Snow, sun, blue sky: everything is coming together for a magnificent day of skiing and extraordinary sensations. But here comes the twist... You start to feel pain in your feet in your ski boots and you will have to shorten your program.

If this scene resonates with you, it's because about 90% of people who practice this winter sport experience foot pain in their ski boots.

Origin of foot pains

The ski boot is rigid. But the foot, composed of 26 bones and 16 joints, is "elastic" and adapts quite well to the shoes we make it wear.
So why do we still have pain in our ski boots?

The boot is not the right size

This is the most important factor to avoid ski boots that hurt. In our experience, the majority of foot pains when skiing come from an inadequate boot size.

If your boots are too big in length and/or width, your foot "floats" inside. The rigidity of the boot and the frequent movements associated with skiing will cause repetitive rubbing.

These can cause sharp pains, like blisters or redness.

Additionally, your heel may lift inside the boot. Your stability may be compromised, leading to early muscle fatigue.

You will also have less control over your skis. Your boot being the interface between your body and your skis, you may feel a sense of imprecision and floatiness.

On the other hand, if your boots are too small, it's the compression that will cause pain. In terms of boot length, the toes and heel are the first to suffer.

In terms of width, it's the metatarsals and bony protrusions like the malleolus, and in terms of height, the instep.

The boot is not the right shape

The shape also plays a big role in the comfort level of ski boots.

The arch: There are 3 arch shapes: the neutral or physiological foot, the flat foot, and the high-arched foot.

It determines the contact surface of your foot on the ground and its function. A boot that is not adapted to your arch deprives you of a stable support, or compresses your foot. This is what causes foot pain in ski boots.

Calf volume: It varies from one person to another. An inadequately high or flared collar (the part that rises on the shin) will result in compression and/or higher rubbing.

Since each morphology has its own unique functioning, a good understanding of your foot architecture will help you choose suitable boots.

Foot pain and new ski boots

A ski boot consists of two main parts:

  1. A plastic shell. This will not move: it is designed to remain rigid, year after year. However, a "bootfitter" can work on it and deform it.

    For example, a person with a very strong metatarsal (or a protrusion) can ask a bootfitter to widen the boot shell to get more space in that area and alleviate pain.

  2. A liner. Made of foams of different textures and densities, it will compress over time. Like a shoe, wearing it will gradually wear out the foams. This wear consists of two periods:

    A) Liner "forming". During the first 10 outings "approximately". The ski liner will adapt to the shape of your foot. This is even more true with thermoformable liners.

    B) Wear. Once the liner is shaped to your foot, it will undergo a normal wear cycle. Like shoes, a sofa, car seats, etc... Over time, the foams will compress, leaving more room for the foot and providing less cushioning.

    This wear is gradual. You should not rely on the normal wear of the boots to get more space.

In short, when you try on a new ski boot, it is acceptable to feel a sensation of "tightness" only if it is light and even. This discomfort will disappear after the "forming" period mentioned above. This is the difference between a "new" liner and a liner that is "shaped" (or even "thermoformed") to your foot.

However, it is not acceptable to feel sharp or localized pain. You should change the model or go through the "bootfitting" process if you experience this type of pain!

Solution to foot pain while skiing

Having foot pain in ski boots is not inevitable. With careful choice of equipment and accessories, precise adjustments... discover our solutions to avoid foot pain while skiing.

Pain in the arch of the foot

As mentioned above, there are three types of arches of the foot. It is this part that allows us to be stable, whether our foot works in length, width, or flexion. Each type of foot provides a more or less large support surface. If your equipment is not adapted, you are likely to have pain under your foot in your ski boots.

The physiological or neutral foot: its structure is rather narrow and its muscular framework is homogeneous. The inner arch is well-formed, toned, and flexible.

The flat foot: it is collapsed and its muscular framework is rather weak. The plantar muscles are more relaxed and the inner arch is not well-formed. These characteristics promote instability during support.

The high-arched foot: it is rigid and offers little support surface. The foot muscles are constantly tense. The instep is high and very rigid.

Regardless of your foot type, the important thing is to maximize the support surface to support and control your foot, while offering you more stability. These three effects will prevent arch pain when skiing.

The best way to achieve this is to opt for insoles, preferably customized and prescribed by a professional (ski professional or podiatrist).

