The Midwest might not have Whistler or… just about all of Colorado, but there are still great places to ski. Just nearby is Perfect North in Lawrenceville, one of the places Olympic medalist Nick Goepper developed his skills.
(This is in no way suggesting that Mr. Goepper officially endorses our practice, but there is a lifetime supply of urea cream in it for him if he wanted to. Call us!)
Whether you enjoy skiing or snowboarding, there can be cases when your feet may end up in some uncomfortable or outright painful situations.
Now, we are not just talking about the injuries that can come from “yard sales”on the slopes. Those are certainly something to come see us about should they happen, but there are other skiing-related foot problems that are not the result of a sudden impact with a mountain.
Some problems are more based around technique and chronic conditions, but steps can still be taken to handle them rather well. So get your lift ticket and let’s take a look at how to handle some of the skiing foot problems you might face on this hills.
Warming Up Cold Feet
Let’s start with a rather simple yet very common problem. When you’re out in the cold, you can get cold feet!
This is not a problem for everybody, but it can be a particular vexation for those who have Reynaud’s Syndrome (also known as Raynaud’s Disease). This disorder can affect the blood vessels in the extremities, causing them to constrict when exposed to stress or temperature changes. With less blood flow, fingers and toes can get colder.
When it comes to warming cold toes, many people take the direct approach of placing some sort of heating element over the digits themselves. While this feels like common sense, it isn’t always the best way to go about the situation.
For matters of circulation, applying heat at various points along the path of your blood vessels can help open your blood flow up, providing an overall greater warming factor than direct heat to your tootsies. Try applying heat to one of these areas instead:
The inside of your ankle.
Behind the knee.
The lower back (lumbar) area.
You might be surprised at the results!
However, if you suffer from frequent coldness in your toes—even to the point that they can turn pale or blue—that is worth coming to see us about if you are not already having it addressed.
Bloody Toenail Pain!
So you’re making your way down a hill and it gets too steep or icy, you may shift your weight back to steady yourself, and suddenly you feel this intense pain in your toe, right in the nail. What’s going on?!
You may have bleeding or a deep bruise beneath your toenail, also known as a subungual hematoma or black toenail. For skiers, this can happen when you lean too far back on your skis, forcing your toes up against the tops of your boots. It’s a great reason to train yourself to avoid this, especially when it comes to handling bailouts.
Snowboarders tend to have softer boots, so they don’t really have to deal with this problem often. It is not unheard of, however.
So what should you do if your toenail has turned into a blackish-blue nightmare? You need relief from the blood building up beneath the nail, and the sooner the better!
However, you do not want to try providing this relief yourself. Creating a hole in your toenail without the right equipment and experience can lead to, well, more of a hole in your toenail than you actually wanted. We love bathroom surgeons. They give us more business than anyone else.
Many places have slope side or nearby clinics to help skiers who are suffering from subungual hematoma find relief as quickly as possible. We highly recommend seeing them instead of self treatment.
Agony Getting into Your Ski Boots
So here’s a problem you might have, and one you’re not alone in having:
Getting your feet into your ski boots can be murder on your big toe! Once you’re in, things are fine. But just the act of flexing that toe to get in is painful. (Of course, if you’re a Nordic skier, you might feel more pain while in motion.)
If this pain is accompanied by a bump along the top of your big toe, the problem may be Hallux Limitus. This is a deformity that causes progressive restriction in the movement of your toe.
Initially, the problem might be just a nuisance. But as the range of motion on the joint further diminishes, the pain and discomfort increases. This can be a real showstopper in its later phases, so addressing it as early as possible is recommended.
While there are some ways to make your skiing experience easier with Hallux Limitus, such as adjusting your boots on a customized level, you have to realize that you can only go so far with these measures. Eventually, they won’t be enough.
However, addressing Hallux Limitus in its earlier stages—such as when you are feeling agitation in the toe joint only for a few days after skiing—is often an easier option than waiting until it has become more severe and debilitating. The joint’s life and comfort can be significantly extended, greatly prolonging the need for more aggressive action.
The unfortunate truth is that giving Hallux Limitus the attention it deserves may require missing some ski time if the season is in progress. Earlier on, this time can be shorter and not as challenging to recover from as when the condition has progressed further.
Double Black Diamond Foot and Ankle Problems
Whenever you have trouble, you don’t want to wait for it to snowball. The sooner any problem is addressed, the better results tend to be, and the faster they can be achieved!
Call our Indianapolis office at (317) 545-0505 whenever you need to schedule an appointment or have questions about your foot and ankle health. If you prefer the electronic path, you may fill out our online contact form and a member of our staff will get back to you during regular office hours.