Earlier in the season we identified injuries common to snowboarders and other higher impact winter sports, but outside of this cause and effect relationship there is one pesky impediment to performance on the mountain – pain in the feet. At this very moment in Whistler, Grouse Mountain, Cypress, and Mount Seymour alike there are numerous riders experiencing podiatric problems. If you count yourself among them, then you know how it can ruin an otherwise perfectly beautiful day of careening down the slopes of your favorite spot. Whether your ambitions are found on the bunny hill or halfpipe today’s article intends to address what may be keeping you from riding in comfort.
Why Your Feet Hurt While Snowboarding and What You Can Do About It
The Cause of Your Pain
Foot pain, in particular arch pain, experienced while snowboarding is typically the result of excessive flattening of the arch that occurs during inward turns, also known as toe-side turns or carves. When your foot flattens the ligaments and muscles found at the base of your foot are stretched beyond the norm, and cause arch pain. Then there is plantar fasciitis, which is the most common cause of heel pain in snowboarders or for anyone for that matter. The plantar fascia is the flat band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes, providing support to the arch of your foot. When strained, your plantar fascia may get weak, swollen, irritated, and/or inflamed which not only results in pain in your heel and along the bottom of your foot when you ride, but when you stand or walk, especially when waking the next morning after an evening session on the local hill.
Metatarsalgia, pain and/or inflammation in the ball of the foot, is also a common foot complaint for snowboarders. This condition often impacts one foot more than the other given the eccentric loading of the forefoot while riding which results in mechanical load applied to one metatarsal.
Get Custom Orthotics
Orthotics are the primary difference maker for most snowboarding patients. Customized for the rider and boot, orthotics can deliver the side to side stability you need while considering the unique (to the activity) rolling motion made when turning and carving down the gradient.
While you can have orthotics fabricated for your snowboarding boots to provide optimal arch support, there’s is a good chance that there is a preexisting issue with your Gait, your manner of walking, which is impacting the overall wellness of your lower extremities, especially your feet. That’s why you need to look beyond your snowboarding boots and get fitted for custom orthotics for your “day to day” shoes too. Not only will orthotics alleviate pain, they will help reduce pain in other parts of your body, can prevent strain from nerve damage/numbness, and improve your balance, all of which will serve your snowboarding well. Learn more about why you should consider custom orthotics.
Strengthen Your Feet
Custom orthotics will help a lot, however you will still want to consider physical therapy treatments too. For instance, if suffering from metatarsalgia you can seek soft tissue work in the lower extremity and foot in addition to laser therapy and acupuncture therapy.
Another thing to consider is how the off-season takes it toll on your feet. Through the winter, you get those small stabilizer muscles working when snowboarding, but when the spring and summer arrives they tend to fall to the wayside of your fitness and activity plan. Make sure these small stabilizer muscles get attention all year long, with activities such as barefoot beach running in addition to maintaining your physiotherapist prescribed regime.
Also pay attention to other daily habits that may result in foot pain. If your job has you standing on your feet all day, make sure to take seated breaks often and adjust your standing position while padding the floor, wear better footwear, and as mentioned above wear custom orthotics should your Gait analysis uncover the need to do so. View more on how to keep your feet from hurting when you are on them all day. In the end, positive changes in your day to day will have a positive impact on your function and performance when enjoying your favorite winter sport activity.
Better Core Fitness
While working to strengthen the ligaments and tendons in your feet will go along away towards helping enjoy pain free rides, you will also want to improve your overall core fitness because after all it plays a key role in your ability to maintain balance on the mountain which in turn ensures proper distribution of weight so that your feet are not excessively tasked. Achieve better core fitness here.
Better Equipment Makes a Big Difference Too
Last but not least we ask you to look beyond custom orthotics for your boots and after session footwear. The rest of your equipment can have both a direct and indirect impact on your feet, especially the fit of your bindings. Make sure you have a professional board shop access your comfort and stance within bindings and if need be make the investment in a better set up because in the end it will help to keep you pain free. The same goes with your board. Make sure your snowboard of choice has a rocker and flex that makes sense for you and the level you perform at.
In conclusion, we must summarize with a reminder to consult with a physiotherapist if you are experiencing pain in your feet while snowboarding. Our clinic provides a wide variety of treatments and therapies to get you back on the right, and pain-free, foot. Plus, we have an avid snowboarder on staff that can relate to your passion for riding, along with having a deeper understanding of what you are experiencing while out there on the mountain. Contact Absolute PhysioCare today to tackle the issues with your feet so that you can hop into your bindings and start riding without pain, discomfort, or concern outside of the tough decision of where to enjoy the local resort acres-ski scene.