Boot doctor: Why are my feet numb?

Question: Last season I got new boots and they made my feet go numb, which lasted for months. Why?

Answer: If your ski boot is the wrong shape and doesn’t provide enough space across the top of your foot, it may put pressure on the dorsal nerves. Ensure you’re wearing a thin ski sock that allows maximum space in the forefoot, and make sure there is very little tension on the instep buckle. If the boot still compresses the top of your foot, visit a boot fitter, who may be able to allow your foot to sit lower down in the boot by grinding the top of the boot board. In a specialist boot fitting store, a fitter will also be able to stretch the instep, as well as removing excess materials from the liner to create extra volume.

 "Ensure you’re wearing a thin ski sock that allows maximum space in the forefoot" |K2

“Ensure you’re wearing a thin ski sock that allows maximum space in the forefoot” |K2

A common cause of boot compression syndrome is when the boot is actually too big and people buckle hard on the instep buckle. All this does is apply pressure to the top of the foot.

Another area where the nerve commonly gets compressed is behind the outside ankle bone, where the sural nerve runs. This causes numbness along the outside of the foot. Many boots provide a lot of padding around the heel and ankles to secure the foot, but too much can compress this nerve. Bear in mind too that compression can occur at any point along the nerve’s path, so in certain cases it’s necessary to look further up the leg.

If you are skiing and you feel that your foot is going numb, ski to a lift station or restaurant and take your foot out of the boot to allow the feeling to come back. It the boot continues to cause numbness, visit a boot fitter as soon as you can before you sustain long-term damage to a nerve.

Fall-Line Skiing Magazine
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