If you enjoy getting out into nature—or feel like that would be a great goal for you or your family this year—then the Gilbert Outdoors Expo is a great place to start!
Held February 23, 2019 at Riparian Preserve, the expo provides a great opportunity to try out new activities, learn new skills, or simply get pointers on some of the hobbies you already enjoy.
Whether you like camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, or other calls to head out into the wild, the Gilbert Outdoors Expo can likely help you get equipped!
And when it comes to your feet, we’d like to help you get ready to face the great outdoors, too! There is nothing that can ruin a day outside more than your feet getting wet, blistered, burnt, or hurt.
Being ready to tackle foot problems on the trails can save your trip—and it can help prevent worse problems from happening, too! Here are a few tips from our office.
Prepare Before You Go
It’s hard to find a pharmacy in the woods, so make sure you anticipate potential needs and prepare for them before you head out.
Never head out for a day without at least one extra pair of dry socks. You never know when the pair you’re wearing may get soaked, whether it be from an unfortunate step near a stream or your own sweat building up through the day.
Staying in wet socks is not only horribly uncomfortable, it messes with your skin and increases your chances of blisters, fungal infections, and other unpleasantness. If you plan on a trip lasting more than one day, it is not unreasonable to have two pairs of clean socks per day.
Other items to consider for your kit include:
- Foot powder to put in your socks, to help avoid blisters by reducing friction. Some prefer moisturizers, but don’t go overboard and make your feet sopping wet.
- Tapes (brands include Leukotape and Moleskin) to address areas of friction (or “hot spots”) that can develop during a hike. If you feel like a blister could develop on a spot, stop and cover it with the tape. Once you get a good read of where trouble spots may be on your feet, you can even tape yourself up before you go!
- Toenail clippers. You might need them during your travels, but this is more to have as a reminder before you go. Trim your toenails nicely before a hike to help keep them from catching against your socks or slamming against the front of your boots/shoes as you move.
- Adhesive bandages, small scissors, a needle, and sterilizing equipment for dealing with blisters (more on this below).
Wear the Right Footwear
A good hiking boot is going to provide the support and durability you need without chewing your foot up from the inside.
A proper fit is essential for prolonged comfort. You will want the heel to sit snugly against the rear of the foot but provide your toes enough room to wiggle up front. Having your foot slide around too much within the boot can be a ticket to blisters. Make your boots too tight, however, and your toes will be bunched up and smash against each other.
For longer hikes, stiffer shoes with high tops will provide more of the support your feet and ankles will need—especially if you’re lugging around the extra weight of a pack all day.
When you try on a new pair of boots or shoes, make sure it’s with the type of socks you plan on taking with you. It’s also best to try on footwear toward the end of the day, when our feet tend to be their biggest size (and after time walking, your feet will be at their biggest size, too!).
Even when you’re pretty sure you have found a good fit for the trails, don’t go out in them without spending some time in them closer to home. Some call this “breaking in,” but it’s more a chance to make absolutely sure your footwear isn’t going to torture you on a longer trek. If you do find problems, you can address your feet with tape before you go. If the problem is severe enough, it might be better to take the shoes back.
Treating Blisters on the Go
Sometimes, even with proper precautions, blisters will still happen. When you feel one, it’s always worth stopping to address it.
How you address it may depend on its size, whether it has broken, and whether it is in an especially painful spot.
If the blister is small, unbroken, and isn’t very painful, it’s usually best to leave it in its current state. Apply a bit of cream to the spot, tape or bandage over it, and leave it alone.
If the blister is large and has already popped, clean it and bandage or tape over it (do not apply tape or anything sticky directly to the blister). If the skin that covered the blister is clean, leave it on as a natural layer of protection of the site. If it’s dirty, carefully cut it away.
If the blister is big, unbroken, and painful, it is best to drain it. Sterilize a needle as best you can (or whatever you have that is best at creating a tiny hole), drain, keep the skin intact over the area, and cover it all up with a bandage.
Keeping your feet safe and happy in the outdoors is one of the best ways to ensure a happier trip. Ask just about any expert on that!
Taking care of problems such as heel pain, persistent ingrown toenails, and other nuisances can also be a huge help before you even start out. Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona is here to do just that!
Call us at (480) 963-9000 or fill out our online contact form to get in touch with us and schedule an appointment.