Breaking in Skates
Softened and stretched for comfort
Hockey skates, like most other types of footwear, will feel a lot more comfortable on your feet after they have been softened, stretched and broken in properly. When you are breaking in a new pair of hockey skates you need to do it without losing the protection and support that the skates offer you.
The padding that is inside your hockey skates will eventually conform to the shape of your feet, but the harder outside shell of the boots won't. If your feet don't feel comfortable where there is padding, the situation can usually be remedied. However, if your feet are uncomfortable where there isn't any padding this generally won't change with wear and time. So, breaking in the skates really only refers to the padded areas that are located on the interior of the boots. If your skates feel a little too snug they will eventually mold to your feet through body heat, wear and time.
Many skate manufacturers are now making thermo-moldable skates which enable you to mold the skates to your feet quickly by heating them. Most sports shops have small special ovens that are used to heat up your skates right after buying them. The skates are heated and then you place your feet into them and the internal skate padding will mold around the shape of your feet. This heat molding process quickens the break in period of the skates significantly. Make sure that you don't try to heat your skates in your home cooking oven as you will likely ruin them.
Some skate manufacturers are also using other methods such as air bladder systems, but remember many of these methods are to make sure your skates fit properly they don't necessarily help you break in the skates. The old fashioned way of breaking in your skates by tightening and wearing them while watching a hockey game on TV, or walking around in them also works to a degree, but it is a much slower process.
Some hockey experts still believe that the truest way of breaking in your skates is simply by skating in them. The more you skate in your boots, the more flexible they will become. If your skates are loose in certain areas on the inside though, this problem will not be fixed unless extra padding is added inside of the boots. If you have tried various techniques for breaking in your skates and they are still uncomfortable then they are not the right pair for you. To be the best skater and hockey player that you can, be it is imperative that you have the correct skate sizing, and they must be comfortable. If your skates are hurting you in any way they will definitely hinder your skating ability.