/ Preparing your feet for a long distance walk?

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Seldom Seen Slim - on 09 Jul 2013
I was hoping to walk the Coast to Coast in six weeks. I've been doing a lot of hillwalking and mountain biking to get fit. I don't have a problem with stamina but seem to suffer with my feet. I did an 18k hillwalk last weekend and ended up hobbling back. I've just got some KSB lightweight boots which seem a good fit and generally comfortable which I wear with decent socks such as Brasher 4 seasons. Trouble is, I always get a 'hot spot' just behind my toes on the front of my foot. Worse on the left than right.
If I can't walk 18k without suffering then I've no chance of completing a long walk like the CtC.
Any good advice on how to avoid foot pain greatly appreciated!
rallymania on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to Seldom Seen Slim:

4 season socks might be a bit thicker than you need for just now

i did the caley last year (54miles in 24hrs) i changed my socks at every support stop (ie roughly every 13 miles) a taped my two smallest toes individually to stop chaffing and used walking poles to spread the load.

also on an 18km hillwalk you probably carried more in your bag than you needed to???

location of your hotspot... look at your insole to see if there's anything aggrivating you there (eg a crease or a seam)

oh and good luck!!!!!
JonathanBarnett on 09 Jul 2013 - dh213.public.mod.uk
In reply to Seldom Seen Slim:

Pre-emptive padding is a good bet. I used to get horrendous blisters on the back of my heel until I started doing this. Have you ever used Compeed? It's basically like adding an extra layer of skin, and if properly applied (warm it in your hands for a minute or two, do your best to avoid bubbles / creases) it should help a lot. A bit of climbing tape on top can help ensure it stays in place. Be careful when taking it off, it's a strong adhesive - if you put it on top of a blister (and ideally it won't get to that stage), you'll probably take the top of the blister off with it. Remove in the shower ideally.

Combine this with some talcum powder - keep your feet nice and dry, and that's half the battle won. I've seen people put powder inside the sock before putting it on, and that works a treat.

Lastly, if you feel a hot spot developing, stop if at all possible. Remove the sock, replace it with a fresh, dry one if you can, and give your feet a minute or two to air. Re-talc your feet at that point.

Ultimately, it's about finding 'the perfect boot' that fits YOUR feet. Best of luck!
GrahamD - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to Seldom Seen Slim:

Suffering does kind of level off as your feet toughen up through the course of a long walk. I've not done one yet where there hasn't been some suffering involved.

Best tip is don't ignore even slight rubs. Get either compede or I just used unpadded fabric plaster tape
lone - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to Seldom Seen Slim:

Foot conditioning takes a long time usually small walks help more than long ones. It took years for my feet to become conditioned to long walks.

Using Vaseline on your toes to reduce friction on the skin will help you, apply twice a day in generous amounts between the toes and ball if the foot.

A big pack will put more pressure on your feet so try keeping pack weight down a bit, Perhaps a base layer sock could help like a bridgedale along with your main sock.

Tape up the ends of your little toes with climbers tape and also prepare particular areas of your foot with a compeed before you walk. Apply compeed before the Vaseline.

Keeping your speed slower will help a bit to. It’s usually the boot that causes the soreness, but if you have a lot of heat in the boot and moisture you get soreness and then blisters.

The insert can some times ravel up behind the toes so you could always replace the insert if this is happening; try use a good make so it lasts.

dek - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to Seldom Seen Slim:
I would certainly have a pair of light weight trainers, or trail shoes for the easier sections, just to give the feet a break. Compeed is great stuff, as long as you apply it before the problem areas start to get hot.
mattrm - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to Seldom Seen Slim:

Here are my tips:

Make sure your feet are well moisturised. Lots of folks advocate getting 'hard skin' but they've never had massive blisters behind hard skin.

Bodyglide on the areas prone to hotspotting.

A very small light dusting of talc. Too much can clump up, which can make things worse. So take care here.

Lightweight shoes - trail running trainers are suitable for 99% of summer hillwalking in the UK. eg I have a pair of Asics Gel Trabucos.

Lots of fresh socks. This is very personal. Some like two pairs of thin socks. Some like just one pair. Try a few combos and see what works for you.

Pre-emptive taping / compeeding is also useful.
In reply to Seldom Seen Slim: This UKH article on blister prevention/treatment might be useful: http://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/page.php?id=5286
colinkeb - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to Seldom Seen Slim: Ive tried everything over the years for events up to 100 miles, I finally cracked it with foot powder, thin liner toe socks under a pair of walking socks. never had a blister since mind you different things work for different people.
Jim C - on 09 Jul 2013
Seldom Seen Slim - on 09 Jul 2013
Thanks for the advice folks.Some good suggestions there.
llechwedd on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to Seldom Seen Slim:
+1 all the above.
With only a short time before your walk, it's a bit late to be trialling new boots or insoles. However, taking your pick of the preventative advice given, even if it doesn't cure the problem, is sensible.

I'm presuming it's not a MTB pedal pressure related problem.

Another way you could offload the foot is with (Pacer)poles. These, and a pair of insoles supplied by an NHS podiatrist enabled me to walk the British 3000's last year without a single blister. This was far better than anticipated as at the time I was waiting for surgery on a painful big toe joint and was a 'blisterer' before these changes.
A decent podiatrist or a physio with an interest in foot biomechanics may make all the difference if this problem persists for you.
brianrunner - on 10 Jul 2013
In reply to Seldom Seen Slim:
My no1 tip would be not to use KSBs but to use running shoes. That should help greatly I think. I also agree with others to keep the pack light.
GrahamD - on 10 Jul 2013
In reply to brianrunner:

Personally I can't think of anything more guaranteed to trash my feet and ankles than trying 14 days of backpacking over mixed terrain (and probably mixed weather)in running shoes.
CurlyStevo - on 10 Jul 2013
In reply to GrahamD:
most people doing long distance walks nowadays use trail/running shoes of one type or another, walking boots generally cause more problems.
GrahamD - on 10 Jul 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo:

> most people doing long distance walks nowadays use trail/running shoes

Its been a while since I've done a long distance path myself, but I do bump into plenty on the C2C and other paths and in my experience, I wouldn't agree with this.

> walking boots generally cause more problems.
Again, I disagree. I know how my own feet and ankles respond to walking in light shoes and I can guarantee I wouldn't last more than a day carrying a pack over mixed terrain (especially steep or boggy). I think the choice between lightness and support/protection has to be made individually based on ones own experience.

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