After a period of cold and dark winter weather, the temperature is rising. Trees are sprouting fresh green leaves, and flowers begin to bloom and add colour to the landscape. This is a pleasant invitation to explore outside.
You may be planning a city break away or trip to the countryside. Going for a long walk or hike is usually extremely enjoyable, I often see patients with foot complaints relating to recent exploring. I therefore thought that I would highlight some of these common complaints so that you may better prepare and help prevent injury.
Long walking means repetition of foot contact with the ground. If you are walking on a concrete floor (ie. around a city), the ground will be harder than walking across a field, and every step will almost be the same owing to the ground being flat. This increases the type of repetition in comparison to hiking over altering terrain.
Common problems from repetition:
- Overuse injuries to soft tissues including plantar fasciitis
- Trauma to nails hitting the end of shoes
- Blister development
- Callus and corn development from friction and high pressure areas
- Good heel shock absorbency
- A small arch is usually helpful
- Use of orthoses – custom made insoles can more specifically address your needs
- Tie laces firmly around the midfoot to stop foot sliding forward. This should reduce blistering and toenails butting up at the end of the shoes
- Keep nails cut short
The biggest risk of sudden instability in a city seems to be curb edges (sidewalks as they say in America). Going over the edges can cause ankle sprains or more severe permanent damage including fractures. In the countryside, however, the ground is uneven. Every step will be different and remaining stable involves constant firing of different muscles. There is a constant increased risk of instability related injury here.
Common problems from instability:
- Ankle injuries – causing damage to tendons, ligaments and bone
- Tendinopathy – commonly posterior tibial, and peroneus longus tendons
- Falling from loss of balance
- Ankle boots help improve stability at the ankles and reduce the risk of ankle injury.
- Orthoses can offer support and improve stability
- Gradually increasing walking distance and type of terrain to allow your body to adapt
Will it shower with rain, beam constant hot sunshine, have puddles of water, boggy ground or mud to contend with? These things will impact on your friction with the ground and affect whether your feet become quickly wet and dirty.
Common problems associated with weather:
- Slipping and falling
- Wet feet – sweat or wet ground increases humidity in the shoe, softens the skin, and often encourages bacteria and fungal growth
- Wear suitable footwear for the weather
- Keep shoes polished and treated to repel water if you are likely to encounter a wet environment
- Breathable shoes, especially if it is likely to be warm
- Use of antifungal cream/powder or antibacterial products
If you are preparing for a long hike, walking holiday or activities far beyond your normal routine, it may be worth speaking to a podiatrist, sports physician, physiotherapist or personal trainer. They will be able to recommend a practice regime and highlight important health considerations. Often a simple injury can be easily remedied or avoided with appropriate preparation.
If you would like more information please get in touch with our team.
By Mr. Steven Thomas, Specialist Podiatrist at Podogo
– 0207 412 8882
– 27 Harley Street, London, W1G 9QP