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Need advice on stretching boots

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Background: A few years ago, I bought a pair of Lange X-Zero-9 boots for racing. It was the top-of-the-line rec boot below the full on race boot. This is the best performing boot I have ever tried, perfect flex. My foot, however, is not a perfect Lange fit (few feet are). I have the narrow heel but my splay out and flatten out in the forefoot. I was loosing my big toe nail each season. I also have poor circulation in feet and hands and would freeze on cold days. My feet have very bony and veiny on top and can't take much pressure. Note that I don't have any pain while I and locked into these boots, just not real comfortable. Last season I put a footbed in (at a shop's advise) and it dramatically improved - didn't loose my toe nail. I am still sacrificing comfort for performance (performance is still my #1 priority). I have recently tried several boots. The Salomon Course race boot is at the top of my list. It feels much better and is almost as stiff as my Lange's, just doesn't have that perfect Lange flex. I also plan to try the Atomic 10.50 if I ever find a pair.

To the point: Shouldn't I try stretching the shell first before I spend alot of money? What do I have to loose since I would buy a new boot anyway if it didn't work? The boot is still in great shape as I haven't been skiing much lately. I do not know which way it would be stretched for my problems. The store I go to is very good but I like to be knowledgeable before I go in. There is no better place to get opinions than EpicSki! If I decide later to get advice on other boots, I will open another post - thanks!
post #2 of 20
I'd be very careful about stretching your boots, because black toe/losing toenails is often caused by the boot not holding the foot snugly ENOUGH, and results from the foot sliding forward to bang the toe. Your bootfitter's expertise is critical here.

If you do decide to try a new boot, give the Head World Cup a shot. Very similar to a Lange fit, especially in the snug heel, but I found it more comfortable and I liked its flex even more.

Good luck!
post #3 of 20
I'll echo the Head World Cup (formerly San Marco) recommendation. Anybody who has a "Lange foot" should at least take a look. I was a Lange person from the late 1970's 'til last Christmas. I went with the Head silicon injection system and I get that same superb Lange heel pocket feel with a lot more precise fit on the rest of my foot. Hopefully, the liners will last longer than 125 days, too.
post #4 of 20
Maybe you should try a thermofit liner?
post #5 of 20
Maybe you should try a thermofit liner?

Free your heels, poke your eyes out!
post #6 of 20
Ditto on the Head WC. I went from X Zero 9 to WC, and was way stoked. A reasonable test about stretching your boots is to remove the liner, put your footbed in on top of the zeppa, and put your foot in on top and stand up. If you can center your foot on the footbed so that it does not touch any part of the shell, than you probably do not need a shell blowout. If it is close, you may want to butcher the liner a bit. Not all bootfitters like to do this. Some people would rather go straight to the shell. Not me, I figure every little bit helps, and start by hacking the liner. Vertical slits about 3/4 of the way through with an exacto are easy, and very effective. Just try not to go through the last layer. Removing layers is also good. Mike was right about your toe, that is usually caused by a boot that is too big. What is your shell size like. Put your foot in the shell, stand up, slide your foot until your toes just touch the front. How much room is between the heel and the shell. A good performance fit is usually not more than half an inch. Of course if your feet are different sizes, like a lot of us, the small foot may end up a little loose, and the big one a little tight. No worry, that's what bootfitters are for.
post #7 of 20
Since fit is just about everything in a ski boot, and we all know how important a properly fitting ski boot is to performance, perhaps you need an ally in trying to solve your fit problem.

Go see your ally ASAP.....your trusted boot fitter !

Otherwise, there will be no Happy Skiing for you this coming ski season !
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
mike_m, GeoffD: I should have noted that I have been told at two shop that I am definitely not a Lange fit (I am wide at the forefoot,with narrow heel). I have not been miserable in these boots so I have made the performance - comfort trade-off thus far. I will definately try the Head WC to see if they accomadate me a little better.

