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Do Little Kids Need Footbeds?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

My kids are tiny for their ages.  I measure their feet at 15 and 17 centimeters.  I've bought them Dalbello Gaia 1 boots that seem to fit.  I'm wondering about footbeds/insoles.  I pulled the liners and found the 1/8 inch thick flat piece of felt supplied by the factory.

 

I'm wondering if the factory insole is OK for little feet.  We're going to be skiing around 25 days this year and my 7-year-old is already no stranger to black diamonds.  I'm concerned about arch support and heel hold.  I realize tiny feet have tiny arches and maybe it doesn't matter much.  Both kids weigh under 40 lbs.

 

I checked the Superfeet web site.  The smallest they've got seems to be the BLUE model, but the smallest they make it is US children's 11.5, which is a full size too big.  Clearly, availability is an issue.  Does that just mean it doesn't really matter for the little ones?

 

I'd appreciate it if someone in the know could tell me how much of an issue this really ought to be.  Thanks.

post #2 of 14

This is no issue. 

 

There is about a million things....ok maybe only a 100 but still....there is lots of stuff WAY more important this.

 

Fundamentally you want your kids to find skiing an enjoyable fun experience.  Footbeds are not going to do that, nor will they help with performance or control.  Footbeds enable to a skier to impart subtle control moves in the boots, kids dont have the motor skills, strenght, co-ordination, dexterity or skiing skill etc to enable that....most adults don't either.

 

But lots of adults like spending money to feel "in the know", plus old feet do benefit comfort wise....kids not so much.

 

Another tidbit...Bode Miller doesnt use footbeds or even the little carboard thingy....

post #3 of 14

What Skidude72 said. 

 

I got my daughter custom foot beds last year (she was 12) and felt bad I didn't do it sooner because she was uncomfortable in her boots and her alignment was screwed up.  She didn't know what comfortable was.  She had been skiing with her feet further apart than her shoulders.  Foot beds brought her feet under her hips.  The cause was her crazy flat feet and pronation.  It's now to the point that she is having problems standing balanced on her feet (puts more weight on her heels so it doesn't hurt) in street shoes.  Since kids refuse to stop growing, and her ski boots (because of the foot beds) are her most comfortable shoes, I have to get her new foot beds every year and the foot beds cost as much as the boots. It's getting very expensive.

 

At you kids age, I wide stance is NOT an indicator of an alignment issue.  It just means they're little kids that are limited to the abilities that Skidude listed in ski boots on skis.

 

I think what is more important for youngins' is a good cuff fit.  A couple years back I asked the boot guys about fitting boots to kids and they provided some really good info; fit to cuff, a little more room in the toe box for warmth, etc.  Do a search on "fitting boots to kids" or something along those lines.  Also I've found from teaching kids your children's age is that the boots are too stiff and it is very difficult for them to get forward.  They lack the weight and height to flex the boot.  Boots can be soften.

 

Keeping their feet warm will probably be the biggest band for the buck.  Bigger challenge around here than in the west but cold feet = miserable kids.

 

I'm no Bode Miller so I have foot beds.  For me it's more about getting rid of equipment excuses so I know the only thing I have to work on is technique.  I sucked at skiing before I got foot beds and I sucked after I got them.  Spent a year as an instructor and training all season with trainers so now I suck less.  The foot beds, for me, didn't have that much of an impact but the the boot fitter said I pretty much have an "off the shelf" foot.  For my daughter it was huge!  They do make it easier for me to wear my boots 12 or 13 hours a day though.  I have a friend that is a Master racer and always Platinums in NASTAR.  He doesn't use the custom foot bed he has and instead uses the insert from his sneakers.  He has rock solid technique and has been skiing over 50 years.

post #4 of 14

L&AirC,

 

You bring up very several interesting thoughts and questions.  Here is one question and one comment:

Q)  You state ski boots are usually too stiff, but I found most boots my older kid tried on are too soft for an advanced grom.  How do you know when the stiffness and forward lean is perfect?

 

C) Bode, Didier, Maria, Lindsey, etc.  likely have custom HEAD boots built from the ground up.  Bode was disqualified from a race two seasons ago when his boot measured a couple of millimeters too high.  Unfortunately, he could not get his swollen ankle back in it for a re-measurement.   I doubt an insole could be fit into his SL boots, but perhaps one of the boot guys could comment.

 

FWIW, there is no way I'd feel comfortable buying a boot for my oldest (10 early next year) over the Internet, since he is getting really good.  Even at that age I want an expert to fit him, and that means not going to a big box store either.  Hopefully, I'll visit one of the "Boot Guys" in mid-Nov.


