and skate bite - maybe you’ve heard the terms, maybe you haven’t. Although the result of very different
circumstances, the terms are often used interchangeably. If you’ve experienced one or the other,
though, you’re less concerned with what it’s called and more concerned with the
pain and frustration that result. We’ve
gone to our friends at Professional Skate Service (ProSkate) for a quick
insight into the difference between skate and lace bite and, more importantly,
for some helpful hints for relief and healing.
What is lace vs skate bite?
Lace bite is a problem experienced by any
athlete who uses laced footwear as the tool of their trade – hockey players,
figure skaters, soccer players, runners, you name it. In most cases, lace bite is the result of the
breakdown of the ‘tongue’ of your skates.
Over time, through simple wear and tear, the felt or padding in the
tongue becomes compressed and no longer offers protection. The laces land in the same lace pattern and
can ‘cut’ deeper into the tongue placing concentrated pressure underneath.
Skate bite is a problem less common to hockey
and figure skaters but equally frustrating. Skate bite is usually the result of a skate
boot that is too stiff. Sometimes, it’s simply that your new skates need to be
broken in. It is also possible that the boot
itself is just too stiff for you. You
may have purchased what we call ‘too much boot’ for how tall and heavy you are,
for your level of play, or for how often you’re on the ice. On the rare occasion, you might find that the
problem stems from a change that the manufacturer of the skate brand you’ve
always worn has made to their current product line. Sometimes they change the material of the
tongue, the shape is different for whatever reason, or the structure of the
boot causes your foot to sit differently and forces your shin to sit more forward
than before. There are several reasons
these issues occur.
How do you know if you’re suffering
from lace or skate bite?
cases, regardless of the cause, you’ll feel pressure or pain across the top
part of your foot or across the front of your ankle. In the beginning, you may come off the ice
feeling uncomfortable, like you’ve got a bruise or something, and you won’t
think much of it. Then you may find that
each time you lace up and skate, the area hurts more and more and you may see
it becoming more inflamed. The pain will
get worse each time you take a stride.
The area will become red and swollen and, in some cases, it may look
like a ‘knot’ is forming and, over time, a lump might develop.
What’s actually happening?
in both cases, concentrated pressure is being placed on the tendon that
stretches up the front of your foot and ankle and is causing inflammation or
tendonitis. Over time, this repeated
pressure, in addition to causing pain and discomfort, can actually begin to
damage the tendon.
So what do you do?
The first thing is to have the cause of the problem properly
assessed right away so that you can start to see relief as soon as possible and
so that you find the best long-term solution.
It’s important to have someone who knows what they’re talking about look
at your particular situation to minimize potential damage to your health, your
skates and your wallet.
vary from trying a new lacing pattern, to adding a thick foam backing to your
skate tongues, to replacing the skate tongues altogether, to buying a new pair
of skates and numerous other options in between. More often than
not, ‘doubling the tongue,’ where another layer of felt is stitched onto the
tongue, does the trick. Consultation
with your skate professional will help you find the right fix.
Doubling the tongue
of the diagnosis and the solution, you may need to look at a few interim
measures while you wait for the injury to heal.
Because you’re looking at inflammation of the tendon, you should follow
a recommended icing routine and apply ice to the inflamed area to bring the
swelling down. Remember: Don’t apply ice directly to the affected area. Use a light towel or place the ice on top of
your sock. And don’t ice for too long
either. Skin can only take about 15
minutes of ice, maximum, at a time.
Frostbite is worse than lace or skate bite!
you should take some time off from skating if you can. This is where the frustration with this type
of injury comes in. Unless the area is
completely healed before you lace up the next time, you might continue to irritate
the injured area and slow down the healing progress, making it just that more
difficult to determine if the solution you’re trying is working or not.
can’t take time off, you can look at some options that might provide a bit of
additional relief. Whether it’s skate or
lace bite, you might want to purchase gel pads, gel ankle ‘sleeves’ (like tube
socks without the foot part), or some soft foam rubber to wear over the affected
area. In some cases, you might need to use
a combination of these. The idea here is to use padding to disperse the
concentration of the pressure over a bigger surface area and limit it in the
isolated spot where the pain is felt. It
may be intuitive to place thicker pads immediately over top of the affected
area, but this will only add more pressure.
Again, your skate professional will be able to offer advice and assistance.
your Quantum Speed Instructors know if you are experiencing any of the symptoms
of skate or lace bite and we will do our best to assist. And, remember, you can always visit the skate
professionals at Proskate for diagnosis, doubling the tongue, tongue
replacement, or any other solutions or repairs if needed (see www.proskate.ca for contact information).
skate and lace bite can be painful and inconvenient, with a little bit of
investigative work and patience, you will find relief.
Posted October 2013