Traveling is fun. And whether or not you are backpacking in South-east Asia or going on a trekking in Norway, your feet will have to cover a lot of distance. Probably more than they are used to. Because of this, it is very important to know how you prevent yourself from having blisters, pain in the heel or other foot injuries. Here are a few things you should know on how to keep your feet healthy during travel.
Daily foot care
Good foot hygiene doesn't have to be complicated. The important thing to know is: do not use soap, wash your feet with water every day, and dry your feet well after washing with a clean towel, also between the toes. Soap dries out the skin and affects the natural skin flora and is therefore not recommended. Use a foot cream that is tailored to the foot skin every day. Changing rooms and showers are a source of bacteria and fungi. Always wear bath slippers when showering in hostels or swimming pools.
Clean cotton or wool socks every day will also help. Change shoes regularly. Trim nails regularly and trim them straight to avoid ingrown nails. Nails that are too long hit the shoe wall, especially while descending, and that causes trouble. Also check that the nail does not press against the toe next to it. Expanding feet as a result of hours of walking can cause injuries.
Why a good walking shoe is extremely important for walkers
Most roads nowadays have asphalt, paving stones or paving. Good damping is important on such paved roads. Without proper cushioning in your shoes, every step thunders through to your knees, your back, your neck and even your head. Not everyone will feel this equally, but it can still cause physical complaints in the long run.
Friction or pressure
Ill-fitting hiking boots will put extra pressure and / or friction on the skin, which can eventually cause blisters or calluses, corns and even blue toenails.
A blister is a reaction of your skin to protect the underlying tissue. Fluid accumulates between the epidermis and the dermis, causing you to see a bladder. The first thing you notice is often a burning, red skin.
Calluses are also caused by local friction or pressure from walking shoes that are too loose or have too hard, thin sole. Wearing flip-flops also increases the risk of calluses, especially rubbing the heel along the edge of the slipper. Calluses arise because more new skin cells are produced than die and therefore a build-up of cells occurs. A little callus won't hurt, but excess calluses can cause pain and cracking, blisters and corns.
Temperature and damp
Cold feet are more susceptible to injury than warm feet, and feet that are too warm can eventually become damp and cause blisters. In hot and dry weather, sandals keep your feet nice and airy, but your feet are not well protected against external hazards. On the other hand, wet socks are disastrous for the avid walker, because wet feet are especially prone to blisters. So prepare your feet for the climate you will be traveling in.
Flip-flops, bare feet or sandals are nice and airy when traveling, but do not protect your feet sufficiently against external hazards. Good walking shoes are a good barrier between your toes and, for example, the rough paving stones, a curb or someone else's shoes.
Good walking shoes provide the right support for your foot, so that you are less likely to suffer from injuries, such as overloaded muscles and tendons and even stress fractures.
On unpaved roads, hilly terrain or in the mountains, slippery soles can cause unnecessary sliding. You then have too little grip on the surface. With walking shoes with PU / PU or Vibram soles and a good profile you will have less problems with this. Hiking with shoes that don´t have grip may result in sprained ankles or worse.
Choose the right hiking shoes
There is a reason why people go hiking with hiking boots instead of with flip-flops. Wearing walking shoes is healthy. Due to the cushioning of a walking shoe, your joints, tendons and muscles are less stressed than when you walk on other types of shoes, while you get enough support to avoid spraining your ankle or straining your knees in unpaved terrain.
Try multiple types of hiking boots
When you are going to try new hiking shoes, try them in the afternoon, because your feet are more expanded this time of the day. Also, try multiple types of hiking boots to see which ones work best for you. Wear the socks you are planning on wearing on a big hike.
Good shoes can be expensive. But they are worth every penny. Don´t let the heavy price hold you. If a hiking boot fits perfectly, go for it. Trust me, you don't want to choose cheap hiking shoes that will give you sore feet after day one.
Use insoles if needed
Feet are constantly exposed to pressure and shock. This can lead to foot problems. To protect your feet, keep them comfortable and prevent pain, you can place insoles in your shoes. The importance of insoles is often underestimated. There are different types of insoles: Orthotics support the joints, ligaments and capsules of the foot by means of passive support, especially of the arch and forefoot. Then there is the insole, which basically means a removable insole from the shoe, whether or not made to measure. Another type is the correction insoles. These are designed to correct the foot position. This happens in particular if the foot position needs to be improved, for example in flat feet. It can also have the goal to correct your posture, gait or pressure distribution under the foot.
No matter which type you need, since every foot is unique, it is important that you have custom-made insoles. This way you guarantee they serve you in the way intended. FitMyFoot is a company that produces custom-made insoles by using a 3D printer. Customers can send their photos through the Foot.Science app and get a pair of custom insoles or sandals for your unique feet.