Edited by quant2325 - 10/15/10 at 4:39pm
post #5 of 14

A to Q)

 I guess it depends on how big your older kid is.  The OP is talking about under 7 and under 40#.  I did a private for a 5 y/o that was a very good skier but couldn't get in front of his boots.  The only way he was able to get forward was when we faced up hill, legs straight and leaned everything forwards.  When skiing downhill, knees are bent and little kids don't seem to have the "umppff" it takes to get their knees over their toes.  Remember I'm talking about little kids.

 

You need to ask Skidude about the Bode comment.

 

Who brought up buying boots over the internet?  I also think there is a quantum leap in abilities between 7 and 10.  Nothing beats being fitted professionally.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by quant2325 View Post

L&AirC,

 

You bring up very several interesting thoughts and questions.  Here is one question and one comment:

Q)  You state ski boots are usually too stiff, but I found most boots my older kid tried on are too soft for an advanced grom.  How do you know when the stiffness and forward lean is perfect?

 

C) Bode, Didier, Maria, Lindsey, etc.  likely have custom HEAD boots built from the ground up.  Bode was disqualified from a race two seasons ago when his boot measured a couple of millimeters too high.  Unfortunately, he could get his swollen ankle back in it for a re-measurement.   I doubt an insole could be fit into his SL boots, but perhaps one of the boot guys could comment.

 

FWIW, there is no way I'd feel comfortable buying a boot for my oldest (10 early next year) over the Internet, since he is getting really good.  Even at that age I want an expert to fit him, and that means not going to a big box store either.  Hopefully, I'll visit one of the "Boot Guys" in mid-Nov.

post #6 of 14

Surefoot used to have a program that you purchase them once and they would make new ones until the kids stop growing?  Depending on your kids feet and the local Surefoot, it might be worth it?   

post #7 of 14

No. At that age, natural arches are low anyway.

 

But the main point you're missing (from an anatomical viewpoint) is that arches are there to allow the foot to flex and move a bit. This helps their ability to carve, and it builds up small muscles in the foot that are necessary for balance while walking or running. It isn't kids - or adults - with good arches that need arch support, it's folks who over-pronate, and in doing so put stress on their knees. Eg, folks with "flat feet." In fact, any kids' show should have flexible, fairly thin soles with minimal  "motion control" unless their doctor has indicated otherwise. Allowing their arches to flex helps build them. Literally. 

 

If you notice, the trend in adult walking/running/hiking shoes is toward lighter soles with less MC for precisely the same reasons. MC in fact has been shown to have been a marketing creation of Nike, who originally reasoned that increased heel height and thicker, springier, soles would transfer more energy toward the next stride. This has never been rigorously followed up or tested outside of the engineering lab. But within a few years, we started seeing the idea of motion control, along with assumptions of universally "problematic" feet, transferred to footbeds and "orthotics" for every sport known. We, of course, being good consumers, and wanting to be better skiers, gobbled it up. Again, if you look into this, what passes for studies are in-house engineering designs that simply show what is obvious: Footbeds stabilize feet. Put another way, they reduce the ability of the foot to move in response to force. Whether the feet (or our skiing) benefit from it is not addressed. After all, stability must be a good thing, huh?

 

This raises larger questions about why we are practically shamed into buying custom footbeds for $$ if we want to be "good skiers." IMO, most folks do not in fact have anatomical characteristics that require footbeds, and any minor advantages you might get from them will be mostly lost on people below elite level because of the many other biomechanical mistakes they make skiing. 

post #8 of 14

I would say that 99% of regular skiing kids don't need footbeds.  I've built pediatric orthotics for post-op situations, but most of the time "no".

 

A child's foot is not completely developed until (MDs/DPMs/DOs get in at this point) around the teenage years.  Kids' feet are soft and flexible and should do just fine barring any medical conditions.

 

I've built a few for Type A Parents who demanded their children be equiped with the best of everything, but I don't think it did anything for them.  Maybe it did, maybe it didn't.  Also I think FIS regulations have some stipulations on heel height and other matters that prevent the use of footbeds.  I'm treading into murky waters as my kids ski almost every day of the year, but are not in the race program- so I don't know the particulars.

post #9 of 14

HEY

If there stands is off center, why not help them. Much my dislike my kids don't ski, but have been in custom footbeds for track, and basketball from age 10. It change their how they run, making them faster, and lower recovery time. One of my son's footbed is from the DOC. for $500.00, and the other son's footbeds were made at my local ski ski shops for $160.00. All their footbeds are being made at the ski shop from now on. Their DOC. like the footbebs from the ski shop very much, and said us them.

post #10 of 14

Xela,

 

My kids are now 13 and 16. Both have been skiing since age 2-3. To answer your question, no, they probably don't NEED footbeds. But, depending on their feet, they may well benefit from them. And more importantly, Shredhead points out a very cool thing.

