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Boot flex and/or spoilers in boots

Skidreamer

Certified Ski Diva
Hey everyone! I've just skiied the closing weekend here in Australia, and the conditions were ideal for me to be able to analyse on what was going on with my position and technique, and the finer adjustments on my new-this-season-boots.

I've posted before, I've got Tecnica Mach Sport 95's. I'm 123lbs and 5'7", intermediate skiier, advanced intermediate on the occasional good days. I bought the 95's because they were the mid range flex on the Tecnica range, and I was comfortable with the 90 flex in my previous Salomons.

I feel like I get absolutely no flex out of the 95's. I took the rear pin out and there is still no flex for me, whether it's to do with the way I ski, or whether I'm lightweight, I'm not sure. I have tried putting them on at home when it's warm and I still get as good as no flex. I could clearly feel I still can't get as forward as I like and sometimes I'd end up in the back seat.

So, I know that I can get the boots altered to give more flex by getting the inside sides ground down, as per below:

1664836695369.png

However, before I go down this route, I was wondering whether anyone has played around with putting insertable spoilers at the back of their calves in their boots? As I have slim calves I do have some play there, even when the boots are done up tightly, so I thought I might try spoilers before going down the drastic boot surgery route.

I found these really interesting and educational videos on good old Youtube:

Customising ski boot flex (above photo comes from here):

Testing and set up forward lean:
 
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tinymoose

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Curious what boot size you're in/BSL. Could be an issue with buckles hitting each other, especially in a 4-buckle boot if it's a smaller boot. Also, some boots are just poorly designed. Although, I would assume at your height your feet aren't super tiny?
 

WaterGirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Just a thought - no flex when warm or without a bolt? Perhaps the space around your calf or your particular anatomy may not allow you to get the boot to flex b/c your leg/ankle is moving so much in the boot before you can even get your shin to pressure the actual boot cuff. Basically the current set up may preclude you from being able to properly get to pressure the front of your boot. You could try spoiler in back but also something (tongue shim) in front to see if that makes a difference. Was your stance and mobility checked by the fitter?
 

SarahXC

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I saw something a year or two back (which of course I can’t find again) with some x-rays of the skiers foot position within the boot that definitely showed for some people the boot didn’t allow their ankle to move into flexion based upon the alignments—is it possible to try out the tongue shim versus rear spoiler like @WaterGirl mentioned before making any permanent modifications?
 

scandium

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
If you're getting absolutely nothing from your boots it definitely sounds like you have too much space rather than a flex issue. I agree with @WaterGirl regarding a trial of non permanent modifications first. Did you buy these with or without a fitter being involved?
 

elemmac

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Building on Watergirl's post above about space around the calf and anatomy. The amount your boot will flex is directly related to your foot's dorsiflexion. So if you have too much space around your calf, you may be finding the full flex of your ankle before you get to a point where you can flex the boot forward. If this is the case, a tongue shim or a heel lift may be better than a spoiler. The heel lift will open up your ankle, and would allow you to flex further forward, thus properly flexing the boot. A tongue shim will have a similar outcome but with different means. The tongue shim will allow the boot to flex with less movement in the ankle.

A spoiler technically gives you more forward lean, this is normally to correct your balance fore/aft, rather than dealing with flex. However, if you don't have a good balanced stance, this could be affecting your ability to flex forward.

Personally, I would play around with these three things before making permanent modifications. You can either get bootfitting shims and heel lifts online pretty cheaply to play with (like here: https://bootfittingsupply.com/). Or use household items like layers of duct tape, folded trail maps, etc.. Play with all of these things, and write down notes of what feels good, what doesn't, and take those notes back to your bootfitter to make the good things permanent. If you're still having trouble with flex at that point...have your bootfitter cut away.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
From your description above, I am thinking that you didn't see a boot fitter to start with.

I happen to wonder too, if your ankle flexion without a boot is good. This is what is being described by elemmac and Watergirl. Boot flex is subjective. There is no standard. So the Salomon at 90 is not the same as Technica's 95. And my Technica's were 110 and those guys were stiff. But I could bend them with the bolt removed. (They had many other issues and went to the local swap).

