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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Preparing for Long Distance Hiking: Email Advice

Hi Dr. Blake,

Thank you for creating and maintaining your blog!  It is a great read and full of incredibly useful information.
Dr Blake's comment: Thank you so very much!!

I recently completed a thru-hike of the John Muir Trail, and my Achilles tendon was very tight and sore for the last five days.  At the time, I did not know how to stretch or tape it so as to reduce pain and the risk of injury.

How do you recommend I prepare my feet prior to long-distance hiking and walking?  And how do you recommend caring for your feet during the hike?  I am doing a 700 mile trek next Spring, and I would like to avoid any complications.


Dr Blake's Response:

     The main areas of concern with events like that are:
  1. Foot and Ankle Strength
  2. Achilles and Plantar Fascial Flexibility
  3. Supportive and Padded Socks
  4. Broken In Boots that are the right style for the terrain you are on
  5. First Aide Kits for Blisters, Cuts, etc
  6. Knowledge (some expertise) in toe, arch, ankle taping
  7. Excellent training with weekend long walks/hikes to rebuild endurance
I have some of this on my blog. You can review the videos on strengthening of the foot and ankle, and flexibility of the achilles and plantar fascia. Go to a store like REI for advice on socks and boots. Prepare a first aid kit with Body Glide for blisters, big and small bandaids, antibiotic ointment, and coban tape. Check the blog also for the videos on toe, arch, ankle, achilles tapings. Check with a PT or Podiatrist if you think you have areas of weakness, like the achilles, that may need some individual advice. Get down to basics and make sure you are cutting your nails correctly (typically straight across). Buy boots at the end of the day when your feet may be slightly swollen, and wear the socks you will be hiking in when the shoes are fit. I hope this helps you. Please email with other questions and I will try to put on this same post. Good luck and happy hiking!!! Rich

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Thank you very much for leaving a comment. Due to my time restraints, some comments may not be answered.I will answer questions that I feel will help the community as a whole.. I can only answer medical questions in a general form. No specific answers can be given. Please consult a podiatrist, therapist, orthopedist, or sports medicine physician in your area for specific questions.