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Footbed Shooting Gallery

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Ok, Great input on the snake oil debate!
It is time to put the crass and grass aside for a minute...

There is plenty of information that shows the need for custom boot fitting from the beginner to the expert. If you want to advance in this sport no matter what level, all skiers at all levels must be advised that skiing will impart forces upon the foot and ankle that basic equipment cannot stabilize.

Any person that thinks ski shops are trying to rip people off with custom fitting services that tailor hunks of plastic ski boots to the variable human foot (IMO ONLY) are foolish.

But I will agree that (products derived as solutions can be variable between very good, fair, bad or even horrible).

So Here Ye go, The footbed shooting gallery! For the wise only! The mere disabelievers are not invited here (Go Ski you sx series rear entry boots)...I am just kidding! ALL INVITED

Please though, lets try to help the many readers understand that boot fitting id crucial, even for the beginner!

What makes a good footbed and how is it interfaced to link the foot and ski boot? ( I agree with or podiatrist friend! Please no medical Lab Orthotic input, those are Orthotics for shoe's, these are footbeds for athletes in ski boots ) IMO the medical industry (Orthotic) has no background or understanding on ski boot fitting! So lets talk about skiing footbeds and ski boot alterations here!

Below (After the oil slick debate) is my summery on outlining that there is a real need for for custom fitting beginners to experts:

Find my favorite lead in thread from a oil slick conteder:

***Please Skip Over RicB and Read the other part of this In thread #3***
RicB is a fast shooter here at the shooting gallery! I like him, but he messed up the following chapter, I wanted to introduce fischermh to the shooting gallery, his comment told me it was time to lay down some reasoning behind all the hype!
Hey maybe one day old RicB will come around and taste the goodness!
There is also a great post from the doc in the oil slick defining Arch supports, I will bring it into the shooting gallery and comment on its lack of ability later tomorrow.
Read on! Load your guns! It's a shooting gallery!








post #2 of 18
For some anecdotal evidence, I've many things in my life. some more physical than other, but mainly I was a small home in SW Montana, most of my adult life. I used my feet hard and my body hard. I also spent many thousands of miles hiking and skiing backcountry. Work wore out some of my joints but not my feet and ankles. After all these life expereinces, I have to say that skiing is nowhere near the hardest thing I did with and to my feet. My feet have never felt abused like after a hard day at work building a house or a hard day on the trail (without skis, or footbeds). Yes I wore properly fit boots and shoes. I guess I just don't get these huge forces that you speak of, and I ski all day five days a week. You just haven't conviced me yet Ruidi. I'm not saying footbeds don't have a place, or that we don't generate forces in skiing, but I just can't buy the greater forces than anything else idea for my own experience. Which is extensive. Later, RicB.
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fischermh View Post
It seems to me that since the sole of the boot is inflexible and since the ski flexes, the forces applied to the foot are not that great. It would seem to me that the forces exerted on the foot comes from weighting the ski and counteracting the centrifugal forces created in a turn.
Ok here you all go:
understand this statement, The argument seems to make an assumption that I think we should explore. He states that the “boot is inflexible and since the ski flexes, the forces applied to the foot are not that great” In order to fully understand the forces involved we need to look at the entire system and not just individual interfaces. Let’s assign rigidity values to each component in the system in order to evaluate it. Defining 10 as totally rigid and 1 as completely flexible I propose the following values:

Ski - 6
Ski Binding - 6
Ski Boot - 8
Foot - 3
Ankle - 3
Leg shaft – 6

These are obviously ball-parked and I would be interested in all your estimates, but it seems obvious that the foot and ankle are the most flexible of the components in the system.

Now we need to understand the forces that are involved. When a force is imparted to the ski (from the mountain or wherever) the force translates from the ski up through the system to the leg. We can assume that the ski flexes but when we look at the entire system we can see that the weakest section will flex first. With regards to skiing this is the foot and ankle. This is the reason the boot has been designed to be rigid in order to increase the rigidity of the ankle. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said regarding the foot interface. Current boots do and can not not stabilize this interface to reduce any residual motion due to an outside force. (This is because there are so many variables in so many feet to have a sufficient average for mass production) Therefore all feet (Good, bad, pronated supinated and whatever!) will translate and rotate inside the boot due to external forces. This is what causes foot pain and a loss of energy efficiency.

I believe the goal of any footbed is to stabilize the foot in order to increase the foot/boot interface stability. The boot rigidity alone is not sufficient because so much force is translated directly though the foot. If there were no force translated through the foot then there would be no need for making these products. And remember, off the shelf drug store products are designed for bandaids in walking shoes, plastic heel cup sport insoles are designed for sneakers not ski boots! Ski boots need very detailed structures to enable stability in its rigid plastic environment.

