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Boots and diabetes

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I think I probably have diabetes and will be seeing my doctor about this soon.

One symptom is extreme and constant pain with my ski boots, getting worse each year. I saw a top orthotist. He said the boots fit perfectly (one-finger performance fit; no pressure points anywhere), but he said my Superfeet are too hard and I need a softer custom orthotic. I think that will only partially help, because the main problem is that my feet are very sensitive to pressure. They need a lot of softness all around---footbed, all around the foot, and calf.

When I buckle my boots only moderately tight my feet feel a lot better, but I can only ski green trails like that. I don't have control on anything steeper. I've heard all the arguments about "You should be able to ski black diamonds with your boots unbuckled." I don't buy that, so fuggedabout that approach.

MY QUESTION: How can I get both the softness that my feet need and the support needed for steeper terrain?

My boots: Head S9. I tried intermediate boots---nice and soft but not enough control.

Would love to hear from anyone experienced with skiing with diabetes foot problems.

If I can't solve this I'm going to have to give up skiing. That would just about kill me. I don't mind having to downscale my aspirations and being a lifelong intermediate skier---I was previously able to ski some black terrain, but I can give that up.
post #2 of 15
This from our good friend jhcooley who really knows what he's talking about... and has some special insights here:
Originally Posted by jhcooley
I have been a type I insulin dependent diabetic for 33 years. Fortunately for me, I have not had significant foot problems. I ski in custom fitted Nordica Dobermans with custom Superfeet cork footbeds (not medical orthotics). The liners are extremely firm, and the boots are not comfortable for the first 3 runs. After that, they are fine.

Although I am not a Boot Guy, I hold a PSIA L3 Alpine certification. I travel to the US to keep it current.

The point is that diabetes alone won't necessarily prevent you from skiing.

Hypersensitivity in the feet is common in diabetics due to nerve damage. If this is what's really going on, it probably means that you have had undiagnosed diabetes for some time. Your doctor will perform the necessary tests. If this is outside his area of expertise, he may refer you to an internist, an endocrinologist, and/or a podiatrist.

Do you have hair on the tops of your toes, or has it disappeared? I don't have hair on the fronts of my shins because of years of 50-70 day seasons in ski boots, but my toes are fine.

Besides the pain, can you feel fine sensations in your feet? Your doctor may use a tuning fork or a piece of monofilament to determine if you can still feel such things.

Do you have trouble with cold feet? If your feet get cold easily, if may indicate poor circulation, but it also is good because you can still feel it. If your feet come out of the boots cold as ice but you didn't really notice it, there could be more of a problem.

Your decision to see a doctor is the correct one.

You may wish to try Intuition liners. But not until you and your doctor have figured out what's going on!
post #3 of 15
First thing is to get the diagnosis then worry about it

if you want the support form the footbed then you could stry the superfeet kork vac which is a little softer than the full kork, they also have a new product coming very soon aimed at the diabetic market, it has a soft tri lam top sheet and the cap which is currently on the trim to fit black product, there may be a stlight trade off with support but this product has a great topsheet for sensitive feet

have you had the boots looked at by a good fitter, there are a number of other things which may or may not work for you including thermo formed liners such as the intuition which are available in differing densities the softer of which will offer a completely custom fit with a degree of softness

there is no reason why you should give up skiing because of diabetes or any other condition for that matter, do not let anyone try to tell you that you shopuld stop.... you just need to find the correct solution for you, be it a differnet footbed, liner or indeed boot

good luck with the visit to the doc...keep us up to date
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hi Colin,

Thanks very much for your reply. Do you have a link for the diabetic Superfeet?

So is the general rule with diabetes that you have to avoid pressure and have a softer footbed?

Here are the steps I took so far:

-- 2002 (age 49, when I learned to ski. Now 55): Diagnosed with nerve damage to top of foot. Changed boots.
-- 2003: Boots packed way out. Began overtightening them. Pain got worse.
-- 2004: Got new boots with cork Superfeet. Started new cycle of packing out, overtightening, increased pain, adding foam.
-- 2007: Finally understood that my boots were too big and found "the perfect pair of boots" with performance fit after a month of research. Pain continued. Could not even finish ski lessons. Almost had to be rescued by ski patrol due to pain.
-- Went to podiatrist, who said the following without even looking at my feet: "There is nothing wrong with your feet. Your boots are too tight. Go to a boot fitter."
-- Went to highly respected boot fitter/orthotist. I did not know at the time that I probably have diabetes. His diagnosis: "Boots fit perfectly. I have a neurological problem. Cork Superfeet are too hard. I need a softer custom orthotic, possibly custom liner."

I am a very low-income person and don't want to sink a lot of money into this problem unless it's likely to bring me relief.

How bad is the pain? Extreme at this point. I skied for the first time this week and spent most of my time on green terrain. Two runs on blue were very painful. I can barely express how important skiing has been for my physical and mental health in recent years. Quitting would be horrible.
post #5 of 15
Earlier this season I custom fit and foamed a Strolz ski boot for a guy (Ken) who has diabetes that lives in BC at one of the major ski areas. He skis regularly throughout the season.

I have contact him and hopefull he will personally responde with his experences and comments. From what he tells me he is skiing without foot pain which has been an issue for a number of years.