 

A number of years ago I was at Surefoot getting something fixed on my hard snowboard boots, which have Surefoot footbeds in them. I always go into Surefoot with a healthy dose of skepticism because I've gotten used to them always being in sales mode. They'd tried to sell me on custom footbeds for golf shoes, I've watched them sell people on foam liners who not only don't need foam liners, but in many ways are probably worse off with the added stiffness foamed liners offer. So when they suggested that I should get custom footbeds for my two groms who were playing around as I got work done, I poo-poo'd the suggestion. Why on earth would I spend $200 on custom footbeds that they'll outgrow in a year or less? That's when they told me that their deal is they'll re-make the footbeds every year until the kids feet stop growing. My son used to ski in Lange boots and they always hurt him. Surefoot has not only built him new custom footbeds with each new pair of boots, but when necessary, they've also punched out the shells and liners to accommodate his flat feet and a weird thing that sticks out of his foot. Sometimes I've bought their boots from Surefoot (kids boots aren't terribly overpriced at Surefoot and they have a good/generous trade-in program). But other times I've bought them elsewhere - my son's current boots came from Evo. They also do new footbeds for my daughter's snowboard boots. One year she was the only kid on her SB team who didn't complain about sore feet when they practiced park stuff.

 

It is probably the only 'cheap' deal that Surefoot has, but its a great one. When friends as me where to get boot work done in Tahoe, I send them to Elite Feet rather than Surefoot, but for kids, the Surefoot deal is hard to pass up.

 

Feel free to PM or email me if you want to discuss further.

post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the great and thoughtful feedback.  A lot of what I'm reading above seems to resonate with this article from the Wiki.

 

As far as I know, my kids' feet are "normal" and not in need of any intervention.  So, this year I think I'll leave their boots as they are.  Next year, I may look into the Surefoot thing.  They have a location right near where we always ski.  My wife got her boots there and is happy with them.

 

Personally, I found Surefoot a bit too pushy and almost evangelical about their expensive full-custom product.  It seems to me that the end result of their process is a foot totally locked inside the boot.  I prefer the idea of moving the foot/ankle for balance/edging.  I also like the idea of developing strong foot muscles.  I guess I'll play it by ear and see if the kids remain comfortable in what they've got.

post #12 of 14

Up until about 12 or 13 or so, kids feet can grow 1 cm or more in a season, and that growth is going to cancel out intended benefits of the custom footbed.

Even worse, outgrowing the footbed can cause discomfort which is not conducive to skill development.

 

Also, it's a pretty small group of young skiers who would be at a level of proficiency where they would be able to gain a real benefit from a footbed.

 

Wait until their feet have stopped growing and then start looking at footbed options. (And measure their feet regularly so you know when this is.)

post #13 of 14

 

So I've been thinking about this whole thing.  I took a close look at all my kids' feet and checked foot flexibility. 

 

Feet come in two varieties. Low arch, soft and comfortable or high arch, rigid and uncomfortable. While there are some exceptions to this, the average person in good shape and normal anatomy should fall into these groups.

 

The foot of a growing child is normally low arched and very flexible. I find that it accommodates to the stiff boot well. And that footbeds are not necessary.

 

But...

 

My kids have footbeds or stock insoles that I have built up to their individual foot types. From a purely athletic point of view, they ski a lot and I think the support is good. Eden and Blaze have stock insoles that I have built some degree of support into.

 

Liberty gets after it pretty good and her foot is flexible so I thought she may need the added support of an orthotic. She has a Conform'Able ski race pro. Also, there is anecdotal evidence that footbeds contribute to foot warmth as the vascular structure is better supported.

 

Blaze shot the video, Liberty is the subject and Damaris held the iPhone while it played music.

 

Liberty's foot is very flexible and she never complains about foot pain. Each manipulation of her foot is pretty standard for assessing foot flexibility. Super flexible her foot is.

 

For kids with an uncomfortable foot that is rigid and high arched the support of a footbed will be nice. It may not matter that much for a child who has a flexible foot

 

Enjoy the crazy vids!

 

 

Foot 2:

 

post #14 of 14

Those kids don't know how lucky they are to have that flexibility, jeez I'm jealous.

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