For athletes, outdoors enthusiasts and families alike, the winter season offers a wide range of unique activities for people of all ages. Skiing, snowboarding, skating, hockey, snowshoeing and even winter running all offer a chance to get out and enjoy the winter weather, rather than being cooped up inside for months.
Whether you participate at a competitive level, recreationally or with your grandkids, proper fitting footwear and optimal foot alignment can directly affect your performance, comfort and enjoyment. Here are some of the ways foot orthotics may benefit you in your winter sports activities.
The Benefits of Activity-Specific Orthotics
You may have custom orthotics that were made for your running shoes but did you know they should not be worn in your ski boots or skates? The biomechanics involved in skiing, snowboarding, skating and running are very different, so you need an orthotic designed for the specifics of each sport. Your activity-specific orthotic can improve comfort as well as performance.
Orthotics for Skiing & Snowboarding
Skiing and snowboarding require much different actions than running and walking. Orthotics can really help improve your biomechanics in your board or ski boots, making that edge even easier to carve. A stable, well aligned foot is essential to efficiently transfer forces through the leg to improve performance and decrease fatigue whether you ski or board. If you experience pain in your feet or are having problems with your technique, you may be a candidate for custom orthotics in your winter sport footwear. If you are a regular orthotic wearer, getting a pair for your board or ski boots makes good sense. More comfort means you can spend more time on the slopes!
Typically, orthotics designed for ski boots and snowboard boots are made of full-contact EVA material, which is designed to retain heat — so they’ll keep your toes extra warm! They are also designed to control movement in the foot so there’s less chance of an injury. Just make sure you have a pair of orthotics for skiing and a pair for snowboarding if you do both. Skiing and snowboarding requires good foot mechanics to catch powerful edges well, something that may be more difficult for people who overpronate (their feet roll inwards too much). Stabilizing the foot differently can make a big difference to performance.
Orthotics for Skating & Hockey
Ice skating, whether you’re playing hockey or just recreationally skating, involves a different pushing action than walking or running. If your foot is pronating inside your skate (or has other alignment problems), it can delay or decrease energy transfer to the skate blade, making stopping, turning and crossovers more difficult. Power and control are decreased while fatigue is increased. Custom orthotics for skates provide a more effective fit between the foot and the skate allowing better force transfer to the skate. This improves the use of inside and outside edges, essential skills for improving skating speed, power and agility. Better foot alignment can also reduce hot spots from your feet rubbing on the inside of the skate. For a young athlete, sometimes the introduction of a custom hockey skate orthotic is an effective tool to help them become a more confident, proficient skater.
Orthotics for Winter Walking & Running
If you already have a pair of custom orthotics for running, they’re probably designed to fit your fair weather running or walking shoes. In the winter, we typically opt for winter boots for walking or a different pair of shoes for winter running that has improved traction or helps keep out the wet and the cold. Your orthotics may not fit the same in your winter footwear. And don’t forget about your winter socks, they take up more room in your footwear which affects fit as well.
You may need specifically designed orthotics for your winter boots or running shoes depending on your footwear and your particular biomechanical needs. Schedule an appointment with your Canadian Certified Pedorthist at Walking Mobility to discuss how orthotics may benefit your winter sport choices.
No matter what your winter sport of choice, or specific foot and ankle needs, Walking Mobility Clinics can help you find an orthotic solution to help you. Learn more about custom foot orthotics from Walking Mobility Clinics locations across Ontario, and contact us today to get started.