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How to Keep Feet Warm While Skiing

Cold feet are not only uncomfortable, they wreak havoc on ski technique. The primary skiing movements initiate in the feet and ankles. When your feet become too cold to execute fine-motor ski movements, your body relies on its larger muscle groups for turn initiation. The turns become skidded, sloppy and unbalanced. Creating on-slope foot warmth is a challenging task because your feet may be cold for a number of related or unrelated issues. Improper boot fit, generally poor circulation and wearing the wrong kind of socks can cause cold feet. Addressing all possible issues is your best strategy.

  1. Visit your local boot fitter and ask him to install custom insoles. Custom insoles ensure proper boot fit, which in turn increases circulation to your feet.

  2. Wear ski-specific, over-the-calf socks. While it may be counterintuitive, lighter socks keep your feet warmer than heavier socks. Heavy socks make your feet sweat. Sweaty feet are wet. Wet feet get cold.

  3. Buy a package of disposable toe warmers. They are available at most ski shops. Take the warmers out of their package and shake them to expose them to the air. Then put them on above your toes, over your ski socks.

  4. Use the muscles of your feet and ankles. Initiate your turns by tipping one foot onto its little toe and the other foot onto its big toe. The more your feet and ankles move, the warmer they will be.

  5. Wear boot gloves. "On The Snow" gear editor Allen R. Smith suggests that these lightweight neoprene covers, which fit over the boot, provide a low-tech solution to on-slope cold feet.

  6. Swing your legs and feet while riding the lift. This activity brings circulation and warmth to your legs, feet and ankles.

    Tip

    If these solutions don't work, invest in a portable boot heater. A portable boot heater comes with rechargeable batteries and acts like an electric blanket inside your boot liners.

    Warning

    Avoid clenching your toes. Clenching is a common fear response, but it cuts off circulation to your feet.

    Expert backcountry skier Lou Dawson warns that wearing overly tight boots cuts off circulation and causes cold feet.

    Compensating for overly large boots by tightening the buckles may also cut off circulation.

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Things Needed

  • Ski boots
  • Custom molded insoles
  • Ski socks
  • Foot warmers
  • Boot gloves

About the Author

In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.

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