Solutions for Painful Feet when Skiing or Snowboarding
As winter is quickly approaching, skiers and snowboarders are getting ready for the snow to fall. It is recommended that general strengthening, stretching and balance drills be incorporated into your preseason program. It is also important to make sure your equipment is in good shape.
Skiing and snowboarding are sports that require precise control in order to increase your ability, safety and comfort. One of the key points of control of the lower extremity is the foot and boot complex. A comfortable and stable foot will allow slight movements of your legs to be transferred to the snowboard and ski edge.
Many of us have feet that are flatter, floppier, and not particularly stable. A foot that rolls excessive inward(flat foot) is termed overpronation. A foot with limited support will put the surrounding muscles and joints(ankle, knee, hip, or back) under an increased load. Some signs that you may not be getting the most support from your feet include:
- Having to crank down your bindings to gain greater control of your board or skis.
- Greater fatigue of the muscle of your feet, legs, hips and low back and possible subsequent injury.
- Painful, aching or cramping feet.
- Chilly toes. If you crank your boots too tight, you will limit the amount of circulation to your feet.
- Poor edge control when you are carving, turning or stopping.
- Frustrating slow progression in your snowboarding or skiing ability.
- Sore red spots or blisters on your foot.
One way to help improve the dynamics of the foot is through strengthening. It is important to begin with proximal strengthening ie. the muscles surrounding the hip and knee, then move towards the foot. Remember, The foot cannot act alone!
Some Strengthening Suggestions Gradually build up to 3 sets of 10 repetitions, every other day:
Lie on your side with the bottom knee bent and the top leg straight with toes pointing slightly towards the ceiling. Slowly raise your top leg up and down, do not let those toe point towards the floor! Start with repetitions of 4-6 per set.
Stand with your back against the wall with a soccer ball sized ball between your knees. Walk your feet out and lean back into the wall. Slowly squat down until your buttocks are on the same level as your knees. Hold for a count of 5, return to standing and repeat.
Eccentric Hamstring Drill
Lying on your stomach with your ski or snowboard boots on. Keep your hips flat on the ground. Start with the one knee bent(heel to buttocks), slowly allow the leg to straighten controlling the weight of the boot towards the floor. Alternate legs.
Position yourself so you are standing with your hands on the wall. Slowly rise up onto the balls of your feet without your foot falling inward. Concentrate on slowly lowering your heels to the ground.
Sit on a chair in the kitchen with a towel lying in front of you. With your bare feet and your heel securely planted on the towel, curl your toes and slowly gather up the width of the towel.
The ability to maintain balance will work almost every stabilizer in the body and helps to strengthen all major muscles progression for balance includes:
- Start by standing on foot.
- Increase difficulty by standing on 1 foot with your eyes closed for 20-30 seconds.
- Stand on a large rolled up towel with your eyes open.
- Stand on a large rolled up towel with your eyes closed.
It is also advisable to check with your local ski or snowboard shop to help you with a “boot fit” or selection and fitting of a footbed. A footbed is a custom made, non prescription arch support. It can help distribute the weight of your foot over a larger area, thus decreasing the “hot spots” and pain in certain areas of your foot and help you with foot stability and performance.
If you have or had any musculoskeletal injuries, or experience pain with the above exercises, consult a physiotherapist to ensure safety and prevent further injury.
Our thanks to North Shore Ski & Board for their input to this newsletter border.
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