Downhill Skiing/Snowboarding for the Flatfooted

The story goes like this: I’ve got flat feet. Nasty flat feet. I’ve got my orthotics in the shoes and they help when I go out walkin’ and hikin’. They, at best, mitigate the pain to the point where I’m tolerant and ok with it. Three years ago I went downhill skiing for the first time since college. It was very embarrassing. I tried 3 different sizes of ski boots to the point where they barely didn’t fit me any more. (I wear a size 11.5-12 shoe and I was wearing size 14 ski boots). Nothing I could do would stop the pain of wearing those ski boots even with more orthotics in them I ended up taken out a whole Japanese family on the pull rope to the top of the bunnyhill behind me. After that, I stayed in the chalet and had a lot of Bailey’s and Cocoa to nurse my inner and outer wounds.

So, two questions here. Anyone else have this problem and were able to overcome it? and Is snowboarding going to be as bad as downhill skiing?

Jst to clarify – did you put your orthotics in the ski boots or did you put some over-the-counter ones? You can put your shoe orthotics in ski boots (it’s kind of hard, I recommend a helper to hold the boot open while you muscle the orthotic in).

You can also get aftermarket heat molded custom footbeds for your boots. A little info about that:

It suddenly occurs to me that you’re talking about rental boots. They always fit suckily and hurt most people’s feet.

If you plan to take up skiing – even as a once or twice a year thing – I’d strongly suggest buying your own boots at a reputable shop that carries a number of different brands. Once you buy your own you can go nutso with the custom footbeds, etc.

Yeah, I was using my own orthotics for the ski boots. Are the snowboard boots gonna be as sucky?

I’ve both snowboarded and skied for several years, and generally snowboard boots are much, much more comfortable than ski boots. I can cavort around merrily in my snowboard boots all day while my skiing friends piss and moan about “the agony of de feet” as soon as they put their boots on. Snowboard boots are really more like sturdier moon boots (unless you get the carving boots, which are hardshell like ski boots). I’m not sure if it will help with your particular problem, but since soft snowboard boots are more similar to “normal” shoes they might.

I would recommend renting a pair of step-in snowboard boots and seeing how you like it. (They also make strap in boots–in fact they’re more common-- but in my experience the straps pinched the nerves on top of my feet so severely that half my foot was numb for the next six months, and I was in pain from the first run. This can happen with any boots, but I think it’s less likely with step-ins.) Of course, the problem is, you’ll have to learn to snowboard which means your ass will probably take a beating from your first dozen falls, but hey, at least your feet will be comfy! :wink:

I was a skier until that fateful day almost 15 years ago when I was in college I went up to Sugarbush in VT and tried snowboarding for the first time.

I have never gone back. I’m 34 and am an avid snowboarder [at least when the wife and I can get away…life has a tendency to speed up…especially lately.

Anyway, I have fitted orthos for my boots, which are click-ins…I love’em…Try snow boarding at least once…it’s very fun. I recommend taking a lesson, you’ll learn that much quicker.

I second the “get your own boots” idea. the first time I went skiing I rented boots. My feet hurt almost instantly. Almost enough to make me abandon the sport entirely. In the off deason I happened to find a pair of ski boots in a thrift shop. They felt like they were custom molded for me. It was the wisest $4.00 I’ve ever spent. I can stay in my ski boots all day now with no pain what-so-ever.

I’m an avid skier who has yet to be conconvinced of the allure of snowboarding. However, it is a well know fact that skiers are somewhat masochistic and will endure weird foot wrenching devices for the sake of the sport.

I have the opposite of your problem, weirdly high arches. For me, it was all about trying on a gazillion different pairs of ski boots until I came across a pair that fit appropriately.

Your podiatrist or orthopedist may know which boots are more likely to fit you.

That all said… loathe as I am to say it, snowboarding boots are way more comfy.

I’ve never skied, but I have worn rental ice skates, and it sounds like rental ski boots are just as bad. My sympathy to all who’ve had to endure either.

I have completely flat feet, and I sympathise. For those of you with arches, I don’t think the pain you feel is at all similar.

With flat feet, when you press down the foot ‘splays out’. This puts heavy pressure points on the sides of the foot, and within minutes it will start to cramp and the pain is excrutiating.

My recommendation: Go to a podiatrist and get proper orthotics made for ski boots. Typical mass-produced orthotics for ski boots are worse than useless - they just add more pressure points.

Failing that, what has always worked for me is to find the widest boots you possibly can, perhaps even one size too big. Then double up on some thick socks for added padding, and keep the boots a little looser around the arch area and tighten them up really well around the ankles and leg.

This isn’t perfect, and my feet still get mighty sore when skiing, but usually it’s tolerable enough that I can ski for a couple of hours, take a lunch break, and ski for a couple more.

After a full day of skiing, my feet are literally blue in spots with bruising, and I can feel it for about a week afterwards.

We did a 3-day ski trip last year, and I rented a nice pair of back-entry ski boots that had a width adjustment (I think they were Nordica). Opened them as wide as possible, and did the double-sock thing. They were actually quite comfortable for the first day. On the second, my feet were a little sore, but tolerable. But the third day was painful. One run down the mountain, and I had to take off the boots and sit for half an hour. Put the boots on, did one more run, and had to wrap it up for the day.