The beautiful changing leaves and crisp air here in New England are a real incentive to hit one or more of the many hiking trails our area has to offer. While this can be an enjoyable activity and a good way to stay fit, it can also result in pain and suffering for your feet. At New England Foot & Ankle Specialists we want to offer patients a few tips to help protect your feet when hiking:
Wear the right shoes. Hiking boots are designed specifically for the type of terrain and activity you’ll experience on the trail. Good quality boots will be water resistant and have a graphite or steel shank and offer strong ankle support while at the same time reducing muscle and tendon fatigue. A well molded sole with deep treads will help avoid slipping on loose rocks and make falls and ankle sprains less likely.
Don’t settle when it comes to socks. Believe it or not, your socks play a big part in your comfort when hiking. Consider wearing two pairs for maximum protection. Start with a synthetic sock which will fit snuggly and minimize friction which causes blisters. This type of sock will also keep your foot dry. Wool socks over top of these will keep moisture away from your feet and toes (an important part of preventing fungal infections) and also add a layer of cushioning and warmth.
Start slow and work your way up. Literally! Climbing steep mountains up long trails the first day out is a good way to end up with very sore muscles, injuries and inflammatory conditions such as Achilles tendonitis. Warm up before and after your hike and start with short hikes that have relatively easy terrain. Gradually increase the distance and difficulty level of your hikes.
If it hurts, stop. Listen to your body. When you start to feel muscle soreness or more serious pain, head back. If pain is sharp or severe or continues for more than a couple of days, contact our Somers or Reading office for an appointment. Our podiatrists: Dr. George A. Abboud, Dr. Brian D. Tedesco, Dr. Carl Conui and Dr. Kimberly Thurmond will examine the area in pain and find the problem. Prompt diagnosis and treatment will help prevent a more debilitating injury down the line.