If you’ve ever seen the movie “Ice Princess” you’ll know you can’t just buy a new pair of skates and compete on the same day. Ice skates must go through a break-in period before returning to their everyday training routines, especially before performing. Breaking in new skates can be painful and frustrating and slow you down for a minute, but here are some tips to help break in your skates faster and make it slightly less uncomfortable for your feet and ankles.
What Goes Into Breaking In New Skates?
A few factors go into breaking in skates: one, the brand of skate you have, and two, how stiff your boot is. Typically the more advanced you are, the stiffer the boot you will need. I won’t cover every brand here, but I will discuss the most popular brands and what I would recommend.
On average, most skate brands such as Jackson, Reidell, Harlick, and Avantas take anywhere from 3-6 weeks to break in. Most of these are made out of leather and are great boots for beginners and pros. On the other hand, Edea is a brand that has become popular quite fast. Beginners all the way to Olympians wear Edea skates. What separates Edeas from the other brands is their break-in period. Instead of weeks to break in skates, it takes a day or two, and you are back to regular training. I might even go as far as to say they don’t really need to be broken in. They feel like tennis shoes and are incredibly comfortable. Sounds great, right? Yes…. but it’s up to you to decide if the pros outweigh the cons. Edea skates have little to no break-in period, which also means they break down faster. Instead of skates lasting 9-12 months, advanced skaters go through edeas as soon as six months. The other thing to consider is that Edea skates are not designed to be super tight at the top. I prefer my skates as tight as I can get, so I am constantly re-tying my edeas during practice to tighten them. If you don’t mind having your skates a little looser but still supportive, you will love Edeas.
Your boots should be stiff (that’s what gives you support) and a bit uncomfortable when you first get them. This allows the boot to stretch to your foot and last longer while also supporting you. Skate brands sell different boots with different stiffness to match the skater’s level. An advanced skater will need a stiffer boot because they will break the boot down quicker since they are spending more hours on the ice, jumping higher and faster, and putting more stress on the boot altogether. A newer skater wouldn’t be able to break in a stiffer boot and would just be in pain, so be sure to talk with a knowledgeable skate seller to get the right stiffness/level of boot for you.
Where to buy ice skates?
If you are a new skater and want to try it out before fully committing to this sport, you may want to look into some used skates. It is a cheaper option, and you can skip the break-in period. If you want a new pair of skates, the best way to buy them is through a skate seller. Most rinks have personnel who help sell the skates. They measure your foot, order your skates, and help recommend the best brand. Another way is to ask other skaters where they buy their skates from. Typically there is a skater parent or coach who sells skates. They give you a better deal than if you ordered straight from a website.
Tips For Breaking in Ice Skates
- Heat: Most skates are safe to go in a skate oven. (I know some people have used a kitchen oven, but I do not recommend this.) If you have a non-custom boot (aside from Edea), this may be an option for you. It helps heat the boots, and then you put them on, and the skate molds to your foot better as it cools. Be careful not to burn yourself but wait till they are comfortable and still warm to put them on.
- Blow dryer: this is another heat option. There are special blow dryers that look like hairdryers but are just for skates. It turns out you can use a regular hairdryer as well. These help heat the skate and soften the leather, making them more comfortable to break in.
- Punched: a skate specialist typically has a machine that can punch more space in your skate around your problem areas. For example, I have abnormally large ankle bones because of multiple surgeries, so I will have my skate guy punch out a larger space in the ankle spot, so my foot fits better inside the skate and relieves some of the pressure there. Often skaters deal with bunions and can have those areas punched out to help reduce pain and eliminate potential problems.
- Walking: walking around your house with skates on. This might seem silly, but you can put your guards on and walk around at home when you are doing chores or watching a show, and this helps break them in, and you start getting more comfortable in them. New skates can feel like putting your feet into concrete blocks because they are so stiff, so the more time you can spend in them, the faster they will break-in.
- Protection: I love using bunga pads, but you can also use tape or band-aids or gel pads to help protect your feet and ankles from blisters. New skates will rub at the top against your ankles and really hurt and sometimes bleed, so I wear gel sleeves called bunga pads to help protect from the rubbing.
- Unmolding: Never, ever leave your skates in a hot car in the summertime! The heat will soften the boot and potentially mess up the mold of your boot. If you leave your skates in the car for too long, they will get very warm, which is not good for them. It could even aid in breaking them down faster. Ice skates were made for the ice.
Everyone’s feet are different, and every skater is different, but many skaters commonly use these tips. These tips have been successful for lots of skaters. It’s still not the funnest breaking in skates; I’m not going to lie, they are uncomfortable. But, it’s just part of the sport we all love!