I was sure that someone walked into my room while I was sleeping, drugged me into unconsciousness, and split my shins with a hatchet. The pain was sharp and focused on a small part of each leg—an area about the size of fingernail. I’d spent two days of skiing the hard, frozen crud that amassed at Snowbird not because I wanted to but because I had to. It was the middle of our ski test and it’s not like you can say, “Sorry guys, even though it’s a hideously expensive thing to do and you came from far and wide, I gotta call it. I’m sore.”
No. You power through it, gripping and grinning and skiing like you mean it, even though each flex forward is more Tabasco in the gash. Each turn made it worse.
When the damn ski test was over, I had a couple of days to rest before I was set to fly to Switzerland for what was billed as a trip through the deepest winter since the nations of the Alps have kept score. But after one day there, my shins were screaming. This trip was ruined before it even began.
So I marched down to a ski shop and, in the shittiest German you’ve ever heard, asked for some help. The guy shot me a quizzical look, as though I’d asked him to fondle me. But he was surprised that I didn’t just ask him the king’s English. No matter. Uli, my new friend, studied my shin, and went to town on it. Twenty minutes and 35 euro later, I had some kind of maxi-pad on my shin. I doubted. He grunted and gave me an enthusiastic thumbs up.
Read more: Five Causes of Shin Bang
And he was right. I skied hard the next day, through a deep dump at Vals, and I was cured.
Fix Your Shin Bang
Let’s assume that you’ve bought your boots from a good shop and that they fit, like mine do. But you can still get shin bang. The idea is to minimize both impact and friction against your shins. Here are a few cures:
The Beer Coozie Quick Fix
Shove a beer coozie down the front of your boot. Make sure it’s not too thick and surrounds the affected area with a moat of softness. If it’s too small it’ll only intensify and focus the pain. Cut it to fit if you have to. The sponginess will reduce impact, but the friction could still remain. Apply one layer of duct tape to the inside of the coozie to make it slippery against your ski sock.
Shave your Shins
Girls, you’re fine. For men and girls from the Kootenays, shave the lower leg to reduce abrasion within the sock.
Buy a Pad
Uli the shop guy stuck on a quarter-inch-thick silicone pad. It didn’t have a name so let’s just call it Paddy. I’ve never seen it in North America, though a thin, silicone insert will work. You know that aisle in the drug store with the Dr. Scholl’s stuff for your shoes? By something that’s spongy, sticky on one side (for your shin) but not too thick. Apply directly to your bare shin, carefully put the sock over top, then gingerly slip it into your boot. Ahhh.
Buy one. This won't cure your shin bang—it's more of a preventative. The elastic, stretchy strap replaces your power strap and allows you to move with your boot rather than smash into it the front of it with every turn. [from $28; skimetrix.com]
Want even better advice? Go to a boot fitter. Or read more about the causes of shin bang here.
Originally published September 2009 for Skiing Magazine. Updated in June 2019 to include links and updated photo.