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Goalies' Liberation: Burn Your Toe Ties!

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  • Goalies' Liberation: Burn Your Toe Ties!

    Before I begin, I apologize for the inflammatory title, please read into it the humour and the understanding that 'what works for one may not work for all' that is intended. I did want to grab attention though, as I think the issue deserves more heightened awareness.

    Summary:

    I got rid of my toe ties, and the *only* difference I've noticed is increased flexibility coupled with reduced strain on the knees and ankles. I feel that I have *significantly* reduced the risk of knee injury by removing the toe-ties.

    Have you tried a session or two without attaching your toes to your pads through the various solutions? What were your experiences?

    Background:

    I am coming back from a nasty double-knee injury. As part of my return to net, I wanted to do something about the knee strain that I would feel while playing, even before I had my injury.

    I would feel a lot of strain and tension in my knees while in some positions, usually those which featured me on the ice in a non-perfect butterfly, positions like leaning back to grab a puck, being pushed or falling to my butt, etc. In these cases I felt like my toes were being held off the ice, when what they really wanted to do was to be down on the ice. To alleviate this, I had already found that leaving an inch or so of gap in my toe ties seemed to work in most situations.

    Coming back from injury, I tried out Flextoes and Sliding Toe bridges. Both were an improvement, but neither quite did the trick. The problem I had in each was that, in some cases, it felt like my feet were unable to rotate with my legs. This shouldn't be a surprise, as that is the exact function of toe-ties, flex-toes, and sliding toe bridges. They tie the tip of your toe to an object that is not always going to be rotating with your legs.

    Toe-Ties and Injuries:

    I haven't heard about any NHL goalies running without toe-ties, but you can read about a lot of NHL goalies straining or tearing their MCLs, many of these injuries are made much more severe by their toe-ties:

    nhl goalie mcl - Google Search

    Take a look at the injury that tore Boucher's MCL in the 2010 playoffs. That's pretty much the same thing that happened to me, but Boucher got off luckier than me in that he didn't have two people land quite as hard across his legs and hips (I wound up with grade-3 tears of both my MCLs and another grade-3 tear of one PCL).

    YouTube - NHL: Brian Boucher Injured in Game 5 Against Bruins 5/10/10

    That hurts to watch, both from the remembered pain and the knowledge that much of the severeness could have been prevented. Hopefully other goalies can learn from our misfortunes.

    Look at Boucher's feet when he's squashed flat. They are parallel to the ice (and up near his hips). Your legs simply *cannot* do that. His upper legs are rotated 90 degrees from where his feet are rotated. The knee is the weak point, pop, pop, pop go the ligaments.

    If he wasn't wearing toe ties, his feet would have been free to rotate. The same pressure would have existed in the system, but instead of all the rotational strain being relieved by the tearing in his knees (ouch!), his feet could have rotated some. Granted, there was weight on his feet, they may not have rotated all the way, but they could certainly have rotated *some* (and perhaps a decent amount).

    Without toe-ties, you would be quite surprised at the ability for your foot to rotate, even while under some weight, especially when the alternative is having your leg ripped half-off.

    Solution:

    In a perfect world, us goalies would just not have our legs rotate in ways that the feet are preventing, but that is not always our choice. Unfortunately, as low men on the totem pole, the feet usually had no say in where my legs were trying to rotate. This had always resulted in sometimes painful strain on my knees, but after my injury, I knew that I wouldn't be able to take the risk.

    So, I eventually tried forgoing my toe-ties altogether. Hesitant to take the plunge, I simply ran the laces up the outside of my leg channel, and tied them around a buckle. I started with having my boot buckle go through the middle gap in my skates, but have since switched to running it through the rear hole in my skates.

    I've had a number of sessions now and I can say unequivocally, that for me, this is the greatest discovery since the goal cup.

