We are blessed in this country to have some of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe so it’s no surprise there’s been a massive surge of people heading to the hills and trails! The Sperrins, Mournes, and Culcaigh’s ‘Stairway to heaven’ just a stone throw away from us here in Dungannon, the beauty is truly on the doorstep as the saying goes. I could write a long list of benefits of why hiking and walking is good for your health and mental health but as a podiatrist, I am going to advise on how to keep your feet happy and healthy when hitting the trails.
One of the most beneficial tips I can give you is: GET THE RIGHT GEAR
Having the right gear on your feet is the most beneficial way to keep your feet happy, you don’t have to spend a fortune and get the very best gear on the market, you just need gear that fits correctly and is suited to you. I have heard stories from my patients that have seen people hiking barefoot, wearing flip-flops and even high heeled boots! I have a great respect for their efforts but I can’t begin to imagine how much pain their feet were in the following day. Most outdoors shops have staff on hand to advise what boot, shoe or trainer is best suited to your needs and what size you should go for, keep in mind when trying them on that you will be wearing thicker socks in the colder months.
Experienced hikers swear by a good pair of waterproof hiking boots and this might be the case for some people but with advancements in research and technology, trail runners (trainer and hiking boot hybrid) might be an option to consider as there’s typically more flexibility and cushioning. Whenever you have got your footwear of choice, make sure you ‘break them in’ around the house or on a short leisurely walk before heading to the hills. Breaking them in helps mould the boots/shoes to your feet which means you will less likely get blisters after a long day hiking. Another tip for preventing blisters is to get merino wool (or merino wool infused) socks, it’s a thinner and cooler wool which reduces sweating and chances of getting blisters.
ON THE DAY: First of all, be prepared for the weather and choose your gear accordingly to reflect the conditions and temperate. Make sure your footwear is broken in and laced up correctly. Depending on your ability, make sure to stretch out your legs, calves and hamstrings and do a few rotations of your feet. There are plenty of resources and videos online on how to properly stretch if you’re not familiar. Most importantly, be safe and enjoy yourself, go at a pace comfortable to you and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
If you find you’re having continuous problems with your feet even with following this advice, get in touch with us and we will advise what treatment is needed. Give us a call on 028 8772 4466 to arrange an appointment or if you need further information.