5 Top Ways to Protect Your Feet on Vacation

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You Need Your Feet

So you’re getting ready to set off on your great adventure!

You’ve been in lockdown for what seems like years and finally the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have allowed you to travel to places within America as long as you have been fully vaccinated with an FDA-Approved vaccine.

With that out of the way you have decided to explore a little more of your own country. 

Let’s face it, people come from all around the world to visit your beautiful country, maybe you shouls find out what all that excitement is about!

One of the best ways to see the natural wonders of the county-side is to do a driving and hiking holiday. Drive to some of the most famous and picturesque locations in your country and set about hiking to truly immerse yourself in the elements.

 

 

One small thing I’d like to mention before you head off into the great yonder, you’re going to need your feet!

I am an Australian podiatrist and have seen too many times the disastrous feet trauma that has brought many an exiting holiday to a screaming halt.

Walking with blisters can be almost impossible due to the intense pain.

Feet with blisters on the heels

Many other conditions such as: ingrown toenail infections, bruised toenails, rolled ankles, tinea (yes even tinea can stop you walking), and bacterial infections of the skin have also ruined vacations.

Today I’m going to give you my top 5 tips for equipping you with the tools to get your feet through the rigours of a hiking holiday, and they in turn will carry you through!

I am an Australian podiatrist and have seen too many times the disastrous feet trauma that has brought many an exiting holiday to a screaming halt.

Walking with blisters can be almost impossible due to the intense pain. 

Many other conditions such as: ingrown toenail infections, bruised toenails, rolled ankles, tinea (yes even tinea can stop you walking), and bacterial infections of the skin have also ruined vacations.

Today I’m going to give you my top 5 tips for equipping you with the tools to get your feet through the rigours of a hiking holiday, and they in turn will carry you through!

1. Choosing the Correct Socks

An Injinji Toe Sock

So we’ll start with the socks that you’re going to wear for walking.

Different socks work for different people but there are some simple tricks you can try for your next trip.

Wearing two pairs of socks, one thin pair and one thicker, can work really well. The socks slide against each other slightly absorbing a lot of the friction that would otherwise have to be absorbed by the skin and often result in a nasty blister.

 

Bamboo is a great ingredient in socks as it has the ability to “wick away” the sweat from your feet.  I used to always recommend that people only wear natural fibres like cotton and wool but recently there have been some great developments with artificial fibres. But I’d still do research on the brand you’re looking at buying.

I particularly find that socks with individual toes are great for preventing both blisters and and tinea (athlete’s foot) between the toes. Injinji is one of the brands I like but you may find other great alternatives.

2. Lanolin Rich Wool for Blister Prevention

Lanolin-rich wool has been a staple amongst serious hikers for many years.  I’ve had many people tell me that they credit these wools for getting them through some of their biggest hikes unscathed.

The basic idea is to wrap it around any areas of the feet that you are prone to blisters, hot spots.

 

A product from New Zealand, land of the long white cloud, is Hikers Wool. Podiatrist Daniel Crockett has written a small post on how to use it – read here.

Some similar products are Acti-Bliss, Maseur, and Capezio among others.

Please note: the owner of this website receives no commissions from any of the brands mentioned in this post.

Two bags of Hiker's Wool on grass

3. Pack Some Silicone Blister Dressings

One of the greatest developments in preventing blisters has to be the silicone dressings. 

These dressings are quite extraordinary in their ability to absorb the frictional stress that causes blisters and make them hurt like hell.

Not only are they great at preventing blisters, but they are one of the few products that are awesome after the fact. You can put one of these over a blister and soldier on with your walk with minimal pain, amazing!

Several years ago my son was about to play a cricket carnival at Bundaberg in Queensland Australia and just before it, he developed nasty blisters on both feet at the back of the heels.

 

Compeed Blister dressings

I really didn’t hold out much hope but I thought it couldn’t hurt to try these dressings and see how we go. I grabbed some Compeed brand dressings and he put them on each day, and actually played all day everyday without pain, I honestly couldn’t believe it.

In Australia you can get either Compeed or Band Aid brand blister dressings and in the USA you can get Cutimed, Mepilex and Coloplast among others.

Needless to say I believe these are a no-brainer to pack for your next walking vacation.

4. Packing the Correct Shoes

Now this should be one of the most obvious tips, but I’m amazed at how many people I’ve seen with injuries from inappropriate footwear.

I could write a whole article on footwear alone but I’ll mainly set out a couple of general guidelines.

If nearly all your walking is going to be on hard surfaces like concrete or tarmac, then a really good runner that you’ve had fitted properly at a reputable store will be your best friend.

They have the support, cushioning and are nice and light weight meaning they will put the least amount of stress on your feet.

If on the other hand most of your walking is going to be on trails or any other uneven ground, then a well fitting boot with a firm sole and good ankle support will be the way to go.

Make sure that the boot is firm on the sole to protect you from sharp rocks and sticks, but also needs to have a good rocker at the front so that it doesn’t put your toes under pressure.

Hiking Boot with a forefoot rocker and high laces

They should have laces and wrap around straps that keep the boot on tightly. The more firmly the boot is attached, the less movement within the boot, reducing the chance of blisters.

There is so much more to talk about when choosing the right shoes. I recommend that you take advice from a podiatrist or an experienced footwear salesperson before making your decision.

5. Getting some Miles in the Legs (and Feet)!

You know the old saying of athletes “You’ve got to have the miles in the legs”? 

It’s the same for feet! You can’t just take them from zero to hero overnight.

 

Think about it, on some walking holidays we can walk up to 30 to 40 thousand steps (9-15 miles) in a day. This when you might be coming off normal days at home where you might walk between 4 and 10 thousand.

These muscles need some conditioning to get them 

Website Inspiration Outdoors has a great article describing how to structure a strength and cardio program in preparation for your next walking holiday – click here to read it.

 

Feet have two groups of equally important muscle groups that control their movement and help to continually propel you forwards, step after step, after step.

One group, the extrinsic muscles, are contained in the lower leg, but control the larger movements of the feet.

The second group, the intrinsic muscles, are fully contained within the feet. There is only one muscle on top of the foot, and three layers of muscle under the foot.

These muscles control the smaller movements that are crucial for balance and stability. They are constantly making tiny corrections to ensure you don’t fall over.

Dynamic Podiatry have a great article on how to strengthen the intrinsic muscles with videos demonstrating how to do the exercises. You can view it here.

Enjoy Your Trip!

So there you have my top 5 tips for looking after your feet for your next walking vacation.

I hope you have a wonderful time and get to discover parts of the countryside that you’ve never dreamed of before!
Bon Voyage.

If you’ve recently been away, we’d love to know how the bed was! To leave a hotel bed review click here.

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