This week's column:
How Do I Prevent Ankle Pain?
May 2, 2012 (archive column)
Hi, Bill: My speed boots are rubbing my ankles raw. I didn't have this problem with my old soft-boot fitness skates. But it has followed me through three pairs of speed boots (Bont Assassin, Luigino and, finally, custom boots). I can't seem to conquer this ankle bruising. It's always the inside of my ankle (both feet). Could I be supinating too much? - Thank you, Jane.
Hi, Jane: You are suffering from one of the most common problems of speed skaters. In fact, I would say that even at the top ranks of the sport, 99 percent of skaters contend with some kind of foot bruising or blistering.
In the early days of inline speed, this wasn't as much of a problem. The boots back then (e.g., the Bont Sharkies) provided lots of comfort once you broke them in.
But unfortunately, appearance and weight is what drives the skate market and, as a result, today's boots, while light and fast, tend to be hard on the feet. Low-cut boots focus more pressure on problem spots, like the ankles. The result: more pressure points.
One of the best ways to relieve the pressure is with foam doughnuts. To make them yourself, cut doughnut shapes out of hard foam. Then tape the doughnut over the pressure point, with the pressure point under the holes. This takes the pressure off the sore spot.
Another fix is to use a heat gun to reshape the inside of your boot. When one of my skaters has a problem like yours, we try and squeeze a little more space for their foot inside their boots by heating the boot and then pushing it out with the head of the screwdriver.
As far as whether you are supinating (turning the feet in) too much, that is possible. But without seeing you skate, I couldn't say.
If you think you may be supinating too much, try putting some sandpaper wedges between your boot and the frame. (Most top skaters play around with their skates this way.)
I hope that helps. Unfortunately, I don't have a simple answer for ankle pain. If I did, I'd be a millionaire.