Let’s talk about feet. Let’s not worry about your ankles or back, but the muscles, tendons and bones that make up those two things on the bottom of your legs…
When you put on your skates and go out in them, do you come back with your feet hurting? Why does this happen? This isn’t really the way it should work, so something is going wrong even if you don’t know what it is… Let’s give a short summary answer first, break that out a little, and dive into detail where you want to learn more, ready?
Why do your feet hurt when rollerblading? Your skates are not fitted properly or you’re not used to skating. Poorly fitting skates can be too tight or too small, compressing parts of your foot, or too loose or too big, allowing your feet to rub on something. Alternatively, putting pressure on the wrong part with bad form can also hurt (you may not be bending your knees properly)
If you have any severe or persistent pains then you should seek the advice of a medical professional.
Why Do My Feet Hurt? A Quick Explanation
When you start out skating it’s possible your feet might ache because you’re not used to it. It can take maybe twelve hours or so across a month, or thereabouts, to get used to it. Any muscular ache may be reduced after. Also, you might have ‘dove in’ too much, and did too much skating in one go.
However, if the pain is not just a general ache and is localised to one point, almost like something has been pushing into it, or rubbing against it, then there is a question of either the skate not fitting properly… It may be too big and you’re rubbing into it getting blisters or other pain, or it might be too tight or too small and that’s pushing into the bones and muscles of your feet. If it’s your toes, then they may be pushing against the front of the skate in which case, clearly the skates are a little too small. You should be able to wiggle your toes really.
There’s the chance your form may be a little off (usually not bending your knees enough, and keeping your legs too straight) which may cause pain as well.
Another possibility here is your feet are just a little too wide for the skates. This means you might have a bone popping out that’s rubbing and being pushed in by the skate. It might not actually be the size of the skates however, but the brand. It’s worth speaking to people in your local skate shop if you can. Some brands come a little narrower than others actually.
It’s notable that your feet swell when blood pumps through them when you exercise, so your feet might be slightly bigger in your skates and if they’re brand new, that could be adding some pressure to them.
Possible Causes And Solutions To Foot Pain When Inline Skating
Achy muscles – you just need to give it time (maybe 12 or so hours across a month)
If you’ve just started and your feet ache this is actually pretty normal, especially if you skated for a long time on your first ever session. There’s still the chance that something is wrong with the fitting of your skate, but you can determine this the next time you go out, try skating not quite as far and come back and see if you have the same pain. If not, problem solved.
Over time you will start to build up tougher skin on different areas of your feet where pressure occurs when skating, and you will also build up the small muscles in your feet and legs.
It may take around 12 hours or so of skating to build up your muscles sufficiently. But to be honest if you’re still feeling significant pain on the third session in a row something else might be up.
Blisters – your foot is moving too much…
Blister – means foot is moving too much inside the boot. This either means that the boot is too loose, or that the boot is actually too large and you need a smaller size.
There’s a few things you can do here. One great recommendation is to try a thicker pair of socks, or actually a neoprene ankle / foot support you can buy, neoprene skate socks. these may sort the issue out.
It may be that you need to tighten the boot, but if it’s tight already that’s not likely to be the issue. Thicker socks on your feet, or thicker inner liner may be able to prevent blisters.
Knocking your ankles
So, your ankles may be knocking into the boot sock in some way. Perhaps your ankles jut out too much. You may need actually to get a thinner liner. Even really thick liners can cause discomfort if they’re sticking into your ankle in the wrong way, so you could try either the neoprene skate sock to support, or you could see if the skate shop can supply a thinner liner for the same skate. It’s possible you are also doing up the ankle part of the skate too much, so try that out first.
Plantar fasciitis – sharp pain in the bottom of your foot – too much, too quickly?
Due to inflammation of the band of tissue connecting heel to the ball of your foot. Can happen if you suddenly go from not much activity to a lot in a short time, or if you do a lot of jumps and tricks. This should just go away with rest really. You can take pain killers but you shouldn’t take these if you don’t need to, as some can be quite powerful and should only be used when needed (such as ibuprofen).
Tight Achilles tendon – not stretching enough!
Stretching from the bone of your heel to your calf muscle, it’s the largest tendon in the body, and you might want to give this a stretch before and after you go skating. It could be this is tight and you need to loosen it up.
A bony part of your foot sticking into the side
For example, on the inside part of your foot you may have a small bone that is sticking into the skate. For this one you could try a piece of padding, perhaps doughnut shaped to allow the bone to protrude through but still be padded. Try to identify the area and see if something like that can work. Adjust the laces, and the straps on that boot as well to see if that helps.
Boots too small – get bigger ones
If your feet hurt when skating and you can feel the boot pushing in on you, either your toes or the top part of your foot – known as the metatarsus, where the metatarsal bones are – it may be that the boot you have is a little too small. Your foot can still fit in it but after skating for a while the pressure starts to crush down on the small bones and muscles within your foot.
Now a little pressure is usual and especially if you’re just starting out you should expect some pressure, and perhaps even slight discomfort after skating, but it should go away after you skate for around 12 hours or so, across say a month. But if the pain is severe and you think the boot is clearly pushing in on the foot, and that a slightly larger size would still be fine, then simply get the larger size up.
See below for the section on making sure you have the right fit.
Here, you need of course to double check the boot is not just too tight…
Boots too tight – loosen the straps
Notice where the straps are around the boot, around your ankle and over the top part of your foot typically. If you are experiencing pain in these areas you might want to try to loosen the straps or laces a little.
