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Feet & Foot Care for Hiking

March 29, 2010

Your feet are the instrument you will be making most use of in Hiking so taking good care of them is essential. Your foot is a mechanical marvel consisting of a structure of 52 separate bones, tendons, and muscles together forming a small, flexible but strong platform. It is capable of keeping us balanced and moving even under heavy loads and uneven terrains. In this section, we will look at ways to train your feet and how to deal with the common ailments that trouble them. We pay special attention to Foot Blisters which are the number one common foot ailment in Hiking.

Prepare & Train your Feet
Make sure that your feet can meet the demands of Hiking. You will need to prepare and train your feet for the specific strains of this Outdoor Activity. This section covers some tips on how to keep your feet ready for Hiking:

Our feet were naturally designed to cope with uneven and rough surfaces. However, city streets have replaced the rougher terrains of old and have made our feet lazy. So it will take some time to get them adjusted for carrying the extra load of a heavy backpack across varying uneven terrains for extended periods of time. Here are some tips on training and preparing your feet for Hiking:

  • First of all, you can train your feet by doing some simple exercises as explained in the section on Getting into Shape for Hiking. Regular Hiking and Walking Exercise will keep your feet prepared and trained for the activity.
  • Walking barefoot whenever you can will help you develop leathery soles that give added protection.
  • Rubbing your feet with Benzoin can be done to toughen up the skin on your toes, heels, and soles.
  • If you have excess callus or corns then you will want to avoid those areas cracking and becoming very painful. Remove the excess callus with a skin vile. Use skin cream to keep the skin of your feet elastic and moist without removing the needed callus to pad your soles and heels.
  • Athlete’s foot is caused by a foot fungus that can seriously damage the skin of your feet. Make sure to treat it well before heading out. Hiking Boots provide the perfect condition for the fungi to do more damage on your feet. Your doctor can provide you with an anti-fungi lotion that will take care of your problems in a few weeks.
  • Check your toe nails for ingrown or sharp edges and trim them short before going Hiking.
  • If you have parts of your feet that are known to develop Blisters quickly, you might want to cover them up with moleskin before even taking the first step.

Common Walking Disorders
There are certain feet conditions that can affect your walking and hiking performance. In this section, get familiar with Pronation, Elongation, and Supination. In addition, know how you can spot and possibly compensate for them.

It is important to know if you have any disorders to your feet or to your walking technique. In this way, you can take these disorders into account when Buying Hiking Boots and take the necessary measures to compensate for the condition. In this section, we will quickly look at the most common feet and walking disorders or conditions and how you can spot and possibly compensate for them.


Description: Pronation is the tendency to rotate your foot inward too much thereby placing too much stress on your unsupported edge. Pronating is very common and the effect will only be intensified by walking with a heavy backpack.

Symptoms: Check your current Hiking Boots and other footwear. If the inner edge of the sole is worn out more than the rest of your sole then you are pronating.

Treatment/Compensation: You can compensate by inserting prescription footbeds in your shoes. Consult with your doctor for possible corrective therapies.


Description: This is the exact opposite of Pronation where this time, the tendency is to rotate your foot outward. Likewise, the effect of Supination will be enhanced by walking with a heavy backpack.

Symptoms: Check your current Hiking Boots and other footwear. If the outer edge of the sole is worn out more than the rest of your sole then you are supinating.

Treatment/Compensation: You can compensate by inserting prescription footbeds in your shoes. Consult with your doctor for possible corrective therapies.


Description: Elongation is a condition where your foot is too flexible in the arch and will bend under heavier loads, causing the length of your foot to increase too much.

Symptoms: You will feel pain on your toes while hiking with a backpack as your foot is stretched against the front of your boot. To test for elongation, stand up straight on a piece of paper and have someone draw the outline of your feet. Now add a backpack and do the same. If the outline of your feet with backpack exceeds the length of the outline without backpack with more than a quarter of an inch, you suffer from elongation.

