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10 Tips to Keep Your Feet Healthy During a Hike

It’s better to prevent foot pain and blisters than recover from them.

Yet, it’s possible. With proper care, you can keep your feet healthy throughout the hike. Your happy feet will ensure a satisfying hiking experience.

Problems in your feet during a hike are for a few reasons. The primary ones are heat, continuous pressure, lower blood flow, and wet shoes. The following ten tips will help you to have these in balance.

1. Wear the proper boots and socks – ensure they fit well.

Anyone who has ever worn ill-fitting shoes can attest that discomfort can quickly ruin a good time.

The same is true of hiking boots – if they don’t fit well, you’re in for a long day of misery. Poorly fitting boots can cause blisters, putting you off commission for weeks.

To avoid this fate, choosing the proper boots and socks is essential. Make sure the shoes are comfortable and insoles provide support.

Socks should be thick enough to cushion your feet but not so thick that they cause friction. With decent footwear, you’ll be able to hike for miles without care.

2. Carry a first-aid kit with supplies for blisters, cuts, and insect bites.

A foot care kit is essential for any hiker, especially if you plan on doing any serious hiking.

Blisters, cuts, and insect bites can all put a damper on your hike. But with a foot care kit, you can fix your feet and return to enjoying the outdoors.

Foot care kits should include bandages, antiseptic cream, moleskin, and tape. With these supplies, you can treat blisters, cuts, and insect bites quickly and effectively. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to bring a spare pair of socks in case your feet get wet.

By being prepared for foot problems, you can hike confidently, knowing that you can fix your feet if they start to give you trouble.

3. Keep your hiking shoes and socks free from dirt.

Hiking is a great way to get out and enjoy nature, but it’s important to remember that your shoes and socks will likely get very dirty. If you don’t clean them properly, your boots could start to smell bad, and the dirt could cause blisters on your feet. Here are a few tips for keeping your shoes and socks clean on a hike:

  • Wash your feet with soap and water at the end of the day, paying particular attention to the areas between your toes.
  • If you have wet shoes or socks, try to dry them off as soon as possible. You can stuff them with newspaper or towels to help absorb the moisture.
  • Before putting away wet shoes, sprinkle some talcum powder or cornstarch inside to help absorb moisture and prevent mildew.
  • If your shoes start to smell bad, sprinkle some baking soda inside and let them air out overnight. In the morning, brush out the baking soda; they should smell fresh again.

4. Elevate your legs in the middle of a hike.

If you start to feel pain in your feet during a hike, it’s essential to take a break and elevate your legs. This will help reduce swelling and give your feet a chance to rest. Find a spot to sit or lie and prop your feet on something. If you don’t have anything to prop them up with, try crossing your legs to elevate your feet.

It’s common, during long walks, to feel pain and a little bit of swelling in your feet. But by taking a few minutes to elevate them, you can reduce the swelling and continue your hike. Your feet swell because, as you walk, the muscles contract and push blood toward your feet. The muscles relax when you stop and elevate your feet, and the blood flow slows down. This helps reduce swelling.

After a few minutes of elevation, you should feel relief in your feet. If the pain persists, it’s best to head back to the trailhead and call it a day. Hiking is supposed to be enjoyable, so don’t push yourself beyond your limits.

You may also try compression socks for better blood flow and reduce swelling.

5. Give your feet a gentle massage during breaks.

Several studies have confirmed that massage can help reduce pain and improve circulation. So, give them a little massage if your feet start to hurt during a hike.

During a hike, you don’t need special lotions or equipment. Just use your hands to massage your feet for a few minutes. Start by rubbing the balls of your feet and then move to the heels, ankles, and toes. If you have sore spots, spend a little extra time massaging them.

After a few minutes of massage, you should feel relief in your feet. The increased circulation will help reduce pain and swelling. Plus, the massage can be relaxing, helping you enjoy the rest of your hike.