I am off for awhile, lets see what the whit of this forum has to say about this :::



post #4 of 18
Thought experiment, pushing down with all your weight at the ski tip (not a usual thing to do, but I've done it on occasion) that's a metre away from your ankle equates to how much force at your foot? Something to try. Push open a door with your finger near the door knob, then push the same door open with your finger near the hinges.

Ruidi,
While I admire the attempt to get everyone convinced to come into your shop for a footbed and fitting, I don't think you will convince anyone who doesn't already know re the forces. It's just too convoluted.
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 

Edited by RUIDI WIRSCH - 1/20/11 at 4:00pm
post #6 of 18
Well maybe not your shop, but at least a shop. I think they should get their boots properly fitted if they haven't already BTW.

What about a 12-year old newbie on a tight budget with growing feet. What should he do for ski boots?
post #7 of 18
My observations:

"Footbed" and "orthotic" are not synonyms.

Everyone needs a properly functioning footbed...sometimes custom, sometimes not.

Some people need orthotic correction and those that do, usually need that correction while in their ski boots.

Typically, that will mean encorporating the orthotic correction into a footbed.

There are skilled bootfitters that are also qualified pedorthists and can read and implement a prescription for an orthotic when making a custom footbed.
post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by RicB View Post
For some anecdotal evidence, I've many things in my life. some more physical than other, but mainly I was a small home in SW Montana, most of my adult life. I used my feet hard and my body hard. I also spent many thousands of miles hiking and skiing backcountry. Work wore out some of my joints but not my feet and ankles. After all these life expereinces, I have to say that skiing is nowhere near the hardest thing I did with and to my feet. My feet have never felt abused like after a hard day at work building a house or a hard day on the trail (without skis, or footbeds). Yes I wore properly fit boots and shoes. I guess I just don't get these huge forces that you speak of, and I ski all day five days a week. You just haven't conviced me yet Ruidi. I'm not saying footbeds don't have a place, or that we don't generate forces in skiing, but I just can't buy the greater forces than anything else idea for my own experience. Which is extensive. Later, RicB.
There is something to say about genetics too.

Not everyone will benefit to the same extent with custom footbeds.

If you have a foot that fits the manufactures idea of the "average" foot, have good strong structure, don't need any correction, have very strong arches, etc.. you might not gain much from a custom footbed. Cut to fits or even stock footbeds might be just as good.

The sign of a good fitter/footbed builder is one that will look at your feet, and not sell you what you don't need. I have some 22yr old footbeds that have been evaluated by several very good fitters and was never pressured into buying new footbeds. They all told me the ones I have stablize my feet fine. What's to say RicB's feet don't need any more "input" than what he has.

DC
post #9 of 18
I think dchan has it nailed. I have a pretty average foot, and custom footbeds did not change my skiing.

On the other hand, I noticed a huge improvement after having my boots worked on--cant and alignment. That experience made me a huge proponent of good bootfitting--but what works depends on what the particular skier needs.
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by dchan View Post
There is something to say about genetics too.

Not everyone will benefit to the same extent with custom footbeds.

If you have a foot that fits the manufactures idea of the "average" foot, have good strong structure, don't need any correction, have very strong arches, etc.. you might not gain much from a custom footbed. Cut to fits or even stock footbeds might be just as good.

The sign of a good fitter/footbed builder is one that will look at your feet, and not sell you what you don't need. I have some 22yr old footbeds that have been evaluated by several very good fitters and was never pressured into buying new footbeds. They all told me the ones I have stablize my feet fine. What's to say RicB's feet don't need any more "input" than what he has.

DC
Dchan, I think you have hit on some areas that are very rellevant to the discusion. I don't know about my gentics but I do know that I take very good care of my feet, I exercise my feet, yes my feet, and my tai chi practice has been proven in studies to improve balance by recuiting muscles in the ankle and foot and better integration of these muscles into the balance mechnisms of the body. Now, what I do think is the motivation behind custom footbeds is the fact that many don't use or exercise their feet the way the foot was intended to and needs to be used. Then they go out and want it to perform for a few hours a day at a much different level than what the typicaly do. So maybe they are using a custom footbed to accomodate for things they are lacking. If what's lacking is gentical and structural in nature then a podiatrist would be needed, but if is soft tissue conditioning and recruitment related, then we should at least recognize this and bring it up.

I've had customs three times before. The first custom was the best for general comfort for skiing. I threw away my customs about four years ago and never looked back. I know some really good skiers, (read exceptional) that use customs, and other that do not. I think most of them use them for fit reasons and not for stuctural reasons.

