No one wants to get injured when walking so prevention is the best policy. There is no guarantee though as even doing all you can may not stop a blister, a fall or even a sore toe.
There are some general things that you can do to look after your body and some we have covered in more detail in earlier letters in the A-Z series such as footwear, covered in B for Boots. If you are not wearing the right footwear you are asking for trouble from the get go. What goes with your shoes is also the socks you wear. Again invest in good walking socks and get to know what suits you. Some people wear two pairs, some choose thick ones, some lighter. Try them out but know that wearing normal every day socks on long walks are likely to cause rubbing and perhaps blisters.
In our second A-Z round B will be for blisters and again look at prevention here. Putting Vaseline or similar on your feet is my number one tip. Make sure your feet remain dry and clean. Sometimes it’s worth giving your feet a chance to breath perhaps when you stop for lunch and even change socks for the afternoon. If you feel a rub on your foot don’t ignore it, pop on a Compeed plaster and that will protect things from getting worse.
Keep your toenails cut short but not over short and make sure nails are not ragged or sharp as they can dig into toes on either side and cause cuts. If toenails are cut too short they may start ingrowing which can be very painful and that can lead to swelling too. A visit to a podiatrist every so often can be very worthwhile. They will also look at hard skin.
Beware that some nail bars with take a rather drastic approach to getting rid of hard skin and you do need some for protection.
Listen to your body and if you are feeling pain or discomfort, stop and check things out. Do not push through as you may do more harm.
As you walk pay attention to where you are walking especially when on a stony path, scree, on a ledge/narrow path or on snow and ice. Each bring their own issues. Minimise distractions and stop to take a photo rather than trying to do it as you walk.
Bring a first aid kit with you with the basics. See the check list here – I will also always carry Compeed, mentioned above, by far the best make for blisters.
In part 2, we’ll look at the common walking injuries.