Boulder Orthotics and Boot Fitting FAQ

Gait orthotics

Gait orthotics produced at Boulder Orthotics and Boot Fitting are custom made and designed to fit into your shoe, support your foot, provide stability, and keep your body aligned while moving through a full gait cycle. Each set of orthotics is constructed of medical grade materials, in house, by a Board Certified Pedorthist. Gait orthotics are appropriate for use in shoes made for walking, running, hiking, or playing any sport which requires your foot to bend at the toes and push off the ground to move forward.

Our feet are part of a complex system that is designed to provide stability and balance over varied terrain. Most people’s modern lifestyles include walking on flat hard surfaces much of the time, which is easy and convenient, but does not necessarily engage all the muscles in our feet and legs to maintain a stable gait. Footwear is often worn to fit very snug for fashion purposes or performance in sports, which can result in joint and nerve irritations, swelling and more. The combination of these environments can produce pressure and forces along with muscle atrophies that culminate into painful conditions that can extend upward through the entire skeletal system.

Proper support of the medial, lateral, and transverse arches directs your ankle, knee, and hip into natural alignment which, in turn, alleviates misalignments in your gait. Your foot is “literally” the foundation of your body, and treatment by a Board Certified Pedorthist can positively affect your entire musculoskeletal system. Heather’s knowledge and commitment to patient care can improve not just your foot health, but extend to your overall health.

Not necessarily. Proper foot support can help train the body to maintain natural alignment, and when employed in conjunction with the right exercises, one can strengthen the feet to sustain a healthy stance. Attempts to overcome atrophied muscles without effective alignment can result in discomfort or even injury.

Custom gait orthotic appointments are scheduled for a 2-hour duration. An appointment includes a comprehensive foot/lower leg assessment, professional molding to accurately capture the plantar foot shape including full longitudinal and transverse arch, and a footwear evaluation and fit. Orthotics are produced while you wait (in most cases), followed by a fit check, and any necessary adjustments. Heather will also provide break-in period instructions and schedule a 2-week recheck with you before you leave.

Please wear clothing that can be rolled up to expose your entire lower leg from the knee down. 

Shoes and socks that you intend to pair with orthotics. Please clean mud and debris from the bottom of your footwear.

Proper foot support improves alignment of joints in the lower body which improves balance and stability, while reducing stress and strain caused by musculoskeletal compensation due to misalignments. Effective foot support also feels comfortable and often reduces or omits pain.

Arch pain,pronation, supination, sesamoiditis, Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, Morton’s neuroma, metatarsalgia, accessory navicular, bunions, arthritis, hallux rigidus, hallux limitus, fat pad atrophy, shin splints, PTTD, ankle pain, and knee pain are common ailments that can be improved or eliminated with gait orthotics.

Bony lumps along the joint of the big toe form as a result of an imbalance within the foot. Muscles, tendons, and bones that become misaligned will generally improve when the foot is properly supported and progression of the condition is often vastly reduced.

A board certified Pedorthist produces each set of orthotics in house, and specifically for each individual patient’s needs. Medical-grade Sansplint is used to precisely map and mold to the planter side of each foot. A variety of other posting, support, and top sheet materials of different durometers are chosen on a case-by-case basis to produce the best result and maximize comfort.

Up to five years when maintained with annual recheck and refurbishment.

Footwear

Properly fitted footwear should mirror the shape of the foot with appropriate length for its intended use. Well-constructed shoes and boots are made with durable, supportive materials consisting of an upper, insole, mid-sole, and outer-sole. The stock insole can be replaced with a custom orthotic for an optimized fit.

Recognizing the importance of pairing orthotics with appropriate footwear, Heather ensures that her clients have access to top-notch shoes and socks that complement their orthotic needs and promote optimal foot health.

“Drop is something that has been at the center of attention for many years because the wrong choice – or in other words, a choice that is not adapted to your natural stride – can increase your risk of injury. A drop that is not suited to your natural stride will force you to adopt a different stride, and suddenly and abnormally increase the stresses on your muscles and tendons. In the beginning this might cause unusual aches and pains that could develop into tendonitis or periostitis injury.”

 Ref. https://www.salomon.com/en-us/running/trail-running-advice/what-drop-running-shoes

Fixed foot orthotics

Fixed foot orthotics are designed to support the arch, maintain alignment, and provide efficient energy transfer during activities where the foot remains in a stable position rather than bending through a full gait cycle. Fixed foot orthotics are appropriate for activities such as cycling, skiing, snowboarding, mountaineering, ice climbing, and skating.

Proper support of the medial, lateral, and transverse arches directs your ankle, knee, and hip into natural alignment. Optimized alignment helps to prevent injuries and improve balance while maximizing power transfer through the foot. Effective foot support also feels secure and improves comfort, adding to enjoyment during activities.

Fixed foot custom orthotic appointments are scheduled for a 2-hour duration. An appointment includes a comprehensive foot/lower leg assessment, professional molding to accurately capture the plantar foot shape including full longitudinal and transverse arch, a boot/footwear fit and evaluation. Orthotics are produced while you wait (in most cases), followed by a fit check, and any necessary adjustments before you leave. A follow-up adjustment appointment is included, as necessary, within two months.

