Are you doing your ski boots up right? Short answer, probably not.
This is an issue that affects many people. It's such a simple fix to many problems that I'm devoting an entire post to it. Cramping of the foot, numb toes, sore shins, scrunched toes - all issues that can be caused by the boots being done up incorrectly.
SO HOW SHOULD IT BE DONE?
Well I'm glad you ask! First, slide your foot into your boots that are at room temperature - please don't leave them in the freezing car or outside overnight. You'll be kicking yourself for the rest of the day if you do (once the feeling has come back into your feet). Then loosely do up the top two buckles. Now stand up and flex back and forth in your boots - you need to get your foot right back into the heel pocket. It's at this point that many people like to smash the heel of the boot into the floor - go ahead, you can do that if you like, but it's fairly unnecessary, unless you like making a show of putting your boots on.
Okay, we're standing in our boots. Perfect. Now sit down again - everything to do with boot fitting involves a fair bit of stand-up-sit-down-repeat. Now do those top 2 buckles up tighter. They should be done firm enough that you can only just get them done up, but they're not hurting. Consider these buckles on the cuff as holding you firmly into the drive shaft of your ski engine. These need to be done up firmly so that your energy and movements are translated into the ski and give you those fine-tuned carve turns you dream about. If these are loose, control is lost and the ski will be all over the place.
Now it's time to do up those last buckles across the top of your foot. These are there to keep the correct shape of the boot. By doing them up correctly you create a rigid structure of the forefoot for improved energy transfer and control. You also seal the boot from snow getting in and making your foot wet and cold. So you only need to close them with an easy flick of your thumb - no tighter as this can deform the boot. This is where many people trip up (so to speak) and do up too tightly, blocking one of the main arteries (the dorsalis pedis) that runs across the top of your foot and leaves you with frozen, numb and painful toes.
Good job! Your boots are done up like a pro and you're hitting first lifts for your premier run of the day. A quick run down the groomers, warming up those legs, a few short turns then really laying into those longer GS turns. Hit the lift again and oh! The feet are pounding. It's okay, this is perfectly normal. Loosen your boots for the chair ride up. You might find you need to do this for the first few runs of the day until your feet and legs have warmed up and are willing to accept being stuffed inside a rigid, plastic splint - a.k.a. ski boots..
After a few more runs you may find you need to tighten those top buckles at the start of the run. This is good. Do it to the point it feels firm yet comfortable again.
MY BOOTS HAVE BEEN PROPERLY FITTED BUT ARE STILL SORE
No fear. This does not mean they've been fitted incorrectly - or it might - but you won't know yet. Brand new boots will still take a bit of wearing in, even if they've been professionally fitted. Feeling some niggly spots on your first couple of days is perfectly normal, as long as they're not excruciating and most importantly, as long as the issue seems to be moving around and doesn't remain solely in the one spot. For example, you may feel a bit of pressure on your little toe, but a bit later that's stopped and your ankle feels a bit wacky. Adjust the buckles if you like or wiggle the tongue and this should improve.
If, however, there's a spot that is really sore all day then this needs to be addressed. Go and see a good bootfitter to resolve this. The sooner the better
QUICK RUN DOWN
Room temperature boots to start the day
Loosely do up the top buckles then stand and flex back and forth to get your foot right back in the heel pocket
Do the top buckles up as firm as you can without causing pain
Do the buckles across your foot loose enough that you can close them with a flick of your thumb
First few runs may need to loosen boots going up the chairlift
Slight niggles that move around are okay, issues that stay in one spot need to be treated
Don't forget, walking in ski boots is not a normal pastime. This is not what they're designed to do. So do yourself a favour and do not walk around in unbuckled boots. This will make it feel like you're wearing sloppy buckets on your feet and guarantee you to slip down the stairs in front of a bus load of people. Instead, you can loosen the top buckles but keep them done up. This way you will look like you've been getting around in ski boots your whole life.