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Are snowboard boots supposed to hurt?

Are snowboard boots supposed to hurt?

Feeling pain while wearing snowboard boots indicates something isn’t right.

A properly fitting boot should be the same size as your foot, feel snug, and feel very comfortable while riding. Feeling slight discomfort at first is normal but these sensations should go away over time.

Snowboard boots are not designed to hurt your feet. Whenever you experience pain, it is most likely caused by an improperly fit boot, lack of strength and flexibility, or a poor sock choice. Ski and snowboard boots fit in similar ways.

If your toes do not touch the front of the boot you may experience toe bang, indicating the boots are too large or wide. If your toes are curled under, the boot is most likely too small or narrow.

See also: Can You Snowboard With Regular Boots?

Should my feet hurt after snowboarding?

If you experience foot pain after snowboarding, your boots may not fit properly, or part of its system may not be adjusted correctly. Here are common causes of foot pain after snowboarding and how to fix them:

1. Boots aren’t the correct size

Your toes should graze the front of your boot, but should not curl under. This would indicate your boots are too small, which will prevent you from making optimal toe-side turns.

If your toes feel cramped while you stand, try bending your knees and pushing your shins into the front of your boot.

If your foot slides back and the toes are no longer cramped in this athletic stance, maintaining the stance when riding or walking around can relieve the pain. Otherwise, you may need to size up in your boots.

Conversely, if your boots are too big, you may experience shin bang and difficulty controlling your board. These can both be resolved by wearing a smaller sized boot. 

2. Arch pain

If your pain is localized in the arch area of the foot, you may lack some strength or flexibility in your ligaments and muscles. 

When you initiate turns, especially toe-side turns, you stretch the arch more than you may be used to. This can result in achy, inflamed, or swollen feet.

Adding 10 – 15 minutes of mobility movements pre and post riding can improve foot strength and flexibility and reduce pain.

If reinforcing strength and flexibility doesn’t completely solve your issue, experiment with specialized insoles for your boots. Here are a few recommendations:

Insole Price rangeBest fit for
Tread Labs Pace and Dash Insoles$65 – $105(not including shipping)Athletes looking for a firm, carbon-fiber arch support insole. Best for people with flat feet or those who experience arch pain while riding. 
Remind Insole$20 – $70(not including shipping)Boarders – from skate to snow – who take hard impacts looking to reduce foot pain. Blue Magic shock absorbent smart foam insoles. Heat molded insoles available for in-home molding. 
DFP Insoles$37 – $200DFP has ready to go options for everyday athlete’s. DFP dealer provide professional fittings and heat molding services. 

3. Bindings

There are two main factors we can look at when it comes to bindings and foot pain. First is the binding base plate, second is how tight we latch down the straps.

If the base plate is too narrow for your boots, it will reduce stability along the foot. Sizing up in bindings can increase the surface area your foot has to rest and apply pressure on.

The other often overlooked cause of foot pain while riding comes from latching our straps too tight.

The strap itself might need to be adjusted to be longer or shorter based on your specific boot. A good tactic to try is to only tighten the straps until they feel firm vs as tight as possible.

See also:
Are Snowboard Bindings Important?
Do I Need To Buy New Snowboard Bindings?

Why do my snowboard boots make my feet numb?

Overtightening your boots can often be the root cause of foot numbness after riding.

It’s common to believe that our best performance will come from setting our bindings as tight as possible. Unfortunately, overtightening your boots can go from a purposeful idea to a painful one quickly.

An optimal fit for laces or boa systems will fit snug while still allowing wiggle room in the toe box. The boot should hug the shins and calf equally and not cut off circulation. 

Why are my feet cramping in my snowboard boots?

After a long summer of not using primary snowboarding muscles within the body, it can be a shock to your body, including your feet, to begin to ride again.

Cramps can also occur if you don’t consume enough nutrients or electrolytes necessary for optimal muscle tissue performance and recovery. These nutrients include:

  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Turmeric
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Phosphate

Having ample electrolytes in our bodies as we undergo strenuous activities such as skiing and snowboarding can reduce or prevent cramps.

Why do my snowboard boots hurt my ankles?

There are a few factors that can lead to snowboard boots causing ankle pain, including:

  • Lack of ankle flexibility
  • Lower extremity strength
  • Pronation
  • Riding the chairlift 

The average person isn’t used to standing in a snowboard stance. Most riders don’t take the time to build up ankle flexibility. 

