The Best Ways to Break In a Pair of Leather Roller Skate Boots
Roller skating provides an excellent cardiovascular workout that tones up legs, calves and core muscles; however, you won’t be getting much of a workout if you’re in pain from stiff, new leather skating boots. While you want your skates to fit snugly, with the proper fit determined by a professional, and quality leather should be stiff enough to provide appropriate ankle support, you will still need to break in your boots before you can enjoy skating in them.
Certain pro shops, those that cater to figure skates or roller skates, have skate boot ovens. Skate boot ovens are not like your kitchen oven at home and you should never try to heat a skating boot in an oven by yourself, or you will burn or ruin the boot. A professional can warm your skate, either in an oven or with a heat gun to 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. If a professional isn’t available, you can try heating points of your boot with a hair dryer, being careful not to get the boots too hot or damage the leather. Once warm, the boots are then put on your foot, laced up tightly and left to cool that way for five minutes. As the boot conforms to the shape of your foot, you are breaking them in, so that they will be comfortable to skate in right away.
Skip the top two holes or hooks when you lace up your skating boots and tie the top rather loosely. Skate four to six hours in your boots without these top laces done. After four to six hours, skip only the top hole or hook, and once that’s done, lace up your boots all the way. You actually want your boots to break in, not break down. Break-down indicates that there’s no support for your foot and ankle, whereas breaking in means you are skating in comfort. If you lace your boots up all the way before breaking them in, you could be putting pressure on your ankle, on hooks and it could prematurely damage your boot, as well as cause injury to the muscles and tendons of your foot and ankle.
The best way to break in skating boots is to wear them as much as possible. Wear the boots around the house, with wheels or without. Many leather boots have wheels that are removable, and you can just focus on breaking-in the boot before you add the wheels. Skating in your boots will help you break them in; the more time you spend skating in them, the faster they’ll be broken in and comfortable.
If you find that your skates poke at your or rub against your Achilles tendon, and you are bending your knees when you skate, then consider trying a leather conditioner on them. A leather conditioner is a softening agent, much like what baseball players use on their gloves. Rub the conditioner in while bending the leather back and forth. The more you work the leather with your hands, the softer it will get.
If your skates are still stiff and bothering you, consider taking them to a shoe cobbler or skate pro shop and have them stretched or “punched out.” Punching a skate out where the leather rubs on the foot is done with a professional machine. It involves stretching the leather in places, usually on the sides or by the toes – no leather is actually cut in the process.
Bonnie Crowe is a mother of two teenagers; a teacher and author of children's books, curriculum and articles on English grammar, literature, technology, art, parenting and career guides for high schoolers. She's a former director of AOL Parenting, a member of SCBWI, and a graduate from the University of California,Berkeley.