Written by: Colin Martin, C.Ped. Colin is owner of Solutions 4 Feet, known as one of the most premier ski boot shops in the UK. Colin has more than 30 years experience and expertise in ski boot fitting, teaches Superfeet ski boot fitting training courses and regularly consults with ski boot manufacturers to advise on details of boot design and construction.
Short answer: Yes. Almost everyone can benefit from putting footbeds (also called insoles, inserts or orthotics, depending where you shop) in their ski boots .
A quality supportive footbed really is the foundation of a good fit in a ski boot.
Footbeds are often forgotten by some ski shops until you are on the way to the cash register. And often, footbeds are sold like a shoe salesman trying to sell you a tin of polish.
As a skier, you deserve the very best fit from your new ski boots. The footbed should always be an integral part of the fitting process for ski boots.
As I mentioned in a previous blog post about ski boot fitting, every good boot fitting should start with an assessment. During this assessment your boot fitter will be looking at the flexibility of your foot. How much does it change between you being seated and standing up? How about when you apply weight as you flex? These changes, along with other observations, should guide the ski boot fitter towards a level of support for you within your ski boot.
For the majority of skiers, about 85%, the foot will elongate as you flex in a ski boot — the toes will crash into the front of the boot as the foot gets longer. A good boot fitter will explain this to you and show you what is happening with these movements. A suitable footbed can be used to stabilize any excessive motion and help control your foot movements inside your ski boot. Lack of this support inside the boot is the main reason people end up purchasing a boot that's too big for them.
Approximately 5% of skiers have feet that are rigid and inflexible. While these people don’t need a footbed for stability, they can definitely still benefit from insoles in their ski boots. By filling the gaps under the feet, skiers who use insoles in their ski boots can ski for longer without the pains associated with all their body weight going through a small portion of their feet. The insoles help spread the load like a foundation does for a house, resulting in improved control and reduced fatigue.
What of the remaining 15% of skiers? These lucky people have feet made for the slopes, with just enough flexibility to absorb shocks, but not so much that the feet collapse and change size as they move. Why is a footbed in the ski boot important for these people? The simple and important answer is comfort and performance.
Your ski boot fitter has spent time finding a boot to match the shape of your foot. Most ski boots are now are either heat moldable in terms of liner or shell, meaning you are getting a customized fit for the sides and top of your feet. Why not customize the fit beneath your foot too? When you give complete contact beneath your feet, you spread the load and put your foot in its best functioning position.
And that, fellow skiers, means a great day on the mountain for you, and your feet.