And the question about size - BSL. My second and third buckle on my Atomic's quite often touch. But when they do, I've gone too far. So it's good for me.

I'm in the process of new boots for this coming season. I'm putting my feet in the hands of a trusted fitter.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
....I've posted before, I've got Tecnica Mach Sport 95's. I'm 123lbs and 5'7", intermediate skiier, advanced intermediate on the occasional good days.
....I feel like I get absolutely no flex out of the 95's. I took the rear pin out and there is still no flex for me, whether it's to do with the way I ski, or whether I'm lightweight, I'm not sure. I have tried putting them on at home when it's warm and I still get as good as no flex. I could clearly feel I still can't get as forward as I like and sometimes I'd end up in the back seat.
I've been thinking about your thread for a bit. There are some possibilities for explaining why you can't flex these boots.

1. The somewhat stiffer flex of this new boot is not responding to how you are used to flexing your boots. You need to try something different.
2. Your new boots don't fit the anatomy of your feet properly. Your lower leg does not contact the cuff properly, so no matter how far you tilt your lower leg the cuff does not tilt forward in response. There are fixes for this.
3. Or your boots may have too much forward lean given the range of motion you have when you flex your ankles forward. When you bend as far forward as you can at the ankle, your lower leg may not tilt enough to move the cuff given the forward lean built into the boot's spine. Or your heel may rise. Another way of looking at this is the forward lean of the boot is too aggressive for your range of motion. There are fixes for this. You may need to see a bootfitter to properly deal with this issue.
4. Some combination of the above.
5. The Tecnica's are mislabeled and they are much stiffer than 95... like 120 or 130.

How do you move your body to flex your boots? Here's a diagram of three not-so-good ways (a, b, and c) and the best way (d). To best flex your boots, you need to bend forward at the ankle (dorsiflex) and keep the hips up and hovering up over the front half of the boot. As you dorsiflex, you also need to keep the heel firmly seated on the boot sole. Some people attempt to flex a boot primarily by bending the knees, which brings the hips back and does little for the lower leg's tilt. Are you doing d or something else? If you are doing d, are you keeping your heel firmly weighted on the sole of the boot? Try d with heel staying down with weight on it and see if the boot flexes. Clicking into your skis might help.
Screen Shot 2022-10-04 at 10.22.11 AM.png
Screen Shot 2022-10-04 at 10.37.10 AM.png
If you are doing d with your body and keeping the heel seated, and the boot still does not flex, then you need to look at some other possible causes. The red and orange lines below show what a flexed boot should look like when the lower leg is tilted by bending forward at the ankle. The essential part is getting the back of the cuff (its spine) to tilt forward.
Screen Shot 2022-10-04 at 10.15.47 AM.png
The flexing of the boot depends on the lower leg being bound firmly to the spinee, with the front of the lower leg fully in contact with the tongue from bottom to top. This 3-D firm connection is essential.
A number of things can affect this firm connection: the fit of the cuff to your leg's anatomy, the seating of the heel, your range of motion, shin bang, and how tightly you buckle up. These determine whether or not the tilt of the leg pulls the top of the spine forward.
Below is how the lower leg should fit into the cuff. The cuff needs to be snug against all surfaces of your lower leg from down at the ankle to the top of the cuff. If it doesn't contact your skin all the way around, you may be tilting the lower leg but the spine may not be tilting with it because there's air in there.
Your leg can be moving the tongue forward but not the spine, in which case you will have a gap at the back of your leg when you dorsiflex and there will be no spine flex. Do you have a gap back there? If so, you may need to tighten your buckles. Or you may need a shim to fill the air space. Or both. The shim goes in front of the spine, against the tongue, not at the back of the cuff. People use the Eliminator Tongue for this. https://www.tognar.com/the-eliminator-custom-tongue-shims/
Screen Shot 2022-10-04 at 10.19.05 AM.png
And then there's the issue of shin bang. If you are experiencing shin bang, (bruising at the top of the tongue), you may avoiding buckling the cuff tight enough for it to contact skin all the way around. Tighten the cuff more to avoid shin bang, not less. If your lower leg contacts the cuff everywhere, then the pressure of flexing forward will be distributed all around and you won't get that painful bruise up top. Your upper shin will stop banging into the tongue.
If you are suffering from shin bang, buckle up more tightly (not more loosely) especially at the lower cuff, and see if your cuff still leaves gaps behind your calf when you flex. If it does, you may need a bootfitter to move the buckles so you can snug up that cuff even more. Or you may need shims. The usual spot for shims when there's a gap in back is not in back (spoiler) but in front.
Screen Shot 2022-10-04 at 10.32.45 AM.png
Or you may need help keeping your heel seated when you dorsiflex. If this is the case, see a bootfitter. There may be too much room above your foot and in front of your ankle, you may have too wide a heel cup, or something else may be going on. Bootfitting and adjusting can get complicated.

