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Ask Bill Begg!

Skating's top coach answers your questions

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World renowned speed coach Bill Begg shares his vast knowledge of skating every week in his "Ask Bill Begg!" column on the Inline Planet.

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April 21, 2010

Why Are My New Skates So Uncomfortable?

QHi, Bill: I just bought my first pair of inline speed skates and am finding them very uncomfortable compared to my Salomon fitness skates. I expected this, but how uncomfortable is normal? The fit of my skates seems fine. But my ankles are wobbly and the 100mm wheels seem enormous. What should a speed skate feel like? I would appreciate your advice. - Thanks, Carrie

Hi, Carrie: You are right. Fitness and speed skates are miles apart when it comes to comfort. But here's the painful truth: speed skates shouldn't be comfortable when they're new.

Speed skates are like Army boots: they need to be broken in. And if they don't hurt your feet and feel too tight at first, they probably won't provide you with the support you need to get a good push.

My daughter, Nicole, is one of the fussiest skaters in the world when it comes to her boots. But she is also one of the few top skaters who hasn't sprouted bunions and carbunkles due to ill-fitting boots.

When she is fitted for new boots, she insists they be molded to fit snugly and form a tight lock on her heels and Achilles area. As far as she is concerned, a new boot is too loose unless she needs extreme force to get into it.

With her heavy training and racing schedule, she puts a lot strain on her boots. And she knows that if they aren't stiff enough to start with, they'll loosen up within three months and no longer allow her to get a good push.

You mentioned that your ankles are wobbly in your new skates. This makes it sound like your boots are too big. If so, follow the suggestions in my last column, "What to Do About Too Big Boots," especially wearing ankle booties or adding padding to the boot tongues.

As for getting used to 100mm wheels, give yourself some time. The extra height puts more pressure on your ankles, which can tire them.

But eventually, your ankles will adapt. Remember, there are 10-year-old kids these days flying around on 110mm wheels.

Cheers, Bill

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