Blisters. Those horrible, water-filled, painful sores appear due to skin damage. For hikers, they can be a nightmare, spoiling the enjoyment of a challenging walk. But a few simple steps can help prevent blisters from appearing in the first place. Read on for some essential tips…
Ensure your footwear is a good fit
It is essential that you have the right size and shape of shoe or boot. Too tight a fit can cause pressure sores; too loose will cause friction. To check if you have the correct fit, you can take out your insole and put your foot down on it. You should have about a thumb width of space between the end of your toes and the end of the insole. When buying a new boot or shoe, reputable outdoor pursuits retailers should be able to measure your foot accurately using a calibrated tool and will be able to advise you on fit.
Choose appropriate socks
Comfortable socks made from moisture-wicking material such as wool, merino, acrylic or bamboo will help prevent the development of blisters by drawing moisture away from the foot. These materials repel water rather than absorb it. But ensure when you buy socks that you try them on with your walking shoes or boots to check that they will be a comfortable fit and go for thinner rather than thicker socks as these will absorb less moisture.
Even neatly fitting footwear may cause sores and blisters if not broken in first. The material needs to soften and stretch a little, creating some give around your feet. Wear your new walking shoes or boots around the house for a while before you go out walking in them for the first time. You may feel a bit daft doing so, but it will be well worth it to break in those new shoes before wearing them outdoors.
Avoid prolonged periods of wetness
A lot of moisture around your feet will encourage blisters to form. Try to avoid long periods of walking in wet conditions and always remember to take a spare pair of socks with you. Not only will the help to prevent blisters, it will also help to prevent fungal infections.
When thinking about your first hike in your new shoes or boots, plan a short hike. You need to ensure that footwear is properly broken in before attempting a longer hike.
Finally, you can also help prevent blisters by using a soft material such as moleskin to protect possible problem areas. Patches of this can be applied to these areas as an extra layer of protection, using the sticky backing to stick to the skin. It is also a good idea, weather permitting, to remove socks and shoes when you are taking a break to let your skin breathe and let your socks dry out a little.
So there you go, some points to consider before investing in new hiking footwear. Take some of these basic precautions to help you enjoy the great outdoors, pain-free, and your feet will thank you for it.
If you are experiencing any pain in your feet, whether it be from a blister or anything else, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with a podiatrist like ourselves. We will be happy to treat your foot pain and put that spring back in your step.
*This blog contains general information about medical conditions and is not advice. You must not rely upon the information in this blog as medical advice. Medical advice should always be sought from an appropriately qualified podiatrist such as ourselves.