When buying a boot, the heel lift may happen if you don't pay attention to matching the boot to the volume of your foot. Some boots come with LV, low volume. If you have a low volume foot but not a low volume boot, you will have trouble keeping the heel seated and maintaining full contact between the cuff and the lower leg. In the images below, the bottom foot needs a boot with LV on the box.
Screen Shot 2022-10-04 at 11.03.48 AM.png
 
Last edited:

santacruz skier

Angel Diva
I've been thinking about your thread for a bit. There are some possibilities for explaining why you can't flex these boots.

1. The somewhat stiffer flex of this new boot is not responding to how you are used to flexing your boots. You need to try something different.
2. Your new boots don't fit the anatomy of your feet properly. Your lower leg does not contact the cuff properly, so no matter how far you tilt your lower leg the cuff does not tilt forward in response. There are fixes for this.
3. Or your boots may have too much forward lean given the range of motion you have when you flex your ankles forward. When you bend as far forward as you can at the ankle, your lower leg may not tilt enough to move the cuff given the forward lean built into the boot's spine. Or your heel may rise. Another way of looking at this is the forward lean of the boot is too aggressive for your range of motion. There are fixes for this. You may need to see a bootfitter to properly deal with this issue.
4. Some combination of the above.
5. The Tecnica's are mislabeled and they are much stiffer than 95... like 120 or 130.

How do you move your body to flex your boots? Here's a diagram of three not-so-good ways (a, b, and c) and the best way (d). To best flex your boots, you need to bend forward at the ankle (dorsiflex) and keep the hips up and hovering up over the front half of the boot. As you dorsiflex, you also need to keep the heel firmly seated on the boot sole. Some people attempt to flex a boot primarily by bending the knees, which brings the hips back and does little for the lower leg's tilt. Are you doing d or something else? If you are doing d, are you keeping your heel firmly weighted on the sole of the boot? Try d with heel staying down with weight on it and see if the boot flexes. Clicking into your skis might help.
View attachment 19331
View attachment 19337
If you are doing d with your body and keeping the heel seated, and the boot still does not flex, then you need to look at some other possible causes. The red and orange lines below show what a flexed boot should look like when the lower leg is tilted by bending forward at the ankle. The essential part is getting the back of the cuff (its spine) to tilt forward.
View attachment 19332
The flexing of the boot depends on the lower leg being bound firmly to the spinee, with the front of the lower leg fully in contact with the tongue from bottom to top. This 3-D firm connection is essential.
A number of things can affect this firm connection: the fit of the cuff to your leg's anatomy, the seating of the heel, your range of motion, shin bang, and how tightly you buckle up. These determine whether or not the tilt of the leg pulls the top of the spine forward.
Below is how the lower leg should fit into the cuff. The cuff needs to be snug against all surfaces of your lower leg from down at the ankle to the top of the cuff. If it doesn't contact your skin all the way around, you may be tilting the lower leg but the spine may not be tilting with it because there's air in there.
Your leg can be moving the tongue forward but not the spine, in which case you will have a gap at the back of your leg when you dorsiflex and there will be no spine flex. Do you have a gap back there? If so, you may need to tighten your buckles. Or you may need a shim to fill the air space. Or both. The shim goes in front of the spine, against the tongue, not at the back of the cuff. People use the Eliminator Tongue for this. https://www.tognar.com/the-eliminator-custom-tongue-shims/
View attachment 19333
And then there's the issue of shin bang. If you are experiencing shin bang, (bruising at the top of the tongue), you may avoiding buckling the cuff tight enough for it to contact skin all the way around. Tighten the cuff more to avoid shin bang, not less. If your lower leg contacts the cuff everywhere, then the pressure of flexing forward will be distributed all around and you won't get that painful bruise up top. Your upper shin will stop banging into the tongue.
If you are suffering from shin bang, buckle up more tightly (not more loosely) especially at the lower cuff, and see if your cuff still leaves gaps behind your calf when you flex. If it does, you may need a bootfitter to move the buckles so you can snug up that cuff even more. Or you may need shims. The usual spot for shims when there's a gap in back is not in back (spoiler) but in front.
View attachment 19334
Or you may need help keeping your heel seated when you dorsiflex. If this is the case, see a bootfitter. There may be too much room above your foot and in front of your ankle, you may have too wide a heel cup, or something else may be going on. Bootfitting and adjusting can get complicated.

