Prepare your Feet for Long Distance Walking
WITH BSP PODIATRIST ANNA BEETHAM
In the 11 years of my volunteer role at Podiatry Coordinator for the Oxfam Trailwalker 100km event, I can with certainty say that I have seen it all and the feet that survive are the ones that are prepared well, looked after and have put the kms in.
Many people who embark on the challenge of a long distance charity event such as the Oxfam Trailwalker believe that because they can walk around the tan a couple of times that a 100km will be a bit hard, but easily doable but in fact walking for up to 48 hours is no easy feat and the need to train for this is imperative along with preparing your feet for the long road ahead.
HERE ARE MY TOP 5 TIPS FOR PREPARING YOUR FEET:
Ensure you have shoes fitted for your foot type and the type of terrain you will be walking on. Everyone’s feet and biomechanics are different and therefore so are your footwear needs. Having your feet analysed by a professional to ensure you have the right shoes from the beginning is recommended. You will no doubt need at least 2 pairs of shoes for any long trail type event, especially if its wet and off road. I would suggest looking at a running shoe that you can do the majority of your training in and then a trail shoe for the wet, uphill, trail conditions (for people that are running the event then one pair of trail running shoes will suffice).
Socks are one of the best investments (after your shoes) that you can make. Ensure they are made with Coolmax® or a similar moisture wicking technology to ensure water is drawn away from your skin. Have these come up above your ankle and have multiple pairs (best changed at regular intervals) and that they fit your foot well.
One of the easiest things you can do is prepare and care for your skin in the lead up to the event. Any area of your skin that gets large build-ups of callous (hard skin) is an area prone to friction and will most likely blister with large volumes of training. Ignore advice to “toughen up your skin” this may work for short distance runs but long hikes and walks it’s the complete opposite. Have all the hard skin removed by a podiatrist and moisturise your entire feet daily to increase the elasticity of your skin, this will reduce the chance of blisters. Learn to tape your feet for blister prevention with the correct tape (fixomull®) you can view my U-tube video here on the techniques I have devised over the years. These have been tried, tested and are an amazing tool to have to reduce blisters (one of the major reasons people have to pull out of large events). Drink plenty of water.
You will need to walk at least 75% of the distance of the event you are partaking in. You will need to start at least 6months out from the event and plan your training well. This allows your bones, tissues and feet to adapt to the change/increase in loading and will ensure you enjoy the event so much more with less chance of injuries.
5. Injury Prevention
Be it foot, leg, knee, hip or back pain any weakness in your body will raise it’s head as you increase your training. Having a strength and stability program that is tailored to your event & your body will be of great benefit and help reduce overuse injuries.
Having your biomechanics, gait and walking assessed by a podiatrist can be very effective in identifying any issues that may cause problems along the way.
Anna Beetham - Podiatrist