Anyone who has tried out snow sports like snowboarding or skiing is likely to have experienced foot pain at some point. The soreness and aching might occur the very first time you go skiing, or at some point during a day full of snow-related fun.
Foot pain can turn an otherwise joyful experience of skiing into something you want to get rid of ASAP. You don’t want to be hobbling about when everyone else is having fun. Fortunately, there are several methods you can try out to avoid foot pain while skiing. Take a look at the care tips and general advice below; most of these are preventative measures to prevent foot pain.
Ready for a pain-free, memorable skiing experience? Let’s start by looking at the reasons behind foot pain in context of skiing:
What Causes Foot Pain While Skiing?
When you’re skiing, you have to be careful about several aspects of your gear, methods, surroundings, and more. Here are a few common reasons why you might experience foot pain when skiing:
- Improper fitting of ski boots: If your ski boots are not tight enough, your feet will skid around inside and get tired more easily. On the other hand, tight ski boots will cause pain and blisters due to pressure on certain parts of the foot. This is why it’s best to search for the perfect fit of ski boots before venturing onto the slopes.
- Overdoing it: Skiing is a lot of fun, so it’s easy to get carried away. You may not realize it while enjoying the rush and thrill, but such activities do put a lot of pressure and stress on your feet. This can lead to fatigue, pain, and overall discomfort in the foot.
- An improper technique: A beginner might not always know the right technique to follow. An improper balance and poor handling of the equipment can place a lot of undue stress on the feet while skiing. This can be a major reason why someone might suffer from foot pain right after they go skiing.
- Unkind weather: Unlikely as it may seem, there might times when it’s too cold to go skiing. If the temperature is too low, the weather outside can constrict the body’s blood vessels. As a result, you don’t get as much blood flow to various parts of the body. Because of this, your feet are more likely to feel pain or even suffer from injuries in such cold conditions.
- Not enough warmth or protection: Even if your socks and insoles keep you warm, they might not always protect you from the cold. You are at higher risk of experiencing frostbite, blisters, and pain if your feet get cold or wet.
- Over-exertion: Skiing is quite a high-impact sport, so it places stress on your joints and muscles even when your technique is correct. There’s also an impact on the legs, ankles, and feet when you’re skiing. This naturally causes soreness, stiffness, and some pain if you are not used to a high-impact sport.
- Pre-existing health issues: If you suffer from foot health issues or conditions such as arthritis, you have a high chance of experiencing foot pain after and during skiing sessions. Other conditions to keep in mind include plantar fasciitis, high arches, and flat feet. It might help to look up some tips for picking the right ski boots before your next trip to the slopes!
Tips to Prevent Foot Pain When Skiing
If you plan to go skiing at any time in the future, these tips can help prevent foot pain and make skiing a more enjoyable experience:
Wear Boots with Proper Fitting
With the right fit of ski boots, you gain the following advantages:
- More comfort when you’re on the slopes
- Lower risk of getting blisters or being in pain after/during a ski run
- Better stability, control, and overall performance on the slopes
- More safety, especially from the injuries or accidents that can result from poorly fitting ski boots
- Your ski boots will be able to keep the feet dry and warm; this will reduce the chances of injuries like frostbite, blisters, etc.
- If you get the boots customized by a professional, they can add extra cushioning and foot support where needed–this provides the perfect fit and comfort without having to compromise on any details
- If the ski boots fit well, they won’t get undue pressure or stress from the feet either; this means that they’re likely to last longer than boots with an improper fit
How to ensure a proper fit when choosing ski boots
When you’re searching for the perfect pair of ski boots, you want to ensure that the fit is neither too tight nor too loose. Ideally, you should be able to move your toes around a bit, but they shouldn’t touch the front of the boots or be cramped together.
Your ski boots should also be comfortable while you’re standing or walking around as well as skiing. If there’s a professional fitter around, they will be able to provide guidance and ensure that you get the most perfect fit possible. Remember, ski boots will have a different way of fitting than regular boots or shoes–so it’s better to get help from a professional if you can.
Use Appropriate Socks
It’s not just the boots that are important while skiing. You also have to use the right kind of socks. The following tips can help in choosing appropriate socks for skiing:
- The socks should have an insulating effect to keep the feet warm and reduce the chances of frostbite as well as other cold-related injuries
- The fabric of the socks should be moisture-wicking–they should pull any kind of dampness (melted snow, sweat, etc.) away from the skin, thereby preventing discomfort and blisters
- If socks have extra cushioning, they will be more comfortable and supportive for the feet, but the pair should not be too bulky otherwise they might cause the boot to feel like its too tight
- The right fit is necessary, as this prevents any slipping or bunching up inside the boot
- Wool and synthetic materials are considered to be the best materials for skiing socks, as they work well in keeping feet warm and dry. Avoid cotton socks as they suck moisture and keep it there for a long time. Cotton can absorb up to 300% of its own weight, while good quality merino wool can only absorb around 30% of its weight.
