There are some who can benefit from footbeds or orthotics and some who do actually need them. But these groups are the rare exception. And they are unlikely to be skiers.

Orthotics. The pros / cons of orthotics in today’s society!

In a recent YouTube video (1.), Podiatrist & Human Movement Specialist, Dr Emily Splichal, explores the concept of orthotics and their role in today’s society. Dr. Splichal doesn’t pull any punches when she says:

“…..I have been through the conventional podiatric school and been fed pretty much the bullshit from podiatry of how every single person needs to be in orthotics, that our foot is not able to support itself without orthotics……if we do not use orthotics our foot is going to completely collapse  and you are going to lose your arch…….”

“……Our foot is designed to support itself. If we actually needed orthotics, we would be born…..we would come out of the womb, with orthotics on our feet.”

Meantime, The Foot Collective  asks (2.) Are you promoting weak feet?

  • Anything you use for artificial support at the feet (footwear with arch support & orthotics) your brain takes into account and accommodates for it.
  • That means if you provide your foot support your brain shuts down the natural arch supporters to reduce un-necessary energy expenditure.
  • Stop using support to help with pronation and understand why your feet pronate in the first place – because they are weak.
  • Strong feet = strong foundation = strong body.

The Real Source of Support for the Arch

Ray McClanahan, D.P.M. offers a perspective on the issue of Arch Support in his post on the CorrectToes blog (3.)

Are Custom Footbeds and Orthotics better than stock insoles?

In his post of August 20, 2017, Custom Foot Orthotics; No Better Than Stock Insoles (4.), Rick Merriam, of Engaging Muscles, explores the issue of orthotics in depth.

Prior to being told that supportive insoles are the way to go, I think it’s safe to say that all of those people didn’t know what they didn’t know.

The erroneous assumption that every skier needs footbeds or orthotics was made at a time when little  was known about the function of the foot and lower limb, especially in late stance. I was one of those who didn’t know what I didn’t know when initially when down the ‘the foot needs to be supported in skiing’ road up until I realized what I didn’t know and took steps to acquire the requisite knowledge.

Footbeds; is anyone checking what they do?

In 2000, I formed a company called Synergy Sports Performance Consultants (5). Synergys’ product was high quality information. One of my partners, UK Podiatrist, Sophie Cox, was trained by Novel of Germany and was one of the few experts in the world at that time on the Pedar system. Synergy did not make and/or sell footbeds or orthotics. Instead, we checked the effect of footbeds on skier performance. We performed a quick footbed check for a minimal fee of $20 using the sophisticated Novel Pedar pressure analysis technology.

Synergy was one of the first companies in the world to use the Novel Pedar pressure analysis system synchronized to video to acquire data on skier performance and analyze the captured data.  The Synergy team with diverse expertise studied the effect of ski boots and custom insoles on skier performance and identified functional issues in the body that needed to be addressed. It was a common finding that custom footbeds were significantly compromising skier performance, especially the ability to create the necessary platform under the foot on which to stand and balance on the outside ski.

Synergy offered a comprehensive 5 Step Performance Program that started with a footbed check. A key component was item 2., the Biomechanical Check.

With increasing recognition of the negative effect of most footwear on the user and criticism of the unproven claims made for footbeds and orthotics coming hard and fast, credibility in skiing is rapidly going downhill. It is time for proponents of custom insoles for ski boots to support their claims with solid evidence, especially evidence supported with data acquired during actual ski maneuvers. The technology to do this has existed since at least the year 2000.

  1. https://youtu.be/CIRf9WHmMXI
  2. http://www.thefootcollective.com
  3. https://www.correcttoes.com/foot-help/articles-studies/arch-support/
  4. http://www.engagingmuscles.com/2017/08/20/custom-foot-orthotics/


  1. Thanks for providing this information. You are really doing a service to every skier out there, challenging the “commonly accepted” belief that foot beds are the answer. Frankly I have 5 pair and can’t tell the difference in performance. I’ve skied 100 days a year for years and have very good foot sensitivity. Couldn’t find snyergy sports performance consultants. Interested in their 5 step performance program? Please provide contact information.

