DG Podiatrist’s Guide: How to look after your feet when hiking

Greeting fellow hikers,

This guide is made for hikers and adventurers of all levels, with your needs in mind. All the information below is your DG Podiatrist’s Guide: How to look after your feet when hiking which can be downloaded here.

Sadly I can’t be there on this trip, but I’m hoping that using this guide will feel like having your podiatrist in your pocket.

Hashtag or tag @DGPodiatrist in your social media pictures! I would love to see and be part of your journey.

Dina Gohil, CEO and Founder, DG Podiatrist Ltd

Stretches

The best time to exercise is usually when the muscles are warm. By stretching, evidence suggests it can give you more power, speed and reduce the risk of injury and soreness. So before and after any forms of exercise including hiking, it is advised to stretch. 

It is best to stretch daily in the morning and on return from activities. Remember to breathe deeply and allow oxygen to help your muscles, as increasing the amount of oxygen will help break down the lactic acid that causes the discomfort of a cramp. If you are prone to cramps practicing your breathing can truly help. 

Visit our blog on various foot and ankle stretches here.

Laces

While every foot and boot is different, it is important to make sure your heel is firmly at the back of the shoe. Make sure your laces are tied in a way to give you the most support and comfort. Avoid tying them too tight as this can cause pressure and pain.  

Please see this fantastic guide on laces for different foot types here.

Footwear advice

Your heel should be firmly at the rear of the boot and the toes should have adequate room to wiggle. Make sure you foot is not sliding too much in the boot as this can lead to blisters. Likewise the boot being too small can cause pain to the toes and the nails. Arch support, ankle support, shock absorption and excellent grip is key to a good hiking boot.

Keep the feet happy with well broken in, perfect fitting and supportive boots. If you notice any areas where the boot is rubbing on the foot during the breaking in period, take special note, as these may be areas blisters can develop during long hikes. 

See blisters below for tips on how to prevent and manage blisters.

Socks

You will need moisture wicking, breathable, comfort, warmth and multiple pairs for your journey. Avoid 100% cotton; instead try wool blends with synthetic fibres.Wearing your socks inside out means the stitching over time wont cause pain or nail loss over long distances. 

If you are planning on wearing dual socks, ensure both socks are inside out. The first pair should be thin, well fitted and comfortable to reduce moisture. The second pair will reduce friction with the footwear and should be wool blend.

Blisters

Under the skin, commonly caused by increased friction between layers of skin resulting to painful fluid filled pockets. By ensuring your socks, footwear and friction is controlled the likelihood getting blisters can be minimalised. 

Alternative blister preventions are:

Applying zinc oxide tape to areas of friction overnight. This way the adhesive will not move during your hike. 
Talcum powder in the socks and in-between the toes.
Lubricants like petroleum jelly or blister sticks.
Deodorant sticks can be rubbed to help reduce moisture for those more prone to sweaty feet.

Toenails

Toenails are worth looking after before any hike. Make sure your nails are cut to the natural curvature of the nail. Cut them short enough so there is a small white edge still left. If you cannot cut the corners use a nail file to smoothen them. This will help prevent any snagging on the socks.

Making sure they are short can help prevent nail pressure from footwear during hiking or other forms of exercise. If you notice any nails changing colour or pain in the corners, soak your feet in warm water with a handful of salt on a daily basis during your planned activity. This helps cleanse the area and soft tissue around, and in turn eases pain and helps prevent infection. 

On return see your podiatrist.


Tired feet and how to rest them

Your feet have a way of telling you they have enjoyed your journey and they would like to rest. You should be proud of how much you have been able to accomplish. If they feel tired then this is completely normal. 

Soaking your feet in warm water with a handful of salt at the end of the day will provide relief to the soft tissue allowing for relaxation. Massaging your feet with a foot cream after, from the heel up to the toes, will help improve circulation. 

When going to sleep elevate the mattress using towels for example, so you can sleep with ease with your legs and feet elevated. Following these steps will help them feel fresh and ready for the next day.


Foot and ankle pain advice

Here are a few tips for certain types of injury:

Sprains/strains

These are usually associated with muscles, soft tissue, ligaments or tendons. If you or another are suffering from this, the key aspect is to use ICE/ COLD compress, elevation and strapping, along with rest when possible. 

Bone fracture pain

If you are unfortunate to get a fracture, it is important to seek medical attention. Get an X-ray to see the extent of the damage and rest with the foot and ankle elevated. Avoid walking and weight bearing as much as possible.

Toenail pain

Soak your foot in warm water with a handful of salt for 10-15mins on a daily basis. If you notice the nail is coming off, avoid tearing the nail off. You may cut the loose edges, but if you are unable to do so use a regular plaster to cover it. This will prevent any socks from catching and causing further trauma. 

Blister pain

Usually if small enough leave them alone. Use Compeed to cover and they will settle down. If the blister is large and needs to be drained make sure the area is cleansed and sterilized as much as possible. Occasionally, blisters can pop naturally - apply gentle pressure to aid the liquid to empty.  Use Compeed or alternative dressing to keep covered. Do not under any circumstance tear the roof of the blister away as this can stem more pain - an open wound can lead to a infection. 

Cuts/open skin

Cleanse the areas with salt water if you do not have access to sterilized saline, and apply antiseptic ointment. Cover the area with a dressing of your choice. It is advised to have your feet checked by a podiatrist at the end of the trip to ensure all aspects are in good condition.


Book your appointment

DG Podiatrist Ltd, 58 South Molton Street, Mayfair, W1K 5SL

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7706 1997

Email: info@dgpodiatrist.com

*Harrods staff receive 20% discount off on showing their Harrods staff card.