I am hoping to get some insight into an ongoing problem that my 15 year old daughter has been having with metatarsal pain and swelling caused by her ski boots. This started with the purchase of a pair of Salomon Instinct boots about 2 years ago. Mildly annoying at first, then got really painful during a 7 day trip to the Rockies and some really intense skiing. We have been around the block with several bootfitters in the shop where we bought them, all with no success.
I'll give you some facts and background (maybe not all of it relevant to the problem), then posit a hypothesis as to what I think is the problem, and you guys can tell me if I'm on the right track or should be focusing on something else.
- starts as dull pain and numbness after about 1/2 hour of skiing;
- when she takes her boots off for a break after an hour or so, some swelling is evident, pain is initially sharper, then eases somewhat from being out of the boot;
- rest of the ski day is tolerable, but at boots-off at the end of the day, feet tingle, sharper pain, which subsides after a while, almost as if they were thawing out (same kind of sensation);
- the swelling forward on the sole of the foot, between the metatarsals and toes, center of the foot;
- the right foot is worse;
- when the problem first arose in spring of 2012, the swelling had a distinct round shape, a dense lump about the size of a large pea; but now it's just a general swelling of the whole area; puffy, soft;
- she also has the same problem in her cycling shoes (mtn. biking).
- 15 year old girl, 5'6", 125 lbs, very strong skier, all mtn., goes anywhere and everywhere, loves high edge angle carving, very athletic;
- narrow feet, high arches, moderate instep height
- skis with a relatively upright, balanced stance; neither weight-forward nor backseat
- 2012 Salomon Instinct, custom shell type, 90 flex
- shells and liners were heat molded at time of purchase
- current footbeds are a new model by Sidas (off-the-shelf, non-custom), called Winter 3Feet High Arch, which have a metatarsal ridge running fwd. from the arch; they support her arches well, and keep the ankles in a nice neutral position; previous footbeds were Sidas Volcano and A-Line, neither of which had enough arch support.
- fit in the boots could be snugger; doing a shell fit shows about 1/4" space on either side of the forefoot (not ideal); length is good with 1-1/2 finger fit w. toes touching end;
- I have had to pad the heel area to take up some room there
- forward lean is quite pronounced; much more than some of the newer boots (eg. Lange RS/RX; Tecnica Inferno, etc.)
- hard to tell if the boot ramp angle is more than others, as my eye isn't trained to judge that.
Past things that we have tried to correct the problem include grinding down the front part of the bootboard to give more space above the metatarsals, removing the heel shim widget to reduce the boot's ramp angle (and adding padding there to take up room at the side), remolding the shell, and trying different footbeds. None of these helped much.
I am down to the point now that I am thinking that these are just the wrong boots for her. My educated guess is that there is too much forward lean in the boots, and the ramp angle is too great. The clue is that when asked where her weight is distributed when in a ski stance, she says that she feels all her weight bearing down at the front of the feet. On her skis, this would be exacerbated by any binding ramp. The fact that she has the same problem in her cycling shoes is another clue that this is where the problem lies, as all her pedaling force is bearing down on the shoe's cleats, which are of course directly under the metatarsals.
As a test we had her try on my wife's Lange RS boots, which have a much more upright cuff, and it changed her perception of weight balance to an even distribution over the entire sole of the foot, from heel to metatarsal, incl. arches.
So, the question is (after the long preamble...thanks for staying with me here): am I on the right track, in thinking that the Salomon is unsuited to her and she needs a more upright boot to get better balanced and get the weight off the forefoot? Or am I way off base, and if so, is there something we can do to tweak the Salomons and make them work for her? Such as a custom footbed? (is that even suitable for a teenager?).
It would be great to get some insight before we spend more time and money on new boots, and the problem persists. Looking forward to hearing back from some of you with your experiences and opinions. Many thanks in advance!