Ski Boots Can Hurt Wide Feet
We treat a lot of skiers and we make a lot of orthotics for ski boots but every winter we end up treating a tremendous number of skiers whose primary issue is that their ski boots are simply too narrow.
Foot Pain from Tight Ski Boots
A lot of skiers come in with cramping in their feet, the feeling of too much tightness on their toes, sometimes neuroma type pain or ball of foot pain from the boot being too tight. Although there can be a number of causes of these symptoms, a common one was ski boots that were simply too tight.
More Ski Boots Now Made with Wider Shells
Now until recently, this was a problem that was difficult to address. Ski boots tended to be made quite narrow in the toe box and no matter how hard the ski boot fitters would try to heat these up and make them wider, there was only so much that they could do if the boot started off significantly narrower than the foot.
One of the best developments in ski boot design that has occurred over the past few years is a move toward boots that are made wider for people with wider feet. Part of this move is a realization from the ski boot industry that as a society we have gotten bigger and our feet have gotten bigger as well.
Feet Get Wider as We Ski
This can be an issue even for people with normal width feet because when you ski, your feet tend to splay out during the day along with some swelling as the day goes on.
It turns out that what was considered a standard width boot really can be a big problem for a lot of people.
Ski Boot Solutions for Those with Wide Feet
Below are several steps toward helping you find a ski boot that provides both control over your ski and comfort for your feet.
Measure the width of your forefoot before you go to the ski shop.
You can eliminate much of the potential problems caused by a boot that’s too narrow by measuring the width of your forefoot using a caliper measuring tool.
To measure your forefoot, put the ends of the caliper at the widest part of your foot. Usually, that is the joint right behind the big toe and the joint right behind the little toe. Remember that number when you go to the ski shop. Ski boots come in different widths of the forefoot. The boot you’re choosing should be at least as wide as your forefoot measurement.
More Wide Ski Boot Options
Not too many years ago it was difficult to find boots that were wider than about 98mm in the forefoot. Now there are a number of boots that exceed 100mm and even go up to about 105mm.
The website evo.com also has an excellent filtering application, so you can look for boots ahead of time that are an appropriate width for you.
New Technology Allows More Ski Boot Adjustment
As podiatrists, we think the biggest advance in ski boot technology in recent years has been the use of advanced moldable plastics being incorporated into ski boot shell construction.
It used to be that only the liner of a ski boot could be heat molded. Now the plastic shell is often heat moldable also.
These moldable plastics allow a boot fitter the ability to completely reshape a boot to fit the individual shape of your foot with heat moldable plastic.
Prior to the advent of these heat moldable ski boot shell plastics, reshaping of a ski boot would require a very skilled boot fitter with the right equipment to manually stretch and punch the shape into the boot. Even then, the amount of correction that could be achieved was limited.
Now it can be done with these specific moldable ski boots quite easily. The new process involves heating the entire plastic shell in a convection oven until it becomes warm and malleable. (usually 10 minutes at about 175*F)
The boot fitter will then have you stand in the boot as it cools. During this time is shaped to your foot.
Ski Boot Brands with Heat Moldable Shells
Solomon first offered heat moldable shells a few years back. Now there are a number of brands that offer models that are heat moldable. We don’t want to mention specific models here as they can change on a regular basis. But here are the brands we have found that offer some models with heat moldable shells. Each brand has their own brand name for the heat moldable boots. We have put that in italics:
- Atomic Memory Fit
- Dalbello MyFit
- Head Form Fit
- K2 FitLogix Custom Thermo Shell
- Fischer Vacuum Fit (or Vacu Plast)
- Solomon Custom Shell
We may have missed some here. If you know of others please let us know in the comments.
Proper Ski Orthotics Can Make Boots Feel Wider
The use of a good ski orthotic can also help reduce compression of your foot. A ski orthotic that conforms very close to the arch of your foot can help prevent splay and widening of the foot. You can learn more about ski orthotics and footbeds here.
This page includes our recommendations on the best prefabricated ski boot orthotics plus information on custom ski orthotics.
Take Ski Orthotics With You When Trying on Boots
Every orthotic will change boot fit. Be sure to take your ski orthotics with you when you are purchasing new boots.
Don’t Ski With Foot Pain
There is no need to let foot pain ruin your time on the mountain. If you are in the Seattle area you can make an appointment to see us. Be sure to bring your ski boots plus any footbeds or orthotics you use in your boots.
If you are outside of the Seattle area use the form above to download “5 Tips to Cure Skiers Foot Pain”. Not only will you get the first 5 tips but we have a lot more help coming in the near future that we will let you know about.