With winter rapidly approaching, it becomes a very busy time for podiatrists. Ski and snowboarding injuries are very common, both in seasoned athletes and weekend warriors. Lower extremity injuries usually represent around 30-40% of skiing injuries, and 20% of snowboarding injuries.
As can be expected, the ankle is the most commonly injured joint in the lower extremity. It's not just the trauma that occurs by falling down with your body going one way and your legs going another way or running into the hotshot who is shredding down the slope spraying wet snow all over everyone that is the mechanism for injury. A rigid boot holds the foot in an upward position, offering stability throughout the foot and ankle joint complexes by restricting movement.
The benefit can be the downfall, as holding the lower extremity in a fixed position, not allowing it to move with the rest of the body, can result in severe injuries. Hybrid boots, such as those now commonly used with snowboarders, have shown no decrease in the incidence of fractures in the lower extremity, but increase the incidence of soft tissue injuries, most commonly ankle sprain or tendonitis. In addition, with the foot held in a locked position in a boot, any chronic issues with the joints, ligaments, tendons or bones in the foot will often manifest with pain or giving-out of a joint. People sometimes come in and never even knew they had an injury until they tried skiing!
There's hope though. The most appropriate way to avoid injury is to wear a custom molded orthotic. These would benefit all people no matter the foot type or level of athleticism. A custom device will properly align the foot to minimize the strain on the foot and ankle and allow the wearer to perform to their maximum ability.