Here's a boot fitting pro doing a stance analysis.   Credit: Steve Cohen
Here’s a boot fitting pro doing a stance analysis.
Credit: Steve Cohen

Older people have messed up feet, says Steve Cohen philosophically. Cohen is CEO of Masterfit Enterprises, a company that specializes in training ski shop salespeople to fit boots properly. The company also tests boots, makes insoles and boot fit aids and runs America’s Best Bootfitters, an organization of top bootfitting shops.

“Think how many miles senior feet have trod. They’re like an old car suspension, a little more played out,” he says.

Help is on the way.

“Many people are in boots one size too big for them, some are amazingly even in boots three sizes too big,” says Cohen. “You need snug fitting boots to steer with your ankle, set your edge, and let the ski do its thing with an arc turn. Movement should be minimal to get your ski to turn where you want it.”

The way to test boot size? Remove the liner, slide your foot into the boot until your big toe touches the front. Make sure there is not more than a finger’s to a finger-and-a-half’s width of space between your heel and the shell. That will ensure a snug fit when the liner is reinserted.

Typical foot problems that occur with age are: thinning of the fat pads cushioning the soles, plantar fasciitis (inflammation caused by the stretching of the connective tissue that runs from the front of the heel to the metatarsal heads sole), bunions, and poor circulation.

One recommendation Cohen makes off the bat is to replace the stock insole with an upgraded model that provides support in two key places, the arch and the

Fitting boots may require custom-fit insoles. Credit: MasterFit
Fitting boots properly may require custom-fit insoles.
Credit: MasterFit


Other pieces of advice:

  • To ease your foot into the boot, spray the spine of the liner with dry silicone spray or use a giant shoehorn, made specifically for ski boots.
  • Remove liners frequently so they can dry out. Your foot sweats and produces moisture. If it sweats a lot, use an underarm anti-perspirant on your feet.
  • Buckle your boots when not in use, to preserve the shape of the plastic.
  • Use thin socks, the liners will provide the necessary insulation.
  • The cuff of the boot should wrap snugly with buckle bails set somewhere near the beginning to middle of the ladders. If you’re near the end of the ladder, the buckles may deform the shell and change the boot’s intended flex pattern.
  • To keep feet warm, start with a warm boot. Use a heated boot bag to keep boots toasty on the way to the slopes or place a microwavable hot pack inside each boot (remove before skiing!). Use Boot Gloves, neoprene insulating covers that Cohen swears by. Or—bootfitters’ trick—put a layer of adhesive aluminum foil underneath the insole (stock or custom) to help reflect heat back to the foot.
  • When shopping for boots, expect to spend several hours. Go when shop personnel are least busy, midweek, midmorning.

“Never buy boots online. In the shop, you’re buying the boot fitter’s knowledge and skills, which is priceless,” says Cohen. “You will get boots that are comfortable and will last you many years. A lot of people buy new boots before their old ones are truly done because they don’t fit or perform well.”

Check out bootfitters that belong to America’s Best Bootfitters. They can help you select a proper fitting ski boot, make modification to enhance fit, comfort, and warmth. Good bootfitters can also stretch or grind shells and liners to relieve pain caused by bunions or other bony prominences.

It’s all good for the senior soles.



One Comment

  1. Mr. Cohen hits a few of the general problems we see with boot fits. Yes, far too many skiers are in boots that are too big, in length or width, or both. Far too many skiers are in boot models that do not match their athletic abilities. I completely disagree, though, that skier should spend even more money replacing the stock liner, with an expensive aftermarket liner. The boot manufacturers spend a lot of R & D on liner design. Most of today’s liners are heat moldable, and combined with a properly made custom insole, give a fantastic fit. In as much as there is no bootfitting certification-by-examination, it’s important that you carefully choose your bootfitter. A good bootfit should take a couple of hours. Don’t rush it, and don’t be rushed. It’s a good idea to make a bootfit appointment during a less busy time. Be honest with the bootfitter about your athletic ability and skiing level. Match your boots’ stiffness with your ski flex. Avoid add-ons that increase costs, like aftermarket liners, boot sole grinding, or the addition of cant wedges, unless a ski instructor has first looked at your alignment, while skiing. If the custom insole is made correctly, and the boot cuff is properly aligned, 90% of skiers do not need additional “alignment”. Wear a medium weight ski sock. If your feet get cold quickly, get boot heaters. Dress in layers and do not wear anything made of cotton! Now, start getting in shape for ski season!

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