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Will new retail footbed change alignment?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I got a pair of used Tecnica XT's and replaced the packed out liner with the lace up Dobie. I have never had a custom footbed, shell work or had the alignment thing done, so I went over to Jack Frost Ski Shop in Jackson, N.H. to get the Full Monty. I put the boots on with my old green Superfeet inside. The fitter pulls out these measuring devices. After doing the whole deal he pronounces that my right leg is already dead on, and left is only 1/4 degree off. He said that this is a result they would hope to achieve after a full fitting with custom beds. He did put some lifters in the back to get my hips back. And he gave me a set of Insta print tongue liners which helped to get me a bit more upright as well. There was no reason, he said, for me to get a custom foot bed because I am dead on with the $30 greens. I have read about some other off the shelf foot beds that I may want to try for fun. If they are no good in the boots, I will put them in my hiking boots or shoes. Obviously, I do not want to muck up the alignment that I am getting with the greens. So if I am aligned with them, am I likely to be aligned with other off the shelf footbeds, or would I have to be remeasured with new beds? Thanks.
post #2 of 13
you may be one of the lucky people who are not pronated or supinated, but naturally stand in a neutral stance. When it was mentioned that you were .25 degrees off, was that refering to the leg shaft alignment or canting (not the connection between upper and lower boot, but sole grinding)?

Personally though, the more I learn about bootfitting and footbeds (it is part of my re-attempt at college - required classes) the more I am realizing I spent a great deal of money on shotty footbeds because my foot was never put into neutral.
post #3 of 13

who knows

I am assuming that the .25 degrees you stated was the "use the right angle and measure the location of the center of mass of the knee statically and when flexed relative to the ?midpoint? of the foot."

I have always been equally neutral when measured this way and when standing on the computerized balance gizmo. Then, at the Harb camp in December they looked at the whole foot and ankle and identified that I have 4 or 5 degrees of "forefoot varus" (do a web search for explanation if interested). They built up the forefoot of the footbed, and I suddenly feel much more connected to the snow. (They also encouraged me to see a podiatrist and get orthotics for street shoes). I have Instaprint footbeds, I am not a fan of 'rigid' footbeds that too much disable or lock down foot articulation in the boot.

Not really an answer to your question, just my experience.

I guess I am sort agreeing with Manus, seems like the more I learn the more I realize how much there is to be aware of.
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Gents, I do not have the vocabulary or technical expertise to answer your questions. But I can describe the process. Boots on, I stood in this contraption that had a piece of vertical plastic appx 2' long. I assume it was some sort of plumb device. The fitter had me stand in a comfortable stance. He said that I was, if memory serves, 1.5 degrees on the right - slightly knockneed, which he said was desirable. The other side was .25 degress of fthat, though I do not know in which direction. There was more to the process than that, but it was after this step that the fitter gave me the verdict.
post #5 of 13
I'm pretty much dead-on on both feet. I may have minor imbalances, but I have enough range of motion that I can easily compensate either way and therefore have no canting. However, I do have custom footbeds (3 pair, to be exact) and still highly recommend them. The issues of fatigue, comfort, warmth, reaction time and accuracy, and the fact that your foot won't change shape when pressured have alot to do with that recommendation. Sure, if $150 is going to break your bank, then stick with the $30 generics until you can afford better, but alignment is not the only issue that footbeds deal with.
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
John, I went to the fitting fully prepared to buy custom footbeds. The fitter said I did not need them for any reason, so I did not buy them and did not feel the need to persuade him that I do. I was happy to save the $150 in my pocket to spend on something else I do not need.
post #7 of 13

Footbeds & Alignment

Deliberate,

Footbeds are, in all actuality, only part of the "alignment" equation. Both Manus and Gandalf are headed down the right road. Manus mentions neutrality, Gandalf talks about center of knee mass. A boot that is properly aligned laterally, so to speak, will position you with the center of your knee mass over the center of the boot seam. There are any number of different opinions about flexed, un-flexed, etc... but generally speaking, with your weight just on the front of the boot you should get an acceptable measurement. It does sound like the fitter you worked with did a very good job of lifting your heels to drop your hips back. The tongue shim he gave you helps keep you upright, but is certainly much more of a band-aid solution for vertical alignment.

