/ Heel pain after first time in B3 boots

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Fenda - on 06 Jan 2017
I joined a mountaineering course over the New Year in the Scottish highlands and took my new La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX boots. I wore them for 10-12 hours per day for 4 days. We did a bunch of ridge traverses that required pretty physical 2 hour uphill walk-ins (800-900m elevation gain). I wanted to get used to the boots as I am planning to take them to the Alps in March for some more technical and higher altitude mountaineering.

On the last day, I was suffering from pain on both of my heels. Specifically, I had swollen red skin where the heel bone and achilles tendon meet. Putting pressure on that area hurt. After the first 30 minutes hiking up, the pain subsided and I was able to focus on the day but after returning home they have been very sore and I have had to rest them a fair bit.

Until now, I only used trail runners for hiking and have never worn anything remotely as rigid as a B2 let alone a B3. I feel that the size of the boots are about right (no heel lift and toes do not hit the end). I had previously hiked in the boots for approx. 12 hours in the Lake District to break them in. It's worth noting I have flat feet but have never experienced this sort of problem before (I am 28 years old).

I'm wondering if anyone has experienced a similar situation before? Do you think this is just part of the break-in process? Perhaps the amount of activity was a shock to my system, especially when doing it in B3 boots. My legs were very sore in general, to say the least. I had also laced up the boots pretty tight and perhaps giving them more flex would have helped?

Slightly worried as these boots ain't cheap!
zimpara - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to Fenda:
Tape your heels. Every one in the military does and I certainly did. Most alpinists do too. I needed to in Chamonix. But then I did not use lifts. I got some pretty disgusting blisters walking up to brevent when I forgot to tape. (Entire heel) And still did Mt Blanc 2 days later, with no heels. Taped up hard core though.

The shower floors in Chamonix are littered with tape generally, and I am still peeling zinc tac off my feet now even.

WHITE Zinc oxide tape is the business

From a Pharmacy, get the thickest they have, 1 inch wide.
Run a strip down your Achilles and end under your heel. Tape two more pieces either side.

You can also split strips in half and run tape down the tops of your toes. Never wrapped between toes though!
Post edited at 20:58
Nath93 - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to Fenda:

Definitely a lot of walking to do straight off the bat when you aren't used to using boots like that. I suppose feet are meant to flex so having them in something that makes your feet fully ridgid will be a bit of a hard time to begin with.

I still get foot pain wearing B3's for a long time and I've been winter climbing for around 5 years now, but it's just something you get used to.

Try different lacing methods to take the pressure off certain areas. The balls of my feet hurt a lot after wearing boots for a while but that's mainly due to me having high arches and not having sufficient padding to fill the space. I can lose a fair bit of pain later in the day by only lacing my boots a bit less but this obviously means less precise footing while climbing so often just a case of sucking it up.

If I can at all undo the laces a bit or even take the boots off whilst stopped then this can make the world of difference just by giving my feet a chance to move freely and breathe a bit. Not always practical in the dead of winter though!

It depends on the insoles you've got as well. You could try and see if something like super feet or custom orthotics will make a difference. It might be worthwhile wearing them around the house for a while etc to see if they create the same pain again. If so maybe an appointment with a podiatrist could be worth some thought to see what they say and offer as advice.

At the end of the day if the boots don't quite fit then there's not much more you can do other than sell them on and look for an alternative. This is something I've had to do before, not easy but well worth it if it means you get something that doesn't kill your feet after wearing them for extended periods.

Hope some of this may be of use to you.
angry pirate - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to Fenda:

I'd echo both of the above posts.
I find the move to winter boots tough at the start of the season as there is much less flexibility than I'm used to the rest of the year.
I have played around with socks, liners and insoles to get as close to a perfect fit as possible. Even then I have sore shins and reddened heels on the first few winter outings especially with crampons on.
Zimp's recommendation of zinc oxide is a winner too if you're getting significant rubbing. It will help your feet break the boots in (and the boots break your feet in) without generating massive blisters.
Alasdair Fulton - on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to zimpara:

> Tape your heels...Most alpinists do too.

Really? I've never done that, and none of my partners do it either. Maybe it's a thing amongst those who don't get enough time in their boots to get a good fit? (i.e. summer guided mont blanc trekkers?)

