With the shell work completed, Matt’s modified shells appeared to have adequate width in the forefoot and functional clearance for the joints of his ankle/foot complex as did the modified liner for his left foot. But whether the left boot was better than any of Matt’s previous boots, could only be determined during actual ski maneuvers. The dynamic physical environment of skiing with constantly changing forces that can go as high as 3 Gs for recreational skiers, cannot be duplicated in an indoor setting or even in a gait/balance laboratory. In the initial slope tests, Matt compared his left boot shell fit with the modified liner to his right boot shell fit with the unmodified, stock liner
If CARV were available, it would have been invaluable to help Matt assess his left and right boots and guide him in developing a sound technique. CARV would have also enabled baseline data to be obtained from Matt’s previous boots that could be compared to data derived from his new boots. But since CARV technology is not available until the end of the year, slope testing had to rely on Matt’s perception.
One question that many ask is “what about custom insoles?” The only way to tell is to test them against a reference standard that is the same for everyone, preferably using a system that acquires real time data on the pressures, forces and ski pitch, yaw and roll. In the initial tests, Matt used a stock insole that had been pressed flat in his left boot and the custom insole, made for his previous boots, in his right boot. Once both boots have been modified and Matt has adapted to them, he can try replacing the flat insoles with the custom insoles. I recommend making changes in one boot at a time so the other boot can be used as a reference. This was the protocol used in testing Matt’s boots.
As part of the process, Matt is undergoing kinaesthetic stance training to learn how to tension the arches in his feet and stabilize his pelvis from the balls of his feet up, from the shoulders down and in the abdominal core. The foundation of a strong stance is what I call the Resistive Shank Angle. I will discuss this in a separate post.
PRE FLIGHT CHECK
ME: Please try and capture the initial feelings of your left and right ski boots as soon as you start moving on snow by making slow turns in both directions. Focus on the feeling in the soles of your feet and those in your legs and pelvis. I suggest you either use your phone to record them or take notes as soon as possible. Any initial perceived dffferences may either diminish or increase. So you need to capture them as they happen.
MATT: I will put notes into my phone on each chairlift ride. Looking for feelings in my feet and muscles firing off in my legs, glutes or other. I’ll message you and see what you’re up to at some point.
Matt is on the hill sending me reports on his phone.
MATT: I’m warmed up and ready to head and line up for the gondola. Looking forward to some skiing!
MATT: First run…. Terrible! Left foot feels way better. Right feels squashed and like a brick.
ME: Try doing some slow turns on flat terrain while focussing on the feel in your feet. Try making turns while keeping pressure on an imaginary toonie disk under the ball of your outside foot. Steer the turn radius with the toonie disk.
MATT: It’s ridiculous, my left foot I can feel the entire skis and I’m making cleaner turns every single time. My disconnected right foot is being blocked on top where you’ve removed material on the left equivalent. I can feel the ground on my left foot. Right one (foot) is bad.
As good as the left one feels, the right one still interrupts to good turn as I can feel what it’s doing/ not doing. Can you make the right one as correct as the left?
ME: Of course.
MATT: The difference is unexplainable. The footbed is sh*t too. Stops me getting any forefoot loading. No room for the ankle and the forefoot is being crushed by the liner. I’ll head down sooner than later. Having a tight supported foot is so stupid if you want to feel anything.
I was expecting some good surprises and changes in the left foot but never thought it would be so dramatic.
In my next posts, I will discuss modifications to Matt’s right boot, tweaks made to the left boot and kinaesthetic stance training.