Skating can be one of the most complicated skills to perform in all of sports. It often requires a great deal of time and practice to master. With the right form and proper mechanics, any player, regardless of his or her size, can be one of the fastest and most efficient skaters on the ice. New research on skating has allowed us to better understand its significance and how to improve performance and efficiency while at the same time assist in injury prevention and treatment. Dysfunction of the foot and ankle can significantly alter a skater’s mechanics and limit performance.
The most common problem is excessive pronation of the foot, which isn’t a pathology in itself but a dysfunction of the foot which leads to a number of conditions that can cause a great deal of discomfort including plantar fasciitis, heel pain, shin splints, functional short leg etc. Excessive pronation is a medial (inward) collapse of the arch that in turn puts a great deal of strain on other areas of the foot that simply aren’t designed to handle.
Similar to walking and running, the biomechanics of skating is broken down into 2 major phases, Push-Off Phase and Glide Phase. These two phases are where the foot and ankle are needed to provide the appropriate power and proper mechanics in order to encourage optimal performance.
During the push off phase, researchers have suggested that in order to achieve maximum power and efficiency, the skate must be at a 45 degree angle in relation to the ice (skate-ice interface angle) (Left). If the foot is excessively pronated, the angle will be considerably less than 45 degrees, thus limiting push power and edging control (Below). Conversely, if the foot is excessively supinated, the angle will be greater than 45 degrees also limiting push power and edging control and lead to lateral ankle instability.
During the glide phase, the skate will glide on either both edges or just the inside (medial) edge. If the foot excessively pronates, the intrinsic muscles in the foot acting to support and balance the foot become strained and overused. The increased level of muscle activity to balance the skate leads to an unnecessary increase in energy expenditure which is followed by muscle fatigue and soreness. This can often be misinterpreted as the skate being too tight.
Excessive foot pronation is best corrected with the use of custom made orthotic devices that are fitted precisely into the skate to stop the foot from collapsing inward and thus bringing the skate-ice interface angle closer to 45 degrees during the push off phase and allow for normal function. Different from over the counter (off the shelf) orthotics, custom orthotics are made specifically for YOUR feet from a non-weight bearing cast of each foot and constructed using carbon graphite materials that keep the foot in its neutral position and prevent excessive motion from occurring in the skate.
What is the difference between over the counter insoles vs custom made orthotics? Custom made orthotics are specifically made for YOUR feet and require a prescription from a doctor. Our custom made orthotics are designed specifically to meet your precise needs and fits the exact contours of your foot through a 3-dimential cast.
Often times, off the shelf or ready made orthotics:
- Soft shell material and is unable to properly support
the foot and keep it aligned
- Is not truly custom made despite the claims on the label. They have different sizes and levels of correction but each human foot is incredibly unique and different than the other.
Over the counter orthotics have generic arch support which usually doesn't provide the necessary support/correction you foot requires. Custom made orthotics offer optimal performance, comfort, durability and have a longer lifespan than over the counter devices.