Ridgehiker, gonzostrike: I should try another insert as the first one definately improved the comfort.

spinheli: I put my foot in the shell with the footbed. The shell is against the outside of my forefoot and along the side of my big toe (my toe is not up against the front of the shell). This pressure is more exagerated without the footbed. With my toe against the front of the shell, there is about 3/4 inch of space behind my heel. When I put the boot on (liner and all) it seems like my foot gets sqeezed from the sides, pushing my toe close to the tip.

If I stretch the shell, I would think it would be to widen the forefoot. I have been aware of the theory about the black toe caused by the foot sliding forward (intuitively it makes sense), but in my case, I think the narrow boot is pushing my toe forward, then just a normal amount of movement causes the problem?
post #9 of 20
Does not sound good. I am a little confused by your shell size. If you really have 3/4" with your toes just touching, than it may be a bit big. I would be courious about your arch length. Anyway, you will definatly want to blow those boots out in the forefoot. I would thin the liner too, and maybe do a little shell thining with the dremel.

You may also want ot try a tounge pad, and put the power strap on first, under the shell, nice and snug. This will help keep your toes back. Boots also seem to flex better this way.

Oh yea, there are some changes in the fits of Head WC $ Cup Crosses this season. The narrow 98mm forefoot got narrower, and the 102 got wider in the heel and toe box. I think so it's not exactly the same as it has been for the last couple years. Bummer for me, gonna have to pad.
post #10 of 20
3/4" should be plenty of room but give the stretch a try. I went from Lange x09 to L-10 World Cup fit. I downsized to a size 9 shell (313mm) and had about a 1/4 inch behind heel. Was in the 10 shell (323mm)but could never get proper fit. (My foot is 10 3/4 left and 10 right and narrow, low instep and skinny calf.) Even had a foam liner which didn't work too well.
So downsizing I had to do a lot of stretching in length and some forefoot width. Also grinding behind the heel to get more length. The world cup fit -uses a thin liner and the bottom shell from the old ZR (?) it is a bit roomier in the forefoot and heel seems a little looser actually. Bottom shell is very thick and good for stretching and grinding.

The World cup liner fit better in the calf. I very quickly got rid of that liner though and bought a Nordica Doberman liner the guy had in the shop for 50$. Much better. The Lange wc liner is real thin and about as cheap as you could make.
Eventually after lots of stretching and grinding I've got the shell to not give me pain at all. In fact this summer I wore them from the hotel and up the lift (about a 1/2 hour ride) with no problem. I'll probably try another foam liner this year.

Warning on cutting the toe on the liner- if you go all the way through make sure to at least duct tape over the hole. Last year I did emergency hole cutting in the lodge, never taped the hole, forgot about it, then on a really cold day got frostbite on the big toe. Liners can supposedly be stretched too- this is better than cutting for warmth.

My heavilly stretched boot now needs to be flattened as the stretching has warped the bottom. If you like your boots so much it might be worth trying to make them work. See a very good bootfitter asap!

Ditto on spin's shin pad advice- you could be moving forward because of that.

Oh yeah- the L-10 wc's are definitely lighter than the X 09's (and the buckles are sooo much better)<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Tog (edited August 22, 2001).]</FONT>
post #11 of 20
Hey NCskier...

Lot of good advice, but I am wondering about your arch length vs. your overall foot length. If your metatarsals (the big toe knuckle closest to the ankle) are not right at the widest part of the boot, it may be part of the problem. Light grind (dremel) is a start, then maybe blow them out a little. Sound "saveable" to me.

But I dunno, IMHO I think the Head WC is a better boot...

Also, how much does your foot flex and flatten? Especially front to back. If your arch is quite defined with an un-weighted foot, then flattens almost completely, you may want a bit more curve to your arch. Be careful or you will feel like you are standing on a baseball bat... yuck!

The boot may be a bit long for a performance fit, but sounds like it's not horribly long.

So, you ever ski in Maggie Valley?

