The most important part of skiing is your boots. If they don’t fit right, you are not going to have a good time. It is no different than a car. If you put the wrong size tires on and they aren’t balanced correctly, the car won’t drive well and could ultimately end up doing damage to the car.
This same thing applies to your boots. One of the most common problems we see are people coming in saying they have lost toenails (gross yes, but it happens), their shins hurt and their feet are getting cold. The first thing they say? “My boots must be way too small, I need a bigger size.” When I tell them that in fact, the complete opposite is the case, they tend to be very surprised.
Your ski boots are not meant to fit like sneakers. In order to maximize the performance and comfort of a ski boot, they should fit snug, toes just barely kissing the end of the boot when standing straight up, and without pressure points causing circulation to be cut off or pain anywhere. There are hundreds of different kinds of boots on the market. When you come in to be fitted, my job is to learn about your skiing style and what you are looking to accomplish so that I can find a few pairs that I believe will work best not only based off of performance but the overall shape of your foot. The most important job lies with the customer. It is YOUR job to tell me how the boot feels. This way, we can work together to find you the best fitting boot.
Now back to the common problems people have with boots. Let’s take a minute to learn why this stuff happens and how to fix it. First of all, losing toenails. Again, this comes from having a boot that is too big. The reason this is happening is because, while you are skiing, your foot is constantly sliding back and forth, jamming your toes against the front of the boot. This constant jamming of your toes can ultimately cause some damage to your toe resulting in bruising or losing a nail. How do we fix this? First, if you aren’t quite ready for a new pair of boots, we can add a foot bed in. This will take up a little bit of volume in the boot (ultimately, there really is no way to make a boot smaller) as well as give your foot a little bit more support.
Another common problem is what we refer to as “Shin Bang”, more commonly known as shin splints. Why does this happen? Your foot is fighting hard to stay in place in the boot while you are trying to put the skis on edge and maneuver them. While you are doing this, you are stressing the tendons in your shin, which causes them to become inflamed and hurt. Thus, shin bang. How do we fix this? Support the foot and get a boot that doesn’t allow your foot to move around inside. When you want the ski to turn, you are moving your foot, to move the boot, to ultimately move the ski. If your foot is moving inside the boot, a lot of that energy and effort is lost inside the boot and never makes it to the ski which is in turn making you work harder for less results.
Next is very common, “My feet are freezing! I need boot heaters or a warmer boot!”. Many people come in asking, “What is your warmest boot?” Yes, some boots are a little bit warmer than others, but ultimately the insulation in most is about the same. The warmth of the boot actually comes from the fit. The best comparison to make is with compression clothing that athletes will typically wear. Compression is used to increase blood flow. When it comes to skiing, this is achieved by having a snug (not too tight) fitting boot. Having that snug fit will allow blood flow to be increased and this will do a few things for you. First of all, good blood flow means that your toes will constantly be getting fresh, warm blood which will keep them from getting cold. The other benefit of this increased blood flow is less fatigue. New blood constantly being brought into your feet will help reduce the amount of lactic acid building up in your muscles. This stuff is what gives your muscles that tired, aching, burning feeling when they are working hard. The less lactic acid build up means you can stay out on the hill longer!
Enough with all the problems! The easiest way to fix all of these is to find the right boot in the beginning! How do you do that? Come see us! Our bootfitters have been doing this for a long time. Our job is to take the time to talk to you and understand your needs so that we can diagnose and solve problems before they happen.
Ski boots take a few days to break in. When you first try them on in the shop, they will feel very snug. The liners are designed to pack out a little bit and give you some extra room while they mold to your foot. To make the first day on the snow with new boots easier, wear them around the house a little bit before you go skiing. An hour or so at a time just to let your feet get used to them and to help get those liners warmed up and breaking in a little quicker. Typically, after 3-5 days of skiing, your boots will be broken in and ready for over a hundred days of skiing!
If you find that you get hot spots or places that don’t feel right or are hurting your feet, come back in so that we can get them fixed. Many boots now offer a heat moldable liner or shell that allows us to custom fit the boot to your feet. And I know what you are thinking. “Custom boots? Those must cost a fortune!”. You’ll be very happen to know that these boots are actually incredibly affordable!
If the boot does not have a custom shell or liner, we have machines that will heat up the plastic and push it out a little at a time to give you a little extra room so that your feet aren’t hurting anymore. Our goal is to make sure that your feet are warm and comfortable no matter what boot you are in. If we need to adjust your current pair of boots, then we can do that! If it really is just time for a new pair, we will take the time to make sure we find the right ones for you!