When buying a boot, the heel lift may happen if you don't pay attention to matching the boot to the volume of your foot. Some boots come with LV, low volume. If you have a low volume foot but not a low volume boot, you will have trouble keeping the heel seated and maintaining full contact between the cuff and the lower leg. In the images below, the bottom foot needs a boot with LV on the box.
View attachment 19336
Lots of pieces to the puzzle.... I can barely get my boots on - Dalbello Asolo 95 - actually I can't get them on without boot heaters and boot tongue but once on, they fit like a glove. Oh and boot fitter had to remove screws.... I don't think I have great dorsiflexion as my trainer alluded to it once. Need to work on that. Most of the boots I tried on were too stiff or too wide. ^^^^ that's a lot of good information.
 

skinnyfootskis

Angel Diva
Lots of pieces to the puzzle.... I can barely get my boots on - Dalbello Asolo 95 - actually I can't get them on without boot heaters and boot tongue but once on, they fit like a glove. Oh and boot fitter had to remove screws.... I don't think I have great dorsiflexion as my trainer alluded to it once. Need to work on that. Most of the boots I tried on were too stiff or too wide. ^^^^ that's a lot of good information.
I had to give up my Nordica Promachine 110s (currently selling them) because I could not ever get in without help...even with a boot sleeve. I now have Dalbello DRS 110. These are super soft and I can put my boots on by myself.
 

Skidreamer

Certified Ski Diva
Thank you all so much for these replies! I will sit down properly and unpack all this info on the weekend. This will cheer me up after the depression of the realisation that our season has closed over here...
 

Skidreamer

Certified Ski Diva
Ladies, just so much food for thought in these replies, I really want to address them properly, but in brief, you've been a phenomenal help. I did purchase these boots online - and was now starting to feel very silly for it. A number of you have nailed what was going on with me and the boots, and it's more than one thing. Yes, I do have very limited ankle flexion, and I have always been aware of this from my horseriding. Yes these boots do have a substantial forward lean, more so than my previous. I am able to do them up tightly and still comfortably, with very little looseness/undesired movement within them, but was unable to exert any more forward pressure. Makes sense now, doesn't it! I grabbed some $10 soccer shin protectors from a sports store on the weekend to play with. Inserted them in the back behind my calves. Voila, this did achieve some flex out of the boots. But then inserted them in the front like a tongue shin and wow, there was the flex I was really looking for, without being too much. The difference was amazing! So this is something I will play with next Australian season, and I'm still open to heel lifts as well. Liquidfeet - I still need to really unpack all that information and analysis, to be honest - it is beyond amazing. Thank you all - so much. I'll get back to you with more detail as I look further into this.
 

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