Hiking is a challenging activity that many people enjoy. Although hiking requires diligent effort, the views and escape from daily routine makes the adventure worthwhile. However, sometimes hikes can be less pleasurable when the weather turns sour, you are ill-prepared, or your feet begin to ache. Taking care of your feet is a priority when you hike, especially when you expect your feet to carry you for miles. Learning to take care of your feet will help you better enjoy the journey and keep your feet healthy.
Common Feet Problems Caused by Hiking
As you begin your hike, you may feel nervous energy pulsing through your legs and feet, fueling your desire to get started on the trail and make it to your destination. After a few miles, however, you may begin to experience some of the common foot ailments that occur during a hike. Three common problems include blisters, plantar fasciitis, and hot spots.
Blisters are painful fluid-filled pockets under your skin. As you hike, your foot repetitively rubs against your sock and shoe. This friction can cause blisters, especially since these areas are damp and warm from sweat and exertion, the best conditions for blisters to form. If your hiking boots aren’t the right size, your feet may slide around more and create more friction, thus producing more blisters. Blisters are common for hikers. If you begin to feel pain or itching, it may be a sign that a blister is forming.
When a hiker takes a break, they may notice some heel pain. Heel pain can be a sign of plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia supports the arch of your foot and absorbs shock when you walk. Hiking can inflame and irritate the fascia from overuse. The foot pain can become even worse if you don’t have proper insoles in your hiking footwear to support the heel and arch of your foot.
If you begin to feel tenderness on a small, specific area of your foot, it can be a warning that a blister will form if no immediate action is taken. These small areas are usually red and tender. When you feel a hot spot forming, stop as soon as you can to remove your shoes and apply moleskin or duct tape to the area to prevent friction and promote healing.
How to Avoid Foot Pain When Hiking
Wearing proper footwear can make all the difference on a hike. Your shoes should be broken in and fit well. Adding insoles can provide additional comfort and support for your feet during a hike. While having the right gear is crucial, it’s also important that you know how to lace your shoes properly to provide breathing room for your feet but to also anchor your heel. Proper, lightweight socks can also aid in the cushion and breathability your feet experience during a hike.
Being Prepared for Foot Pain
As you pack for your hiking trip, whether it’s a couple of hours, a day, or a few days, be sure to grab some items to alleviate foot pain. Some items include:
- Extra socks
- Athletic or duct tape
- Blister Patches
- Alcohol Wipes
- Toenail Clippers
- First Aid Kit
These items will help you in the event of a blister, hot spot, wet or sandy socks.
Hiking can already be a challenge, so there’s no need to add foot pain to the mix. Be sure to stretch, massage, and soak your feet as needed. If you still feel pain in your feet a few days after your hike, be sure to stop by our office to consult with an orthopaedic doctor.