23 Ways To Care For Your Feet On A Hike Or Long Distance Walk
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How To Care For Your Feet On A Hike: When You’re On The Trail
10. Never Go Without Blister Plasters
And take more than you think you’ll need!
I always have Compeed in my first aid kit because I find them to be reliable and comfortable, but there are other brands too. They also come in different sizes for heels and toes. (A pair of scissors on your multi-tool knife means you can also cut them to size too).
The trick to avoiding blisters is to apply a blister plaster as soon as you feel a ‘hot-spot’
It’s that friction you feel, perhaps with a bit of redness, before the blister forms – don’t wait! Do it wherever you are – down your rucksack and look after your feet.
If you’re unlucky enough to have a blister form, don’t lance it (this can cause infection) and cover it with a plaster asap.
11. Dressings Or Tape For Hot Spots?
Tape is meant to be a preventative measure and self-adhesive dressings can do the same or act as ‘cure’ for hot spots. I always carry self-adhesive dressings because they’re a bit bigger than blister plasters and work well on the top of my feet. I prefer dressings rather than tape because they can be used for cuts and grazes as well.
If you prefer tape or want to try it, there are various brands but other hikers recommend Leukotape. You use it before you start your hike as a prevention method and there are lots of Youtube videos for how to apply it.
12. Cut Your Toenails
Keep your toenails short to avoid them rubbing against your toes or banging against the front of your shoes, which can result in black or falling-off nails. And this is painful!
13. Regular Breaks Are The Easiest Way To Care For Your Feet On A Hike
I can’t say this enough. Whenever you stop for a break sit down and give your feet a break too, even if it’s for 10 minutes. I like to sit down for 20 minutes or so at lunchtime because it stops my feet from aching over long distances.
14. Make Time To Air Your feet
This is directly related to resting your feet. When you sit down, take your shoes and socks off and let them air properly. Drying your feet out is the best way to avoid bacterial infection and sores caused because your feet are wet for hours on end. An added bonus is that it can reduce the smell of stinking socks!
15. Don’t Forget To Air Your Shoes
Loosen the laces and take the footbed out, let them air and dry in the same way you dry your feet. Do everything you can to reduce dampness and bacteria.
16. Change Your Socks Mid-Walk
I’ve discovered this is a Godsend for someone with feet that sweat as much as mine! Completely dry socks really help with comfort and reduce the sores I get between my toes, and mid-walk or lunch is the perfect time to change them. Plus it gives me the chance to dry out and air the first pair I was wearing by hanging them off my rucksack somewhere.
17. Wash And Dry Your Socks Whenever You Can
If you’re staying at a campsite you could use a bit of soap and give them a good rinse. But if you’re not? You might find a public loo or a stream where you can give them a rinse to get out grit and reduce bacteria.
Don’t use any form of soap in streams or rivers
(You can read more about the damage soap can do in watercourses in my article Leave No Trace: 12 Ways You Can Help)
18. Slather Your Feet With Vaseline!
This is my absolute saviour! I slather it between my toes where I’m really susceptible to sores. I apply it before I start hiking and then every time I take a rest after they’ve dried out. It helps keep sweat and water off, stops friction and keeps them supple.
19. Walking Foot Powder: Simple Talc
Other hikers swear by talc in the same way I swear by Vaseline. Don’t overdo it though: if you use too much it can clump and become uncomfortable. Shake a little in your socks and on your feet.
20. And Relax! Give Your Feet A Massage
A massage with a ball (or can) helps to relax muscles and tendons on the bottom of your feet
You could take a small ball if you don’t mind the weight, but a small can that you already carry can have the same effect (deodorant, for example). You just put the ball/can under your foot and roll it backwards and forwards for a few minutes.
21. Strengthen and Stretch
You can do this before you leave as well as on the trail. Heel raises are recommended for strength and I find heel drops help stretch out my Achilles tendon (I find a kerb or something similar to do it on).
Other ways to stretch out your feet include crouching down on your toes or sitting down and pulling your feet and toes towards you. It’s worth checking out some yoga videos for other ideas.
22. Always Wash And Dry Your feet At The End Of The Day
This is vital at the end of a day’s hike before you get into your sleeping bag. Just give them a rinse with water if it’s not practical to use soap. I always make sure I do it well between my toes. You can either air dry them or use a microfibre towel or a buff. I usually take a small piece of old microfibre towel cut to about the size of a flannel, which works perfectly.
23. Foot Cream – Possibly The Most Luxurious Way To Care For Your Feet On A Hike!
Oh my God, this is absolute heaven at the end of the day!
I wash and dry my feet, then apply a lavender foot cream with essential oil. It’s the perfect opportunity to give them a good massage before I put on my fluffy bed socks and snuggle down into my sleeping bag for the night.
What better way to treat your hard-working feet before getting back to it the next day?
Well, that’s it: 23 ways to care for your feet on a hike! I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything to add to the list, so why not leave your tips below?
Remember that experience is the thing that will really help you – everyone’s feet are different after all!
Gaining experience means some trial and error though, so give yourself the best chance for healthy hiking feet and follow as many of these tips as you can.
Thanks for reading and
If you’ve found this guide helpful why not support me to write the next one? You can buy me a coffee over on KoFi – a cappuccino’s only £3.00 and it’ll keep me going as I sit in a cafe ready to share all my experiences with you! Thanks my lovely.