A snowboard stance demands a small squat, a bend in the knees, and our shins driven into the front of our boots.

When the above movements are challenging to hold for the duration of a run, we can quickly feel the stress and impact around our ankles.

Maintaining general strength within the lower legs year-round will reduce the tense side effects that result from riding.

Ankle pain due to pronation

Another probable factor is the pronation of our feet. This term simply means we dish our bodyweight onto the inner part of the foot.

Unconsciously holding a pronated stance will dramatically increase the amount of pressure on the ankles and decrease the strength in our legs. 

Hopping onto the chairlift in between runs is often considered your rest period between rides. Yet, if your snowboard is not supported by the unstrapped foot, the weight of your board can awkwardly pull on your ankles, causing pain.

Why do my big toes hurt after snowboarding?

The big toes naturally take on most of the blunt force when snowboarding due to the pressure that results from a boot being too small or narrow.

Ideally the toes will lightly make contact with the front of your boot. For some people, the big toe can be much longer than the rest of the toes and require a supportive insole.

By replacing the boot’s factory insole with an arch supportive one, your big toes will be given more space and relieved of being curled under.

Another possible cause for big toe pain is if you’re experiencing “toe bang”. Toe bang is the result of having too much space in the toe box, causing the toes to be jammed against the front of the boot.

See also: Can You Stretch Tight Snowboard Boots?

Can I walk around in my snowboard boots?

Walking in snowboard boots is a delight when you’re on the slopes, however, wearing them outside of the resort use should generally be avoided.

The softshell exterior of the boot allows greater flexion while riding, mimicking your ankles natural ability to flex as you walk. These boots are generally more comfortable to wear all day without prolonged pain, unlike with ski boots. 

See also: Hard vs Soft Snowboard Boots

After a day on the slopes, skiers and snowboarders alike often head down the hill to enjoy an apres ski. Some people enjoy this part of snowboarding the most, and set out to find the comfiest snowboard boots to walk in. 

However, you should avoid wearing snowboarding boots for everyday activities, as they are primarily designed to place you in an anatomical position designed for riding.

The increase in forward lean is unnatural and uncomfortable to maintain in normal life, and can negatively impact your overall bodily alignment.

Wearing your boots for everyday use will also wear them out faster. Save your snowboarding boots for the slopes so as to prolong their life. Choose a comfortable pair of normal boots for when you’re done snowboarding. 

See also: How Long Do Snowboard Boots Last?

Should I be able to curl my toes in ski boots?

The same rule applies to ski boots as snowboard boots: you should not be able to curl your toes. 

Curling your toes is a sign that the boot is too small or narrow for your foot. Wiggling the toes is ok, however the rest of the foot should remain planted on the bottom of the boot.

Curling your toes may also indicate nervousness when riding in difficult terrain since  you try to ‘brake’. Instead, try to relax your toes and actively push the shins into the front of the boots. 

Should my toes touch the front of my boot?

Your toes should only lightly touch the front of the boot. This also applies to both snowboarding and skiing. 

When you sit while wearing ski and snowboard boots, you can expect our toes to be in greater contact. Standing innately brings you back into your athletic stance, where your heel slides back and your toes barely touch.

Just like with snowboard boots, if your toes do not touch the front of the boot, they’re likely too big. Size down until you’re able to stand comfortably.

Is it normal for your toes to hurt after skiing?

Experiencing pain after a day of skiing, aka skier toes, is typically the result of poorly fitted boots and is not normal. Many skiers experience this because they fail to seek professional help.

Ski boots are generally less comfortable as they are built using a plastic hardshell. This design choice makes them less malleable and incapable of forming to the foot.

That said, there are a few tricks to avoid toe pain after skiing, including:

  • Heat molded liner
  • Professionally fitted boots
  • Wearing the proper socks

A heat molded liner will be shaped to your exact footprint, providing an instant relief from unnecessary foot pressure or excess space. 

Seeking professional assistance in finding your ideal ski boot will automatically decrease your risk of pain while riding. A professional will help you choose a boot that fits the shape of your foot and matches your preferred riding style.

One of the biggest mistakes skiers make is to wear cotton socks instead of wool or synthetic. Cotton socks are not breathable and can result in blisters, whereas wool or synthetic socks will absorb the moisture created within your boot.

Final words

Everyone should be able to ride the mountain with pain free feet. This is achievable by taking the time to seek professional boot fitters, understand which socks will work best for you, and improve your overall bodily strength and nutrition.