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Back to Q&A Index of Questions

Q. Painful Feet

Hi Lauren,

I've been hunting around the net tonight for help.  I've been snowboarding a couple of times and had lessons but this was over 5 years ago now and I've gotta say its taking a while to get back into it.

Anyway, I knew I wanted to get back into it so I decided to invest in a board, bindings and boots.  I've got a Ride Decade board, Ride DCF bindings (I think that's the model) and Solomon boots.

I've been to my local dry slope to try and get used to my kit but every time I have to take a break cos I'm getting really bad pain along the outside edge of my feet.  (The curved section from my little toe down towards my ankle/heel)

I've tried everything I can think of, tightening my boot, loosening my boot, altering my binding angles.  I'm at a loss.  Surely this pain isn't good, but surely I'm not the only person to have suffered.  Can you help me out, I'm beginning to lose my desire to get back into it cos I can't keep going through this pain.

Somebody at the slope tonight suggested I don't tighten my bindings too much.  I wasn't aware I was over doing them but how can I tell?  I keep tightening until it gets tough to go any further.  Could that be my problem?  Will loosening them make me less stable?

Sorry, there's a million questions in there but I've got even more floating around in my head so I'd better stop for now and just beg you for some advice ;-)

I really look forward to your reply.  Thanks in advance for your time, your website is excellent and I can see myself spending hours reading my way through it all over the next few weeks!

Take care

Neil F.
Surrey, UK.

A. Answers from our Pro Forum:

Hi Neil,
I will pass your question along to my team. I'm sorry for your pain and i hope we can help you! Don't throw in the towel!
Did you read this article about boot fitting by Kevin Ryan, yet?
http://www.snowboardsecrets.com/Articles/bootfitting.htm
best regards,
Lauren

Gavin Ehringer writes:

Well, it sounds like either your boots are too small or narrow, or your bindings are too tight.

Try wearing the boots for a good portion of a day, off the slope. Just walk around in them, maybe do some outside chores in the snow. If they cause foot pain, I would advise that you go shopping for some new boots. 

If you're still not sure if the problem is the boots or the boots and bindings together, you could try renting some different boots at a shop. Bring your board along and try the boots actually in your bindings. The fit should be comfortable, not tight. If you wonder about the binding setting, you'll have a shop tech right there to make sure you have them adjusted correctly. It could very well be that the base plate is too small or narrow for your boots, or the straps are attached so that they put too much pressure on the boots.

On the slope, don't crank down on your bindings - they only need to be firm, they don't have to exert a vice-grip on the feet. You could even try riding them very loose, just to see if the bindings are causing the pain. Then, increasingly tighten them until they are snug but not painful.

If all that doesn't solve the problem, go see a podiatrist. Switching to skiing probably won't help; all my skier friends bitch about how badly their feet hurt!


Chance Caswell writes:

I'd check the proper fit of the boot first.  Does the pain happen only
while strapped in and riding?  Does it happen when they strap in and
stand in the flats.  Does the pain happen just by walking around in the
boots for a while?

Perhaps the person has supination of the feet and a custom orthotic is
in order? (Supination is a polite way to say bow legged.  Knock kneed is pronated.)
Something physically/mechanically in the rider's
skeleton/muscles etc. is forcing the foot to put more pressure toward
the outside edge of the foot when rolling heel to toe and back.  Seeing
a pediatrist and getting set up with correct custom orthotics
(footbeds) can be a costly but effective way to fix it.

Another tactic is to be sure warm up and stretch the muscles of the
lower leg.  You can also do exercises to strengthen the muscles of the
lower leg and that can help too.

Is the person riding duck?  I also might experiment with stance width
in addition to angles.

Definitely check good boot fit, it sounds like the person might need
custom inserts.

There's a number of websites out there that can explain the physical
condition.

Hope that helps.


Jean Sapula writes:

I agree with Chance, about boot fit....I'd try different
approaches to tightening the laces, (ie, leaving the bottom 3 or 4 holes
somwhat loose, to give the forefoot room, then stay tight around the
instep, where the boot becomes vertical.....I'd try these lacing methods
and see if he gets cramps just wearing the boots for an hour or so, or if
the pain only comes on after snowboarding.
The podiatrist may end up helping out, but I'd recommend trying an
inexpensive pair of Dr. Scholl's foot advantage, over the counter foot
orthodic....for a mere $10...it's worth a shot.....Jean

Neil wrote this P.S.

I spoke to my mum about it actually and she mentioned that I always used to roll my feet to the edge when I was a kid, maybe I'm just doing that when I board in which case the insoles might be the solution!  I don't realize I'm doing it but we'll soon find out hey!

Thanks a bunch for all those replies today, can you pass on my thanks to everyone that has offered suggestions please.

Lauren writes:

Since you mentioned the foot rolling: A slower fix, but perhaps ultimately more permanent solution is... one of my fave all around solutions... yoga!
Your teacher can help you get the alignment of your feet, arches, knees, thighs, all worked out! In the long run that helps you in every step you take for the rest of your long life!

And if you think it could be a cramp-type pain - this is what I have found helps me with foot cramps while riding. Do this while riding when you feel the foot pain.

Take deep slow breaths, and Imagine that you are breathing refreshing oxygen and relaxation RIGHT INTO YOUR FEET. Keep breathing, and tell your feet to relax. Maybe concentrate on working your ankles to ride, instead of your feet. You may be gripping, and overworking them when you don't need to.

Kevin Ryan says:

Neil:

There is a channel of nerves and blood vessels that pass around and behind the ankle on the outside of the foot. These pathways attend to the bottom and the outside of the foot and from your symptoms, this is what is being interrupted. There are two things that you can do to alleve these issues.

1) alter your current liner to stop from "pinching" the outside of your ankle as much. The downside of this has to do with heel retention in the boot. Talk to a bootfitter about this.

2) Invest in heat moldable liners or consider a higher end Salomon boot that has heat moldable material in the heel and ankle area. If your boot has a liner like this already, go to the shop you bought your boot from and re-mold it to your foot. You can take the boot fitting pad and place it around the outside and under your anklebone when you mold your boots. This can be done by placing the pad where it should be (in your socks, refer to that bootfitter when you do this) to give these nervous and circulation pathways the space they need when the liners are molding to your feet.

If you have to invest in one bit of snowboarding equipment, let it be your boots.

KMR

Hi Lauren,

I took the advice of your friends and I spent a few hours in just my boots and I didn't have any problems so I figured I'd give the slopes another go. I went back out onto the dry slope near me and just tried the bindings a little less tight... it seems to have done the trick!

I went boarding for 2 hours and my feet only really started to hurt near the end, I think even then it was because I'd tightened the bindings a little bit more.

I can't believe it was something as simple as that! Its not like I was really wrenching the bindings on so I am surprised at the pain it was causing. I could understand it if I was cutting off the blood supply and making my feet go blue but I really didn't think the bindings were that tight! Lesson learnt though and problem apparently solved.

Say a massive thanks to everyone for their advice. Its a silly mistake but I'm glad I've sorted it with your help! After a big investment in my boots I just couldn't work out what was causing the pain in my feet... now I know, it was just over tightening my bindings!

Doh.

Thanks again

Neil


Hi Neil,
So glad we could help! Nothing worse than aching feet to put a damper on your snowboarding day!
Lauren

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