For many athletes and weekend exercise warriors, winter is a time
to enhance their cardiovascular health. Many partake in winter
sports such as sledding, skiing, snowboarding, rough-and-tumble
ice hockey, or casual ice skating. Winter sports offer a fast track
for fun, but expose the body to injuries, especially foot and ankle
Some common winter and snow sports injuries related to the foot
and ankle include:
• Frostbite – The symptoms of frostbite include skin-color changes,
from blue to whitish, and a feeling of burning or numbness;
• Blisters – Friction in winter sports footwear often causes blisters;
• Neuromas – Enlarged benign growths of nerves between the toes
are caused by friction in tight footwear and can result in pain,
burning, tingling, or numbness. Neuromas require professional
treatment, including an evaluation of skates and boots, from a
• Sprains and strains – The stress of skiing and skating can result
in sprains and strains of the foot and ankle. They can be treated
with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). If pain persists,
seek medical attention from a podiatric physician; and
• Subungual hematoma – Pressure in the toe box of a ski or skate
can cause bleeding under the toenail known as a subungual
hematoma. This condition should be treated by a podiatric
physician to prevent the loss of a toenail.
Podiatric physicians recommend properly fitted shoes or boots
to prevent winter and snow injuries. With adequate preparation
and proper equipment, you can prevent most injuries common to
winter and snow sports.
• Maintain an adequate fitness level all year round. Being fit is the
best way to avoid many sports-related injuries in winter.
• Find a buddy who enjoys your sport. Never participate in winter
• Warm up thoroughly before activity. Cold muscles, tendons,
and ligaments are vulnerable to injury. Make sure to cool down
thoroughly afterwards, as well.
• Wear several
layers of light,
clothing for warmth
• Wear proper footwear that is
in good condition and keeps feet
warm and dry. Footwear should provide
ample ankle support, as well.
• Wear appropriate protective gear, including
goggles, helmets, gloves, and padding.
• Wear a blended sock that “wicks” sweat away from the skin.
Consult your podiatric physician for recommendations.
• Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your sports
• Move to a warm, dry environment if your feet get wet. The skin
tissues of wet, cold feet are in danger of freezing (frostbite).
Information courtesy of the American Podiatric Medical Association