Treatment/Compensation: Train your feet barefoot with a backpack and get prescription footbeds. If the problems persist, consult with your doctor for possible corrective therapies.

These are the common Feet Conditions that can affect your Hiking performance. Should you have any of these conditions, prepare and train your feet to ensure that you can compensate for them.

Blisters – Prevention & Treatment
Blisters are the number one ailment in several Outdoor Activities. But they can be avoided in a number of ways such as enough preparation. This section focuses on what you need to know about Blisters – causes, prevention, as well as treatment.

Blisters are the number one foot ailment in Hiking and they can turn the greatest hike into the most painful one. Blisters can be avoided by proper Foot Training, having the correct Hiking Boots and Hiking Socks, and by early detection of possible problems. In this section, know the causes of Blisters and how to prevent Blisters, and how to treat them.

What causes Foot Blisters?

  • Heat: is the number one reason for getting Blisters. The heat responsible for causing Blisters is mostly caused by the friction between your skin and the inner of your boot. Sand and gravel in your boot can increase friction which is why they also cause Blisters.
  • Moisture: moist or wet feet from sweat or water are more susceptible to Blisters as moisture softens your skin.

How to Prevent Foot Blisters

Preventing Blisters boils down to countering the factors that cause them. In general, keeping your feet cool, dry, and free of sand will do the trick. Here are some tips on how to prevent Blisters:

  • First of all, select Hiking Boots with good fit that do not chafe your feet or have painful pressure points. Choose watertight but breathable boots that give the proper ventilation that will get rid of excess moisture. Look for fully gusseted tongs that keep sand and gravel outside of your boots. .
  • Give your feet ample rest. If you feel that your feet might be moist or overheated, it might be wise to make some alterations to your Hiking Rhythm and take a longer rest where you take off your boots and socks. If you do so, you might want to change socks and dry the ones you had on. Having two pairs of socks used alternately is always a good idea to prevent Blisters.
  • If you decide to cool your feet in a stream or pool then make sure to dry them off well before you put on your socks and boots.
  • When conditions allow it, take off your boots and socks and walk with hiking sandals.

Early Treatment of Itchy Foot Blisters

Blisters develop over a period of time and often you can already feel one coming up. Early detection and treatment is the key to preventing full grown Blisters. If you feel a sore place on your foot or irritation, do the following:

  • Take off your boots and hiking socks immediately and remove any sand or gravel from your feet.
  • Let your feet dry and cool down.
  • Cover the sore area with surgical tape, band-aid, or even better special Blister moleskin. Moleskins are artificial skin that you can cut to shape and stick to your own skin. Moleskin can be purchased in most drugstores in a variety of brands and features.
  • Remove the moleskin once you stop hiking and let the skin recover during the night. The next morning, you can judge for yourself to apply a new cover or not. In general, take precautions and apply moleskin even if the area is only moderately irritated.

On Healing Foot Blisters

  • If the Blisters are at the surface and filled with fluid, you should take a sterilized needle and pierce the skin blisters. Pierce from the side close to the base of the Blister and let all the liquid flow out. If the affected skin is still intact then do not remove it. Instead, cover the drained Blister with moleskin.If the affected area is ruptured then carefully cut it away and clean the underlying new skin with rubbing alcohol or an antiseptic. If you have the time, you should allow the new skin to harden in the open air. If you need to move on again, apply moleskin and use gauze to keep the moleskin from directly contacting the tender new skin. Once the new skin has hardened a bit, you can apply benzoin or rubbing alcohol to further toughen up the new skin. Keep the new skin clean and sterilize it to prevent infection.
  • If the Blisters on Foot are buried deep in your skin and does not hold a lot of liquid then do not try to puncture them. Instead, just cover them with moleskin.

These are the basic things you need to know about Foot Care. It is essential that you have adequate First Aid knowledge and training if you are engaged in Outdoor Activities such as Hiking.

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