    Wow, is it liberating! I have no strain now. My feet rotate naturally with my legs in all situations. My pads stay as tight to my skates as I want them (Thanks to the boot strap through the rear hole. When it was through the middle hole, they were a bit loosey-goosey). Most importantly, I have no knee strain, and I definitely have greater flexibility while down on the ice, and the risk of that particular injury is drastically reduced.

    I had worried that the pads wouldn't rotate back to face front when popping back up, but this simply isn't the case. When I think about it, my toe ties and even my sliding-toe-bridges never guaranteed this, they always allowed the pads to rotate at least 20-30 degrees off square. They never did, because, in reality, and without any toe-attachments, the pads just want to go square by themselves.

    I'd love to hear others' experiments with doing without the toe-ties/flex-toes/sliding-toe-bridges.

    Have you tried it yet? What was it like?

    Do you want to join the Goalie's Lib movement? Keep your eyes open for toe-tie burning parties in your area!

    Cheers,
    Temple

    Edit: "spurriouskeeper" posted a great video demonstrating how his pads always re-centre, all by themselves, without toe ties/straps/bungees/etc. But the video is also a great example of the injury-prevention benefits of ditching toe-ties:

    Originally posted by spuriouskeeper View Post
    It is certainly possible that folks have different pad configurations that do not allow the pads to return the center absent a toe tie, but that has not been my experience at all. I can tell you that I have gone without toe ties for more than a 15 years, and my pads always centered to normal. My most recent pads include Sherwood 9980s, Bauer x60s, and Vaughn v5s.

    ...

    The below is an older video, but you can see that the pads re-center quite nicely. Note the re-centering during the warm up and after the side ways belly flop at 3:15.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6D7e...e_gdata_player
    His dive over his left pad at 3:15 would be pretty much impossible if his toes were locked to his pads. Well, he could do it, but he'd torque his knee, probably straining it unless his knee was strong enough to force his pad to fold under him (which is unlikely as all his weight is on that pad).

    At about 3:16, his foot is rotated at least 90 away from his pad (and even moved away from it a bit). That would be impossible with toe-ties that are tight enough to actually serve any purpose. His leg would want to do that, but it would be prevented, causing serious strain.

    I'd like to see somebody with toe tries try that maneuver. Actually I wouldn't, because they'd hurt themselves.

    And of course, even in that mad scramble, when his pad is rotated like that, it pops back immediately. Watch the video, the pad returns to square all the time. It just does, you don't need toe ties to do this.

    There is some serious denial in this thread, which is clinging to the idea that toe ties are necessary to keep the pads facing forwards. That is just not true. Dozens and dozens in this thread attest to it, the video attests to it. The evidence is clear.

    What exactly are your toe ties doing? Are you sure?

    Update

    I went through all the posts and as of post #444, there are 48 goalies who've said goodbye to ties (and reported it here, many others rock no-ties outside the GSBB). We have less strain and no problems with pad rotation.

    Current List of Goalies in this thread who've ditched their toe-ties and never looked back:
    Temple
    puck_stopper71
    dleavitt39
    supercharged06
    GOALIE69
    DRE75HABS
    kdedesko
    badgerit
    battelmt
    jonl30
    keeperguy64
    goalieboy29
    jcp2
    SuperGoalie_30
    spuriouskeeper
    BGSUBret
    spidergoalie
    wachin
    aaron3's daughter
    NoLuongo
    Biggage
    VAInlineKeeper
    Jesterday
    hamr25
    bruins4777
    Schadenfreude
    BigRebound
    heroic35
    caveman27
    CAPTAINTR1
    way2fast91
    HoboMaster
    BCeagle08
    filai
    Cmac30
    Johnnyb1231
    Winore2
    cvskates
    ascott35
    Winore2's kid
    mikenelson50
    poncho
    silver_back
    apewrench
    Oats
    flavio
    e29
    capnf24
    Last edited by Temple; 04-05-2014, 01:25 PM.

