How to Eliminate Foot Pain When Snowboarding

I treat many snowboarders in our Seattle foot and ankle clinic. One of the more common problems I see is arch pain. Arch pain when snowboarding is usually due to excessive flattening of the arch during a turn. As the foot flattens it gets longer, leading to a stretch of the ligaments and muscles on the bottom of the foot leading to snowboarding arch pain.

This flattening force is much greater on toe-side turns and many riders feel the pain more when doing toe-side turns. When doing a heel-side turn there is almost no flattening force on the arch.

The keys when treating this problem are (1) prevent the arch from flattening so much and (2) strengthening the arch.

Orthotics for Snowboarding Arch Pain : Custom and Prefabricated

The first key to treating foot pain when snowboarding is to use superior arch support in your boots. You can choose between a custom orthotic and a very high quality prefabricated orthotic. Custom orthotics, if made correctly, will usually provide more support and pain relief, but we have also had excellent outcomes using some OTC arch supports. Information on both is found below.

Custom Orthotics for Snowboard Boots

orthotics for knee pain

Fig 2

To support the arch in a manner that reduces the forces that cause the pain orthotics should be made to conform extremely close to the arch of the foot. This is called a total contact orthotic and you can see in figure 2 how tight the arch of the orthotic should match the arch of the foot for best results.

In addition, orthotics for snowboarding should be made so that they are stable side-to-side. Unlike orthotics that are made for walking or running, there is no need for for the orthotic to allow a rolling-in motion of the heel. By making the orthotics more stable you allow the foot to more efficiently transfer force to the edges of the snowboard. This helps prevent overuse of foot muscles and the achiness that can accompany the overuse.

If you have foot pain while snowboarding and are in the Seattle area contact us for an appointment. Be sure to bring your snowboard boots to the appointment. If you are outside our area try to find  a podiatrist who specializes in orthotic therapy. It also helps if they are a snowboarder or skier. You can learn more about custom snowboard orthotics here

The products listed below are the products we recommend to our patients and they are also affiliate links so we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if your order from the link.

Prefabricated Orthotics for Snowboard Bootsgood arch support

Many snowboarders will actually do quite well with a good prefabricated orthotic. The one I recommend the most for snowboarding is the FootChair Orthotic with Adjustable Arch Height. This is one of the most stable prefab orthotics on the market. I particularly like the adjustable arch height (via pads that can be put into a pocket under the arch). This allows a maximum amount of support and comfort.

For most snowboarders I recommend to use the greatest number of pads that is comfortable for your arch.

You can see our recommended prefabricated orthotic for snowboard boots here.

Foot Strengthening for Snowboarders

Along with providing adequate support I also have my snowboarding patients on a strengthening program for their arches. It is best to start this program a month or two prior to the start of the season, but it’s ok to start even mid-season. You can see our arch strengthening program on this page.

Don’t Live with Foot Pain When Snowboarding

If you are having foot pain when snowboarding don’t put up with it! Make an appointment to see us in our Seattle foot clinic. Be sure to bring your boots with you.  We will review your best options for snowboard orthotics and teach you proper arch strengthening exercises.

If you are not in our area try the prefabricated orthotics and the arch strengthening. If you are not seeing improvement in a few weeks try to find a podiatrist in your area who specializes in orthotic therapy.

If you have any questions, please reply to this article.   We’ll usually answer within a few days.

Dr. Larry Huppin
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11 thoughts on “Snowboarding Arch Pain on Toe Side Turns | Seattle Podiatrist

  1. Dr. Huppin,

    I have had pain exactly as you described for years. I started snowboarding again this year after taking about 10 years off (marriage and kids put it on hold). The pain came back. Then a friend of mine told me about the “toe cap” straps. I had rented bindings with them and didn’t realize they were supposed to go over my foot. it changed my life (for that one day). My current bindings are 12 years old so I don’t have the toe cap (but I wear them over my toes anyways). I’m exploring getting the step through or step on bindings, but I’m worried I won’t have the same level of connection to the board. Certainly, I could use arch support (I have very flat feet) – I used arch support pretty normally anyways.

    Lastly, I have huge calves that often rub against the boot back (not the binding back). Do they make boots for me?


  2. I am experiencing extreme arch pain in my feet while snowboarding. I have flat feet. I have custom orthotics that I put in my boots. When I took them out, I was surprised the pain went down by half. Does that make any sense? The orthotics I have were made 18 years ago, and they are extremely hard. They also stop at the ball of my foot.

    1. It’s probably time for new orthotics. Feet can change a lot in 18 years. The key (and the hard part) is finding a practitioner who is an expert in orthotics and understands the mechanics of snowboarding.

      1. I purchased some “good feet” orthotics while i was on a cruise in February. They seem better, but have not eliminated the pain. Are you familiar with those? If I flew up to you for one visit, would that make much difference? Or would I need to see you on a regular basis?

        1. My opinion is that the orthotics you bought on the cruise are extremely overpriced middle of the road arch supports. You can find much better OTC arch supports on Amazon for $40 or $50. You can see our list of recommended OTC arch supports here. I would be happy to see you but it can take several visits to ensure orthotics are comfortable and working well so I would not recommend flying to see me. Let me know where you are located and I will let you know if I know of anyone good to see near you.

    1. I would have told you Dr. Doug Richie in Seal Beach, but he just retired. I don’t know how skilled with orthotics are the podiatrists who took over his practice. Dr. Alona Kashanian is in Torrance I believe. She would be a very good choice.

  3. Thank you so much. You are really kind to take ur Time to help me. Is she a snowboarder?

  4. Thank you for this. First article I’ve seen actually giving an explanation. I’m from Texas (insert snowboarding Texan joke here) we snowboard about a week and a half every year. For the last 3 years my feet have been cramping so hard I actually had to stop and pull my boots off this year. Any recommended guys around Austin or Waco?

  5. Hi Doc. I can’t tell you how happy I am to find someone online that at least understands the issue. That gives me hope. I’m in Houston, is there a doctor you would recommend?

  6. Hi thank you for this article. I am having extreme foot pain in my left foot under my arch after a couple run snowboarding. I’ve been riding for 15 years but in the last year I’ve felt more pain than ever before. I have a new pair of boots and the pain got worse with these new boots. It feels like the boot is not securing my ankle at all and my heel is lifting when I toe side the pain is unbearable and it cramps. I also have somewhat flat feet. Not sure how to stop the pain . Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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