Skis the Day: Protecting Your Feet and Ankles on the Slopes

skiing photo
The right ski boots, inserts and socks are key to a happy winter on the slopes.

The Colorado ski season is upon us, and our feet and ankles are instrumental in the motions and balance required for skiing.

Our feet and ankles are also more vulnerable to injuries while skiing, especially early in the season if our bodies are not yet acclimated to the unique stresses of skiing. With locations in Greeley and Longmont, the podiatrists at the Foot & Ankle Center of Northern Colorado often treat skiers who suffer injuries on the slopes or experience chronic pain. Following are some tips to help you protect your feet and ankles, and enjoy a pain-free ski season.

Boot Camp

Your feet and ankles do a lot of work while skiing. They act as shock absorbers, and help you steer and brake. They support your weight and help you maintain balance while shifting with the terrain and changing speed.

Properly fitting ski boots that hold the feet and ankles in place, and work with them while in motion are perhaps the most important factor in protecting your feet and ankles while skiing. Boots should be snug, but not so tight that they feel as if they’re restricting circulation.

If your boots are too loose, your feet can slide and your ankles can shift within them, and the pressure and movements of skiing can contribute to blisters, sprains and fractures. Blisters and sores are also risks with boots that are too tight.

There are differences in everyone’s feet aside from size. If you’re buying ski boots for long-term use, it’s worth it to take the time to find the right fit. If you’re renting for a day or two, choose boots that don’t cramp your feet or leave significant space around the feet and ankles.

Orthotics, Braces and Skiing

If you wear custom orthotics or shoe inserts, take them with you while trying on ski boots. Depending on the form and type, inserts can dramatically alter how a boot fits and feels.

Regular skiers may wish to consider orthotic inserts or insoles designed especially for ski boots. Well-designed ski-boot orthotics can improve arch support, and aid in edging and turning.

Likewise, if you wear any sort of ankle brace or supportive wrap, take it with you while trying on boots. Trying to force your feet into ski boots with ill-fitting orthotics or braces can heighten the risk for injury.

Socks it to Me

Don’t overlook the importance of your socks while skiing. Socks not only provide insulation, but good socks help keep your feet dry and comfortable.

Proper ski socks should be thin, but designed for cold weather. Ski boots don’t leave much room to accommodate thick, wool or cotton socks (which also aren’t very good at wicking moisture).

If possible, try on ski boots in the socks or type of socks you plan to wear skiing. The right socks can help a boot fit comfortably, and provide additional support for the feet and ankles.

Finally, don’t ignore pain. If you feel discomfort while skiing, stop; if you experience chronic pain after skiing, consult with a specialist.

The podiatrists at the Foot & Ankle Center of Northern Colorado understand how foot and ankle pain can affect your quality of life. If you suffer from foot or ankle discomfort, please call our Greeley office at 970-351-0900 or our Longmont office at 303-772-3232 to learn how we can help you.

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