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 3 Foot Challenges on the Hiking Trail


Fall is a beautiful time to get outdoors and enjoy the changing leaves and crisp air. At Paul S. DeMarco, DPM, we find that many of our patients enjoy hiking at this time of year. What they don’t enjoy, however, is the foot aches and pains that can accompany the activity. Below are ways to troubleshoot 3 common hiking woes:

1. You end up with blisters when you hike. Nothing puts an end to the enjoyment of a hike faster than painful blisters. Blisters occur as a result of friction and are often a sign of an improperly fitting boot. Blisters on your heel, for example, usually indicate the heel cup is too wide; on the tops of your toes means the boot is too long for your foot.

Solution: It’s best to buy hiking boots at a professional outdoor store and to have your foot measured. For boots, the flex point of where your toes bend is also key to a good fit.

2. Your boots fit fine but they make your insole feel numb. This is typically a symptom of too much side to side room in the boot (usually for patients with narrow feet). The length of the boot is fine and so to compensate for the roomy inside, hikers tie the laces incredibly tight which leads to the numbness.

Solution: Get adhesive backed felt padding (available at most shoe stores) and attach to the inside of the tongue of your hiking boot. This should help keep you foot properly centered and cushion the insole. Numbness can also be a sign of a nerve or other foot problem, however. If the padding does not work, contact our Somers Point office so that our podiatrist, Dr. Paul S. DeMarco, can examine your foot and make sure there are no underlying issues causing the numbness.

3. Toenails turn black or blue. This can particularly be a problem if you are on a multi-day hiking trip. Basically it’s caused by the repeated ramming of your toes up against the end of your boots.

Solution: Check the size of your boot. Your feet will swell as you hike and there may not be enough room in the front of the boot. You should also cut toenails short before beginning a long hike and consider leaving the laces in the toe box area loose.