Why do my feet go numb in my ski boots or snowboard boots? -

When talking with customers in the Profeet Ski Lab a question we often get asked is ‘why do my feet go numb in my ski boots (or snowboard boots)?’

Be wary of nerve damage
Numbness of the foot is a condition to be very wary of because once the nerve is damaged it is can take weeks or even months to repair depending on the severity.

In ski boots it is often pressure to the top of the foot – where you have many nerves running – that causes the problems. If the boot is the wrong shape for your foot and doesn’t provide enough space in that area, it will apply pressure down onto these dorsal nerves.

Wear thin socks and don’t do boots up too tight
Firstly, ensure you are wearing a thin ski sock that allows maximum space in the forefoot. Secondly, make sure there is very little tension on the instep buckle.

If the boot still compresses the top of the foot, I recommend you visit a specialist ski boot fitter who will often be able to lower you down in the boot by grinding the top of the boot board.

In a specialist boot fit store, they will also be able to stretch the instep of the boots and remove excess materials from the liner to allow extra volume across the top of your foot.

Is your boot too big?
A common cause of boot compression is when the boot is actually too big and people do up the instep buckle too hard to secure the foot.

All this does is to apply pressure to the top of the foot where the nerves and blood vessels run, causing numbness and a lack of circulation.

Ideally, when a ski or snowboard boot fits you correctly, you will have very little tension on the instep buckle across the foot.

Pressure on the ankle bone
Another area where the nerve can be compressed is behind the outside ankle bone where the sural nerve runs. Many boots provide a lot of padding around the heel and ankles to secure the foot, but too much can create cause numbness.

It is important to remember that compression to the nerve can occur at any point along its path and so in certain cases we have to trace further up the leg to find the compression point.

Take action quickly
If you are skiing and you feel that your foot is going numb, it is imperative that you stop and take your foot out of the boot to allow the feeling to come back.

Visit a specialist ski boot fitter
If the boot continues to cause numbness make sure you visit a specialist ski boot fitter before you cause any long-term damage to the nerves.

The way to ensure you have the best fit possible is to go to a professional ski boot fitter such as the qualified ski technicians at Profeet.


The video below gives you more information about what you can expect from a ski boot fitting at Profeet. To book an appointment, please call us on 020 7736 0046.

A version of this article first appeared in Fall Line Magazine, where Profeet’s Ski Manager, Janine Winter, is the Fall Line ‘Boot Doctor’

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