15 hacks to avoid winter foot problemsIn the winter many of us love to be in the mountains snowshoeing, skiing, or snowboarding, while the rest of us would rather be indoors reading a good book in front of a roaring fire. Either way you could be faced with winter foot problems you'd rather avoid. Here are 15 hacks to help prevent or alleviate these problems.

Dry or Cracked Heels

Cracked and dry heels have many causes but dry, wintry air is definitely one of them. While we usually have plenty of moisture in Seattle at this time of year, if you continuously use a wood burning stove, baseboard heat, or one of those portable heaters you can dry out the air and your feet can become dry and cracked. Besides changing your heat source here are some other ways to prevent dry skin.

Heel Pain

Heel pain is very common in people with flat feet, particularly those who also have tight calf muscles. And in the winter when we're not as active, calf muscles can get even tighter. As soon as we hit the slopes or do some snowshoeing we're pulling on those tight calves which in turn can activate our heel pain. Tips for preventing heel pain are:

  • Get yourself loosened up before you start your activities. Try doing some dynamic warm-ups. Tight calves are one of the key factors in developing plantar fasciitis.

  • Buy a heel lift to relieve the stress on your plantar fascia, the foot structure affected by heel pain. 

  • Buy over-the-counter inserts to replace the inserts that come with your tennis shoes or use them in your boots. If your over-the-counter inserts aren't working for you, make an appointment with our Seattle podiatrist. Very likely you need custom orthotics.


Winter sports enthusiasts put themselves at greater risk for ankle, foot and toe fractures. The rest of us can slip on slick sidewalks and stairways.  Some hacks to help prevent falls are:

  • Keep your body physically fit for your favorite outdoor sport. Your body needs to be able to handle the twists and turns that are inevitable for skiers and snowboarders.

  • Wear the right footgear for the sport you love and make sure they fit properly. Also, wear low heels and shoes that will give you some traction.

  • Many people love to train on Seattle's staircases. Make sure the steps aren't icy.

Raynaud's Syndrome

Do your toes and fingers turn bluish-white when they're exposed to the cold? Then you very likely have Raynaud's Syndrome. This syndrome is not dangerous but it is uncomfortable. The color changes as a result of small spasms in the blood vessels which reduce the blood flow to your extremities.

Some hacks to help Raynaud's Syndrome are:

  • Reduce or stop smoking.

  • Check with your physicians about your medications.

  • Wear warm socks that wick away moisture (moisture can make your feet colder). If you're a runner, try a pair of Balega running socks.


Dry feet and friction cause blisters. Participating winter sports will make blisters more likely. Here are some simple hacks to prevent them.

  • Wear shoes that fit. Your heels are common places for blisters, particularly when they can't stay in place.

  • Wear socks that wick away moisture (sweat can also cause blisters).

  • Use a piece of surgical tape on the areas of your feet that tend to blister.

Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.
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