I have been skiing since I was 7 (I'm now 23) and from rentals to custom fitted boots I continue to have the same problem every season. I get numbness and pain in mostly the front half of my foot and toes (mostly the small toes). I unbuckle my boots as soon as I get to the lift line and rebuckle before starting down the top of the mountain again. I have had custom foot pads and off the shelf ones but they haven't made a difference. I can't tell if the problem is from ski boots themselves or if it may be a physical problem of mine, such as my calf muscle pinching a nerve/vein when it is flexed or if it is some sort of flexibility issue... I don't know!
That line goes down across the top of my foot about halfway toward the big toe. I can't remember if I had this in every boot, but they all seem to have a similar liner construction, so probably.
Sometimes I just wear the boots looser around the calves while I ski, which reduces the problem, but then I have less control and can't go as fast or do as challenging terrain. I know the boots need to be tight but I should still be able to feel my feet, no?! Also I clench my feet a lot when I'm skiing, I don't know if this is normal or could be making the problem worse, but I don't think I can stop doing it, it is like a reflex.
The fact that loosening the boot around the calves helps really makes me feel like it is the tightness of the boot around my calf causing the problem, but how else can you ski? ah I'm so frustrated! I'm going to start snowboarding lessons soon just to wear more comfortable shoes! If anybody has any ideas what the problem is I would LOVE to hear them!
If it helps, I'm a 5'2" female and my calf is 15" at the widest part (which is very wide) and about 13.5" at the point where the top of the boot hits. (so the widest part isn't in the boot)