Monday, July 18, 2011

Feet maintenance on the trail

Feet can be the most annoying and painful part of your body after walking for a while. While the problem is mostly blisters, which rarely cause any permanent problems, there are real dangers too, for example a condition known as Stress fracture. So, get to know your feet, and if they really are killing you, dont be a dumbass and "tough it up".

Here's a couple of things Ive learned.

1. Obvious, yet often overlooked: stop and check your feet from time to time. When your tired, and dont feel any obvious hot spots on your feet, it's easy to just keep on going. Then, after you stop and rest for 15 minutes, you realize you have a huge blister developing. The thing is, often hotspots cannot be felt while walking, until its too late. So, take a break, get your shoes and socks off, check your feet visually and let them rest. Massage your feet and give them a good slap or two, to get the blood flowing.

2. Cotton socks. "Cotton kills", at least my feet they do. I've actually had blisters from a 5 mile evening walk with the best shoes I own, just because it was hot enough for my feet to get sweaty and I had cheap cotton "tennis" -socks on. So, get good socks, and try them out before going on a hike!

3. Layering socks. There are socks that are specially designed for layering up, but the cheap way is to buy womens angle-lenght socks. You know, those that are made from the same strechy material as pantyhoses. I usually have a pair of those in my backpack just in case. Ive noticed that sometimes just a pair of thin hiking socks is perfect and then another day it might be raining hard and I need to add a pair of womens socks to take some of the friction off. Anyway, having a pair will give you more options with the cost of 2 eurs and a few extra grams on your backpack. Also, the socks in question often offer a cheap laugh at the camp fire.

4. Blister plasters (=bandages). I dunno who invented these first, but the person responsible should get the Nobel price of hiking equipment. I've used the Compeed brand. What the blister plaster (damn, that sounds like a Mad Max villain) does is it covers the blister with a slippery, skin-like layer, eases the pain almost immediately, and stays on for days and days, minimizing further friction and actually healing the blister while you walk. These little things can save your trip. Highly recommended!

5. Shoes. What can I say? Some say that shoes are the most important piece of hiking gear, and I cant really argue with that. Pick 'em carefully, and dont take a pair of brand new shoes to a hike. Wear them in with miles and miles of all kinds of terrain.

Feet maintenance: after a long walk its nice to walk barefeet in the camp,
to let the feet breathe. When your feet are wet and wrinkly,
they might end up looking a bit weird, though

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