Foot Dynamics Custom Footbeds and Orthotics Blog
Hitting the slopes on a sunny spring day is a favorite for many skiers—who enjoy warmer temperatures and a little sunshine while zipping down slopes. Foot pain, however, can quickly put a damper on your spring skiing fun.
Ill-fitting boots are most often the cause of foot pain while skiing by pinching, rubbing or allowing too much movement of the foot. Arch pain and cramping can occur when your foot is unstable, preventing even weight distribution. Without realizing it, you may be trying to use the muscles of your foot to fill space in your boots to turn and stop more effectively. This strain on your foot muscles can cause cramps and aches in your arches.
Everyone’s feet are different, and boot manufacturers design the boots to fit the greatest possible variety of feet. If they were to make the footbeds in the boots too supportive, it would “offend” some peoples’ feet and they might not buy them. This is also why boot manufacturers tend to make their liners very cushioned, to initially feel comfortable to the greatest variety of foot shapes. But foot pain can occur if the liner is too soft, allowing the foot to move around inside the shell.
Providing a stable foundation in the boot– usually involving custom ski footbeds/orthotics—will support the foot in a neutral position. Custom footbeds/orthotics reduce motion caused by the natural tendency for the foot to spread out and roll to the inside or outside, helping relieve the muscle fatigue that causes your arches to ache.
Hot Foot? Douse the Flames for Good!
Many cyclists suffer from metatarsalgia or “hot foot” — a burning pain in the ball of the foot that can radiate toward the toes. Severe cases can feel like someone is actually holding a blowtorch to the ball of your foot. Hot foot occurs most often on long rides and may develop more quickly or intensely on hilly courses because climbs cause greater pedaling pressure. The pain results when nerves are squeezed between the heads of each foot’s five long metatarsal bones in the ball of the foot just behind the toes.
Feet always swell on long rides, especially in warmer weather, causing pressure inside shoes that normally fit fine. Besides tight shoes, another risk factor is small pedals, particularly if you have large feet. Small pedal surfaces concentrate pressure on the ball of the foot instead of spreading it the way a larger pedal will. If your cycling shoes have flexible soles like most mountain bike shoes, they’ll be less able to diffuse pressure.
With hot foot, it is not actually heat that causes the pain; rather, it is pressure on nerves that causes the burning sensation. Many cyclists believe that splashing water on their feet will help alleviate the problem, but that is a symptomatic treatment that doesn’t really address the root of the problem.
Having the proper footwear can make all the difference in the comfort of your feet during and after a ride. Here are several options you can try to put out the flames:
- Adjust shoe straps. Tighten the top strap nearest your ankle to help stop your feet from slipping around in your shoes.
- Wear thinner socks. This will give your feet more room and is especially helpful if your shoes are on the snug side.
- Buy new shoes. Look for a model with a wider-and-higher toe box and a stiffer sole and footbed with a metatarsal button.
- Purchase custom cycling orthotics from Foot Dynamics. These footbeds are fit specifically to your feet with built-in metatarsal buttons. If you are a cyclist, be sure to order orthotics designed specifically for cycling, as cycling is a forefoot activity and orthotics designed for running or other full gait activities won’t provide the support you need.
My flight from Minn. to Boise after the American Birkibeiner race was cancelled. While stuck in a hotel overnight I ran into Steve Poulin, the President of Swix Sports. He told me that the importance of a flat ski for glide cannot be overstated. He thinks the Nordic ski community needs to look much more closely at the interface of the foot to Nordic boot to ski in both classic skiing and skate skiing. We hope to continue the conversation in the next few months. Thanks Steve.
Numbness in the toes is caused by a pinching of the nerves as they pass through the inter space between the metatarsal joints. This can be caused by a collapsing of the transverse arch as load is put on the forefoot during the pedal stroke and can be exacerbated by shoes that are too narrow. The best solutions are orthotics with metatarsal pads and/or Bont cycling shoes which have a wider oblique toe box.
The greatest benefit of carbon fiber for ski boot construction is that the carbon fiber material is unaffected by ambient temperature. This means the boot stiffness at 10* below zero is the same as it is at 40* above zero. They are also incredibly light weight.
Only if you want the best performance and comfort from your boots. Because the foot in a ski boot is in its unlocked and flexible condition the muscles and tendons of the foot are fighting to support the arch while 2 to 3 times your body weight is forcing the ach to flatten. This can cause cramping, pain and a loss of leverage on the ski edge.