6 Common Foot Problems & How To Solve Them
‘Look after your feet and the rest will look after itself’ is a mantra in the outdoors world, and for good reason – keep your feet healthy and problem-free for lifelong hiking with our guide to common foot problems and how to solve them.
Blisters are one of the most common complaints suffered by walkers. They are friction injuries, in which pockets of fluid form to protect a hot spot from further damage. Being blister-free is all about picking the right boots and socks. The heel of the boot should fit snugly to avoid slippage, and make sure that the fit is also good around your toes, forefoot and ankle to minimise excessive movement and reduce friction.
There are many causes of pain and tenderness felt in the soft tissue beneath the forefoot. The basic problem is an uneven distribution of weight through the forefoot due to a host of different factors, and people with high or low arches tend to suffer more from metatarsalgia. Using footbeds to support the whole foot and create a more balanced platform inside the boot will help.
Painful ‘toe bang’ is often experienced by hikers when going downhill, as the weight of the body pushes the foot forward in the boot. This can be a symptom of boots being too short or too loose. To avoid bruised toes and damaged toenails, the boot shape and size must be right - get your boots fitted by an expert. Wearing walking-specific socks and lacing your boots up properly also helps.
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"Wearing walking-specific socks and lacing your boots up properly helps."
Properly known as hallux valgus, bunions are inflamed bumps on the outside of the big toe joint (the first metatarsal). The big toe may also point inwards slightly, with decreased range of motion. They are caused by irritation when the big toe joint pushes into the side of footwear. Ellis Brigham’s shoe range offers a variety of fit options that are designed to stabilise the foot, reducing pressure in the forefoot.
The symptoms of this condition are pain in the heel, arch and bottom of the foot. Plantar fasciitis is caused by prolonged tension and inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament, often due to excessive pronation (the natural side-to-side movement of the foot) and a lack of flexibility in the leg muscles. Wearing shoes that offer good support will improve comfort by relieving stress on the plantar fascia.
This is an overuse injury caused by excessive stress on the Achilles tendon above the heel. What may begin as a mild ache in the back of the leg can develop into debilitating stiffness and discomfort. It is most common after a rapid increase in exercise, especially involving significant ascent. A footbed will support the arch and raise the heel, reducing pressure on the Achilles while providing good shock absorption.