|A photograph of some ice hockey skates. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
- Are they hockey skates? This may sound like a ridiculous question, but make sure you are actually purchasing hockey skates and not figure skates. Figure skates will have toe picks, a serrated edge at the front of the skate that helps the athlete jump. Hockey skates will not have a toe pick.
- Cost. Are expensive hockey skates really better than cheaper hockey skates? It depends on how much skating you will be doing and how your skates will be used. Recreational skates cost $40-$60, mid-range skates from $80-$150, and professional quality skates up to $600. The expensive skates are stiffer, lighter, and have less ankle padding than their cheaper versions.
- Skates should fit needs. Are you a weekend warrior or in a competing hockey league? The right hockey skate goes with the purpose. If you're playing once or twice a month recreationally then you don't need to shell out top dollar for the best hockey skates. However, if you're in a league and playing regular games, a higher-end skate would be worth it, as it will last longer and hold up better.
- Where should you shop? You would never order glasses over the internet would you? You want to try them on and see what looks best on you. So hockey skates should never be purchased online either. Brands and models change over time, and just because you've worn that skate for the last 5 years doesn't mean there haven't been improvements or changes. Go to sporting goods stores and try on several different pairs. Once you have found the right one for you, then you can go online and find the best price.
- Getting the right fit. Purchasing a skate that is too big is a mistake. The heel cup in your boot should hold your heel tight. When the heel cup shifts, it causes irritating blisters and spurs. Competitive skaters should look for a skate that has form fitting ankle padding and full carbon outsoles. There should be enough room for your big toe, but they should touch the end of your skate. When you bend your knees, your toe should pull away from the front of your boot. Your skates should fit snugly, but not tightly. Lace your skates all the way when you first try them on to ensure the perfect fit. Remember too that hockey skates fit 1 to 1 1/2 sizes smaller than your street shoes, and widths run bigger than traditional sizing.
- Brands are not equal. Just like clothing, hockey skates will vary from brand to brand and even model to model. Some brands also provide specific skates for specific types of feet. Bauer skates are good for people with a narrow foot or low instep. Bauer's Classic series is best for people with a wider foot and their Missions series is good for those with a higher instep. Those with a high instep should avoid CCM. If you have an average instep, look for Nikes, whose skates also run wide. Graf and RBK skates have models for all types of feet, while Easton skates are best for those with wide feet.
- Breaking in. Breaking in hockey skates can be painful, taking 2 to 5 hours of ice time. Wear them around the house with skate guards on for as long as possible is a good way to avoid some of the pain you'll feel on the ice. Some shops offer a heating service which will help the breaking in process.
Craig M. Kaufman, DPM
Connecticut Foot Care Centers
Sports Medicine Podiatrist in CT
Podiatrist in Newington
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