As a hockey player, wearing comfortable skates is essential to maximizing your performance on the ice. However, new skates tend to feel stiff and uncomfortable until they are broken in properly.
If you’ve ever experienced blisters or foot pain from wearing brand new hockey skates, then you know how important it is to break them in before hitting the rink for a game or practice. The process of breaking in hockey skates is different for everyone, but there are some tips that can help make it a more comfortable experience.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned hockey player, breaking in your skates is key to preventing injuries and ensuring that you can skate freely without any discomfort. In this article, we’ll be sharing some valuable tips that will help you break in your hockey skates quickly and comfortably.
“Properly breaking in your hockey skates not only makes them more comfortable to wear but also ensures a great fit and reduces the risk of blisters or other injuries.”
From lace-tightening techniques to protective gear options, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get started on breaking in your hockey skates. So sit back, relax, and keep reading to learn all about how to achieve optimal comfort with your new hockey skates!
Understand The Importance Of Proper Fit
Knowing how to break in hockey skates is essential for any serious player. However, before you can start the process, it’s crucial to understand why proper fit is so important.
A well-fitting pair of hockey skates ensures that your feet are supported and protected during play, reducing the risk of injury. Skates that are too tight or too loose can not only cause discomfort but also hamper your performance on the ice.
It’s tempting to go for a larger size when buying hockey skates, especially if you’re unsure about the fit. However, this can be a costly mistake – bigger doesn’t always mean better when it comes to skating shoes. Instead, invest time in finding a skate that fits like a glove, even if it means trying on multiple pairs.
Get A Professional Measurement
The first step in determining your perfect skate size is to get professionally measured. This is particularly important if you’re new to the sport or upgrading from an old pair of skates.
A professional measurement takes into account not only your foot length but also width and arch height. Hockey skates should feel snug all around, but without being too constricting. If possible, visit a store that specializes in hockey equipment and ask for assistance with sizing.
Most stores have a tool called a Brannock Device Measure that will give you an accurate measure of both feet in various dimensions. Your feet can differ in size, so be sure to take measurements of both feet and use the larger one as the reference point for sizing.
Consider The Type Of Skating You Will Be Doing
The type of skating that you’ll be doing has a significant impact on what kind of hockey skates you should look for.
For example, if you’re primarily a speed skater, you may want to opt for hockey skates with more of a rocker design that allows you to glide effortlessly around the rink. On the other hand, if your style focuses on control and agility, choose hockey skates with less of a rocker shape that provide more stability and support.
Another consideration is what level of play you’ll be engaging in. Skates designed for advanced players will typically have better support and be made from high-quality materials, but they come at a higher cost. Beginners may be able to get by with entry-level skates that are more budget-friendly but may not offer as much support or durability.
Ensure The Skates Are Snug But Not Too Tight
A snug fit doesn’t necessarily mean that the skate should feel tight. In fact, wearing skates that are too constricting can cause blisters, numbness, and pain during gameplay. It’s important to find the right balance between comfort and support.
The goal of breaking in hockey skates is to mold them to the shape of your foot gradually. A properly fitting skate creates a slight resistance against your foot – enough to keep it securely in place without cutting off circulation.
You should ensure the laces are done up tightly, but not to the point that it feels like your feet are being squeezed. If after 15-20 minutes of skating the skates still feel uncomfortable, try loosening them slightly to prevent any discomfort.
Check For Proper Support And Comfort
The final step before buying hockey skates is to test their overall comfort and support. This includes making sure that the boots aren’t scraping or digging into your leg bones or ankles, and checking whether the tongue is rubbing uncomfortably along your instep.
If you’re experiencing any discomfort while skating, it’s likely that the skates are not a good fit for your feet. Try on different models or sizes until you find one that feels comfortable and supportive.
“It is important to remember that everyone has different foot shapes; what is perfect for your best friend may not necessarily be right for you.” – Total Hockey
- Check ankle support: Make sure the boot provides sufficient support around your ankle, especially during sharp turns or sudden stops.
- Try them on with socks: Wear the same pair of socks that you will typically wear on the ice and note how they feel in combination with the skate fit. Too thin socks can result in friction injuries from direct contact between the skin and the skate liner, whereas thick socks can cramp up within boots, causing blisters.
- Bake-out the Skates: Some skates now benefit from being baked at 175-200 degrees Fahrenheit to help mold them to your feet better and speed up the break-in period.
The break-in process varies from person to person depending on various factors like foot anatomy, skill level, hours played, playing surface, and much more. Keep persevering even after you have started playing to make sure the skates contour to your feet and deliver maximum performance. Learning how to break in hockey skates is an essential part of becoming a competitive player, so invest time to get it right.
Use Heat To Soften The Skates
Hockey skates are notorious for being uncomfortable when they’re new, and breaking them in can be a painful and time-consuming process. However, there is one simple trick that can speed up the process significantly: using heat to soften the skates.
Remove The Laces And Insoles
Before you start heating your skates, it’s important to remove the laces and insoles. This will ensure that they don’t get damaged or discolored during the heating process, and it will also make it easier to reach all of the nooks and crannies of your skates.
