Orthotics and winter activities
During the winter, the activities and sports performed in the snow have very different types of footwear compared to the non-snowy seasons. Because the footwear is very different, it is a common question to ask about orthotics for these winter activities. Skiing, skating and snowshoeing are common activities that my benefit from extra support!
Skiing and Orthotics
Whether you are downhill skiing, cross country skiing or back country skiing, orthotics can be beneficial to prevent pain and improve performance. Ski boots are typically rigid and keep the ankle in place very well. What the ski boots don’t do, is to support the arch of the foot. When the arch of the foot collapses, or the whole foot rolls in, this can create stress and strain on structures such as the feet and knees. The orthotics help by supporting the arch/foot to prevent the excessive stress and strain.
Specifically for downhill skiing, the side to side cuts down the hill may be affected by the feet. If one foot rolls in more than the other, cutting on one side may feel easier than the other. This is because of the mechanical differences on one side compared to the other. In this case, custom foot orthotics are a great option to customize each foot and prevent imbalances. Because these differences look closely at the way the knee moves, a custom foot orthotic for the ski boots may need different corrections than your everyday orthotic.
Cross country skiing
Because cross country skiing is a forward moving activity, there is less focus on how the knee responds to side-to-side movements. There is more focus on what happens to the foot and leg when pushing off the back leg. If the foot rolls in or out excessively, this can create excessive motion inside the boot. For example, if the foot rolls in excessively when pushing off, the front of the foot can slide and push against the outside of the boot. This can lead to pressure pain from the boot, pain in the feet, or even pain higher up, such as the knees.
Skating and Orthotics
Skates tend to have a solid ankle support, similar to a ski boot. Because of this, the way the feet act inside a skate is similar to a ski boot.
For the occasional skater, the need for an orthotic device is on a case-by-case basis. Some will need the extra support to prevent pain from developing. The extra support is typically needed in skaters that skate more than a couple times a year, and have pain when they do not wear their orthotics.
Orthotics specifically for figure skating can be beneficial to relieve pain in a few different ways. While balancing on one foot or landing after a jump, a foot that rolls in or out can create imbalance. It can also push the side of the leg against the skate and create an irritation.
All the different actions that a figure skater can perform may be exaggerated with a foot that rolls in or out. Balancing on one foot, jumping up, landing, or even skating in different motions can put more pressure on the foot. Rolling in or out can exaggerate these motions higher up in the knee, hip and lower back. Orthotics may also be beneficial to absorb shock that the joints are taking during higher impact landings.
Orthotics can also be beneficial for hockey skates to relieve pain from pressure and from excessive motions. The more aggressive side to side motions when sprinting up and down the ice puts strain on the feet, knees, hips and lower back. These motions are exaggerated with a foot that rolls in or out. Orthotics help to prevent abnormal motions and relieve the excessive strain.
Snowshoeing and Orthotics
In terms of your feet, snowshoeing is very similar to a hike or walk. Support from orthotics or inserts help to prevent pain by controlling the motions at the feet to reduce the stress and strain to the lower body. If you already wear orthotics or inserts for sports or day to day use, wearing them for snowshoeing would also be recommended.
Orthotics can be beneficial for all kinds of winter activities. They are especially beneficial when preventing pain or improving performance for feet that roll in or out excessively.