I also don't cant my boots anymore either. This I think is another area of soft tissue issues that may be better handled by conditioning and fitness. I handled it my way own way and many may care to. IMHO For those that don't care to improve structuraly, then do whatever and help them however is the right way to go. I see it being the difference between want and need. Nothing wrong with wanting though is there?

On the issue of forces, what my thinking is, is that the bottom of our feet are dealing with the opposing forces of the foot pushing down and the snow pushing back. Running into piles of snow and forces that push up at the tip or deflections to the skis beyond our foots base of support, are handled by the boot, and more specificaly, by the cuff and directed to the leg shaft. I agree Ruiddi, the ankle will flex under these circumstances (as will other joints), which is also why the boot flex needs to match the ankle flex, the forward lean needs to mate with the skiers range of ankle motion, and there should be very little room or range of motion before the force is transfered by the boot cuff to the leg shaft. Get these things right and the forces under the foot are just what I proposed earlier, and manageable by the foot's natural mechanisms. This type of fit could also drasticaly reduce the need for customs I would think. Something that I think Grizzly alluded too early on. This is by the way, what all of DavidsM's testing and empirical evidence showed, as I understood it. Later, RicB.
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by RUIDI WIRSCH View Post
Ok here you all go:
understand this statement, The argument seems to make an assumption that I think we should explore. He states that the “boot is inflexible and since the ski flexes, the forces applied to the foot are not that great” In order to fully understand the forces involved we need to look at the entire system and not just individual interfaces. Let’s assign rigidity values to each component in the system in order to evaluate it. Defining 10 as totally rigid and 1 as completely flexible I propose the following values:

Ski - 6
Ski Binding - 6
Ski Boot - 8
Foot - 3
Ankle - 3
Leg shaft – 6

These are obviously ball-parked and I would be interested in all your estimates, but it seems obvious that the foot and ankle are the most flexible of the components in the system.

Now we need to understand the forces that are involved. When a force is imparted to the ski (from the mountain or wherever) the force translates from the ski up through the system to the leg. We can assume that the ski flexes but when we look at the entire system we can see that the weakest section will flex first. With regards to skiing this is the foot and ankle. This is the reason the boot has been designed to be rigid in order to increase the rigidity of the ankle. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said regarding the foot interface. Current boots do and can not not stabilize this interface to reduce any residual motion due to an outside force. (This is because there are so many variables in so many feet to have a sufficient average for mass production) Therefore all feet (Good, bad, pronated supinated and whatever!) will translate and rotate inside the boot due to external forces. This is what causes foot pain and a loss of energy efficiency.

I believe the goal of any footbed is to stabilize the foot in order to increase the foot/boot interface stability. The boot rigidity alone is not sufficient because so much force is translated directly though the foot. If there were no force translated through the foot then there would be no need for making these products. And remember, off the shelf drug store products are designed for bandaids in walking shoes, plastic heel cup sport insoles are designed for sneakers not ski boots! Ski boots need very detailed structures to enable stability in its rigid plastic environment.

I am off for awhile, lets see what the whit of this forum has to say about this :::



I was skeptical of the foot being subject to lever forces. The foot is subject to the forces built up in a turn and the forces from terrain changes.

IMHO, the lever force theory is meant to justify the needs for footbeds and is a sales pitch. Think of how a lever works. A force is applied to one end of the lever. A object is lifted on the other end of the lever. The lifting force and work done depends on the placement of the fulcrum and the length of the lever.

Look at the ski and boot. The ski is in contact with the snow. It flexes with terrain changes. The boot sole is rigid(I would say a 9.5 on your scale). In addition with modern bindings, the ski flexes below the binding. I just do not see how the forces are translated through the boot sole to the foot.
post #12 of 18
As I said before, i have custom footbeds. I need them to keep my feet from hurting. So I am not against them in all cases. I just think they are being oversold. In addition, I am skeptical of any appreciable performance benefit for most normal feet.

Why am I inclined to think so? First, I did not realize/notice that I skied better with footbeds. In addition to wide feet, one femur is a 1/2 inch longer than the other. So a heel lift was added to the footbed to compensate. Second, I skied for 25 years without footbeds and 15 years with them. The guys I skied with growing up were all excellent skiers and they did not have custom footbeds. In fact, my dad was a good of a skier as any level 3 instructor I have skied with, and back in the sixties/seventies he had Lange Comp boots and Kneissel White Stars. Fourth, I think the human body makes the necessary adjustments to get the leg and foot in the right position to make a turn.