10-12 hour days is just quite a lot to do in new boots back-to-back. I think you'll probably be fine, just try and get out for some shorter individual days between now and march (once the inflammation has subsided).
ceri - on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to Fenda:

Be careful! is your heel particularly knobbly there? could be that these boots exert much more pressure than you are used to and you have a degree of bursitis. I have had problems with my heels here for years (haglunds deformity). Its a pain in the bum as shoes/ boots feel OK in the shop, but get more painful with wear. ive sold virtually new shoes and boots on for pressure in this area.
david100 - on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

I have tried three different types of winter boot over five seasons in the search for the right boot. Heel lift and blisters have been an issue with all my boots. I now tape my heels any time i go out for a big day in winter. I joke that it is not skill and technique that makes a winter climber it is the ability to fit a sportiva or scarpa last.
BnB - on 08 Jan 2017
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

> Really? I've never done that, and none of my partners do it either. Maybe it's a thing amongst those who don't get enough time in their boots to get a good fit? (i.e. summer guided mont blanc trekkers?)

> 10-12 hour days is just quite a lot to do in new boots back-to-back. I think you'll probably be fine, just try and get out for some shorter individual days between now and march (once the inflammation has subsided).

I've been taping my shins for decades before donning ski and snowboard boots. My wife now does the same. It really works. More to the point, Zimpara does it!!
johncook - on 08 Jan 2017
In reply to Fenda:

Sounds like the boots are the wrong shape for your heels so your heels are moving about. While still sore, try putting a small amount of padding under your heels and then walking hard up hill for an hour and see what happens. It could be a simple remedy, or not work at all, but worth a try
(I have narrow knobbly heels and finding boots that don't make my heels hurt is a problem. I don't get blisters, just soreness and pain. )
petegunn on 09 Jan 2017
In reply to Fenda:
I once had " splitting heel" pain from my winter boots about 10 years ago while on a weeks winter walking trip around Scotland.

From your description of sore red heels, this is maybe not what you have experienced.

I have fairly flat feet ( not much of an arch) and have heel spurs, which if you Google "spitting heel pain" seems to be a common factor.

It is strange though, since I had this pain it has never come back. It was extremely painful, I even stopped in the hut for a day to rest while the others went out.

If your problem is rub related you can try a few different things:
Volume adjusters I.e flat insoles, try heel only ones or a full insole.
Different lacing options, to stop heel slippage.
Wear a thin liner sock under your thick ones.

Unfortunately if you find that none of these work you may have to change your boots : (
Post edited at 11:56
Babika - on 09 Jan 2017
In reply to Fenda:

I always have this problem in B3's and now pre-tape.

A shoe fitter friend told me that it is partly the weight of the boot (Nepal Extremes for me, heavier than Cubes) that mean that a certain amount of movement is always going to happen and cause blistering on a big day out, no matter how tightly or carefully you lace.
Scott K - on 09 Jan 2017
In reply to Fenda:

Could also be the kind of socks you were wearing.
Deri Jones - on 09 Jan 2017
In reply to Fenda:

If you've got insoles or volume reducers in the boots, try taking them all out and wearing them with no insoles to start with. I've got similar sounding feet and always had problems with heel rub on my old Manta's and a new pair of R-Evo pro's (both B2). Fitting green superfeet had sorted my work boots, so I'd tried that, then a volume reducer at the heel to lift it and reduce on rubbing, but still no joy though it felt as if it was reducing heel lift.
I've gone right back to the thinnest superfeet black on the R-Evo's and a slightly thicker sock - it seems that having the heel sitting further back and lower in the cup holds it more secure. I'm not doing 10hr days, but it has sorted the heel rub on 5-6hr days that used to give me blisters. When I lace them up, they don't feel like they are tight enough and that they should rub, but so far, so good.
Best of luck!
Fenda - on 09 Jan 2017
Thanks for all the advice.

After looking into Bursitis of the heel, it sounds spot on in terms of causes and symptoms. Nice one ceri for the pointer. I've not had any blisters on the heels so don't think there is an issue with too much heel lift. I've bought some orthotic insoles for flat feet which lift my heel a bit more than the normal insoles so that might keep the pressure off. Anybody have experience with bursitis?

I'm resting, icing and elevating my heel to try and get the inflammation down but still getting pain when any pressure is on the heels. Even a walk to the shop in trainers had me limping!

ogreville on 09 Jan 2017
In reply to Fenda:

Doesn't sound like the boots are the problem though. You did 4 massive days in winter in new boots that hadn't been fully broken in yet. You're legs n heels are telling you you overdid it...but it sound worth it to me for 4 full days of action.

Couple of ibuprofen, feet up and a few beers and you'll be grand. Bit early to be self-diagnosing Bursits or whatever new fancy name they're giving to 'Sore Heel' these days

(I always pre-tape too).

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