It’s pretty common to have painful feet when you’re snowboarding. However, this is not something you should put up with, as it indicates something is wrong with you or your setup. Therefore, if you experience foot pain while snowboarding, you need to do something about it.
Your snowboard boots should not hurt while you’re riding. If they do, it means your snowboard boots are ill-fitting or your snowboard bindings need adjusting. It’s normal to feel some discomfort, but it should pass pretty soon. It’s essential that your boots and bindings are suitable for your feet.
In this article, I’ll explain why your feet may hurt while you’re snowboarding. I will also give you lots of tips on how to ensure that your feet are comfortable so you can enjoy your time on the mountain to the max.
Reasons Why Your Feet Hurt While You’re Snowboarding
Snowboard boots are designed to be as comfortable as possible and are not supposed to hurt your feet. So what could possibly cause foot pain while snowboarding?
1. The Wrong Size Snowboard Boots
When you slip into a pair of snowboard boots and tighten in the laces, your toes should just touch the front of the boot.
It shouldn’t feel like there is lots of pressure on your toes or your toes feel like they are curling under.
If you experience either of these symptoms, they are a good sign that your snowboard boots are too small.
When your boots are too small, you will start to feel pain, but they will also stop you from riding effectively on your toe side edge.
When standing in the snowboard boots, if your toes feel cramped or constricted, bend your knees and push your shins into the front of the snowboard boots.
If your foot slides backward and your toes don’t feel cramped anymore, the boots should feel fine while you’re riding, as this is the stance that you will be in on the mountain.
If you still feel discomfort, you may have to choose larger snowboard boots. Your feet may hurt after snowboarding if your snowboard boots are too big.
This is because your feet and ankles must work harder to compensate for the extra movement inside the boots.
Your boots will pack out over time, making them up to half a size bigger than when you first bought them.
2. Your Binding Setup Needs Addressing
There are a couple of ways your snowboard bindings can contribute to foot pain. The first issue could be with the size of your bindings.
If your bindings are too small, the base plates will be too narrow for your boots, reducing stability along your feet.
This is when you need to go up a binding size to have a sufficient surface area to apply pressure to. The next way snowboard bindings can hurt your feet is related to your straps.
It is common for riders to over-tighten their binding straps, which eventually cuts the blood circulation in their feet, causing a fiery pain.
Therefore, you should only do your binding straps up enough to stop your boots from moving inside the bindings.
You may need to adjust the length of the binding straps to fit around your boot properly and comfortably.
This is super easy to do, but when you do this, make sure the buckles are in a comfortable position and not putting pressure on your toes.
Another top tip is to give your front foot a rest by loosening the straps from time to time.
This is because your front foot is constantly under pressure from the straps, while your back foot gets a rest when you get on a lift.
3. Your Stance Is Too Wide
When your bindings are set too far apart, you can experience pain in your ankles and the balls of your feet. This is because your feet have to tilt inwards, putting pressure on these areas.
By bringing your stance inward slightly, your feet will be flatter on the board, relieving the pressure and hopefully eliminating the pain.
If you want to maintain a wide stance, you may want to change your bindings for ones with canting footbeds.
These bindings have a slight slope on the base plate tilting your feet inwards, putting your feet in a more natural position when your bindings are wider than your hips.
4. You’ve Overtightened Your Snowboard Boots
When you put your snowboard boots on in the morning, do you wrench the laces as hard as possible to give you a reassuringly tight fit?
If so, there’s a good chance your foot pain comes from overly tight boots.
A snowboard boot fitter told me it’s best to tighten your boots just enough for a snug fit with wiggle room around the toes. Then do a couple of runs and tighten them if you need to.
5. Your Feet Are Not Used To Wearing Snowboard Boots
The time between winters is long, and you’ve probably only worn running shoes, flip-flops, or footwear that doesn’t even resemble a pair of snowboard boots.
It can take a few days of riding to get your feet re-accustomed to wearing snowboard boots.
The muscles and body parts you use for snowboarding probably haven’t had much action since last winter, including your feet, and need to get working again before they feel comfortable.
With this in mind, don’t worry too much if you get cramps in your feet in your first couple of days. This discomfort should pass once they are warmed up to riding again.
I always feel like my boots are a little uncomfortable on the first couple of days on the mountain.
6. You May Be Riding With The Wrong Socks
Your choice of socks is surprisingly important. When you think about it, they are your first point of contact with your snowboard.
This means that the wrong socks can significantly affect your comfort and performance. It’s best to ride with proper snowboarding socks.
These may seem pricey, but they are worth paying for and should last a few years. Snowboarding socks follow the shape of your feet, unlike the tubular shape of ski socks.
This shape reduces their movement inside your boots, so they don’t wrinkle. This is also enhanced by the material that is slippery, reducing friction.
Don’t be tempted to ride with thick wool hiking socks. These will rub your feet and ankles, especially around the tops of your snowboard boots.
There’s a high chance that they will cause nasty blisters, which can cut short your day or even your trip. If you have some snowboarding socks that still cause you problems, it may be because they are old.
When snowboarding socks have been used for a few years, the material can become threadbare, rough, or stretched.
