Whether you’re young or old, inexperienced or expert, hiking a trail is a great way to get back to the simplicity of nature and refresh your soul. It’s a great way to enjoy the company of friends and loved ones while partaking in a healthy endeavor. To ensure you have a good time, proper foot care is essential. Keep your feet happy for the long-haul with these five tips:
1. Carry lightweight backpacking gear – Be mindful that every step you take sends a tiny jolt through your feet that is magnified by the weight of your backpack and all your gear.
2. Wear lightweight, breathable shoes, that fit properly – When choosing a hiking shoe look for one that is lightweight, breathable, flexible and (most importantly) fits your foot. Traditional heavy leather boots are not good footwear because they are stiff and abrasive to the feet.
3.Wear socks that provide enough cushion (But not so thick they overheat your feet) – When choosing hiking socks you want a combination of cushion and breath-ability. Too much moisture around your feet is detrimental and can cause serious problems over time, especially in the cold, damp weather. To avoid feeling miserable, it’s best to take the time to find appropriate socks to avoid suffering after you have finished your outdoor fun.
4. Replace the cheap insoles that come with your hiking shoes with high quality insoles – Unfortunately, most hiking shoes come with cheap foam insoles. They don’t provide enough arch support or shock absorption and usually end up flat as a pancake in not too many miles. In general it’s a good idea to upgrade your insoles with a more supportive and comfortable orthotic in all of your shoes, but it’s especially useful for when you are venturing in rugged outdoor terrain.
5. Be proactive about fixing “hot spots” (Before they develop into blisters) – If you follow the above suggestions in this list: carry lightweight gear, wear good shoes, socks and insoles, plus take frequent rest breaks and keep your feet clean you will have eliminated most of the sources of friction that cause blisters. However if you feel the pain of a blister coming on, you can use a bit of duct tape to provide a temporary “quick fix” until you get home. Since duct tape is very sticky on one side and smooth on the other it will stay on and reduce the rubbing on your skin for a good period of time.
Finally, if nothing else works, you can always turn to “Vitamin I” which is the pet name given to ibuprofen by outdoor enthusiasts. Commonly used anti-inflammatory and anti-pain medicine can provide you with enough temporary relief to get through your trip and keep your spirits up as well.