Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cold Feet, Warm Socks

If cold feet are a chronic problem, or if you can't feel your toes while skiing, your boots could be cutting off circulation. Next time you take them off, check your feet and lower legs immediately. If you see any bulging blood vessels, this means they are  pumping blood to get it back to the toes. It is an indication your boots are too tight in that spot. A bootfitter can  correct this.

Nothing makes you more miserable than wet, clammy feet. Pedorthists say the average skier’s foot sheds half a pint of perspiration a day on the slopes, but I think this is more of a guy thing. Nevertheless, wearing the right kind of socks and taking simple precautions can prevent sweat and swelling problems that cause cold feet.

Socks should be made of the same moisture-wicking materials that are used for long underwear. These thermo-regulation materials (wool included, like SmartWool) should transfer vapor and perspiration from the skin without soaking the sock. One way to determine a fiber’s resistance to saturation is by observing how fast it dries. When I take my socks from the washer, they are hardly wet and line dry in a flash. Cotton socks, on the other hand, take forever in a dryer.

Layering doesn't apply to socks. Wear one thin sock (about the weight of a man’s dress sock). Heavier socks or layering will create more perspiration and circulation problems. I wear SmartWool's PhD medium ski sock made of 72 percent Merino Wool, 26 percent nylon and 2 percent elastic. Remember, boot liners inside your boots are designed to be warm.

Pantyhose and nylon workout tights do not make good substitutes for ski socks. They contribute to cold feet in women more than anything. Nylon doesn’t allow feet to breathe, making them wet and clammy. Nylon also makes feet slide in the boots, causing loss of steering and edging control.

Wear clean socks every ski day. Dirt and perspiration interfere with wicking, causing loss of thermal quality. Wipe your feet dry before putting on socks and never put on boots when socks still are damp. Never put on wet or cold boots. Your feet will stay wet and cold all day, making them susceptible to blisters and frostbite. When you drive to a ski area, keep your boots on the heated floor of the front seat.

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