores around here seem to carry large variety of brands in all sizes and models ...


flatten boot board: YES! This is something interesting - but what are you talking about exactly? Flatten front to back, as if to eliminate the up-curve under the middle of the foot? Because, after my foot gets inflamed, this is where it hurts even in flipflops/slides if they have the slightest arch! Even if this arch is a result of packing from my own foot! The same slides, which are perfect in the summer, hurt me under the outside of the arch in the winter! Only walking barefoot feels good in winter!


So, is flattening a common thing? Can it be done on the Nordicas with the metal insert in the bootboard - last years ones? Or can a similar effect be achieved by raising the heel - i.e. instead of shaving the bump in the middle, compensate by lifting the sides [or one side at least]?


Thank you so much again!


PS: Do you still insist on a video of me skiing - I might be able to find something if really necessary ... a beer league run. There is also something on sprongo dot com - not sure how to share it though, nor how to download it  ...

post #5 of 8

I am guessing here from information provided that either your medial malleolus or navicular is hitting the boot lower and pushing your foot laterally.  The pressure point keeps changing when they punch because the root of the problem has never been fixed.  Medial pressure keeps moving your foot laterally.



post #6 of 8

Congrats on answering all those questions as well as you have. I'll make two basic suggestions and leave the rest alone. First, at this point (150-175 ski days), your liners are likely pretty well shot and are no longer stabilizing your foot well. Second, it is entirely possible that if there is an issue with the footbed, it is only secondarily related to the brand. (If) your footbed is not properly shaped for the relatively low volume shell of the Dobie, you may never be sitting flat on the bottom of the boot. Many Superfeet technicians leave the arch wall very thick and nearly vertical. The heel cradle and even the entire footbed in general may also be relatively massive. This in turn may not be allowing the footbed to get all the way to the "floor" so to speak, and thus your foot would not have a consistent foundation.


Trial fit your footbed into the empty shell. It should drop easily to the bottom and there should be a least a few mm of clearance between the footbed and the shell walls. If not, then when the liner is in there, the footbed and thus your foot will really struggle to get to the bottom. This is a very basic step than you can check yourself. This may be completely unrelated to the problem but at the very least, this might eliminate a very possible variable. Oh and yes.....the bootboard should be flattened to eliminate the hump as this could also exacerbate the problem. Don't do this yourself as its easy to overdo it. Let a pro bootfitter do this because he will know how much to take off and from where.



post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Lou - thanks! This has been my own feeling too!


The only question then is "How come I don't feel pain on the inside (medial?) area?". Is it then that the bones there are tougher and bigger and, more than that, there is not much soft tissue to be squeezed - which is what hurts most on the outside?

post #8 of 8

From the information given I would guess that the footbed is not providing enough support for your foot, and pronation is at work here.  While pronation is necessary for proper ski techniques to funtion, an excessive amount , as you have discovered can be detrimental at best and painful at worst.


Pronation is your foot rolling in at the ankle in a front to back axis combined with it rotating outwards on a vertical axis into a duck stance.  Thus as you punch the boot, it allows the foot to rotate more.  You do not feel too much discomfort on the medial ankle as the motion is mostly in a vertical axis.  T

here are 3 planes of motion in your ankle and they are interlinked.  Improved footbed support will stabilize the foot and greatly reduce this motion.

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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Ask the Boot Guys › Plug boots: persistent pressure and deep, dull pain along the outside of the foot