This can cause them to wrinkle and cause pressure points or bunch up between your toes, causing pain. For the sake of a few dollars, do your feet a favor and buy some proper snowboarding socks.
7. Your Boots Haven’t Broken In Yet
When you first put on a new pair of snowboard boots, they will feel pretty tight. It will take a few days for you to break them in before they feel snug but not uncomfortable.
Some snowboard boots feel perfect straight out of the box, while others require you to ride in them for a while. How long this takes depends on the boots, how you ride, and your feet.
But if they still hurt after a week or so, you have the wrong boots for your feet.
8. Old Snowboard Boots
Snowboard boots become less supportive over time as they become softer.
Therefore you will have to overcompensate for the extra flex, which will make your feet tired and potentially painful at the end of the day.
So, if your snowboard boots feel much floppier than they used to, it’s time to put your hand in your pocket and buy some new ones.
9. Your Boots Have Hot Spots Or Pressure Points
Your snowboard boots may fit perfectly, but you may experience pain in a concentrated area. These are often called hot spots or pressure points and can cause blisters.
If your snowboard boots dig in at specific points, you can take them to a snowboard boot fitter. They will use heat and manipulate the problem areas to create space inside the boots.
This will alleviate the pain, as the pressure points will no longer be pressing on your feet. You may experience pain if your snowboard boots press on the veins in your feet.
Some people have a vein running over the top of their feet, limiting which boots they can wear without pain.
A good snowboard boot fitter will check to see which areas could potentially cause problems and select suitable boots.
10. Your Snowboard Boots Are The Wrong Shape For Your Feet
Like all footwear, snowboard boots are shaped differently between brands and models.
For example, some brands are well-known for making narrow snowboard boots, while others are suitable for riders with wider feet.
If your snowboard boots don’t suit the shape of your feet, your feet will begin to hurt. I remember trying some demo boots out, but they were too wide for my feet, causing me excruciating pain.
After about an hour, I borrowed my friend’s shoes and car to drive home to get my boots. Unfortunately, snowboard manufacturers can change the design of their boots over the years.
This is frustrating if you have found the perfect snowboard boots and need to replace them. So before you buy like-for-like, ensure the liners have stayed the same.
11. The Inner Soles Are Not Suited To Your Feet
Snowboard boots come with an inner sole. Often these are pretty good, especially if you buy some fancy and expensive boots. However, the inner soles don’t always suit the rider’s feet, causing pain.
One of the best ways to overcome foot pain while snowboarding is with orthotic inner soles, which are customized to your feet and snowboard boots.
The idea behind orthotic inner soles is to provide comfort and stability when you go from edge to edge. They also give you lots of arch support to stop your feet from flattening while you ride.
However, you may need to think beyond snowboard boots. There may be an issue with your gait, which is how you walk and can cause foot pain.
With this in mind, you may want to slip some custom orthotics into your day-to-day shoes to improve the health of your feet.
Doing so can eliminate pain in your feet and other body parts while improving your balance.
12. You May Have Weak Feet
As I mentioned earlier, your feet need to get used to riding when you haven’t snowboarded for a while. But, when you ride regularly, the stabilizer muscles in your feet work hard and become stronger.
But they can become dormant over the spring and summer, reducing their strength and effectiveness.
If you were to keep those muscles working throughout the rest of the year, they would be nice and strong for when you strap in for the first time.
You can do a few things to improve your foot strength during the off-season. For example, running along a sandy beach barefoot will go a long way to improving those stabilizing muscles.
You could also use a balance board or Bosu ball to improve the shape of your ankles and feet while improving your core stability.
You can also introduce daily habits that will enhance foot strength, such as taking regular seated breaks if you stand up a lot.
You can also adjust your standing position while pressing your toes individually into the ground.
Your choice of footwear will also make a difference to your foot health, especially if you use orthotic inner soles.
It is a good idea to go for a gait analysis to see if you can do anything to improve your foot health and strength.
13. The Snowboard Boot Lacing System Doesn’t Suit You
You may have been riding in snowboard boots with a particular style of lacing system.
For example, many riders like boots with a BOA system for their convenience and adjustability, but they may not suit your feet.
I had a fantastic pair of freeride snowboard boots that gave me incredible control, allowing me to ride aggressively.
However, they started to hurt my feet after a few runs, even after half a season. I figured out that the BOA system crushed the top of my feet, causing them to lose circulation.
Not only was this painful, but it made my feet incredibly cold.
After visiting a snowboard boot fitter, I now wear boots with a speed lacing system, which is much better for my feet.
You may have a similar problem, so it could be worth trying some boots with an alternative lacing system to alleviate your foot pain.
14. You’ve Tucked Things Into Your Snowboard Boots
Some riders complain that their boots are rubbing their shins or calves. If this is you, think about what you’re tucking into your boots.
The only things that should be there are your foot and a sock. If you have tucked your thermal underwear or the gaiter from your snowboard pants, you will feel lots of rubbing, causing discomfort and blisters.
Your thermals should be folded above the boot, and the gaiter should be over the boot to stop snow from getting in.
There are many reasons why your feet hurt when snowboarding. But luckily, it’s pretty easy to diagnose the problem. The issue will lie with your boots, bindings, or feet, so it should be easy to ride pain-free.