When clients attend appointments with us we do a lot of talking about what we do and why we do it before actual boots make an appearance. Around half of this chat is about the different parts of the assessment and why they are relevant to the boot fitting and the clients situation.
Lots of the assessment is actually not about the boots themselves, its about another primary component of the system that you use to ski. We call it a system because thats exactly what it is, a system. There are three main components we are interested in as your boot fitter.
A useful analogy for the system we ski in is the Fire triangle. Apologies for the tangent! Bear with me. I was taught as a kid (although it is shocking that so many people haven't been taught this!) that the Fire Triangle goes like this, you can’t have fire without all three components of the Fire Triangle:
Heat; Fuel; Oxygen.
I use this as an analogy because you can’t have a great environment for your foot while you ski without the three components of a boot system:
Your Boots; Your Socks & the subject of this article, the FOOTBED.
Footbeds are fundamental to a good boot fit. Period. In our store it’s very rare that a client leaves the shop with boots without some form of footbed manufactured and fitted. That’s because we know how important they are and ensure through thorough assessment that the correct footbed is used so our clients immediately feel the benefit of footbeds on our fitting bench, before they even ski the product.
Assessment is key here. When I am training other boot fitters I cannot emphasise enough to the fitters how important thorough assessment is with regard to footbeds. There is absolutely no point in having and amazing fit from the boot, having a precise and comfortable fit around the Calf, Heel, Ankle, Midfoot, Forefoot etc etc if the aspect of the foot we actually press the ski with is ignored. This is the plantar aspect of the foot, the bottom of the foot to the uninitiated.
The bit ya stand on!
We use visuals, touch and some tech aids to confirm how the clients lower leg, ankle and foot works in relation to normal skiing motions and how their anatomy will work within the restrictions of a rigid structure, the boot. We split this assessment into four general terms: Ankle Posture, Foot flexibility, Forefoot Rigidity and Ankle Range of Motion. The four assessment terms as important as each other and create a picture of the clients biomechanics.
This will, in turn, split the skier into one of three general postures: Pronated, Supinated or Neutral. These terms are very general and there are a lot of variances within them in how skiers lower legs present themselves. This is a subject all it’s own and deserves its own article so watch this space, I know you’ll be on the edge of your seat waiting for that one to drop!
We use this data to match the client to a specific footbed product that will help them achieve what all of the above is aiming for and what the title of this article hints at:
We have access to both of the main footbed brands on the market, Superfeet and Sidas. We have both custom systems and some trim to fit offerings. Clients often ask why we mostly provide custom product with our service rather than trim to fit product.
We use custom product because using custom product allows us to exactly match the footbed to the individual skier, and not only that by using custom product we can use the correct product on either foot. People are never the same as each other and neither are their feet. One of the rarest things we see in assessment is symmetry. We almost never see a skier where their anatomy is symmetrical across the body. There are always differences between each leg. So, by using custom product we can have the appropriate footbed under the each foot individually.
It’s pretty simple really. If you feel stable in the boot you will be more balanced, more powerful and more comfortable in your boots and on your skis. Skiing without them is a compromise for most skiers. There are some exceptions but they are exactly that, exceptions.