Patient Guide: Tips for Preventing Winter Sports Injuries

Skiing and snowboarding require proper footwear to avoid injury

ROSEMONT, Ill. (Jan. 20, 2016)If you’re suited up and ready to ski or snowboard, you’re not alone. These popular sports draw more than 9.5 million participants a year, according to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), and they accounted for 53.6 million total skier and snowboarder visits to ski areas in the 2014-15 season.
Along with those visits came 200,000 injuries in 2014-15, says NSSA, and many were ankle injuries. While cold temperatures, icy surfaces and high speeds can be a risky combination, many foot and ankle problems can be avoided with correct footwear. Read on for fitting tips.
  • Ski and snowboard boots must fit properly. When tightly fastened, your boots should be free of pressure points that might cause blisters. Ankles and heels should remain securely in place.
  • All boots should be snug but not overly tight. Boots that are too tight can decrease blood flow and make cold-weather injuries such as frostbite more likely. But a common mistake is to buy a boot that’s too large and allows the foot to shimmy. A snug boot will allow you to wiggle your toes, but too much wiggle means the boot is too large.
  • Make sure footwear provides warmth, and wear socks that are breathable and moisture-wicking so your feet will stay dry. Keeping feet and toes warm and dry is critical when you’re on the slopes for long periods.
  • If you’re buying your first pair of ski or snowboard boots, consult a boot fitter at your local sporting goods store. These professionals will help you find the proper fit for your sport.
Even with the best boots, accidents can happen. If you suffer an ankle injury on the slopes, you should see your doctor for an exam and an X-ray. There are many types of ankle injuries that mimic sprains, and an accurate diagnosis will help direct treatment to improve the chances of a good recovery.
For tips on identifying injuries, visit the page How to Decide If You Need to See an Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Specialist at, the patient education site of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society.

About the AOFAS
The AOFAS promotes quality, ethical and cost-effective patient care through the education, research and training of orthopaedic surgeons and other health care providers. The Society creates public awareness for the prevention and treatment of foot and ankle disorders, provides leadership, and serves as a resource for government and industry as well as the national and international health care communities.

About Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeons
Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons are medical doctors (MD and DO) who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries of the foot and ankle. Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons use medical, physical and rehabilitative methods as well as surgery to treat patients of all ages. Relying on four years of medical school training, five years of post-graduate training and often a fellowship in foot and ankle care, orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons perform reconstructive procedures, treat sports injuries, and manage and treat trauma of the foot and ankle. 

Jennifer Hicks
Director of Public Education
Office: 847-430-5079