Snowboarding Foot vs. Walking Foot

jump in Sochi
Keith jumping in Sochi

Meet Keith, he discovered snowboarding in 2000 and ever since has had a love for the sport like no other. In June of 2005, Keith was in a severe industrial accident that led to the amputation of his left foot. By the 2010–2011 season, Keith was not only back to snowboarding, but competing professionally and standing on podiums across the globe.

As Keith prepares for the upcoming winter season, we caught up with him to talk about how his snowboarding foot differs from his walking foot. Here’s what he had to say…

Snowboarding Foot vs. Walking Foot

When comparing my walking foot and my snowboarding foot, the biggest difference is that my snowboarding foot is a very stiff, low-profile, Axtion foot with an aircraft aluminum pylon. When walking and doing various activities like working out, hiking, mountain biking, and playing lower impact sports, I use the Ottobock Triton, which is a bit softer, yet still durable and great for naturally rolling over the toes while in stride as well as for evenly distributing pressure from side to side.

After a lot of research and going through tons of equipment, there are a few reasons that I chose a stiff foot:

  1. A foot that is rated for your weight (a softer foot that is great for walking and most physical activities) can’t hold up under the amount of pressure you create when you start really putting torque on the foot and landing bigger and bigger jumps and cliffs, and it will shatter, or more frequently delaminate throughout the foot plate.
  2. A stiff foot is VERY reactive. When you want to initiate a turn, it goes. The problem with soft feet and shock systems is that there is a lag in the foot’s response and you are constantly waiting for it to react.

I love the Ottobock Axtion foot because it is very strong and I can use very durable materials, such as aircraft aluminum, for my pylon. I’ve found that feet that have a pylon that meets up with the carbon fiber above the foot shell just aren’t durable enough. The carbon fiber that hooks down into the foot shell, which is designed to cut down on vertical torsion, creates a very weak point in any prosthetic foot (where high impact sports such as snowboarding are concerned). While it’s great for activities like walking, hiking, basketball, mountain biking, and other lower impact activities, it can’t handle the impacts that you get from snowboarding. The Axtion foot allows me to customize heights with my pylon. My snowboarding foot is about a half inch shorter than my walking foot. This is because when I snowboard, in order to adopt a natural athletic stance,  I use a three-quarter-inch wedge under my prosthetic heel, which makes me one-half-inch taller.

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