Visit me here &gt;&gt;&gt;SnoKarver
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
SnoKarver: Actually the C stands for California, but I visit back there so maybe I will check it out.
It is difficult for me to answer your questions because I haven't compared my feet to other's, like a boot fitter has. The "knuckle" is the widest part on my foot. I should also note that I have had trouble with running shoes because the the forefoot is too narrow or the heel is too wide. I use motion control shoe with a soft arch support to control over-pronation.

If I had a narrow forefoot, I may have been able to go a size smaller, but my foot wouldn't fit into it. I don't recall the trial and purchase too well.

Lots of praise for the Head WC. If I really shouldn't be in the Lange, maybe that wouldn't be a good fit for me either. I will check into the stretch - the place I bought 'em at may still do it for free. Perhaps mid-season I will make a purchase. I will add the Head WC 102mm to my list.
post #13 of 20
Just a thought here.... what about placing a 1/4" heel shim between the shell and liner? This just might raise the heel enough which might in effect pull the liner back away from the front of the shell. It might give you just enough length to solve the problem. Good ol' cut up green Spenco liners (the flat ones) or any thin closed cell foam or neoprene might work.

An alternative would be to try it inside your liner, under your footbed..... might be worth the experiment. Good luck!
post #14 of 20
Mary - I would be careful about putting heel lifts in ski boots, as this tends to alter ones stance. I don't know how many times I have seen people with a messed up stance from neegligent heel lifting. Yea, a heel lift may pull his toes back, heck it may even improve his stance, but if it throws him off balance, it is not worth it. Check out the article in the PSIA archives entitled "The ups and downs of ramping the foot" by Greg Hoffman. Sorry, I have no idea how to link, but the site is www.psia.org
post #15 of 20
spinheli - I certainly agree with you. But I'm of the opinion that experimentation is a good way to learn, esp. if ya already got the materials laying around the house. Shoot, if it doesn't work, ya just yank it out, no big deal.

Oh, and thanks for the PSIA article info. I'll check it out. Here is the link http://www.psia.org/education/TPSArt...l99ramping.asp <FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by mary (edited August 25, 2001).]</FONT>
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
I was talked out of the stretch at the shop for the following reasons:

I was told the Lange shells would shrink back after awhile, I was taking a big risk that the boots would become sloppy, and given that they aren't so uncomfortable I should put up with them as they are if I like the performance so well.

I really don't know if this is good advice or they were hoping to sell me another boot.
post #17 of 20
I had a pair of Nordicas stretched last year and it didn't last a month. This summer the rep ground the inside and it worked great. No more pain and still a good(best ever)fit.
post #18 of 20
I usually have my boots stretched, as I have tiny heels and very wide splayed out feet. I'd never fit in a Lange!
It hasn't caused problems, my only problem is I've tended to go for boots that "almost" fit, and so I tend to focus on forefoot width. Trouble is, wide forefoot boots tend to be wide heel boots....
In hindsight, I maybe should have gone for snugger heels, almost wide enough fronts, and lots of stretching.
OH well.
stretching can be a great solution for peopel with foot knobbles, like bunions. They can make a knobble in teh boot...I've seen them!

post #19 of 20
Stretching shells properly takes a certain amount of skill. The trick is to heat the plastic to just below its blistering point. Sounds kind of scary but it isn't if your tech knows how to do it right. If done correctly it won't resume its former shape.
If not heated enough the memory characteristics of plastic will tend to cause the boot to revert to its origonal shape.

I have had several pairs of boots stretched and/or punched over the years and they have kept their new shapes. Even new boots can come warped right out of the box because of the heat they are subjected to during the manufacuring process. So whether you want to stretch your boots or not its good to check your boot soles for flatness.

Having said all that I personally would not have a boot stretched at the toe or heel. That is because I don't feel comfortable playing around with any part of the boot that will interface with the binding.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Lostboy (edited September 05, 2001).]</FONT>
post #20 of 20
Probably putting my Dobbies in front of the car heater so I could get into them had something to do with them going back.
Warped soles don't cause me much problem because I grind my cant into the boot. Usually when I'm finished the sole is closer to DIN than "out of the box".
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