So you've got yourself some new skates! Yay!
Now, here's the tricky bit.
During the break in period you may experience blisters and discomfort.
Pretty much no one and no skate is exempt from the break in period.
If you do manage to get yourself a pair and have no discomfort whatsoever - yahooey, you have found magical unicorn skates!
If you are experiencing some discomfort this is normal and there are a few things that you can and should do to make the break in period as easy as possible.
A little disclaimer: if you have an actual foot disorder or if pain persists then you should consult a medical professional. We are not medical professionals or podiatrists we just own a skate shop and have experience with skates and breaking them in. This is our opinion only.
1. Avoid Rookie Mistakes
The two most common errors made by rookie skaters is tensing their feet to control the skate and doing up their skates too tight.
To fix the first problem try to focus on relaxing your feet and toes when skating and try not to automatically clamp down in fear.
Once you're aware of this you should be able to self correct the issue.
Lacing (for quads and inlines) should be firm but not so firm that your feet go numb.
To correct this issue try loosening your laces and don't tie them up so tight.
For inline skaters don't overtighten the ladder on your skates.
You should be able to comfortably bend your knees without too much restriction.
2. Take Your Time
For most people it will take about 12 hours to break in a pair of skates over the course of roughly a month.
Start out with shorter skate adventures and build up to longer skate adventures.
If you do decide to go out for a long skate straight away then just expect that you will probably get blisters and potentially feel some discomfort or rubbing.
This is because virgin feet and ankles are soft, squishy and unused to the rigours of skating.
Your arches and ankle strength will not be very strong and you will be using lots of muscles that you just don't use when walking and running.
Different skates put pressure on different parts of your feet and you will start to develop callouses and tougher skin on the areas of your feet that are controlling the skate (like under the ball of your foot).
Your leg muscles will start to develop and strengthen however most people will always have a more dominant side (generally the right leg will have more control).
3. Help Yourself & Make Adjustments
There are several things you can do to help yourself during the break in period.
Socks: Experiment with thickness until you find the right thickness for you. I prefer a thinner sock but other people like a thicker sock. Wear a sock that comes up higher than the boot to prevent rubbing.
Heat mold: If you have heat-moldable skates then you can either spot mold or bake them (to the manufacturer's instructions) and this will help them mold to the contours of your feet. Make sure you only heat mold if you are sure they are actually heat moldable otherwise you'll be very sad when you melt your skates.
Stretching: Some skate shops offer other skate stretching services such as a ball and ring bunion stretcher.
Ankle guards: If you have sensitive ankle bones or you're skating at the skate park and knocking your ankles a bit there are products to help soften the blow or give you a bit more padding like the Ennui ankle guards.
Insoles: If you are pronating (skating on the insides of your feet) or supinating (skating on the outsides of your feet) then you can help stop this with a correctional insole such as the Riedell R-Fits.
Lacing: If your skates feel too tight in certain areas you can play with the lacing. Don't forget you can skip laces, straight lace or use a variety of lacing techniques.
Adjust hardware: If you have quad roller skates you can tighten or loosen your trucks, change your cushions to softer or harder ones and change wheel tightness. If you have inline skates or roller blades you may be able to adjust where the frame sits depending on the model.
4. Be Cool
It does takes time to break in your new skates but now you know there are techniques, products and strategies that you can use to help.
If you already have foot issues they will really start to show when you elevate your foot off the ground and put wheels on it.
But don't worry.
There are so many things that you can do to make the process easier and adapt your skates to suit your foot and your style of skating.
In time your skates will mold to your feet and movements and you'll be rolling like a pro.