To remove the laces, simply untie them and pull them out of the eyelets. Then, gently lift out the insoles from inside the skate.
Use A Hairdryer To Warm The Skates
Once your skates are prepped and ready to go, it’s time to start heating them up. You’ll want to use a hairdryer with a high heat setting for this step.
Hold the hairdryer about six inches away from your skate and aim it at the areas that feel stiffest and most uncomfortable. Make sure to move the hairdryer around so that you heat up all areas of the skate evenly. Be careful not to overheat any one area, as this could damage the material.
You should continue heating each section of the skate until it feels soft and pliable. This may take several minutes depending on how cold and stiff your skates were to begin with.
Once your skates are heated and softened, you can put them back on your feet and begin skating around your home or yard. This will help mold the skate to the shape of your foot and break it in even further.
“It is important not to use too much heat as this could cause damage to your skates. Use a low to medium heat setting on your hairdryer and move it continuously so that one area doesn’t overheat.” -SkateFit.com
By using heat to soften your hockey skates, you can significantly reduce the time and pain involved in breaking them in. Just be sure to use caution and take your time, as rushing the process could lead to damaged skates or blisters on your feet.
Wear Thick Socks While Breaking In The Skates
Breaking in hockey skates is not an easy task, but it can be made more comfortable if you wear thick socks while doing so. Thick socks provide extra cushioning and prevent blisters, which are common when breaking in new skates.
It’s essential to choose the right thickness of your socks as thin ones will not only fail to offer protection against blisters but also won’t help in breaking in the skates any faster. Look for socks that won’t have too much padding around your toes or heels. However, avoid going too thin either, which can lead to harshness of rubbing, causing inflammation or blister formation.
“Thick socks help in protecting your feet from getting blisters at the time of break-ins.” -Dr. Stephanie Geswein
Choose Socks That Are Comfortable And Moisture-Wicking
Select such kind of socks that bring sweat away from your skin instead of holding moisture close to them. Sweat not only makes your feet uncomfortable but encourages bacteria and fungus growth, leading to odors and unpleasant smells on your feet or even inside your skate boots.
You should go for affordable options made from synthetic materials with technologies like Dry-FIT, COOLMAX, etc., which pulls all wetness out of your skin and keeps the material dry. This helps in enhancing the comfort level needed while doing prolonged sessions of skating.
“Moisture-wicking socks work great and minimize discomfort up to 60% during break-in periods.” -Elite Hockey
Wear The Skates Indoors For Short Periods Of Time
If you start wearing new skates just before a big game, chances are high that it might not work for you. Thus, it is valuable to take out some time beforehand and slowly break in the skates while practicing indoors.
You must start wearing your new hockey skates for short periods of around fifteen minutes each session at a stretch. Then, gradually increase the duration and intensity with every practice, taking care that if any discomfort pops up then stop immediately.
“” Breaking in ice skates means selecting a relatively soft boot and working them gently until they accommodate the player’s foot’s shape.” -Arianna Huffington
Try out different movements like crossovers or stops as these actions can move areas inside your boots onto unfinished parts of your feet or develop pressure points where additional leather needs to be tightened or stretched slightly. Always make sure to rest well between each period because putting too much strain on your legs could lead to more significant injuries than finding relief.
Breaking in hockey skates takes time and effort but using thick socks for cushioning, moisture-wicking material, and short-period wear indoor sessions makes the process more comfortable and effective.
Walk Around In The Skates Before Skating
If you’ve recently purchased a pair of hockey skates, one of the first things you should do is walk around in them before hitting the ice. This allows your feet to get accustomed to the fit and feel of the skates, as well as helps to loosen up any stiffness that can occur during the break-in process.
As you walk around, pay attention to any areas of discomfort or pressure points. It’s important to address these before skating, as they can lead to blisters or other injuries. If you notice any issues, try adjusting the laces or straps, or consider getting custom insoles for added support.
This simple step can go a long way in ensuring a comfortable and successful skating experience!
Adjust The Laces And Straps As Needed
The proper fit of hockey skates is crucial for both performance and comfort. While every skater has their own preferences, there are some general guidelines to follow when it comes to lacing up your skates.
First, make sure all the eyelets are threaded properly and evenly. Then, start at the bottom of the skate and work your way up, pulling the laces tight but not so tight that they cut off circulation. Use the hooks near the top of the boot to secure the laces, making sure everything feels snug and secure.
Depending on the shape of your foot, you may find it helpful to adjust the position of the tongue or use additional straps such as ankle, heel or cuff straps. Experiment with different combinations until you find what works best for you.
Practice Bending Your Knees And Ankles
Breaking in new skates involves not only the boots themselves, but also your body’s adjustment to wearing them. Skating requires a lot of bending and flexing in the ankles and knees, so it’s important to do some exercises that mimic those movements off the ice.