Fifth, and probably the underlying driver is that everywhere I look things are sold based on hype. It is part and parcel of our materialistic society. Examples: If you don't have a 3 GB processor, you cannot possibly do word processing on a computer. Even though you never drive over 100 mph, you need the V or above rated tires. You absolutely need a food processor, a chefs knife just won't do. etc. etc. I wonder how people survived 50 or 100 years ago, without all the things Madison Ave tells us we need today.

I definitely could be wrong, but then again I have been right before following a contrarian path. I think I may test my theory by skiing with and without the footbeds, and seeing if I can tell a difference.
post #13 of 18
I don't know a whole lot about ski boots, but I do know that with my running shoes, I have in the past year gone from running in heavy motion-control shoes with orthotics to running in racing flats, along with some barefoot running on grass. This was a very gradual process, but my feet are feeling much stronger.

I think, for the average person without REALLY screwed up feet, the idea of a running shoe that does everything the foot is supposed to do doesn't make a lot of sense, considering that the foot is capable, with gradual strengthening, of so much more than the average person asks of it.

I would think this same logic applies to ski boots. Perhaps maybe even more so, because there are probably much less forces acting on the foot while skiing than while running. I still have custom footbeds, but am now contemplating skiing without them (though now I don't know whether my current boot will still fit, because I think the footbed shortens the foot).

On the other hand, because the foot isn't dealing with a lot of force, I would guess it's unlikely that a supportive footbed in a ski boot can do much harm, unlike an overly built-up running shoe with the a) high heel that tilts you forward, putting strain on the knees and making you more inclined to strike the ground with your heel, and b) excessive arch and overall foot support that weakens the foot and makes one prone to plantar fasciitis and other foot and lower-leg problems.
post #14 of 18
Regarding forces on the feet while skiing, I'm again pretty ignorant, though I do know that after a day of skiing in the bumps, the only parts of my body that aren't sore are my feet. In contrast, walking up or down a rocky trail, my feet will be at least as sore as the rest of my body. Just doesn't seem like skiing imparts that much force on the feet.
post #15 of 18
A quality footbed that is a match for the individual is critical. Unfortunatly, most standard inserts supplied with the boots are worthless in terms of fit and support.

Our family has had good results with off-the-shelf footbeds. I've had respected bootfitters tell me that a custom footbed is not required in my case.

Cheers,

Michael Barrett
post #16 of 18
I have pretty screwed up feet... they look just fine (not too many weird lumps etc) but function .... well not so great.... add in a significant leg length discrepancy... and a few other bits 'n pieces.... and you get a bit of a mess....

So far I have 3 pairs of custom footbeds none of which appear to work very well (Can't say I haven't TRIED the bootfitter route)...

My orthotics (built by podiatrist) work VERY well... so well in fact I got to the point I shoved them into my ski boots.... They work MUCH better than any of my custom footbeds....
WHY?
Well the podiatrist tells me that for some of the corrections I need the most effective place to do them is almost under my leg bones... the stuff from the bootfitters cannot do this - because I am STANDING or SITTING with my damn leg affecting the foot when they are cast....
Sorry bootfitters - I'm done with having yet another footbed made by you lot and it not working....
I'll play with the podiatrist and the only bootfitter I know who WILL use my orthotics and fit boot from there!
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by disski View Post
So far I have 3 pairs of custom footbeds none of which appear to work very well (Can't say I haven't TRIED the bootfitter route)...

My orthotics (built by podiatrist) work VERY well... so well in fact I got to the point I shoved them into my ski boots.... They work MUCH better than any of my custom footbeds....
Me too! I take strong exception to Ruidi's comment "The medical industry (Orthotic) has no background or understanding on ski boot fitting!" My orthotics are the only thing that works for me in my ski boots. When I try "custom foot beds" they just don't work, and yes I've tried a few as most bootfitters don't want to work with orthotics, although I get less resistance now than when custom footbeds first started to get popular. To top it off, the podiatrist who made my first pair of orthotics spent a summer consulting for a couple of ski boot makers in Italy, doing foot bed design for them. So don't tell me he knows nothing about skiing and ski boots. He told me the othotics I have "are made to go under my feet no matter what they are in".

Rick
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by skirrr View Post
He told me the othotics I have "are made to go under my feet no matter what they are in".

Rick

I think that is possibly true from his point of view but the effect upon the foot to ski relationship is a matter that goes beyond static support of the foot. Think about how the ramp angle of one boot can vary from another for one thing, nevermind the difference between several different bindings. The orthotics you have may be made for your feet but the skiing outcome can vary a lot. I am no boot fitting expert or podiatrist but, having had the fortunate results of an expert boot fitter and his custom footbeds, I can say that it can make great differences in your skiing. I'm not even sure the objectives of a podiatrist with his orthotic and a bootfitter and his footbed-fit package are the same.
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