Good luck!
post #6 of 15
IMO foam liners are the enemy in skibootfitting for the Diabetic. Excessive pressure may not be felt by the foot, cold may be an issue and ulceration is a worry. Just a precaution, there are other liner options more sensitive to their needs.
post #7 of 15
would love to give you a link to the product, but it is so new it is not on the market yet.... due to hit you guys in the next few weeks...look out for DMP product [dynamic moulding protocol]

i would concurr with smallzookeeper, if you suffer from neuro problems with the foot i would avoid foam and look at somthing like the intuition liner which will give an even but gentle fit.... there are plenty of diabetics out there with no foot problems whatso ever, for them then foam is an option, but as you have sensation problems best avoided
post #8 of 15
I have been fitting and foaming Strolz boots for over 15 years, as well as fitting all major brands of Alpine, tele, Alpine Touring and climbing boots for over 20 years. One thing to keep in mind is that all foam boots are not created equal. The only reason I fit and foam Strolz ski boots is that I continue to get great results and make skiers happy. I fit and foam Strolz boots for performence and comfort, not a race fit. I have foamed many average skiers right up to expert skiers. Many of the people I have foamed have 20-30-40 plus years of skiing experience.

Below are comments from Ken, the person I mentioned in the above post.

First of all what do you mean "I think I have diabetes??????" Get it diagnosed, it takes 5 seconds!!!!

Second there is no need to quit skiing. I have been a Type 1 diabetic for 20 years. I have had treated myself to custom fitted boots for this 20 years. I ski hard, 4 or 5 hours a day 120 days a year. (I live in 'paradise' with the downhill trails out my door, 1,200,000 vertical feet so far this year). I ski all conditions, all terrain including double blacks, non stop top to bottom. I have ugly feet with corns, an old ankle injury that left me with a bone spur off one ankle, my feet are EE or EEE wide, they are different sizes, one has poor circulation, linebacker sized calfs, bla, bla, bla.

Foam fitted boots, properly fitted compensate for all of this. I have no boot issues when I ski. I buckle lightly for a run or two and then give a slight buckle increase. It is not nessesary to clamp them down too hard.....

I have previously tried the foam liners that you put in a pre-existing outer boot but never had success. I have had several pairs of Daustein (sp?) and they worked great. They don't make a foam boot any more.

I recently had Don Svela, in Warren Oregon fit me with Strolz boots. You can Google Strolz site and they have an Eastern USA distributer. Don does their work in the West. He does a great job understanding your foot (and there is a lot to understand with respect to clamping on a ski boot!), and then getting a guy in the right boot. I'm not a Strolz salesman, but there are not a lot of choices out there to get the combination of a foam boot AND get it fitted correctly. Mine work great, no issues.

The boots are not cheap but is anything these days? I always laugh at the "weekend warriors" who come out spend $2000 or $3000 on equipment, $1000 to get to our ski hill, $500 a night for a rental house, $65 a day for a lift ticket AND THEN SPEND HALF THE DAY SCREWING WITH THE BUCKLES ON THIER BOOTS!

Bottom line advise....get a blood sugar test and then go see Don.

Ken B
post #9 of 15

Get up and go to the doctor!!!

Getting checked for diabetes is your first task. the second task is to assess the related foot symtoms. Just like feet, diabetes comes in different flavors. Not all diabetics suffer from nerve related symtoms in the feet. Examples are jhcooley, and ken b. with the stroltz injected liner.

The feedback from CEM, and Zookeeper is on track if there are signs of neuropathy. Softer control of the foot would be the best course of action.

You also mention being on a tight budget. Intuition liners are a fraction of the cost of any foam injected inner boot.

Putting skiers with loss of foot sensation in any foam injected liner would be highly suspect boot fitting. The risk of undetected frostbite or ulceration could be devastating.

There is plenty of information on diabetic feet and the dangers to health and life available on the internet. Skip the pictures... they will make you puke!!!
post #10 of 15
My i point out CEM and I worked together and have developed similar opinions together, it's not that i disapprove of injection liners, but unless faced by a bootfitter with an understanding of 'Diabeties' one is taking a gamble. I know for a fact, it's the first question CEM asks his clients. "Are you aware of having, or the possibility of Diabeties?"
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by starthaus View Post

Get up and go to the doctor!!!

Getting checked for diabetes is your first task.
Not to worry, I have an appointment already. I am taking this seriously.
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by starthaus View Post

the second task is to assess the related foot symtoms. Just like feet, diabetes comes in different flavors. Not all diabetics suffer from nerve related symtoms in the feet. Softer control of the foot would be the best course of action.
Thanks very much for your input; I appreciate it.

Now, I've had a hard time connecting with the right medical professional. My GP isn't going to know much about this. The podiatrist I went to blew me off with "Your ski boots are too tight" without even examining my feet. So if diabetes is confirmed, what professional should I go to nex?
post #13 of 15
I would head for a Certified Pedorthist, after all the profession was created to help provide footwear and orthotics for problem feet and a lot of the creation of the profession was directly related to the fomation of the diabetic shoe bill [see even over here i know about it!!] find yourself a C.Ped who works on ski boots...where are you based, there are a few of us on here and someone may well be close to you starthaus, myself, cantman and others are all C.Peds
post #14 of 15
Where are you located in the U.S.? I know many c ped bootfitters around the country.
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 


I saw my doctor today. Based on a blood test, it appears that I don't have diabetes. My doctor said I have neuropathy, which is a catch-all nondiganostic term meaning "lousy nerves." She hypothesized that maybe my nerves are too close to the skin and affected by pressure. She didn't think it was possible to find the exact cause of my problem.

And maybe I don't need to know the exact medical cause in order to get a good footbed and/or liner. I can't afford liners, so I will try to improve on the footbeds.

Thanks very much to all for your input.
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