Arch Rivals

No this isn’t about the St. Louis derby league. Right now I wanna talk about feet.

Gross right? But it turns out that I’m not a unique and special snowflake. You see when I first got into derby, my first piece of gear was my skates. A pair of Vanilla boots, brass Knuckles 2.0 as a matter of fact, like the week they came out. The down side was my feet would slide around in them if I didn’t cinch them down like a vise. Now i could skate with out getting blisters…. for about 20 minutes before my arches started to hurt.So I’d loosen them up. Only to start to get another blister…AGAIN.

On and on this would go, tighten, loosen massage foot repeat throughout practice. So someone told me that I should get some riedells, and I did. Then it started again. So I go some bonts Hybrid Carbons. but there wasn’t enough ankle support AND the arch pain came back. Again. Now I’m in some Antik AR1s. Cinched them down and guess what. The pain came back.

Simple solution

Somehow I got the bright idea to just lace from halfway up the tongue to the end. Make sense? instead of starting from the bottom, the first hole where you go straight across then start lacing, diagonally, I started about 5 holes up. I left it kind of loose and only cinch it at the ankle. Of course my boot fits fairly snug so i don’t have much wriggle room to cause blisters, I have the perfect ankle support and my foot isn’t locked down causing pain in my arch.

What would drive me to write a blog post about painful arches? Well, maybe it’ll help another skater with the same issue. Often times I’ve heard a skater complain or go off track because of foot pain. But I never asked what specifically whether the pain was the ball, heel, blister, arch, toes, hang nail. It could be anything really. However Sunday night while trying out the new track, Nawty Dee mentioned that her feet were hurting, specifically her arches, and as we were speaking that the pain was starting to shoot up her shins. I showed her my boots and how they were laced. When she skated off track, I showed her a variation on what I had done with my laces.


So monday night after about 20 minutes of warmups I skated by Nawty and asked how her arches were feeling. My style lacing worked for me, but mostly after getting tired of spending money on new skate boots to “magically” solve my problem. Nawty said that she’s feeling pretty good, ‘cept her shins were starting to act up.

After warmups I got the new girls who still didn’t have gear but were watching the practice, and were in workout clothes, to follow me to a small spot and did some off skates excercises. So I was out for most of the endurance portion of practice. i got my skates back on and joined in on the fun.

Now after the fact Rosie informed me that they did over 125 laps, plus “chase the rabbit” and a push drill that I call the “choo-choo train” (last skater pushes the line). After the practice was over I went by Nawty again and asked her about her arches. She said “This is the first time I’ve never had to go off track after 20 minutes and stretch or take off my skates and massage my foot” and her shins didn’t act up as bad. She thanks me and told me that I should spread the good word, the Good word, but about how to relace your boots to avoid arch pain.

edit– thanks to riotousgrowls on reddit for another lacing idea. Use two laces on your boots regularly from the bottom to about halfway, and from the top down to meet midway and tie a bow as you normally would. Also thanks to the reddit user for reminding me about wax laces. I didn’t mention it in the blog, but Nawty and I both use wax laces. The wax holds better against the eyelets for the laces and doesn’t loosen while skating. In other words your laces will stay nearly as tight as you cinch them. Whereas non-wax laces (normal laces) tend to slip and loosen (that’s how your laces become untied if you don’t double knot/bow)

So check the picture for examples of how to lace up your boot and avoid arch pain.

examples of lacing up boots to end arch painNawty Dee testimonial


Just a Roller Derby announcer, former I referee, rock the mic and in the past I have been known to wear a sexy pink shirt. I share my point of view formerly from inside of the track and now, wherever the announcers booth is. Or

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Posted in roller derby
8 comments on “Arch Rivals
  1. Rainbow Spite says:

    Gallo, I just linked this on Reddit. Hopefully, it can/will help some other skaters out there.

  2. Gravy, Baby! says:

    This is literally the EXACT problem I’ve been having for an entire year! I didn’t know what to do about it. I tried physical therapy and she said I was starting to get tendonitis, but then I lost my insurance. It’s been traveling up my calf and I’ll also have to stop during practice to take my skate off and massage my arch. I was planning on eventually getting some Antiks cause I was pretty sure it was from my heel slipping around. I’m going to try this technique ASAP. Thank you SO MUCH!
    (ps, I came from reddit!)

    • refelgallo says:

      Gravy, thanks for checking this out. Please feel free to share, and spread the news wherever you like. I personally love my antiks, now that I solved my arch pain problem. I had bonus before, but never tried lacing them the way I have shown in the pic. At RollerCon 12 I saw an interesting way to achieve a heel lock with low cut boots. Stayed tuned for a blog post on that next week.

  3. […] I expected my posts on skater names and league names to be a bit controversial. However my post on foot pain went a lil viral. Not like hundreds of thousands of views, but a couple of hundred in North […]

  4. […] of Heel Lock was a secondary issue I had with my Bonts. My main issue was that my arches were killing me. I kept cinching the laces tightly so I could get a semblance of an heel lock in […]

  5. hanner says:

    Alright, so I have a couple of problems with my skates that I’m hoping you can help me with. I haven’t tried your method yet, but will soon. My issue is that the outside of my feet (not my arches, but the other side) were aching today during practice…I also get numbness in my left pinky toe and next one in. the problem is, if I don’t cinch I’m sliding all over the place in my skates…your suggestions would be most helpful.

    N00b Sk8r

    • refelgallo says:

      Sorry I took so long to reply. I had a derby filled weekend.

      When you try the lacing method, don’t cinch down too tight near your toes. Also massage your feet beforehand and try to walk around at least an hour before practice. That way your feet swell to their active size.

      Feet swell during the course of the day and the best time to measure is later in the day after waking around. If you’re not active, your feet will swell bigger than what you laced your skates for.

      I hope this made sense nd let us know if the lacing method helps

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