With the School Holidays in full swing and the snow forecast predicting some better conditions on the way, I thought it would be timely to remind you how to look after your feet at the snow.
Whether you’re a skier, snowboarder or full-time apres connoisseur, your feet can be the difference between a miserable break or the best holiday ever.
Don’t worry about which chalet you booked, or where you’ll meet for lunch each day, getting your boots fitted can be one of the most important things you do when it comes to enjoyment on the slopes.
So here are some tips when it comes to Rental Ski Boots and Footwear at the snow.
The correct size of a ski/snowboard boot is one of the fundamental things to get right, and is often smaller than your shoe size. So please don’t be in a hurry and just grab your shoe size without trying it on.
The goal of sizing is to find the right amount of compression around the foot and ankle to ensure good stability and transition of movement through the skis/board. A rigid ski/snowboard boot can be painful and affect performance if incorrectly fit.
Make sure the boot-fitter measures your foot with a brannock device in a seated and standing position, and the comfortable size will mostly likely be true to length, or a full size down. This is often one to two sizes smaller than your regular shoe.
A simple way to check the true length of the shell is to remove the liner from the shell of the boot, place your foot in the shell and slide your foot all the way to the front so that your longest toe is just resting on the end. Now bend at the knee and see how much room there is between the back of the heel and the shell. A good shell fit allows 1.5-2.5cm of space available behind the heel while the toes are touching the front.
While you’re at it, slide your heel back slightly so neither your heel or your toes are touching the shell. This is approximately where your foot will sit once the liner is installed. If you feel contact on both sides of the shell, the boot is maybe a little narrow. Ideally, you should have a little bit of airspace either side, but shouldn’t be able to slide or wiggle around too much. Once again, a closer fit is going to be more comfortable and perform better.
Once the liner is back in the shell and you’ve put your socks on, try your boots on! The boots should feel firm all the way around your foot, like a snug glove. They should almost feel suspiciously too tight. When you’re standing up nice and tall, your toes should be resting on the end of the boot. As you flex your knees forward into your ski or riding position, your foot will slide back a fraction and release some pressure from the end of your toes.
Most injuries and pain to the foot while skiing/snowboarding occur because of a boot that is too big.
Getting the sizing right goes a long way towards a comfortable time on the slopes.
Socks are Crucial
It is a common thought that thicker socks or even double socking will be warmer for your feet. Incorrect. Thick socks or double socking leads to a small air pocket being produced between your socks and the foot. Once up on the mountain, that layer of air gets bitterly cold and so do your feet.
Your Ski/snowboard socks should be smooth and ribless, so as not to impede circulation or create wrinkles. They should fit snugly around the foot and be made of wicking and breathable material.
There are a number of merino wool/bamboo blend socks that are ideal and often available from camping and outdoor stores. Football socks or Explorers do not make good ski socks.
Stability is Key
A stable foot in a correctly fitted boot is the dream. Regardless of skiing ability, almost every skier and snowboarder will benefit from the added stability and comfort of a custom orthotic/footbed in their boots.
I think it is their best application as they result in less fatigue, less discomfort and better skiing performance. They enable the foot to directly transfer power through the ski or board without loss of energy within the boot.
The unstable foot is also the most likely to develop sore spots within a boot from moving too much against the shell or elongating forward towards the toe of the boot.
Black Toes, inner arch and ankle pain as well as cramping and fatigue can all be avoided with a good orthotic/footbed.
Can I just use my everyday custom orthotics?
In short, probably not.
Your everyday orthotic is designed with dynamic movements such as walking or running in mind. Your foot and ankle goes through different movements during these activities as opposed to skiing, and as such their design and application are quite different. Things such as the high point of the orthotic and level of contour will vary depending on what you’re using them for.
Also, unless your podiatrist had skiing in mind the shape and length of the device is likely to fit your regular shoes well, but be too short for your well fitted boots.
Don’t forget to trim your toenails!
Your feet probably aren’t accustomed to the tight fit of a ski boot and being slammed into the end of the toe box.
We’ve had to take some drastic measures in recent times and sometimes have to remove a traumatised toenail following a ski holiday.
Protect your nails from damage and ingrown toenails by trimming your nails short and straight across. We’re happy to provide general nail care prior to your ski holiday.
Pack Sensible Footwear
The snow is no place for thongs, converse or skate shoes, ballet flats and even some runners.
You will need an Apres boot with good grip on the outsole, and a weather resistant upper to keep your feet dry and warm.
Poorly fitted boots and sore feet can really be the downfall of an otherwise enjoyable holiday.
I hope these tips make you think sensibly about your feet and take time to ensure they’re comfortable.
If you would like to discuss your boot fit or winter footwear, please feel free to contact the clinic or book an appointment online.