Hey all. I've seen somewhat similar posts about this but wanted to ask very specifically so bear with me.
I've been boarding for a few years now but this season's the first that I've really been able to get up often, and get my technique down. This year I finally got around to buying a decent board (Never Summer F1 Premiere - amazing) and switched from the Flow bindings I started with to some newer, standard bindings that give me much better control. The one constant has been my Ride brand boots.
When I'm riding I find that for the first couple of hours the achilles tendon on my front foot hurts like a god damn, especially when I'm riding toe-side or traversing. I try to stretch before hand but though this tends to help with other minor cramps and aches it does little for my tendon. I think it's because my heal is coming up a bit too much in my boot. The way the boot tightens, it doesn't seem to snug against the front, top of my ankle enough to stop my foot from moving around. If I just tighten the hell out of them, it just squeezes my foot from side to side and adds a bunch of cramping without really helping my problem.
I've tried putting in my insoles that I put in some shoes (mainly to fill in bigger shoes, as I have pretty normal feet) but that just kind of makes less room in general and doesn't help a ton, either.
Anyway, I think it's time for more boots. I just wanted to ask, is this common? Is it likely being caused by what I think? Are there any stretches or techniques to minimize the pain at all? It's without doubt the biggest hindrance I have to my riding. I got a pass to whistler next year and really want to get the most out of it...
I'm not sure I can give you a definitive answer; not sure anyone can without a lot more details. Even then, it would be difficult. So many things you could check/tweak. Off the top of my head, here's a bunch of stuff to think about.
The tendon pain is likely related to heel lift as you describe. Your equipment isn't supporting all the force; your joints/tendons are probably straining to compensate for that. Two things to think about with regards to this:
- 1. Is it definitely the heel of your foot lifting out of the boot?
2. Or Can you feel if the heel of the boot is lifting out of the binding?
If your issue is more #1, then it's likely your boots don't fit as well as they used to in your old setup. When you try on new boots, make sure the heel is perfectly snug to your foot as you walk around the store. I also like to take my old boots to compare the fit to any new ones I try on. After trying on a ton of boots, you tend to lose the feel of the fit, and forget what your old ones are like.
If it is more issue #2 above, then you need different boots to fit your new bindings. Take your bindings to the store and try them on with new boots to make sure they fit very snuggly. Different boots fit differently with each brand/type of binding. You should take your bindings anyway to insure they fit well with the new boots.
I do not think it is the board. Never Summer makes great stuff, and rarely is a board the cause of pain. I suppose a really poorly made board could, but that is not the issue here.
Your new board might be stiffer/softer, and exaggerate the a heel lift that was there previously. A stiffer/softer board may have compensated for poorly fitting equipment.
Your Flow bindings may have previously been compensating for not so good fitting boots. They've got that big wide front strap that might have kept the whole lot down more (I don't know). Just thinking about things that would have made your experience worse now vs then.
Bindings & Setup:
High back angle might be set too far forward or too far back. They might be much stiffer/softer than the Flows, which may require a different set up. Is the high back aligned parallel to the edge of your board? Could have something to do with that.
Do you need to switch your stance? You've got some new equipment, and for you, maybe it rides better in a different configuration. Wider/narrower foot placement. Different set up angles for the bindings on the board. Perhaps your straps aren't properly aligned. etc.
Maybe a different angle foot bed would help. Check out the Ride Angled Wedgie
to see what I'm talking about.
You've tried heel inserts. Have they been flat? Maybe you need a slightly raised heel or the opposite(I don't know)
Going out more often means you often have more wear and tear on your body. Perhaps you tweaked the tendon once, and you haven't allowed it to heal?
Perhaps your technique may have changed do to increased time on the slopes and relative improvement? Maybe a bad habit or two creeped in, though overall you are still much better. Unsure obviously.
If you are straining your tendon, then stretching isn't really going to help. To rehab it, you might want to do some light stretching to insure you keep it loose. But if you are pulling on it hard for long periods every time out, all the pre game stretching in the world won't help.