Walking is a great way to spend your free time and can have many benefits for your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. However, when you first take up walking, or start to walk longer distances or more demanding routes, you may be faced with painful blisters or even foot injuries. Here are some potential solutions that can help keep your feet more comfortable.
Everyone’s feet are different, and we all have different ways of walking, so our shoes should reflect this. Footwear that is comfortable for one person, may cause pinching, blisters or foot pain for someone else. Knowing what shoes suit the shape of your feet and gait can be key to staying comfortable when out walking. Barefoot shoes are perfect for walking long distances due to their light weight and flexibility. The absence of a raised heel bed and additional padding can put some people off barefoot shoes, especially if you’re used to a more built-up shoe with extensive arch support; however, over time, this support discourages your feet from building their own strength, which can make walking more difficult. When trying barefoot shoes for the first time, it’s a good idea to build up, starting with shorter distances.
Care for your feet
Your feet should be kept as dry as possible as damp feet can quickly become itchy, sore and more prone to blisters and fungal infections. Cracks in your feet can also increase the chances of picking up a foot infection. When setting off for a long-distance walk, pack extra pairs of socks in case your feet get wet either from sweat, puddles or wet weather and make sure to wash and dry your feet fully after a long walk and apply moisturiser. Choosing the right socks is also key to keeping feet dry and reducing unwanted foot odour – isocool and merino wool socks are a good option for walkers.
Prepare for the worst
When it comes to common foot problems, prevention is always better than cure. Blisters, especially on heels and toes, can take days to heal and will make walking painful in the meantime, ruining your walking experience. Specially designed blister tape can help prevent your feet from becoming sore in the first place. You should also take care when cutting or clipping your toenails to prevent problems such as sharp nail edges cutting into other toes or pressing against the ends of your shoes. Ensure your toenails are clean, short and blunt before your walk.
Get in walking shape
Depending on our age and overall health and fitness, it’s recommended that we all walk between 6,000 and 15,000 steps per day. However, if you go from hardly walking at all to tackling 10,000 steps a day, you are likely to face setbacks. Prepare your feet by walking small distances every few days and gradually build up your muscles, the hardiness of your feet and your overall fitness level. You should also incorporate stretching and mobility exercises to reduce your risk of walking-related pain and injury.