Winter Sports and Your Feet

In the winter months, it is easy to hibernate indoors away from the wind and rain, but exercise and fresh air is the best remedy for the winter blues. Winter provides a climate for fun and cardiovascular health but also places extra demands on the body.

Many of us looking for a winter break are drawn to the blue skies and crisp snow of Europe’s ski resorts, and skiing is a fantastic all-round exercise. However, it can be very hard on the feet and ankles – especially for beginners – and in the worst cases, can lead to serious injury. In the cold, muscles take longer to warm up and so you may be more prone to injury when practising winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. Your feet and ankles are particularly important in skiing, as they act as shock absorbers and brakes, as well as helping you to steer and accelerate when whizzing down the slopes, and so must be as protected as much as possible.

Common foot problems include:

Blisters. Badly fitting shoes can cause blisters on the toes, feet and heels.

Sprains and strains. Winter sports place demands on the knees, ankles and feet.

Diabetes, which affects circulation and is made worse by cold and tight-fitting footwear. You should consult your podiatrist before you hit the slopes.

Chilblains are itchy blisters that can pop up in cold conditions, usually on the toes but also on fingers and even on the face. Keeping the areas warm and dry is the best way to prevent chillblains.

Frostbite. In sub-freezing temperatures, wet feet are in danger of frostbite, a serious, painful condition that can result in loss of toes therefore protection is very important.

Preventing foot problems

– Wearing proper footwear, waterproof boots or shoes and thick socks are all ways to prevent foot problems. It is recommended that you visit a ski shop to buy apres ski boots with a good grip.

– Intrinsic muscle exercises enhance the strength of the lumbricals and interosei muscles and together with some modified Rhomberg proprioceptive exercises improve balance.

– If you have pre-existing foot problems seek professional advice from a podiatrist before engaging in winter sports activities