Check out my new toe strap!

Last week I touched on the subject of snowboard bindings and in particular, the ankle strap and it’s position around the boot. (read Tips Mondays – 4 things you should know about your snowboard bindings)

This week I will be discussing the importance of a well positioned toe strap.

Have you got the new fancy toe straps yet that cup around the ends of your boots? They are all the rage these days, but are they just for show, a new gimic to boost sales or do they actually improve your snowboarding….?

Snowboard binding toe strapFirst we have to think about why we have toe straps, have you every tried snowboarding without them? Do you think you could? Why are they there?

If we don’t use something, then we can usually do without it. The same goes for the toe strap, if you don’t use them – yes you could ride without them.

If you’re wondering where and when you would specifically use your toe straps then read Struggling with the heel to toe edge turn on a snowboard? Then stay off your high backs and use your toes instead

How strong are you?

In short, we use our toes when we ride on the heel edge. Lifting them up to increase edge angle, resulting in more grip and overall stability, a great way of fine tuning our edge angle and grip without resting, relying on the high backs.

With this in mind, we ideally want our straps in a position whereby the slightest movement we make with our toes, gets translated through to the board. Similarly, the smaller the movements we have to make, the better.

Smaller movements are usually:

  • A: Stronger
  • B: can be held for longer
  • C: repeated for more repetitions before fatigue sets in

Just like with the ankle straps, if I want a more responsive feeling from the binding, I place the strap higher up, closer to the point which moves first (in this case the knee). The knee moves, my board reacts. So the same should be applicable to the toes, right? Place them closer to the point which moves first, which is the end of the toes…. or is it?

The difference with the toes though, is that when lifting them we have a force acting against us, Gravity, and we are also making an isotonic contraction.

Sit upAn example of this, is when doing sit ups. The abdominal muscles contract, concentrically (an action whereby the muscle attachments, origin and insertion, move closer to together), causing movement of a specific joint (hinge point).

If we place a load closer to this hinge point, these muscle contractions become easier, are quicker and we can do more of them.

If a load is further away from the hinge joint, then the contractions are harder, less can be done and over time the movements become slower.

This is now where the position of the toe strap becomes important, unless you do daily toe raises while at work to train the muscles…!

So when lifting the toes, we are now not only acting against the pull of gravity but contracting various muscles in and around the ankle joint which usually, in every day life, don’t get much use and lie in a relaxed state.(for further reading about the muscles / actions involved in the ankle joint read Stretch the calf muscle & improve your riding and Struggling with the heel to toe edge turn on a snowboard? Then stay off your high backs and use your toes instead)

Lets conclude

Talking all of the above into consideration, should the strap be positioned further away from the hinge point(in this case, the ankle joint), at the ends of your toes? Or closer to the hinge point?

Now you might be thinking, is a couple of inches really going to make a difference and does it really matter where I have my toes strap positioned.

It’s worth thinking about how long you ride for, how many times you are going to lift your toes up, back down, up again. How much do you actually use your toes when riding and how quickly do you want your board to responded to you reactions.

But then again, if don’t use your toes to tilt the board on your heel edge, what on earth are you doing with toes straps on you bindings?

Are you worried that the huge ankle strap isn’t going to hold your foot in place? and rely more on a strap half the size to hold your foot / heel in place?

With regards to toe caps. If something looks better, or suggests an improvement, it usually sells better! (something to think about perhaps)…..