If you’re hiking with a partner, take turns giving each other foot massages. It’s a great way to bond with your hiking buddy and ensure everyone feels good enough to continue.

6. Trekking poles help.

Trekking poles are often associated with older hikers or those with bad knees. But even if you’re young and fit, trekking poles can be a great addition to your hiking gear. That’s because they take some strain off your legs and feet.

When you hike with trekking poles, you need to use them correctly to get the most benefit. First, adjust the poles to be the right height for you. Your elbows should be around 90 degrees bent when you change the height of the pole. Then, grip them lightly and plant them in the ground ahead of you with each step. As you walk, your arms help take some weight off your legs.

Trekking poles are beneficial on long hikes or when carrying a lot of gear. They help reduce stress on your feet, legs, and knees. So, if you have any pain in your lower body, give them a try on your next hike.

7. Take care of blisters quickly.

Blisters are one of the most common problems hikers face. They’re caused by friction and usually form on the feet’ heels, toes, or balls. If you feel a hot spot on your foot, stop immediately and put tape on it. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a painful blister.

Wear well-fitting shoes and socks that don’t rub or chafe your skin to prevent blisters. And be sure to break in your new hiking boots before taking them on a long hike.

If you do get a blister, don’t pop it. Popping a blister can cause an infection. Instead, clean the area and cover it with a bandage or moleskin. Apply antibiotic ointment to the blister to help prevent disease.

If you regularly get blisters in a particular area, you could also pretape that area before you start your hike. Doing this provides an extra layer of protection and can help prevent blisters from forming.

You may have to wear hiking shoes a size bigger to avoid friction.

8. Hydrate your body well.

This may be standard advice for hikers. But it does affect your feet as well.

When your body doesn’t have enough water, it starts to ration what little it has. First, it sends water to your vital organs, leaving your muscles and skin high and dry. As a result, you can get cramps, muscle spasms, and other problems.

Dehydration also causes your blood vessels to constrict. This reduces blood flow to your feet, making them more susceptible to injury. So, ensure you drink enough water before, during, and after your hike.

Carry a water bottle with you on the trail. And often drink, even if you’re not thirsty. By the time you feel thirsty, you may already be dehydrated.

If you’re going on a multi-day backpacking trip, you should know where to find water sources. That way, you can refill your water bottle and stay hydrated throughout your hike.

9. Start your hike early.

Getting an early start on your hike is a great way to avoid the heat. If it’s too hot, you risk dehydration and heat exhaustion.

Excessive heat can also lead to blisters. When your feet are sweating, they’re more likely to rub against your shoes and develop blisters. So, hiking in cooler temperatures can help prevent this problem.

If you can’t start your hike early, try to hike during the cooler hours of the day. And take breaks often to cool down and drink water.

Hiking in the heat can be dangerous. But if you take precautions and stay hydrated, you can enjoy a safe and enjoyable hike.

10. Don’t get wet. Keep your feet warm.

Wet feet are more susceptible to blisters and other problems. So, try to keep them dry.

If you must cross a stream or river, take your shoes and socks off and walk through the water. Then, put your shoes and socks back on as soon as possible.

You can also buy waterproof socks that will help keep your feet dry. And if your shoes get wet, take them off and let them air dry whenever possible.

If it’s cold, make sure to keep your feet warm. Cold weather can cause frostbite when the tissue in your body freezes.

Wear socks made of wool or synthetic materials. These materials will help wick away moisture and keep your feet warm.

Conclusion

The pleasure of a hike can quickly turn into pain if you don’t take care of your feet. Every hiker at some point has experienced it.

We may call it a memorable experience, but in the end, it’s best to avoid pain and blisters in the first place. Not only do you ruin your hike, but if the recovery takes time, you might miss the next one. n

Following these tips can prevent blisters and other foot problems on your next hike. So you can focus on enjoying the scenery and getting some exercise instead of limping back to the trailhead.

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