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Taking Care of Your Feet

  1. Carry a small hard rubber ball and roll your bare tired feet over it at rest breaks.
  2. If you feet are dry and cracks begin appearing (as happens sometimes when wearing sandals for long periods), use a skin moisturizer several times a day. Some people use Bagbalm (bagbalm.com) or Utterly Smooth (uttercream.com) which, as you may have guessed, are products normally used on cow utters.
  3. Carry duct tape and apply it to a hot spot as soon as you feel it while hiking. The tape made of cloth works best. Athletic tape works also.
  4. Try different socks. For me, switching to Smartwool socks when wearing hiking boots made all the difference.
  5. Be creative when lacing your boots. With my last pair of boots, I found that if I didn't' lace the bottom two islets my toes had a little more needed room.
  6. If your going to have to hike for a while, the surest way to get relief may be to take a knife to your boots or trail shoes. Cut out the part that is causing the pain.
  7. When taking a rest break, take off your shoes and socks and let your feet air out. Also, rub your feet with alcohol and elevate them to reduce swelling.
  8. Colin Fletcher rubs his feet daily with alcohol to toughen them before going on a long hike. At the least this would dry them and discourage bacterial and fungal growth, which softens skin.
  9. The test results are in and rubbing the feet with deodorant has been shown to prevent blisters, apparently by shutting down the sweat glands in your feet. Do it daily for three or four days before the hike. Rub everywhere except the tops of your feet, which are more sensitive.
  10. Also at that rest break, if your socks are wet, change into a dry pair and hang the socks that you have removed from your feet on your pack to dry as you walk.
  11. If you usually get a blister in a certain place, apply duct tape, athletic tape, or Compeed to that spot before you start your hike.
  12. Wrap duct tape around your trekking poles so it is always readily available. Wrap it just below the handles.
  13. Sometimes Vaseline applied ahead of time, will prevent blisters.
  14. Make sure your boots fit. Try on boots in the afternoon as your feet swell as the day wears on.You should have 1/4-1/2 inch of room at the end of your toes. If in doubt opt for a larger size.
  15. Buying a larger size means a wider boot, not a longer boot. New Balance Trail Running Shoes come in all the widths up to EE.
  16. Compeed Skin Protector is a special cushion for preventing and/or healing blisters. There are other brands such as Band-Aid Blister Block. Look for a product featuring Compeed moisture seal technology. It is very easy to apply, and, because it breaths, it does not have to be removed for the several days that the blister is healing.
  17. If you have a painful blister, clean it and lance it near the bottom with a sterilized needle. Apply a little tincture of Benzoin which will help later dressings to adhere to your skin. Then either apply a compeed strip or if using moleskin, cut a hole in the piece of moleskin that is just larger than the blister. Place the moleskin on the blister to create a pressure free pocket for the blister. Next apply a small circle of Spenco 2nd Skin directly on the blister. Cover it with a second piece of moleskin and secure it in place with strips of medical tape or duct tape. I remove all this at night and recreate it in the morning. With Compeed this is not necessary.
  18. When making moleskin or duct-tape patches, round the corners to discourage peeling.

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