Total Foot Care While Hiking: Foot care is a very important part of hiking. In the good old days when people used horses as their main form of transport there was a very valid saying “no foot, no horse”, well, that still rings true today, but maybe we should tweak it just a little bit, “no foot, no hike”. Your feet are definitely the single most important bit of you when it comes to hiking so make sure that you treat them well and you’ll have “Happy Feet”.
Hikers, particularly those who enjoy a long hike can be prone to these common foot complaints.
How to take Foot Care while Hiking
Hikers and Athletes Foot
Athletes foot is actually caused by a natural fungus, and although a small amount of this fungus can actually be beneficial, too much can be a real problem. Too much of the fungus can consume the calluses on the feet which might be useful at first, but eventually lead to problems with blistering and abrasion. Other symptoms that a hiker is suffering from athletes foot might be blistering of surface layers of skin, itching or even a bit of oozing puss. Yuk. What can you do about it?
It’s important that your feet have the chance to breathe, so every time you have a hiking break why not take your boots off and get a little air to your toes, another alternative is to wear well ventilated hiking boots or shoes if possible. You should also use anti-fungal medication.
There’s plenty of it available “over the counter” in liquids, sprays, powders etc. Remember also that Athletes foot is contagious so it’s a great idea to wear a pair of flip-flops whenever you take a shower . . . this will help to stop you from spreading your athlete’s foot among your fellow hikers and prevent you from catching it once you’ve rid yourself of the problem. Always take foot care while hiking otherwise it can turn our hiking into a nightmare.
Hikers and Blisters
Blisters are the most common of all complaints among hikers, but one good thing about blisters is that they can nearly always be avoided, and if you do have painful blisters then they are quite easy to treat . . . however, they’re also very painful whilst you have them.
The best piece of advice which any fellow hiker will give you is to always, always, always break in your hiking boots or hiking shoes before you go on a hike. Some experts reckon that your hiking boots or shoes should have at least 50 miles “on the clock” before you trust them on a long hike.
Two Pair of Socks Can Prevent it to Some extents
Hikers who are particularly prone to suffering from blisters often find that they can be prevented by wearing two pairs of socks. A thin pair of socks close to your skin which have moisture-wicking properties and will keep your feet nice and dry are essential, along with a nice padded pair on top to help keep you comfortable. Cotton socks are a big “no-no” because cotton actually absorbs moisture and can cause even more blistering on your poor hiking feet.
If you do feel a dreaded blister starting to form while you’re hiking then waste no time in stopping to take care of the problem . . . a little uncomfortable twinge can soon develop into a very painful, and potentially hike ending situation.
Small “baby blisters” can often be stopped in their tracks by using a simple band-aid, moleskin or even a piece of duct tape. Inflamed blisters need to be treated with 2nd Skin which is deliciously cool and forms a skin over the problem to prevent any further rubbing. Always have some 2nd Skin handy, next to the moleskins.
Blisters which are filled with fluid are extremely painful, but the best way to deal with them is to walk on them. Once the blister starts to drain then the painfulness will subside a little and the blister can start to heal. Make sure that you keep any burst blisters clean and sterile though, as they are at risk of infection.
Hikers and Cracked Calluses
Preventive foot care while hiking is the best way to avoid issues beforehand. Cracked calluses are another potential foot problem for long distance hikers. Calluses are dead skin, which can bleed when it cracks which is extremely painful. Some hikers actually use superglue as a temporary solution to painful cracked calluses on the trail.
You must make sure that the callus is completely clean before applying the superglue, and then pinch the crack together until the glue dries. Of course, the real solution to cracked calluses is to make sure that your feet are nicely moisturized, so if your hike is in a particularly dry climate it’s a good idea to add an extra sock layer to keep more moisture in.
Look After Your Feet While Hiking
Even if you’re lucky enough not to be suffering from athletes foot, blisters or cracked calluses, you should still look after your feet if you want a pain free hiking experience.
(A) Take off your hiking boots or shoes when you stop for a rest to allow your feet to breathe and the inside of your boots to dry out. Take the insoles out if possible so that they can dry too.
(B) Put your feet up, I’m not joking, a little elevation reduces swelling and encourages good circulation around your tootsies.
(C) Have a paddle. A cool refreshing paddle not only makes you feel good on a hot hike, it’s also really great for hot feet to take a cool dunking.
(D) Make sure that your socks are clean and not full debris or wrinkles which can cause blisters. In other words – “pull your socks up”.
(E) Get fresh socks. This not only makes the whole taking your boots off a much pleasant experience, but can actually help to keep your feet fresh. Dry off your sweaty socks by letting them hang from your backpack as you continue on your hike.
(F) Give yourself a foot massage after a long day on the hiking trail, unless you can find someone who’s willing to do it for you of course.