All boots (with liners) or shoes and clean socks that you intend to use with your fixed foot orthotics. Please wear clothing that can be rolled up to expose your entire lower leg from the knee down. Please clean mud and debris from the bottom of your boots and footwear.

Get skooled on ski boots

Ski boots are designed specifically to transfer inputs from a skier through the binding/ski to the snow. A snug fit is necessary for balance and precise ski control from edge to edge and tip to tail. A ski boot that fits too loosely makes it difficult for the skier to maintain balance and speed control, and can result in injuries. In an attempt to take up extra space and gain control, the skier tends to over-tighten buckles causing uncomfortable compression, numbness, and cold toes. Most ski boots currently on the market include heat-moldable liners that can be formed to the shape of a skier’s feet for an ideal fit. An off-the-shelf boot of proper size with an unmolded liner should feel overly snug (particularly in the toes) to allow for the liner to compress around the foot during molding. A good boot fitter will be able to recommend the best boot models for you based on your anatomy, goals, and skills; assess the shape of your foot and choose the correct size based on a shell fit. Following liner molding, and fine tuning the result should feel like a firm handshake all around your lower leg and foot with a bit or room to move your toes. Ultimately, your boot fit should correspond with your style of skiing and personal needs.

Last refers to the width at the widest part inside a ski boot shell at the forefoot where the ball of foot sits along the length. Volume is a measure of overall shape within the boot shell that includes both width and height. Generally, boots with a narrow last are lower volume and boots with a wide last have higher volume. The height at the instep in some boots does not always correspond with the last/volume and varies with different models. A boot fitter can help identify which boots match certain foot shapes.

One ski boot model is often available in a variety of flex ratings that indicate how soft or stiff the boot feels when a skier presses the boot forward into a skiing stance. Currently, there is no standard specification or scale that identifies the flex index, but a higher number indicates higher stiffness across all brands and models. So, a 120 flex in one brand is not equivalent to the same flex rating in another brand. However, within a single model, a 120 flex is stiffer than a 110 or 95 flex. The best flex rating for an individual is based on more than just skill level, a good boot fitter will consider a variety of factors to help you choose what is best for you.

First and foremost, a good boot fitter will listen and communicate with you about what your boot feels like and your desired outcome. A professional fit will include a professional assessment of your feet and lower legs, including flexibility and range of motion. The fitter will thoroughly inspect your boots, including the liner, foot support, and check the shell fit. A good fitter will be able to problem solve comfort and performance issues with accuracy, have the skills to modify and customize your boots, and care about the outcome. A professional boot fit has the potential to make you a happy skier.

At Boulder Orthotics and Boot Fitting, we begin a boot fit with a conversation, followed by measuring your feet and an anatomical assessment. We check the boot shell size, fit, and observe its overall shape relative to your foot. We check for (or suggest) some form of arch support to provide a stable platform for your foot inside the boot and reduce any motion. Once the foot is in a stable position within the boot we can address specific pressure points, sensitive areas, and fine tune the fit to optimize for comfort and performance. We specialize in customization and employ a variety of modification techniques including heat molding, liner modifications, and shell stretching/grinding to provide the best result. Whether it’s addressing cold feet, pain, or increasing boot responsiveness, we strive to provide an attention to detail that ensures every adjustment is tailored to a skier’s individual requirements.

The foundation of a well-fitted ski boot is based on a foot with an effectively stabilized arch, in both the longitudinal and transverse directions. A stable arch provides a reliable path to transfer power from a flexible foot through a rigid boot to the ski. Efficient energy transfer allows the skier to pressure tips, tails or either edge of a ski with precision and minimal effort, while maintaining a good stance. An unsupported foot splays inside the boot prior to contacting a surface with which to transfer enough force to move the ski. This motion inside the boot often moves the skier off-balance and requires compensation that results in a poor stance and loss of control. Unnecessary motion within a boot also requires more energy, produces more fatigue, and often results in a variety of types of discomfort.

Ski boots (cleaned of dirt and debris), clean ski socks, foot support (if you have it), clothing that can be rolled up to reveal you lower legs. A desire to ski!

Absolutely! We are happy to recommend the best boot brand, model, and size for you, even if it’s not a boot we carry. Just sign up for a boot fit. 

Yes, we sell two models of Intuition liners: Pro Tour, and Tour Wrap. We are also happy to order just the right model for you and mold them when to fit both your boots and your feet. 

Clean merino wool or high-quality synthetic with a smooth tight weave. Light or medium weight weaves are warmer and more comfortable than thick, fluffy types in a well-fitted boot with a good liner. Socks should fit snugly with no wrinkles to prevent discomfort.

Look carefully at the boot shells, check for obvious wear of the plastic, any cracks or other degradation. Plastic degrades over time and loses elasticity, which some skiers can sense as diminished performance. Many boot manufacturers consider ski boot lifespan at 3-5 years, and some companies use recycled plastic from older boots in certain new boot parts. Check buckles for excessive wear, damage, or loose fasteners. Look for signs of wear on the heels and toes from walking, or damage to the lugs that might prevent proper binding release. 

Look for signs of wear or damage on both the inside and outside of the boot liners. If the shells are in good condition, you may extend their life with a replacement liner.