The boot should be tight enough that your foot does not wobble around all over the place but there should be a little give for your ankle. It should let you bend your knee fairly comfortably actually. Obviously you don’t want it so tight it’s cutting off the blood flow.
Boots too big – get smaller ones
Blisters or your feet are moving about? Is there so much room within the boot that your feet actually slip within it? They shouldn’t…
It may be however that the boot is the right size itself, but the liner inside could do with being a bit thicker. So it does depend… but if it’s just a little bit big and the liner you can tell is thin, you could see if a bigger liner is available. Also buying a neoprene sock may help as well here…
Boots too loose – tighten the straps
So, you should not move around too much inside the skates. You should be able to bend forward a little, but your feet are staying firmly within, and the boot will hug your ankle. If the boot shakes from side to side (indicating a loss of control) when you skate, and your foot moves within it, you may want to tighten the straps.
Foot too wide – get a new foot (just kidding… you need a different brand of skate)
Some brands come a little narrower than others. If you have wide feet (like me) then some brands could squash you in. You may want to speak to the store assistant and see what they think about this, based on their experience. They may tell you the brands that come a little wider.
How to Make Your Skates More Comfortable
I love Ricardo Lino.
Here he is explaining how to make your skates more comfortable. Please go to his page and follow him, he is one of a number of skating gurus who exist out in ‘internet land’ – you should follow this man now!
What type of pain have you got? Where is it in the foot?
Skate Fresh Asha (who provides lessons) and is an all-round great guide to skating, explains some of the most common issues she comes across here.
As she explains, pain on the inside of your foot, just beneath and in front of the ankle bone, the medial malleolus, that’s where the ankle strap goes over… Pain can come from the tendon popping out, when your knee is not properly bent. When you straighten it with your foot on the floor you can see it…not bending your knee enough and your weight shifting back while skating, can lead to this issue.
She also recommends a solution for when there is a pain in the centre of your inner foot, where perhaps a bone is sticking out, is to create a doughnut shaped padding to stick inside, to cushion that part (as mentioned also above).
Tips For Beginners: Your Form Could Be Wrong
A mistake is trying to tense your feet up too much when you start skating. You may do this if you’re a beginner getting out on the skates for the first time. So don’t tense your feet up to gain control, let them sit naturally in the boot like they would in your shoes.
You might be tying everything up too tight. Restricting the blood flow. You should be able to comfortably bend your knees when you are in your skates. Also, if your legs are too straight when you are skating there’s a chance that your ankle bone could be protruding too much (this is what happens when your leg is straight in the boot) and it might be that you need to bend your leg a bit more. This is repeating what we’ve covered already but it bears repeating…
It also may be that you’re not used to it: strain and vibration along the ligaments of the foot, because you are unaccustomed to this type of activity. The small foot muscles may not be well-developed enough. In which case it may take a few sessions over a month, to get your foot muscles developed enough.
What is okay pain and what is not?
Mild pins and needles after skating for a while when you have not skated much before is probably okay, but this should not persist for a long time after skating.
Circulation should not get cut off too quickly when you put your skates on. You may get pins and needles if you skate for a very long time – perhaps several hours – when you are not used to it, but this should not occur quickly, in general, in most people.
If the pain is severe, then this is a sign something is wrong, either with the way your foot is fixed within the skate (size and tightness) or something else. Use your judgment to determine this.
If it is an ache after the first few times it may just be a muscular ache from not using these muscles much before.
How To Get The Fit Right To Stop Your Feet Hurting In Skates
- Feet swell when you exercise, so it may be worth trying the skates on after walking a little way to recreate the effect of this. because that is what’s going to be happening when you’re skating. It doesn’t make a huge difference but it’s there…
- Trying your own foot size, but obviously err on the side of bigger…
- It’s great to try skates on (you could do that thing where you buy your size and the size bigger, and return one pair, if you’re that sort of person, but check the returns policy). In fact, it’s so very great that you definitely want to try skates on if you can.
- Try both on. your feet are not the same size.
- Use a thin pair of socks at first.
- Tie up reasonably tight, without trying to cut off the blood supply – there’s loose, then there’s insanely tight, and you’re in the middle.
- Be able to insert a finger down the back…
- First, laces, then strap (Velcro) then main strap… in that order…
- Should be able to bend your knees without the strap cutting off blood to your foot.
- Make sure your heel is all the way down in the boot.
- Wiggle it around. Pull the tongue up into the right position.
- You should be able to wiggle your toes the smallest amount. Without actually them touching the front bit hardly at all.
- Bigger may feel comfortable, but you don’t want your foot moving around too much within the boot, you could get pain from them being too big like blisters.
Frequently Asked Questions on Foot Pain When Skating
Should skates be very tight or very lose?
Skates should be neither extremely tight nor extremely lose. They should as you may imagine be tight enough so your ankle and foot do not move around a lot within the skate, but not so tight they constrict blood flow. You can experiment by skating in them, tightening and loosening as feels appropriate and gives you the right degree of control.
Why do the bottom of my feet hurt?
There are a few reasons the bottom of your feet could hurt, ranging from your feet not used to the movement of skating (if you are a beginner) to you overusing them perhaps by high impact jumps, or you could have flat feet, or your inner soles may not be fitting properly, or you could be learning too far inwards, or too far outwards when you skate (inner soles may help). See above for more.
Are skates supposed to hurt?
No, skates are not supposed to hurt. They may feel tight when they are brand new, and loosen later however.
Should my toes touch the end of my skates?
No, your toes should not really touch the end of your skates. They’ll be close, but they definitely shouldn’t be pushed up against the end.