They will be your best ally for comfort by improving the interface between your foot and the ski boot, whether your foot is neutral, flat, or arched. Your foot relaxes, tires less quickly, and so do you!

Pain in the instep

Pain in the instep is often characterized by discomfort, numbness or a sensation of cold that can be felt all the way to the toes.

In all cases, pain in the instep in ski boots is mainly due either to the size of the boot not being suitable or to a problem with the tightening of the adjustment buckles.

First, it is important to check that the size of the shoes corresponds to the size of your foot: if your foot moves a lot inside the shoe and you need to compensate by tightening it significantly, it means your shoe is too big.

If the shoe size is correct, but you experience pain, numbness, tingling, or even cramps in that area, it indicates circulatory or nerve compression.
You need to find the ideal adjustment by being attentive to the pressure exerted on your entire foot when closing the shoe.

Putting on your ski boots with a smile: That's what we wish for you after reading this article. Here is William Cochet wearing our GelProtech boots.

Toes or Metatarsal Pain

If despite the previous precautions you still feel pain in your toes or on the outside of your foot in your ski boots, you can further adjust by choosing socks and/or insoles of varying thickness.

However, the ideal solution remains wearing shoes that are tailored to the size of your foot in all dimensions: length, width, and height.

General Advice on Ski Boots

Each foot is unique, and it is impossible to make a ski boot that fits everyone. To avoid foot pain in ski boots, several factors need to be considered: your shoe size, the morphology of your foot and calf, the boot adjustments, and the type of socks worn.

Be sure to buy shoes in the right size

As you may have understood, due to its rigidity, ski boots do not tolerate any size issues. It is essential to measure your feet in length AND width to choose the size that fits you best.

Don't hesitate to seek help from a professional: they have all the knowledge and tools needed to assist you.

Have your liners and/or boots thermoformed

If the pain persists, thermoforming could be the solution.
Most ski boot models come with removable liners.

Consult a “bootfitting” professional who can heat the liners to mold them to your feet, like a mold or a second skin. This technique can also create volume where needed, within limits.

As a last resort, the boot shell can be deformed at pressure points for optimal comfort. However, this step is mainly taken by ski instructors and frequent skiers who engage in this sport.

Ensure even tightening of your boots

Your boot adjustments should be done standing up to replicate your skiing position and inclination as closely as possible.

Each buckle requires your attention.

Most ski boots now come with micro-adjustable buckles to achieve a perfect fit. Make use of them!

Above all, ensure the pressure is even on the entire foot, not compressive.
Adjust the tightening throughout the day.

Listen to your body! Your boot adjustments should be adaptive, fine-tuned throughout the day based on your sensations: your foot will adapt to the boot, the liner may compress slightly, temperatures may change and affect the boot's rigidity...

All these factors make it essential to adjust your boot settings to prevent pain from setting in.

Finally, relieve your feet during chairlift rides, coffee breaks, or lunch by loosening all the buckles. Your feet will thank you!

Opt for quality socks

Sometimes the problem comes from where you least expect it… When you feel pain in your ski boots, you immediately tend to blame those big plastic boots that make you walk like a robot...

But it could also be because of your socks!

Skiing involves repetitive movements, causing friction between the fabric of your socks and your feet. Seams and support bands can have a tourniquet effect, preventing proper blood circulation.

It is important to wear quality socks: prioritize technical socks as they are made with thermoregulating and breathable materials. Additionally, they are often anatomical, with a left foot and a right foot differentiated, which is a significant comfort factor.

It is best to opt for socks specifically designed for skiing. In addition to having these two characteristics, they can have reinforced areas to minimize friction and compression, gripping areas to maximize support, and even technologies that improve venous return to reduce the "heavy legs" effect and delay fatigue!

Choose the thickness of your socks wisely

Once you have found the sock model that suits you, make sure their thickness is consistent with your pair of shoes:
Too thick socks can cause compression, without keeping you warmer. Additionally, you lose sensation.

Too thin socks do not fill the gaps between your feet and your shoes, exacerbating the friction.

Therefore, do not hesitate to adjust the thickness of your socks according to your sensations: thinner if you feel numbness due to compression, thicker if your feet tend to "float" a bit in your shoes. In short, a good pair of socks, as well as suitable equipment, can prevent foot pain in your ski boots and an early end to your beautiful day on the slopes!