The pain threshold (PT) along the lower leg was analyzed in both female and male skiers to better understand current sex-related requirements for alpine ski boots. PT was found to be at an average of 32 N/cm2 for the male group and 23 N/cm2 for the female group. The difference between groups was significant (p = 0.05). We found no significant difference in PT distribution along the lower leg within the groups. Lowering the skin temperature more than 10°C resulted in a significantly higher PT. A 40% higher PT was found with twice as large an area used to apply the pressure (p = 0.05). The variation of PT to each subject is comparable to other psycho-physical methods, for example, vibration measurements. Because of a great variation among subjects, a definition of a maximum value to be tolerated in ski boots could not be given within a sufficient confidence interval.
Based on our findings, the following requirements are given: Ski boots must be classified according to sex, because women have a significantly lower PT that may lead to a restriction of motion in a stiff boot designed for male athletes. Temperature isolation for ski boots is very important, not only for comfort but also for safety reasons. Constant sensation feedback, necessary for accurate skiing, is only granted at constant temperature. To avoid pain at low pressure, the force along the lower leg should be distributed homogeneously over a large area. The area of most pressure should not be along the tibialis anterior tendon, because even pressure below the pain level over a long time may lead to a tendovaginitis in that area.