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Boot Stiffness and Injury Potential

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Just a theoretical question, if anyone has any opinions.

Would a stiffer, more form-fitting boot have a greater potential to contribute to injury than a softer boot with a less restrictive fit? Do you guys have information, conjectures, or experience regarding such a subject?

A little background: I have been gravitating around boots in the 110-130 flex range for the past five seasons. I am currently skiing on a Raptor 120 and a Salmon Falcon 10. The Raptor is by far much more form-fitting, stiff, and tight all-around than than the Falcon. In fact, I even had to have the 6th toe area ground a couple times to keep my feet from falling asleep. THe boots have been correctly balanced and canted by fitters. I am not into high-speed but would say a lot of times I am high-energy. I like to ski mostly groomers at moderate speeds and rarely ski above 30MPH or so. I prefer high-energy short slalom type turns on narrow skis on blue-black groomers or through a NASTAR course. I do not race. My groomer ski of choice for the past 4 years has been the RX8. When I tire, I get on my the IM77 Chip from 4 seasons ago and just cruise.

Anyways, the reason I ask is that I have noticed when I have a mishap while wearing the Raptor and have had to bail, I really get banged around and the knee and shins tend to take the brunt of it. This never happens with any other boot. It's as if there is so much leverage once the boot hits the snow and very little give in terms of space between foot, liner, and shell that any jarring is immediately transmitted to the shin and knees. I also noticed that if I catch an edge, man does that hurt the knee and shin. I don't just toppple over like I would on a softer boot, it's pretty jarring on the lower leg. Ten years ago I wouldn't give it a second thought but as I am getting up there a bit, I am now thinking more about safey concerns than I would have in the past --not to the point of paranoia, but just prudent caution. I am thinking perhaps that too stiff a bit is a recipe for a boot top fracture in a fall or an ACL rip?

I really don't need a 120 flex boot, I simply like the response it gives me. I could easily get by with my old Head RS 110, it just wouldn't be as precise or quick.

I really am not asking anyone to help me make a deicision, just looking for any opinions on boot stiffness and injury potential.

Thanks
post #2 of 10
Seems to me a stiffer boot would be more likely to release from a binding before you started tearing soft tissue, so the opposite may be true, but please be advised, I am not a professional "boot guy."
Edited by mudfoot - 10/31/09 at 8:09am
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
I aggree the bindng releases more efficiently with a stiffer boot. The issue I have is when I hit the snow. I don't fall a lot but when I do, or have to bail, I usually try to do a hip check. Maybe that's the issue. I noticed the stiffer boot tends to like to twist when it hits the snow--especially in a fall in a mogul field.  I think that more leverage and less give makes it easier to jam the boot.
post #4 of 10
Have to admit this is one complaint I've never heard before. 
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lou Rosenfeld View Post

Have to admit this is one complaint I've never heard before. 
 

Hi,

Not so much a complaint as a curiosity. Just was wondering if stiff boots might be a liability when it comes to injury.
post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by MojoMan View Post

I aggree the bindng releases more efficiently with a stiffer boot. The issue I have is when I hit the snow. I don't fall a lot but when I do, or have to bail, I usually try to do a hip check. Maybe that's the issue. I noticed the stiffer boot tends to like to twist when it hits the snow--especially in a fall in a mogul field.  I think that more leverage and less give makes it easier to jam the boot.

It seems to me that most boots are pretty rigid in most directions -- the 'stiffness' or 'softness' of a boot is mostly in the forward flex.  Unless you're hitting the snow in such a way that your ankle could flex forwards, I'm not seeing how the boot would make a ton of difference.  (Stiffer boots or harder/thinner liners would definitely bang your shins up more in general.)
post #7 of 10

Well, a boot that's sufficiently soft and loose that your foot can actually slip out of it might help avoid knee injuries and broken legs in some situations. Then again, it wouldn't exactly improve your skiing, and might prove dangerous in other ways (e.g. by making it more likely you'd run into a tree, not to mention the danger of injury to other skiers posed by the prospect of a ski with a boot clamped into it screaming down the hill).

Other than that, the stiffer boot would be more likely to prevent an injury, as it makes it essentially impossible to hurt your ankle.

 

post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by sjjohnston View Post

Other than that, the stiffer boot would be more likely to prevent an injury, as it makes it essentially impossible to hurt your ankle.

 

On the other hand, would it cause more "boot-top" Tib-fib fractures?
post #9 of 10
Not unless you're comparing the stiff boot to something ridiculous (like a boot that your foot comes out of). If you've got your body mass going somewhere fast that you don't want it to go, and that's inconsistent with where your skis are capable of going, one of two things will happen, and very soon: (i) your binding will release, so that your body and your skis are free to move independently, or (ii) something in your body will give way. A soft boot might break your leg a split second later.
post #10 of 10
I think that loose boots will only result in black toe nails (from ramming your toes into the front of the boot when your calf presses against the back of the boot in a fall, aerial landing, off-balance situation, etc.) and uncomfortable pressure points from overtightening of the lower buckles to maintain some feeling of control. Accordingly, I don't believe there is anyplace in high performance skiing for loose boots. Boots need to fit snugly, with little to no movement of the foot within the boot.

With that out of the way, Soft versus Stiff is another story. Soft boots seem less responsive but can be made to respond with greater body movement. Stiff boots do put more stress on your knee in the types of falls that the binding release mechanism doesn't respond to (rearward fall, hips lower than knees, stiff bootback and ski tail). OTOH, forward falls will be taken care of by all modern bindings, releasing and avoiding most fractures.

I think the more responsive feel of Stiff boots can be addictive, but can result in greater knee risk. Accordingly, I believe many people ski in stiffer boots than they probably should. I see nothing wrong with good/advanced/expert recreational skiers skiing in no more than 100-110 stiffness boots.
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