Suffering from ankle pain - Check your boot liners
I don’t even want to figure out how many days I spend in snowboard boots. My boots get a beating and therefore any little imperfections do come to the surface over time, which your normal holiday rider may not encounter for some time.
One thing I had noticed over the last year was some persistent ankle pain. I’d thought I’d tweaked it whilst riding and therefore only had myself the blame. I worked on strengthening the ankle and getting a bit of sports massage around the affected area to relieve any tension. It was funny, but I could do a whole lot of other exercise including plyometrics and the ankle would not flair up. I just thought it was some tricks I was doing, or maybe spending too much time walking in my snowboard boots that was aggravating things, until Sian mentioned I should have a look at the liner.
That’s when I noticed something quite interesting. When I flexed the liner it would crease and collapse onto the area of my ankle that had the injury. It’s a weird thing to consider being the cause of an injury. Quite often people will have initial foot bed complaints, or over time the boots will pad out and feel loose. It’s not often that the boot would result in injury through general usage and flexing.
It was in a pair of Burton Rampant snowboard boots with an Imprint 2 liner. These are a mid range freestyle boot, so relatively soft, and therefore the outer shell will not be support the liner for too long, given the amount I riding I do. The liner has a foam cuff that wraps around the ankle. That foam is stronger than the material of the liner, so with constant flexing the liner starts to fold as the flex pattern radiates out from the foam cuff. It was tough to think about replacing them though, as the outers looked in such great shape.
I decided I would upgrade and pickup a stiffer model. I went for a Burton Ruler this time. The Rulers are a support 6 and the Rampants are a support 4 out of 10. These were a much stiffer boot with great feel and more support for the liner from the shell. These also had the imprint 2 liner. These lasted most of the season before I started to notice some ankle pain on my other foot. On checking the liner I found it was starting to crease in the same area that was causing me grief on the ankle. Luckily I had kept my old boots I was able to swap out one liner that was in better shape, to keep me going.
I thought it might have just been me, but in January a client mentioned he was having some issues with his Burton Rampants and ankle pain. On investigation he was also having the same creasing issue. On purchasing a new pair of boots he was all fixed.
As with normal shoes, you cannot expect boots to last forever. But what you’ll need to do it keep an eye on how you’re feeling in your boots. Even if they look ok, if you’re starting to feel pain in a pair of boots that felt great to start with, it might be time to consider purchasing a new pair.
For my new pair I’ve mixed things up and went with Rome Libertine boots from Absolute Snow in Hemel Hempstead. These were half price, so only £99. An impressive price for such a top end boot. I’ve not heard much about Rome boots, but from chatting to Lon in the store, their boots seemed to be spot on.
They look solid and have a very technical liner that should hopefully hold up some some abuse.You can see the difference in the liners. One interesting addition is their NKS shield. It’s an EVA insert into the ankle region that resists kinking. Looking forward to seeing how these perform over the summer.
Update - August 2016
My first pair or Rome Libertines only lasted one week before the sole started to detach away from the main boot. Not a great thing, but they were warranted and the second pair were amazing. Lasted through the whole winter with no issues at all. As I go into the summer I've ended up having to replace one rivet on a lace holder with a small nut and bolt. They're still in great shape, so I will keep them as a second pair and break in a new pair for the summer.
On testing the new pair I noticed that there is not much change in the flex between the old and new boots. Thats great to know that they will last so long.
The only other point of note was the larger footprint of the boot. With them being a bit more technical and a lot more materials added within the construction I did have to adjust my bindings.
If you're looking for a comfortable, supportive, boot that will take a series amount of abuse then its well worth checking them out.