Hiking is a great way to get fit and enjoy the natural beauty of the world. But instead of relaxing you, it can stress you out if you have tired and aching feet. Painful feet can reduce your enjoyment of a long walk in the woods. So here’s how you can ensure that your feet are well prepared for great adventures this summer with some of our top tips.
Our busy lifestyles often leave us feeling tired and sore, and so, we take tired and aching feet as a given. But aching feet are sometimes exacerbated by heel pain – it is estimated that about one in 10 people suffer from heel pain at some point in their life[i]. The most common cause of heel pain is caused by activities such as hiking or running (particularly if you’re exploring rocky or uneven paths wearing the wrong footwear) as they place repeated strain on the arch of your foot and the pain spreads to your heel. Improper footwear is unable to provide sufficient cushioning and heel support – two areas where it is most needed!
Heel pain is usually felt as either a constant dull aching, or an intense pain that pokes through with each step you take. The pain often lessens over time, but the first few steps you take are often the most painful. You might feel that the pain reduces when you walk for a while, but it often returns with a vengeance hours later.
What causes heel pain?
The main cause of heel pain can be either by abrupt trauma to the area, or by gradual damage that has taken place over a period of several months or years. This damage can result in tiny tears inside the tissue of the arch of your foot, which makes the tissue thicken in response. Don’t rule out stress fractures or lack of cushioning in your heel either, though!
Top tips for adventurous feet
There are plenty of ways you can help protect your feet from the feeling of aches or tiredness when you are out hiking. If you’re heading into the great outdoors, here’s how you can prepare your feet for your big adventure:
- Too much weight puts extra pressure on your feet and can often contribute to heel pain, so make sure you’re not carrying anything too heavy in your backpack.
- Wear well-fitting shoes appropriate for walking. Try on different brands, styles and sizes, and do wear your hiking socks inside. Make sure you shop for shoes in the afternoon or evening, as your feet expand over the course of a day and are largest in late noon or evening.
- Scholl Gelactiv™ Comfort insoles are ideal for wearing inside walking boots. They offer adequate support to the bottom of the foot and reduce unwanted movement inside the shoes. They also reduce the pain you ordinarily experience, since they prevent the feet from getting tired.
- Stretch your feet and legs before you set off, making sure to focus on your calf muscles and the ankles.
- If you do find that you have heel pain constantly, take some time to rest. By walking less and not standing for too long, you’ll recover more quickly and be back out hiking sooner than if you plough on. An ice pack on the affected heel can also help to reduce inflammation and get you back on your feet in no time.