  • #2
    When I started playing (inline) 10+ years ago, the freebie pads that the rink had didn't even have toe ties. Then, when I ordered my Simmons pads, the toe ties were tucked up under the toe plate and I didn't even really pay attention to them for several years. Suddenly, I find out what they are and whatnot and used them once. Wrecked my game and I pushed them back up in the toe plate and haven't touched them since.
    Personally I have no use for them and once I quit strapping my pads as tight to my legs as I could and loosened the top three straps and went tight on only my two skate straps and bottom calf strap I get rotation that is just fine for my purposes and works well. Next set of pads I'll do the same. No toe ties for me.

    Comment


    • #3
      No way, Hippy!! jk. first off i'm a "traditional" style goalie. skate saves, two pad stack, pads together in stance, hardly ever use the butterfly. that being said.. I just dont know how you guys and gals can even move in the modern gear. I see how it works , thats for sure. The bulk of the big gear would drive me crazy. but it does seem to be working for you guys. And I can def see the pad evolution heading into the no strings attached phase. So you may be on to something there. Glad to hear it works for you. I can see it getting harder and harder for me to get my hands on pads in the syle of the ones i've grown up to use and love

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Temple View Post
        Summary:
        I got rid of my toe ties, and the *only* difference I've noticed is increased flexibility coupled with reduced strain on the knees and ankles.

        Have you tried a session or two without attaching your toes to your pads through the various solutions? What were your experiences?
        What pads do you use? I'm still fiddling with my UL5 and may try this out.

        Comment


        • #5
          I've never used toe ties, my first 2 sets of pads didn't even have them, then when I got my new RX-8's, I looked at them, and thought what the hell are these things??? I just took 'em off, and now use them as ties for the torn parts of the net when I ref.

          I've never had a problem without them, and from what I've read on here, all they do is increase knee strain, so I saw no reason to use them when I wasn't having problems before.

          DL

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          • #6
            how bad is over rotationg of your pads without toe ties

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by dleavitt39 View Post
              ..from what I've read on here, all they do is increase knee strain, so I saw no reason to use them when I wasn't having problems before.
              Really???!

              I never deliberately tried playing w/o toeties.... but a few times I had my toe ties completely undone in the middle of a game, and couple weeks ago, the screw of the toetie-bridge came off completely. Well, let me just say, without the toetie sucks!!! My pad without the toetie sit so far down dragging on the ice, my knee often fell outside of the knee stack, pad over-rotated & didn't return (re-rotate) back when I got up from b-fly.

              I won't be playing without the toe ties anytime soon!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by roger View Post
                how bad is over rotationg of your pads without toe ties
                No problems whatsoever. When you think about it, toe ties don't really prevent your pad from over-rotating, they still allow a good 20-30 degrees of over rotation. The way pads are made these days, with their leg and boot channels, the pads do the work of keeping your pad square.

                The toe ties only serve to limit rotation (depending on how loose you wear them), which I don't think is a feature at all! There are any number of times when you want your pads to be flush against the ice while your leg and foot are nearly at 90 degrees to the ice.

                Let me tell you, the first time you try that, it will surprise you how great it feels!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by oncogene View Post
                  I never deliberately tried playing w/o toeties.... but a few times I had my toe ties completely undone in the middle of a game, and couple weeks ago, the screw of the toetie-bridge came off completely. Well, let me just say, without the toetie sucks!!! My pad without the toetie sit so far down dragging on the ice, my knee often fell outside of the knee stack, pad over-rotated & didn't return (re-rotate) back when I got up from b-fly.
                  I think I had the same experience as you when I first tried it, but a slight configuration change solved everything. If you're up to it, I suggest giving it one more try!

                  When I first tried without toe-ties, I kept my boot strap the way I'd always had it, fairly loose and through the middle of the skate. As my pads were pretty loose overall, this resulted in a pad that was *quite* loose with no toe tie. I didn't like it at all.

                  However, when I instead put the strap through the back hole in the skate, it was perfect. The strap kept the pad on top of the boot even better than did my old toe tie with an inch or so of gap.