- The thickness of the socks shouldn’t adversely affect the fit of your ski boots–in fact, many ski socks are quite thin but still very warm.
Some socks are specially designed for outdoor activities such as skiing, so you might want to consider those options first. Make sure to read the reviews or ask some experienced skiers before ordering a new pair of ski socks
Take Frequent Breaks
Take some rest between your ski runs. As tempting as it might be to keep on skiing the whole day long, a break can help you enjoy the it more. Rest your feet in between runs; this can help to do away with unwanted symptoms of overusing your ski boots.
Use Proper Technique
Most proper skiing techniques include keeping the body weight centered over the skis, keeping the knees bent to absorb shocks, and using the edges for tuning. With the proper techniques, you will be more likely to place undue stress on your feet. If learning the proper technique is too confusing on your own, try joining a class for learning the correct methods and applying them when you ski.
Condition and Stretch Your Muscles
Skiing is a form of exercise, so it’s important to condition the joints and muscles before starting it. A few stretching motions are usually all it takes. With the right exercises, you can reduce your chances of experiencing foot pain, soreness, and injuries.
Consult a Doctor
For those who suffer from pre-existing foot health conditions, it might be necessary to consult a doctor before going skiing. While the doctor will hopefully not prevent you from skiing altogether, they might give helpful suggestions such as adjustments, exercises, or orthotics to stave off foot pain.
Consider Custom Footbeds
Along with the ski boots, it is important to ensure that the liner and insole are also suitable for a skier’s feet. Custom footbeds are a good way to give your feet extra cushioning and support while skiing.
Avoid Walking Around in Skiing Boots
If you’re not skiing, it’s probably best to take off those ski boots. Here are some reasons why:
- Comfort: Ski boots are not designed for walking, so you’ll only be making yourself uncomfortable and increasing the chances of foot pain.
- Wear and tear: Walking around in your ski boots will reduce their lifespan by causing unnecessary wear and tear.
- Safety: Some surfaces can be slippery if you walk on them with ski boots. It’s best to take them off if you don’t want to fall or get injured even when you’re off the slopes.
- Temperature control: There’s insulation in ski boots, so they can be too warm if you wear them when not skiing. The overheating will be uncomfortable and can cause sweating; the additional dampness may, in turn, cause foot health problems.
- Fit: If you walk too much on non-snow surfaces wearing ski boots, you may cause them to loosen up and get bent out of shape. This will adversely affect their performance on the slopes.
In short, it’s best to change to regular, comfy footwear when you come off the slopes. This way, your feet get a break. You’re also less likely to experience discomfort or pain with this precaution.
What if you do have to walk with ski boots on?
In some cases, a skier may have to walk while keeping their ski boots on. In such cases, it’s a good idea to obtain some ski boot bags and use those. These bags can help retain the shape of the ski boots and also protect them from potential damage.
Dealing with Sore Feet and Pain Post-Skiing
You might experience sore feet or foot pain after skiing, especially if you skipped some of the precautions mentioned above. If this has happened, you probably want to know how to treat the feet so that the pain goes away. Here are a few ways to get started:
- Elevate the feet; this will make the swelling go down and help the feet towards a quick recovery
- Apply ice to the feet for reducing the swelling and soothing the pain–after 24 to 48 hours, apply a warm/hot compress to the sore area for enhancing circulation and speeding up recovery
- Stretch the feet and massage them to deal with the pain; this method can also help to loosen up a stiff foot
- You may also want to try some over-the-counter painkillers or NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen for reducing the painful inflammation
- When you’re not skiing, make sure that your shoes are comfortable and provide proper arch support
- Custom orthotics for chronic foot conditions; these may help in improving foot function as well as reducing pain
- If the pain is too much to bear, consult a doctor to make sure that there are no underlying health issues or an injury you can’t see
- Put the ski boots on when they’re at room temperature; the correct way of putting them on is to pass the thumbs between the boot and the bottom of its shell. Then, you can step in and ensure that the fit is right.
Skiing can be great fun and a wholesome exercise as well, but one needs to do it properly to gain all the benefits. If you’re ready to fly through the snowy tracks and try skiing as a hobby, you also need to take the right precautions for avoiding pain due to skiing. Stretching, having proper socks, having well-fitting shoes, taking breaks, and heat/cold therapy will hopefully work to prevent any skiing-related foot pain. While these preventative measures will take some work, they will likely pay off by enhancing your experience and preventing foot pain, injuries, and accidents.