Putting Your Best Foot Forward
By Dee Raffo
O ur feet are a masterpiece of engineering and work hard for us year-round, but in winter, they get squeezed into ski and snowboard boots, endure freezing temperatures, and yet we still expect them to look presentable for our hot tub sessions. So, we checked in with a host of Whistler experts who know just how important it is to take care of your feet so that you can keep doing the sports you love all winter long.
“There’s no question that feet are hard-working parts of our body that can get beaten up with activity, particularly in the winter when they need to tolerate vigorous exercise while being squeezed into tight boots in the cold. However, some simple foot care and foot fitness activities can go a long way to minimizing strains, blisters and other ailments,” explains Mike Conway, co-owner of Back in Action Physiotherapy and Massage.
Conway recommends giving your feet a quick 30- to 60-second massage before and after any arduous activity to reduce joint and muscle stiffness and promote circulation. To take it a step further, Conway suggests putting your fingers through the spaces between each toe and then bending and extending your toes (use oil or moisturizer to make this easier). You could use a foam roller or ball for a deeper massage, rolling your feet back and forth, applying pressure to ease tight muscles.
“To increase strength, flexibility and coordination, there are a few barefoot exercises I’d recommend,” Conway says. “Standing on two feet, roll forward, raising your heels high off the ground and then roll backward raising your toes. There’s also side rolling, where you raise your big toe and then roll to raise your pinkie. To make it a little harder, try doing both of these exercises on one foot with support (like leaning on a wall) and then without to test your balance. Aim for three sets of 10 to 20 repetitions for each exercise.” backinactionphysiotherapy.com
Conway added that investing in properly fitting ski boots is a must for foot care, so we touched base with the team at Alpine Pro Ski and Boot Services Whistler, which specializes in high-performance boot fitting.
“The ski boot is the link between the skier and the ski, and critical for steering and control,” explains Bill Lamond, owner and manager of Alpine Pro. “As well as needing to be supportive and functional, it has to be comfortable. Our process at Alpine Pro takes into account 24 different measurements. We also think about the flex, shape, comfort and tolerance for compression for each individual customer, as well as their needs and wants as a skier. I love skiing and helping people. I’ve been doing this for 40 years, and that’s because I want people to have a great time when they come here to play on the slopes.”
Alpine Pro is located at the Le Chamois Hotel in the Upper Village. Surefoot and Fanatyk Co Ski & Cycle are other boot-fitting options along the Village Stroll.
Finds for the Feet
Larry Falcon, an avid skier who manages Escape Route in Whistler Marketplace, believes in investing in your feet, so we asked him to pick a few of his foot-care favourites.
“The new electric socks from Lenz are incredible at keeping your feet warm on those cold days,” says Falcon. “They’re the first heat socks with elements in the toe cap and have a high content of merino wool, which keeps feet dry and warm while wicking away sweat. The thin, compression knit technology makes them a slim option, which is good for those tight-fitting ski boots and especially great for ski racing.”
While in Whistler, you’ll want to explore this mountain wonderland, and Falcon swears by the Smartwool Everyday Socks. They are made from merino wool and have a snug, stay-put fit and very few seams for comfort. Then, for relaxing back at the hotel or chalet, there are the 100 per cent wool Glerups boot slippers, which will keep your feet toasty warm — no socks needed! escaperoute.ca
Your feet deserve so much more than just a haphazard dunk in a bucket of water while sitting on the couch this winter. The hot baths at Scandinave Spa Whistler allow muscle tensions to ease and release as the body is warmed and settles into a state of relaxation.
“Some gentle foot stretches in the water will allow for buoyancy and support,” says Michelle Leroux, sales and marketing manager at Scandinave. “Try alternating pointing the toes away from the body, then bringing them back towards the shin, and then rotating the foot at the ankle joint to loosen things up. The warm installations can help prevent spasms and release tension from surrounding muscles that may have been compensating for the death-grip-hold of the average ski boot on your foot. Once the body is nice and warm, the cold plunge is not to be missed — brave the icy waters for at least 20 seconds.”
This blast of cold that Leroux mentions helps seal in the heat while increasing circulation so your body can move any lactic acid that might have built up. The increased blood flow will also help those tired foot muscles get more oxygen and nutrients. scandinave.com/whistler/en
“Our feet bear the weight of our body and therefore do a lot of work both supporting and allowing movement,” explains Allison Hegedus, president of Vida Spa, located at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. “Your feet have 42 muscles, 33 joints, 50+ ligaments and tendons, as well as 15,000 nerve endings. Yet, our feet are the most neglected. More focus should be on pampering our feet to keep them flexible and strong by using gentle press-and-release movements on reflex points in the feet that correspond to the body’s different organs and glands.”
The Vida Spa offers a 60- or 90-minute Sole Revival Reflexology treatment, or you can opt for a quick, 30-minute Tension Target Foot Massage. Both can do wonders for your overall health while keeping your feet strong.
The Spa at the Four Seasons’ “Peak to Feet Experience” focuses on head-to-toe relaxation. It starts with a rejuvenating sports recovery massage, a combination of stretching techniques and soothing essential aromas. That’s followed by a relaxing scalp massage using spa-made warmed oil to massage the scalp and hydrate hair and then completed with a luxurious alpine-mint foot massage.
“The foot massage uses a very rich cream that has peppermint oil and menthol to increase circulation to the feet, which aids in both relaxation and recovery, which is perfect for skiers,” comments Spa Director Caitlin Hubbard. “The extended foot massage also helps to reduce inflammation within the feet and lower legs, creating a deep feeling of rejuvenation. Combined with a full-body massage and the scalp treatment, it creates a deeply relaxing massage experience that lasts a full 120 minutes.” fourseasons.com/whistler/spa
If you’re looking for some nail love after reviving your feet, the CBD Pedicure at The Spa at Nita Lake Lodge is the one to go for. They use products infused with Hemp CBD oil, along with an organic, mint oil blend of peppermint, eucalyptus and menthol to instantly provide relief to sore feet while keeping the skin hydrated and cleansed with powerful anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
“CBD oil has stress-reducing, pain-relieving and moisturizing properties that can assist in reducing inflammation and minor aches and pains,” explains Elise Tomalty, marketing and communications manager at Nita Lake Lodge. “It’s a great treatment for skiers and snowboarders to reduce soreness after a big day on the mountain, and because of the oil’s essential fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants, it can restore and strengthen weak and brittle nails, making them strong, shiny and healthy.” nitalakelodge.com/spa