Common walking injuries - foot injuries
As a walker, if your feet are painful they can cause you a great deal of hassle. Blisters are the most common problem and if ignored and untreated can be very nasty. Other injuries include plantar fasciits and toe nail problems.
Typically initial symptoms are 'a hot spot' somewhere on your foot. This is the early indication that you are developing a blister. The cause is usually due to friction either between your skin and sock or between your sock and boot. Over time, your skin becomes sensitive and breaks down with continuous pressure. When you're on the hill there is little you can do unless you are prepared for them.
When a hotspot develops the best option is to protect the skin by placing a strip of Compeed blister bandage on top. This is like a second skin or gel plaster and will mould to your skin. Compeed is available at most chemists.
The second best option is zinc oxide tape. A strip over the forming blister may help to stop it worsening. However, it may take the top off the blister when you remove it!
Ordinary sticking plasters can be helpful but they often fall off or displace and then become an increased nuisance and can even make the blister worse.
New footwear is often the cause of many blisters. So firstly your boots must be a good fit. Break your new boots in gradually. If you notice hotspots when they first appear, you can stop and treat them straight away if you carry some Compeed or zinc oxide tape in your rucksack.
Toe Nail Problems
Toenail problems usually need to be treated by a chiropodist. They specialise in this area and should anyone suspect any ingrown toenail, fungal infection, or general problem with their toes it is best to go to the experts. Ask your local GP for further advice or referral.
This is a painful condition of the foot arch. The causes can vary but typically sufferers complain of a pain in the arch of their foot which comes on during repeated walking. The pain may centre on the underside of the heel. This is a chronic condition and will develop over time. It is most painful when the foot is placed down on the ground after a rest i.e. the first steps when getting out of bed, or after sitting at lunch and then getting up.
For walkers this can be a real hindrance as it makes you not want to walk! Treatment depends upon diagnosis of the condition. A GP, podiatrist or chartered physiotherapist will be able to help.
Often treatment is aimed at the arch, supported either with tape or insoles, which usually helps to alleviate the pain. Anti-inflammatory treatments might be prescribed. Self-treatment is difficult however: you can try soaking your feet in Epsom salts. Wear shoes or boots with good supporting arches and avoid walking in bare feet.
Amanda is a former international Alpine skier who has worked as a physio with various national teams. She started her career as the physio at Glenmore Lodge (Aviemore) following which got her place as Team GB physio for the Great Britain Olympic Biathlon Team.
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