This page is a copy of the article “These boots are made for walking” which is reproduced from “Interchange”as it is important for those people who go walking – and isn’t that all of us?
It is especially important due to the enclosed nature of your feet in your boots and long distances explored.
The main purpose of footwear is to protect the foot without impeding normal functioning of the foot and leg. Footwear must fit well and be flexible. Try cutting an outline of your feet and fitting them into shoes/boots before trying them on. Then allow a little space for two pairs of socks and foot expansion.
Wear only quality boots, well worn in and suitably waterproofed. Make sure that lacing is tight, but comfortable to minimise movement in the boot. This can be achieved by using Mittenwald lacing, or alternatively, normal lacing plus – once you have laced up the boot tightly to the top, lace back over the top of the last ‘x’, then tie a normal knot. The action of lacing over the top in the opposite direction holds the lace tight and stops laces working loose. An alternative – QUALITY TRACK SHOES – not new ones! And a spare pair of light shoes – not thongs !
Two pairs – one pair (or two pairs for preference) light cotton or woollen and one pair thick wool or wool combination (eg Explorers). Socks should be removed during major rest breaks or a least once a day – then let your feet dry in the air. Inner socks should be alternated with another pair (light) if available, so they can be aired ’til the next stop, then changed over again. Skin sweats and becomes soggy as you walk and soggy skin allows easy access for bacteria and fungi to grow – as well as blisters to form. Therefore it is important to keep your feet dry as possible at all times
Apply Friar’s Balsam antiseptic to feet for two weeks before the hike – morning and night. Alternatives are a weak solution of Condy’s Crystals or methylated spirits. This helps to harden and toughen the skin and reduces the risk of blisters. Also, keep applying the balsam during the hike at least morning and night. When painting your feet with Friar’s Balsam, soak cotton wool and apply liberally all over – top of toes, between the toes and up the sides of each toe as well as the sides of your feet, heel and soles. (The pretty yellow colour will give you an indication where your have missed a spot!) You may wish to use Elastoplast or bandaids in areas like toes, heels and soles of feet on hike days to protect the skin before you start walking. Shake Prantil foot powder in socks and on feet in the mornings to aid drying. Cutting of toe nails is also important. The free edge of the nail should be parallel to the edge of the toe. Cutting side edges can lead to ragged edges that can cut and wear the skin as you walk. This painful wound may then become quickly infected. Air your feet as often as possible – change shoes and socks at night.
Once a red or burning spot is felt, treat it immediately by protecting the area with Elastoplast. This acts as a second skin and may prevent a blister from forming. If a blister appears, but is not yet filled with liquid, treat by applying Friar’s Balsam and leave to air – this helps to dry the area and keep it free from infection. Then apply Elastoplast. For a bad blister, pierce it with a sterilised needle to relieve some of the pressure. Treat it as above, but try to keep the original layer of skin intact to protect the wound. Severe blisters will be treated in the same manner, but apply moleskin padding over the area for protection and cover with padding. Always remove plaster at the end of the day regardless how bad it is, apply Friar’s Balsam again and leave to air. Re-apply the balsam in the morning and again cover with Elastoplas.
Feet Protection Kit.
Keep this altogether in a waterproof container: 1 bottle Friar’s Balsam Prantil powder 2.5cm wide by 2.5m Elastoplast 1 packet moleskin Pair of small scissors with sharp point Needle (can be sterilised with Friar’s Balsam) Pair shoe laces 2 crepe bandages for sprains/strains or prevention (approximately 5cm wide.
DO: Make sure footwear fits well
DO: Make sue shoe laces are tight at all times
DON’T: Continue walking with blistered feet – treat immediately
DON’T: Attempt to walk in new boots without fully ‘breaking them in’
REMEMBER – prevention is better than cure, once you have blisters or injuries only rest will allow your feet to heal.