New To Ski

How Much Shin Pressure To Apply in Your Ski Boot?

by Simon Knott | Updated: October 27th, 2022
Orange Ski Boot

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Anything you read or hear about starting to ski will include the best posture to adopt. When adopting this best posture, you will be applying light pressure from your shins against the inside of the front of your boots. But what does this pressure achieve? And just how much pressure should you be exerting?

The shin pressure you should apply to the front of your ski boot is infinitely variable depending on how hard and sharp you want to corner. Keeping a slight shin pressure should normally ensure you’re keeping a good skiing stance with good weight distribution.

Choosing Ski Boots

Ensuring that your ski boots are correctly set up for your legs and feet is vital so that you can effectively transfer the power and direction down into the skis. If there is movement inside your boots this power transfer won’t be efficient, resulting in less control.

However, if your boots are too tight you might have good control, but you will probably experience pain.

When you wear well-fitted ski boots, standing upright, with your bodyweight spread evenly across the balls of your feet and your heels, you’ll find your shins and calves should be just touching the inside cuffs of your boots.

If you feel more than a slight pressure, against your shins or calves, your ski boots are not correctly set up. A visit to a boot technician should sort out the problem.

Why is this balanced Stance with little pressure against the Boot Cuffs important?

When your foot is restrained by the ski boot and your body weight is transferred over the sole of your foot, you form the ideal stance. You can effectively deal with the combined forces of directing the skis, as well as the forces the snow feeds back through them.

If you move your weight forward onto the ball of your foot your center of gravity also moves forwards, and vice versa. Changing your centre of gravity is used to achieve different techniques on the skis.

It’s useful when skiing to imagine the soles of your feet inside your boots and understand how moving weight onto the balls of your feet or back onto your heels affects your ski performance. Also, for cornering, rolling onto one side of your feet or the other translates into pressure on the ski edges.

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After each of these maneuvers, the feet revert to the normal stance, where the body weight spreads along the ski, ready for the next maneuver.

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How Do You Apply Pressure To The Tront Of Your Ski Boot?

Pressure is applied to the inside of the front of your ski boot by moving your body weight more onto the ball of your foot. This automatically flexes the ankle joint, so the angle between the foot and the shin is lowered.

This movement inside the ski boot translates to applying more pressure to the left-hand side of the front of the ski, which in turn activates the ski edge into initiating a turn to the left. The same process occurs in reverse to initiate a turn to the right.

Applying more forward pressure through the boot onto the ski will increase the sharpness of the turn, so the amount of forwarding pressure used can easily be regulated by the weight transfer of the feet.

This technique is particularly useful when skiing down steep slopes. By making sharp and quick turns you don’t build up too much speed during cornering but at the same time, you make a controlled descent.

The neutral stance achieves the best center of gravity and uses the framework of the bones from the hips to the feet for its strength. However, as you apply more forward pressure on the skis the centre of gravity moves forward and the front of the shin against the cuff of the boot creates a new angle for support.

In this new stance, the leg muscles are needed for extra support. So, the structure isn’t as rigid as the ‘bone framework’ but the payoff is it offers better flexibility in cornering and is therefore useful.

How much pressure do you apply to the front of your Boot?

Fitting Ski boots

There is no set answer to how much pressure you apply to the front of your boot. It depends entirely on what you are trying to achieve and how quickly. As with many situations, there is an upside and a downside to applying pressure.

By applying pressure forcefully from your shin to the front of your boot an equally forceful pressure will be transferred down onto the front of the ski, starting a sharp turn.

However, just applying a small amount of pressure, in the same way, will initiate a turn but not as aggressively.

Clearly, the upside of applying pressure to the front of your boot is the ability to carry out an effective and controlled turn. The downside of the same maneuver, especially when made aggressively, is that you will lose your natural center of gravity and must use muscle power to take the strain.

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Why Do New Skiers Not Apply Enough Pressure ToThe Front Boot Cuff?

It’s a natural reaction when you first start skiing to create a stance, where you lean too far back. It’s usually caused by anxiety, where the skier is mistakenly trying to rein in their speed by leaning back. Unfortunately, it’s completely counterintuitive as when the body weight is over the back of the skis, they are very difficult to control.

To counteract this tendency ski instructors often tell students to apply firm pressure to the front inside of their boot cuffs. While this isn’t an ideal permanent stance it gives the student a better foundation to learn the initial skills. Later, with more experience, they can revert to a more upright stance.

Practice Applying Force To The Inside Of Your Boot Cuff?

Photo by Martin from Tyrol licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

If you find a quiet section of a run that’s not too steep you can practice applying different pressures to the inside of your boot cuff and note how the forward shift of weight changes your cornering ability. You will discover the full range of movement from slight pressure to aggressively pushing forward.

While you’re practicing it’s useful to shift your body weight backward too. Just to experience the loss of control because the front of your skis is only touching the snow surface lightly.

5 reasons that cause pain between your shin and the front of your ski boot:

1. The most common source of shin pain or bang is too much space between the shin and the tongue of the ski boot. Remedy by keeping the buckles a little looser over the top part of the foot but make sure the higher cuff buckles are snug, along with the power strap, if you have one.

2. If you can’t achieve a snug fit, no matter how hard you try to buckle up then you’re in a ski boot that’s just too big. Change your boots.

3. All boots have a flex rating, which shows how flexible the boot is to use. If yours is too inflexible you’re in a boot with the wrong flex. Check with the ski shop.

4. If the boots are well used the inner liner may become flattened or packed down, which means it offers little protection to the shins. The liner inside the hard shell of the ski boot acts as a barrier, to protect your shins. It’s straightforward to buy new liners and fit them.

5. Only wear purpose-made ski socks, which will be quite thin but have slightly padded sections in the pressure areas. They will also be efficient at wicking moisture away, which is vital as excess moisture can create painful friction.

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NewToSki.com is where over 1 million people a year come to learn more about skiing. I share everything I wish someone had told me when I was learning to ski. My name is Simon & I've been skiing since 2005. This winter, our family is taking a 3-month camper ski trip across the Alps. If you enjoy our articles, please join the free email club. We'd love to have you.
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