Snowboarding equipment has several important sections that each require some attention, research, and preferable knowledge. When it comes to boots and fitting the snowboard to your feet there are three segments you need to consider: the boot, the binding, and the board hardware system.
If the boot does not fit well, prepare for excruciating experiences. You want to take your time before purchasing any piece of equipment.
All snowboarding rookies should start by learning and knowing all the terminology down. What segments you need to focus on, what is their purpose, or did you waste money for something you won’t be using in the near future.
All of us were once rookies and had no clue that quality boots are more important than binders. No one ever thought about why do snowboard boots lean forward? (Until experiencing it for the first time).
The purpose of a good pair of snowboard boots is to allow the forward lean stances, thereby reducing the toe drag. Their position also allows the riders to naturally lean forward and balance on the center of the snowboard, allowing the body to develop muscle memory and be more efficient.
There are a few reasons why snowboarders use forward lean techniques but are they a necessity? Read on to learn more about them.
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What Is a Forward Lean in Snowboarding?
A forward lean is an adjustable setting on the highback of the binding on your snowboard. In case you don’t know, the highback is that curvy section that goes up and down.
The purpose of this setting is to adjust how far the highback is set against your calf. It is important to be able to adjust it to the safest, natural, and comfortable position to increase your movement options and still stay safe.
Different bindings have different natural built-in forward lean. The forward lean makes walking in snowboard boots hard and challenging, especially for beginners.
Adjust How Much You Can Lean Forward
The forward lean is key to heelside carving. If you have more of it, your heelside curves and turns will respond quicker. The tight and responsive feel to your heelside movements can up your entire snowboarding game.
A less forward lean will, naturally, have more relaxed heelside movements. They will be loose because the highback sits further away from your calf, requiring more energy and providing less control.
Is There a Golden Middle?
Racers, free riders, and halfpipe riders will lean more forward because of the responsiveness abilities. The quick movement in their bindings and the heelside carver are performed a lot easier with more forward lean.
On the other hand, it just might depend on personal preference. Some freestyle ryders prefer no forward lean just because it is more comfortable. Also, the loose grip allows more movement to adjust their feet on rails.
There is no wrong choice, and somewhat expert snowboarders tend to use both none and medium forward-leaning. For example, no forward lean is great for freestyle riding. In addition, it is a major physical activity that can put muscle tension on the legs and cause discomfort.
During halfpipe or freeride carving (especially on snowboard instructor tests) more forward lean can be an advantage because of easier control and responsive usage of equipment while carving and turning.
Base your decisions on whether or not, and when to use it, with a simple piece of advice that more is better if you want responsiveness, and less or none when you want to relax.
A ‘Cheat’ Tip for Beginner Snowboarders
Learning that habit of bending your knees on turns can be skipped if you force it upon yourself. This might sound a bit masochistic but is actually really efficient.
Put more forward lean and it will force you to keep your knees in a bent position. If you don’t you can end up with your highbacks digging into your calves.
Yes, it will be hard and uncomfortable at first. With time you will get accustomed to it. Once you know hove to keep the knees bent, it is your choice whether or not to use the forward lean or not.
Fitting Snowboard Boots to your feet
There are three most important factors you need to consider when it comes to snowboard boots.
They Should Feel ‘Solid’
Some snowboarders like to use the term ‘like a firm handshake’. Like any footwear, it is important to be patient and wait for (newly bought) snowboarding boots to adjust to your leg.
It takes 4-10 days of using them on the snow to pack out properly. The boot will pack out 1-3 quarters in size, depending on who the manufacturer is, and what materials are used in the liner.
When buying new boots, try them on in the shop and walk around for a few minutes. Pain is a bad sign, but slight pinching may not be as noticeable. Pay attention to the tingling sensation- if it occurs, it means your foot is losing circulation. Try on another pair and don’t force your feet.
Toes Should Gently Touch the End of the Boot
Beginners in snowboarding may not be used to this. It is similar to trying on a pair of any footwear that is half a size smaller than you need.
The main reason is that your feet may slide around in your boot. You can smash up your toenails, get a black nail and endure pain for up to a few weeks. No one wants that!
Snowboard boots have forward lean built into them, and they are not made for standing up straight in them. Even though they seem small (half a size less than your regular footwear), tying the laces will help you feel all of the design’s features. Your heel will be placed back into the heel cup of the boot. This will pull your toes away from the end of the boot, not feeling as tight.
After you fitted everything nicely walk around the shop with your ankles meeting the boots forward lean.
The Boot Should Hold Your Heel Down as Well
Your heel should be held by the boot when you drive your knee forward. It is a motion similar to when you are attempting to make a toeside turn.
Snowboard boots are not made to hold your foot when you stand on your toes but on your side. In case you feel your heels sliding on the inside, try another model again. Insecure feet that are not held down are a disaster recipe for blisters just waiting to happen.
Keeping the Weight Over the Top of Your Board
Good snowboarding boots with a lean forward will help rookies put the weight over the top of the board. A common problem many riders experience is having unstable posture. This happens because they are riding with their legs too straight, or are bending over with the upper body.
The riding posture will ideally center weight over the edge of the board. The knees are in a flexed position to be ready to absorb bumps of the terrain. For the less experienced, this means that you should flex your shins into the front of your boots, push your hips forward and keep the back straight.
Practice Makes Perfect
Practice centering your weight over an engaged edge. By establishing balance and maintaining it, your muscle memory will get accustomed to the position. Try ‘surfing’ in the proper positions so your body would not get as tired as if it was experiencing snowboarding for the first time. Once you actually start, your body will not experience as much stress, and you just might be able to do it again the next day.
Forward lean makes the heel edge of the board easily controllable and much faster. With this chances are less for the board to slip underneath, it is harder to balance on boxes and rails. It takes a toll on the muscles, particularly on the calves.
Beginners should have the front binding with more lean to encourage to keep the weight on the front foot. For more experienced snowboarders, if you are charging or it is icy, dial it in, and if you are cruising or jibbing, zero it out.
So, Why Do Snowboard Boots Lean Forward?
In practice, making small changes to your equipment and allow you to push your movement boundaries when it comes to snowboarding. Adjusting the setup allows beginners, and experts to learn and explore more in this awesome sport.
To be able to find the best position for your body type and riding style, it is helpful to play around with your entire setup and gear.
Because of this, understanding why do your snowboarding boots lean forward is a fraction of all the technicalities in snowboarding gear. But hey, you have to start somewhere, right?
The techniques and quirks of snowboarding have not as many rules, but guidelines on almost everything. Support for the knees is very important (especially for beginners), and using a forward lean on your binders will add support and leverage to the heelside edge. It is very useful when riding transitions or carving on hard snow.