    1. After getting zero interest in the results of 1991 Birdcage studies (which cost $140,000) that confirmed my hypothetic model that explain the mechanism of balance on the outside ski, I formed Synergy in 2000 to use the brand new Novel Pedar system with a 5 Step Performance Program to offer skiers, ski pros, boot-fitters, equipment makers and anyone with an interest in scientifically validated data what amounts to a formula for developing elite skiers and racers. Synergy was really a test ballon to ascertain the level of interest in ski industry in developing all aspects of skiing on an integrated, science-based platform.

      As a sidebar, in my opinion, skiing hit rock bottom when Ski Magazine published the article, ‘There is no formula for success in ski racing’. This amounted to a frank admission that skiing is based on BS.

      The initial interest in Synergy was high. Skiers and racers could get a quick footbed check for $20, something no one else especially those who fabricated and sold them were offering along with unsubstantiated claims. Synergy could and did on hill tests during ski maneuvers that compared footbeds to no footbeds. As I anticipated, politics kicked in. Instead of leading the way forward, Synergy was perceived as causing problems. A the end of the 2000-2001 ski season Synergy
      s activities ceased for reasons I won’t get into.

      What I had hoped to do was establish a step-by-step, proven model that would empower skiers, ski pros, racers and coaches to lead skiing into the future so that those such as yourself could put it into practice when technologies such as CARV came along.

      The future is here. Synergy is handing the reins over to you Rick.

  2. The carv digitizer will be a great tool to evaluate foot beds and boots. I look forward to see the software developed for this foot preshure digitizer.

    1. CARV and other rapidly emerging micro sensor technologies used on conjunction with barefoot training protocols will enable users to obtain baseline barefoot reference data on single leg balance on flat surfaces and then compare the reference data to data obtained barefoot on different toe down ramp angles (aka drop) to arrive at the best net (total) personal ramp angle for their ski boot board binding setup.

      Once a user has their personal single leg balance barefoot baseline data they can use it to assess the effect of different insoles and then systematically work their way through the components of their ski boot to identity how shells and liners are affecting the baseline data and the effects of any modifications.

      Technologies like CARV can also be used to monitor and assess the progress of barefoot balance exercises.

      I first saw this revolution coming back in 1991.

  3. Last week I finally decided to do something nice for my right foot (good knee side) which gets neglected because it works quite well in all torture devices (foot wear including ski boots) relative to my other leg so I can easily ignore it. First walk down a hill with my shoe laces very loose my foot was sliding around so much that it was pretty messy.

    Concluded and reaffirmed a few truths: the reason toes are jammed in footwear is they haven’t figured out (or adopted David’s methods) of holding the foot in place within the footwear in a better way. Even sandals have figured it out pretty well for crying out loud!!

    So once again; the biggest reason most people like foot beds/orthotics in their ski boots is because of the artificial and stupid built in ramp angle based upon whim, again unproven with the slightest bit of testing. So the foot bed helps prevent one sliding down that ramp but proves that two wrongs don’t make a right:) Now I realize that’s why I liked them when I first was introduced to them because it gives the heel a place to ‘grip’ but it’s like expecting a gymnast to do all their ‘acrobatics’ in stilettos!!

    Thanks for sharing all this information!!

    1. A new study confirms what I hypothesized back in 1980, that applying a load to the dorsum of the foot perpendicular to the transverse plantar plane has a synergistic effect on plantar proprioception: –

      Beyond the Bottom of the Foot: Topographic Organization of the FootDorsum in Walking.
      Klarner, Taryn; Pearcey, Gregory E.P.; Sun, Yao; Barss, Trevor S.; Kaupp,
      Chelsea; Munro, Bridget; Frank, Nick; Zehr, E. Paul

      Introduction: Sensory feedback from the foot dorsum during walking has only been studied globally by whole nerve stimulation. Stimulating the main nerve innervating the dorsal surface produces a functional stumble corrective response that is phase-dependently modulated. We speculated that effects evoked by activation of discrete skin regions on the foot dorsum would be
      topographically organized, as with the foot sole.

      Insoles with some architectural detail can help maintain foot postion in a ski boot of those with small feet, especially those with narrow heels so long as the ramp angle is correct and interference with dynamics of the longitudinal arch is avoided. So I agree your observations as to why skiers like footbeds. The big problem in most ski boots is inadequate width across the forefoot and especially inadequate dorsal loading.

  4. Oh dear. Feet don’t pronate because they are weak and foot orthotics do not weaken feet. Please stick to the actual scientific evidence rather than quote unscientific loons who have a blog and who can not cite one piece of evidence to back up their claims.

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