It sounds like the bootfitter you worked with measured you as knock-kneed or inside of the bootseam. If you are making a concerted effort to carve turns in a two-footed manner this is detrimental. Essentially, a knock-kneed stance makes it very to easy to roll the downhill ski onto edge, but limits how aggressive an angle you can achieve and also makes it hard to get your inside ski onto a similar angle (picture parallel shins). 10 or 15 years ago, this was widely accepted as the "way" to cant. Times, equipment, and technique have all changed dramatically since then. Additionally, your bootfitter should measure your two legs independently. He/she should tell you that you are X degrees inside or outside on a given leg. Once correction has been made (usually by using a cant strip) they should measure your other leg. It is amazing how many people I measure who have a noticeable leg length difference and this method reveals it. If correction is required for one or both of your legs then the fitter should keep playing with the amount of correction until you stand in that balanced stance on both feet while they are being corrected.

What a well-made footbed does in the alignment equation is more related towards eliminating problems with your feet (such as pronation or supination which are problems where you roll your feet to the inside or outside naturally) from the picture. The footbed will bring your foot to "neutral" so that you're standing with equal distribution. Gandalf mentioned varus and valgus, which are much more complicated, but equally important. See http://www.footmaxx.com/clinicians/five.html for an explanation. Posting of a footbed will help eliminate these problems as well. I really think of a footbed as an interface between your foot which is, well, foot-shaped and contoured, and the flat bottom of your boot. One caveat: footbeds are only as good as the person making them, so do your homework.

Anyway, I've rambled long enough. I hope that helps.
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
TheSkiGuy, I am obliged to you for your tutorial and advise. It is a confusing art/science for the uninitiated like me. I picked a guy who was listed in the Best Bootfitters guide and has a Master's certification. I have no idea what this means, but it sounds good. I guess I will have a better idea of his work once I get back on snow. He did, as you suggest, measure each leg independently with the device I described. He determined, if I have this right, the right leg was 1.5 degrees and the left leg .25 degrees off from that. If your reference to "inside" means knockkneed, I guess that is what I am. He said that is desireable. You say it is an impediment to two footed carving and that is what particularly struck me about your comments. Keeping my weight more equally balanced on both skiis is something that has eluded me. I can stand on the outside ski with no problem. I figured it was technique. I worried less about it after studying Lito-Flores book. He advocates thoroughly unweighting the inside ski, and "phantom" tipping it to bring the outside (fully weighted) ski around. Is this full weight/balanced weight another one of those hot button topics that tend to set people off? So, are you suggesting that I talk to the fitter about eliminating the knock-kneed stance in order to get perfectly balanced, and if so, would that be done through canting in the shell, with a shim? Finally, you mention that the footbed can address pronation or supination. I do recall that the fitter had me stand, booted, on a board that had a line grid, and he moved my feet around. He said that orientation was fine. Does this sound like the pronat/supin thing. The Instaprint for the tongue was at my request. I have seriously bony shins and was quite bloodied up after four days of skiing. But that was in my old, packed out liners. I got new Dobie liners which fit much better around the shin, particualrly with the Booster strap.. He reformed the tongue and gave me the Instaprints to test. They are not affixed to the boot, so I will not use them if I do not have to. Again, I am very obliged for your kind contribution.
post #9 of 13
If you can walk comfortably in street shoes with or without commercial footbeds, puting them in your ski boots won't mess with your alignment. They may increase your comfort, and will take up some room.

That said. Supporting the foot can be a good thing., though as mentioned by gandalf, too much "support" might not be a good thing.

Someone with a very "normal" foot may do just fine with nothing at all, or a custom made footbed. One thing, the over the counter versions will not "correct" problems that are not there.

Experiment! You can do so much with tape and bits of cardboard etc.

Your own senses of comfort and balance can be valuable.

CalG
post #10 of 13
what Cgrandy said
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Cgrandy, thanks for your thoughts. Perhaps it is me, but it is really easy to be sucked into the vortex of boot adjustment. Frankly, it thoroughly disoriented me when the fitter said that I did not need custom beds. I came there wanting them, believing that it would be the ski panacea. My first thought was, "C'mon, everybody neeeeeds them." That is what I had come to learn, or at least believe. I recognize this attitude requires more of a realignment than my "perfect" feet.
post #12 of 13

More Info

Deliberate,

Sorry for the delay in posting to your follow-up.

