Let’s start at the beginning, by making friends with our feet.
No part of a skier’s body is more important than their feet. Think about it. Only your feet are connected to your skis, any communication with your ski has to pass through your foot. If you want your ski to edge, your foot has to edge first. Your foot is the only part of your body that directly affects your ski.
Conversely, whatever your skis are doing, skidding, carving, twisting, edging or flattening, you should be able to feel that action through your feet. It’s a two-way street. You send commands to your ski, and you receive messages from your ski, all through the foot.
So it stands to reason, if you’re feet can’t do their job then it’s probably affecting your performance on the slopes.
How it works
The real role of the foot in skiing is to culminate the body’s muscle force and exertion on the inner edge of the ski in such a way as to allow better ski “edging” with less wasted foot and body (knee, hip) movements. To do this your feet must act as stable levers. A foot that is more flexible and whose joints are overly mobile collapse under this force, putting knees and hips at risk – One solution to this problem is the use of orthotics.
Orthotics can be used to lock certain essential joints in the midfoot and rearfoot, converting a loose, flexible foot into the stable lever we mentioned above.
* Note: While orthotics can help significantly in improving skiing efficiency, by no means can they be expected to solve all of the skier’s foot and ankle problems.
For the majority of people our ski boots are the most important component of our ski setup. Ski boots drive your motion, provide control and, give you stability and number 1 they look after your feet. It is essential that they fit properly, so forget what you have heard about how each brand ‘generally’ fits, resist the urge to choose based on price alone and ignore colour and cosmetics for the time being.
Things to Remember to Properly Fit Ski Boots
- Account for width and length of the foot by removing the liner from the boot shell and standing on it in your normal skiing angle (knees flexed). At this time, any bony protuberances on the foot that may potentially lead to irritation against the plastic shell of the boot should be visibly “hanging” over the liner.
- When assessing length, there should only be a half of a thumb’s width between the end of liner and the longest toe (so it should fit slightly smaller than normal shoes).
It is also important to mention how the foot, particularly the heel, should fit inside the boot.
- Once the foot slides into the boot, the skier should grasp the back of the cuff and at the same time flex their knees to push the heel backwards into the pocket created for it in the liner or orthotic and shell.
- The first and most important buckle to fasten is the one over the ankle joint. The remaining buckles can then be fastened to comfort.
- The skier should then stand and flex again into the boots as hard as possible to ensure proper heel seating and to ensure the toes and pushed away from the front of the boot.
- The buckle over the ankle should then be refastened. This buckle must be the tightest to ensure proper heel seating.
Different feet, will encounter different issues but the application of these simple fitting techniques will often be enough to prevent potential problems.
Remember our motto this winter ‘Feet First’ and enjoy your time on the slopes.
If you would like to discuss any part of this article in more detail, please contact our specialised ski sports podiatrist Damir Metljak on (08) 8232 5566 .