If you enjoy hiking in your spare time, you will know that blisters can be an uncomfortable and frustrating side effect, especially for beginners.
There are three conditions that are needed for a blister to form: heat, friction and moisture. If any one of these factors is missing, you will not get a blister.
Here we will be looking at some top tips to avoid getting blisters when hiking:
- BUY WELL-FITTING BOOTS
Visit a store to have your feet measured properly and try on a variety of brands, as they all have a slightly different fit. This is important – if your boots are too small, this will apply pressure to your skin increasing friction, but if they are too large, your feet will move about and the skin will rub.
If you can’t find boots that fit perfectly, you may need to use some insoles to customize the fit. They should feel comfortable from the first time you put them on. One tip is to try walking on an inclined ramp. Your heels should stay in the same position when walking uphill, and your toes should not bump the front of the shoe when walking downhill.
- DRY FEET
Every time that you take a break from hiking, take off your boots and socks to let them air and dry out. This helps to reduce the heat and moisture in your boot. It also feels really soothing after walking, especially if there is a river or lake nearby to cool your feet in.
“Once you put your boots back on, you can use a tip called the “chimney effect”, which is where you roll the socks over the top of your boots, which sends air down into your boot and releases moisture and heat,” says Emma Dars, a writer at Draftbeyond and Researchpapersuk.
- EXTRA SOCKS
Make sure that you pack a few pairs of extra socks with you and change into a clean pair halfway through your hike. Woollen socks, or a wool-blend, dry fast and wick moisture. Cotton socks on the other hand hold a lot of moisture and are more likely to cause blisters.
- WEAR NON-WATERPROOF FOOTWEAR
If your boots have a waterproof coating, they will not be as breathable as a pair that are not waterproof. It sounds odd, but a pair of non-waterproof boots may lead to drier feet, because you will not generate as much sweat.
- KEEP YOUR SHOES LACED TIGHTLY
As the day progresses, your laces may loosen, so it is important to stop and tighten them whenever you feel this. If your boots are loose, your feet may move around and chafe. It is possible that your feet may also swell with the heat, so you may need to adjust the laces as this happens to avoid friction from slipping and pressure build-up.
“When lacing your boots, make sure that they are snug, but that your ankles and toes do not rub. Your feet should not move forward or backwards inside the boot,” explains Anna Smith, hiking expert at Writinity and Last Minute Writing.
- APPLY TAPE
Athletic tape can be useful for taping your feet, as this sticks effectively, even on damp skin. If you can feel an area of your foot starting to rub, stop immediately and apply 2-3 strips of tape to the area and make sure to over-lap the tape. If you are going out for a particularly long hike, you may wish to apply some tape to your heels, or any other areas where you are prone to blisters, before you leave.
- CUT YOUR TOENAILS
If your toenails are too long, this can cause blisters or irritations on your feet. Make sure that you trim your toenails before the hike. If you are away for a long time, take a pair of nail clippers with you in your pack.
- USE LUBRICANT
Before the hike, apply a lubricant, such a Vaseline, to any areas where you are prone to rubbing or blisters, like heels, thighs or toes. This helps to reduce the friction. You may need to reapply during the hike, as it can wear off as you are walking.
If you are unlucky enough to develop a blister despite the above advise, try to leave it exposed to the air as often as possible, as this speeds up healing. To add a little comfort, take a seat in one of our hiking chairs while your blisters dry!
Professional writer, marketing, management and recruitment expert Ashley Halsey can be found contributing her business insights at LuckyAssignments and GumEssays, where she has established her reputation as an erudite and intelligent observer of marketing trends.