It sounds to me like you should get a second opinion about your canting. The first thing that raises a red flag is the way you describe your fitter as giving you a stance measurement that describes your alignment relative to each boot. These measurements should be independent of each other, not x degrees on your left leg, and x degrees from that on your right. A proper analysis would be something like 1.5 degrees inside on your left, 1.25 inside on your right, etc...

Believe me when I say that you cannot and should not blame technique when it comes to being unable to weight and use your inside ski. What you describe as having read could be/is open to interpretation. I certainly should have qualified my response. I was not suggesting a 50/50 split of your weight. If you are a casual skier or even a weekend masters racer you should be trying to achieve some sharing of the load between both of your legs. Are you racing World Cup? If the answer is no, then you don't need to fret over trying to achieve the balance and angles those athletes do. That being said, those athletes ski the way they do because it works and copying their style, even if it's not to the same degree, is beneficial. Certainly this is much more difficult to attain if the center of your knee mass is inside of the center of your boot seam (knock-kneed).

1.5 degrees certainly warrants correction and the best way to do that is to have the angle planed into your bootsole by a technician using a bench jointer. You will also have to add a boot-lifter and have that technician use a router to cut your toe and heel lugs back to DIN. This job is costly. My guess is that you're looking at $150 to $225 for the whole deal, including parts. This is more expensive than canting shims under your bindings, but it does not limit you to left and right skis, allows you to demo other skis, etc... When you ski on your boots afterwards you will be blown away by the results. Additionally, by adding a lifter you essentially get a bootsole that you can replace every year for $25 or so dollars. So, you take the money you spend and spread it out over 5 or so years and it just plain makes sense.

To be honest, I'm not sure what the bootfitter was doing when he had you stand on the grid board. There is a machine called Tek-Scan that is essentially a pressure plate sensitive enough to see how your foot interacts with the bottom of your boot. If your bootfitter was going to look at pronation or supination he/she would do so before the footbed was made. Most good fitters can have a person stand on a level surface and see right away if they pronate or supinate. One important thing to remember: Even if you don't have a problem with your feet or your bootfitter says "you don't need them" you probably DO NEED THEM. As I mentioned before your foot is foot-shaped and has it's own unique contours. Additionally, it spreads out and gets longer when it is weighted. The bottom of your boot is flat and if nothing else a footbed integrates your foot-shaped foot with the flat bottom of the boot while keeping it "supported" and therefore stopping from spreading all the way out or extending as long as it would if it was unsupported. Then you can think about going down a size to get maximum performance without squeezing your feet or crunching your toes. The too much support that Gandalf and CGrandy mention would, in my opinion, be the footbed causing discomfort by way of not letting your foot spread/lengthen as much as it does in all your other shoes. The best way to address this is by buying trim-to-fit semi-custom insoles (think the green or blue Superfeet deals for $30) and putting them in your shoes. It gets your foot used to it.

So, there is my novel part 2. Hopefully you've gotten some more insight.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
TheSkiGuy, many thanks for your thoughtful reply. Actually, I do have Superfeet greens in my boots and do well with them. My question was whether I would do so much better with custom ones to justify the cost. If comfort is the principal issue, I find the Greens to be very comfortable. If a custom bed does something the Green does not do, then I am open to the cost. I went back to your original reply and now understand that you, Manus Gadolf and others are saying that the custom foot bed puts your foot into a neutral position, and that this is the first "step" towards a true alignment. A Geen will not do this, I presume, because it is universal. I appreciate your comments on the knock kneed issue. Actually, I had a guy tweak the last boots I had and he put a tiny shim inside the heel assembly, the effect of which was to bring my left knee in - presumably counteracting my knock knee on the left. He did not do anything on the right. From what I can glean from all the suggestions, knock kneed is bad when trying the get neutral and neutral is necessary to "equalize the load" which is a prerequisite to efficient carving. Looks like I am back to a fitter. TSG, you are in VT. I am not so far away in Maine, and am willing to travel (want to get my wife squared away as well). Suggestions fo the kind of fitter who gets all this and can do the boot work and beds (GMOL?). I really would like to get this all dialed in. I skied yesterday for the first time with the Dobie liners - an absolutely pain-free fit. I plan to ski in these boots for a very long time. Feel free to PM me with fitter suggestions if you like. Thanks again to all replies.
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