Heel Lock

Heel Lock

What the what?

Why do we, skaters and referees, accept pain and or discomfort as a fact of skating or try in vain various combinations of things til we find something that is most tolerable?  Yes folks, I’m writing about skates and feet. Again. This time, specifically about a heel lock, one of a few remedies that can help your confidence as well as your skating ability. Bologna!

Well I’ve come to find out that some skaters have issues with their skates and just deal with it until they find the right combo. Assuming it is because of the boot that they cannot skate well. Well, that is only part of the equation. You see, when you buy a car, generally, you make it your own. You might get new wheels and rims, or a nice stereo and speakers. Or at the very least a bumper sticker. SO why do we just get on our skates that costs from one to three car payments, and go around in circles until our feet callous over and get used to the pain?!

I for one don’t tolerate pain unless I absolutely must, which was only for nine weeks of basic training. Ever since I look for the best most efficient solution. “Work Smarter not Harder”. I unfortunately had the mindset of just buying a new boot everytime the pain got to be too much. Eventually my circumstances changed and I couldn’t spend a couple hundred buck to buy another boot.

Slip’n Slide

Now at RollerCon 12, among one of the 20 or so bouts I officiated on and off skates, I skated with a ref who had some Bonts. They were Hybrid Carbon Pros, like the last pair I had just before I bought my Antiks. but He didn’t use the straps, but laced around the plate behind the rear trucks. I have yet to see anyone else do the same. I have however seen skaters lace around the plate near the middle of the foot to lock the arches down (but that’s another post for another day). His complaint was that the strap wasn’t high enough to hold his heel in the boot. No matter how tight he pulled the strap, to keep his heel from slippin and slidin while he does his crossovers. He said he felt it gave him better ankle stability. I really wish I could remember his name, or what league he’s with. But I doubt there’s another skinny lil ref (shorter than 6′ / 1.8m weighing in less than 175lbs )

Lack 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 addition to using the strap. However I never really felt like I had ankle stability, because my heel would slide a little in the boot. However my arches would be in excruciating pain. Anywho, because of arch pain and ankle instability I went with Antiks because I believed that they’d solve all my problems.

Guinea Pigs

As it turns out, there are a few skaters who have an issue with their heel staying put. Also with foot arch pain. So Here’s a picture of what a solution might look like. I have not skated with my laced laced this way so I can’t attest to how well it will work with resolving with your arch or heel lock issues. I love how light my bonts are (I actually still have them … somewhere.. I think) but I also love how snug my ankles are kept in my antiks. So if you can’t afford to buy another pair of boots, and seriously why spend the money on new boots you’re going to have to break in. When you can just go ahead keep what you got, spend a few bucks on long wax laces and try something out that can save you hundreds as well as solve instability and or foot pain.

But if this works out for you or you know a skater who might benefit from this, please feel free to share. Be sure to follow because you never know when I might have an epiphany about something that could help you out. Cuz I surely don’t have a clue either.

heel lock lacing 1Heel Lock 2


check this link out! It’s a new/differ way to achieve a heel lock if you have low top boots. Or even antiks. I can’t take credit, I saw it on some skaters in Acadiana/Lafayette and they said they saw it somewhere on the interwebs. But I couldn’t find it so I had one of the skaters video and upload it so I could link it. Thanks Weezy for the video and I think Foxxi Cleopatra for the lacing


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