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 Prefaricated
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
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
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.
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