                  When you think about it, it makes sense, using the strap through the back hole, you are effectively ensuring the boot break of the pad stays on top of your boot, while still allowing a lot more rotation of the foot in the boot.

                  You can of course tighten or loosen the boot strap through the back skate to have a more or less snug fit of the bad against your foot. I have my boot strap still relatively loose (but through the back hole!), and it feels great. No over-rotation at all.

                  Actually, it feels and functions exactly like when I used my toe ties, except that I am able to get my legs to go into more positions than I used to be, and always without the strain.

                  From my experience:

                  no toe ties + middle boot strap = bad
                  no toe ties + rear boot strap = heaven

                  Try the latter once, and you may just be next in line to burn your toe-ties.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    i play mostly roller hockey, at 1st i didnt use them for like the 1st 3 years i played then i started using them and did that for the next 2-3 years and like 5 months ago i had one break on me during a game so i just cut them both and played with out them and i dont think ill be using them ever again my game has seemed to improve with out them.
                    Icehockey tho i cant seem to live with out them my pads over rotate when i dont use the toe ties im not sure why (thats on ice)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      For whatever reason, the toe ties on my latest pads kept getting cut. I had them tight and high enough, but I was tired of tripping on the lace unexpectedly.

                      I removed all ties. I have noticed that my pads do what I want them to, better. I have summit pros. When I run my boot strap thru the middle of the pads, it is all I need to keep them perfectly square on my skate.

                      I have tried recommending them to people here before but I dunno if anyone took my advice. Like the middle of the 3 shin straps, I found it unnecessary.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My experience: I don't/can't use them while playing roller in my pads because they get caught in my wheels.. It is terrible. My pads rotate all of which ways and never settle back in place in line atop my feet.

                        When I do use them in ice I have them knotted up to give me just enough slack to allow my feet to flex in the same direction they would while standing on my tippy toes without causing any resistance. This allows the pad the freedom to rotate without tugging on my tendons and causing strain in my ankles/knees/hips. But, it also provides an anchor to keep my pads returning to where they should be while in the ready position.


                        I would love it if my pads didn't need toe ties to function correctly but, alas...they do.

                        I'm using the Goalie Monkey spec'd Bauer Vapor X55s.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Temple View Post
                          ....However, when I instead put the strap through the back hole in the skate, it was perfect. The strap kept the pad on top of the boot even better than did my old toe tie with an inch or so of gap....
                          I always put the boot strap thru the back hole of the skates .

                          I retro-fit my pads with sliding toe... and I use no slack in the toe tie (other than that 1 knot neccessary to secure the lace). All other straps are loose. I really don't like tightening the boot strap (to pull the boot break tight on top of the boot, as you said), as I feel that's getting in the way on my foot's movement/rotation.

                          And don't know if it makes sense... but we want to align the front of the pads in front, won't controlling the front portion of the pad (hence the toe tie) be easier & more efficient than trying to align from the back (ie the boot strap)? Without toe tie, unless you tie the boot strap tight and/or your pads have a DEEP boot channel, in theory you can literally rotate your pad 360degree around you leg if the thigh-rise doesn't get in the way, yeah?

                          Having said all these.... before you guys burn the toe ties, try the sliding toes with toeties & maybe you won't look back

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I tried playing without toe ties a couple of times after one came undone and cut under my skates. While the rotation was good, the pads over-rotated quite a bit (even with the skate strap in the back hole). It got to the point of being very annoying so I put them back on.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I think this is all dependent on what pads you are wearing, how the leg channel is setup, how you strap your pads, your style of play, etc.

                              If you are wearing some old school Vaughn Legacy's or that style of pad, seems you'd have issues with rotation for sure without toe ties. With some modern pads with a deep leg channel and calf cradles, knee cradles probably not so much. The more of a flopper you are the more you might have issues. If you wear your pads loose, like I do, you might have issues.

                              Not saying it wouldn't work for a number of goalies, but definitely not for everyone.

                              Comment

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