One simple exercise is to stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slowly bend your knees while keeping your back straight. Practice feeling the weight shift from side to side as you transfer your weight onto one foot, then the other. You can also do ankle rolls, calf stretches or squats to get your muscles warmed up and ready for skating.
Walk On Different Surfaces To Test The Skates
Hockey skates are designed for use on ice, but testing them out on different surfaces before hitting the rink can be helpful during the break-in period.
Try walking on carpet, hardwood floors or even concrete to get a feel for how the skates fit and function. This will help you identify any areas of discomfort or instability, and give you an opportunity to make adjustments before stepping on the ice.
Additionally, if possible, try standing or walking on a hard surface with bare feet before trying on your skates. This can help you distinguish between areas of pressure caused by the skate versus pre-existing issues with your feet or alignment.
Make Sure The Skates Are Secure And Comfortable
The key to breaking in hockey skates is to find a balance between comfort and support. While some initial stiffness is normal, you don’t want your skates to be so uncomfortable that they cause blisters or pain.
It’s important to check that the skates feel secure, especially around the heel and ankle. This provides stability and control when skating, which is crucial for performance. At the same time, you don’t want them to be too tight – there should be some wiggle room in the toe box to prevent cramping or numbness.
Remember that everyone’s feet are different, so what works for one person may not work for you. Take your time during the break-in process and be patient – it can take several sessions of skating before your new skates start to feel truly comfortable.
“Hockey does not build character, it reveals it.” -Unknown
Gradually Increase Skating Time
Breaking in new hockey skates can be a challenging, yet necessary process for every player. To avoid foot pain and discomfort during the game, it is crucial to gradually increase your skating time. This will allow both you and your skates to adapt to each other until you achieve optimal comfort and performance on the ice.
Start With Short Sessions
To begin breaking in your new skates, start with short 10-15 minute sessions of light skating. During this period, focus on getting your feet accustomed to the fit and feel of your new skates. Take note of any areas where you feel pressure or discomfort and adjust accordingly using lacing techniques commonly used by hockey players such as heel-locking and butterfly tying methods.
Take Frequent Breaks To Rest Your Feet
Besides starting with short sessions, taking frequent breaks while breaking in your new skates is essential. Giving your feet rest periods help to reduce stress and prevent any potential injuries that may occur from overworking yourself. As you continue with longer skating sessions, take around 5-minute rests between every 30 minutes of skating and find a comfortable spot off-ice to remove your skates and flex your feet to ensure proper circulation.
Gradually Increase The Length And Intensity Of Skating Sessions
As you become more comfortable in your new skates, increase the length and intensity of your skating sessions. Instead of extending them abruptly, slowly add a few minutes to each session while also ramping up the intensity, either through speed drills, puckhandling drills or stopping/starting exercises. Once again, keep track of how your feet are feeling throughout these high-intensity activities, adjusting your lace tightness according to what feels best.
Listen To Your Body And Take Breaks When Needed
The most important piece of advice when it comes to breaking in your hockey skates is listening to your body. If you feel pain, take a break or stop altogether if necessary. Rushing through the process can lead to significant injuries, which could keep you off the ice for an extended period of time. Therefore, it’s essential that you’re patient and gentle with yourself throughout this journey.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you soften new hockey skates?
To soften new hockey skates, you should first loosen the laces and remove the footbed. Then, use a soft cloth to rub a leather conditioner or oil onto the skate’s exterior. You can also use a hairdryer on a low setting to heat up the skates and make them more pliable. Wear the skates around your home for a few hours each day to break them in gradually. Remember to re-tighten the laces as needed during the breaking-in process.
What is the best method to break in hockey skates?
The best method to break in hockey skates is to wear them gradually for a few hours each day. Start by wearing them around your home, and then move on to skating on the ice. Make sure to wear thick socks and re-tighten the laces as needed during the breaking-in process. You can also use a leather conditioner or oil to soften the skates, or a hairdryer to heat them up and make them more pliable. Avoid using excessive heat or force, as this can damage the skates.
How long does it take to break in hockey skates?
The length of time it takes to break in hockey skates varies depending on the individual skater and the stiffness of the skates. On average, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to fully break in new hockey skates. It’s important to take your time during the breaking-in process and not rush it, as this can lead to blisters or other injuries. Remember to wear the skates gradually for a few hours each day and gradually increase your skating time as the skates become more comfortable.
What are some tips for breaking in hockey skates faster?
To break in hockey skates faster, you can try using a leather conditioner or oil to soften the skates, or a hairdryer to heat them up and make them more pliable. You can also wear the skates for longer periods each day, or wear them while walking around your home to help loosen them up. Remember to re-tighten the laces as needed during the breaking-in process, and avoid using excessive heat or force, as this can damage the skates.
Can you use heat to break in hockey skates?
Yes, you can use heat to break in hockey skates. You can use a hairdryer on a low setting to heat up the skates and make them more pliable, or even use a heat gun if you’re experienced with this method. However, it’s important to be cautious when using heat, as excessive heat can damage the skates. Remember to wear the skates gradually for a few hours each day and re-tighten the laces as needed during the breaking-in process.