You may call it long distance trekking, hiking or walking. But getting out into the countryside is becoming an increasingly popular pastime for all ages. Everyone enjoys fresh air and getting closer to nature. The ill-prepared, however, may end long-distance walks with blisters, sprains, strains and even broken bones. So how do you safely transition from pleasant countryside strolls to more arduous treks on your first big walking holiday? Here are a few trekking tips to help you prevent foot and leg injuries on a long trek.
Choosing the right footwear
Trendy or not, the trainers have to go. If you want to prevent foot and leg injuries, a good, purpose-made pair of strong hiking boots are a must. You have plenty to choose from.
When buying your boots, take along a pair of the thick socks you intend to wear with them. Choose boots with a high cut ankle and thick soles, which will give extra support to feet and legs when walking on rough ground. Make sure they fit snuggly (with your thick socks on), but not tightly. You should still be able to wiggle your toes. Keep toenails short, to stop them snagging on socks.
Fallen or dropped arches are quite manageable on a day-to-day basis. However, visit a podiatrist before you undertake any long trek. They can design custom orthotics to fit into your boots and provide extra support and comfort on long-distance walks.
Are you as fit as you think you are?
Wherever in the world you choose to holiday, there are businesses that specialise in organised long-distance trekking. However, they also offer shorter distances. If you’ve never hiked more than two miles, don’t sign up for a 10-mile trek. Choose instead three- or four-mile walks on reasonably level ground until you are confident in your own abilities and fitness.
Improve your back strength
To improve your back strength, packing properly for a long trek is a must. Most people take a backpack for energy snacks, beverages, and maps and compass, even on those short countryside outings. On longer treks, however, you’re going to need an extra kit. You’ll want:
- light nylon waterproof leggings and top
- small towel
- spare socks
- extra snacks and liquids
- spare layers if you’re hill walking
- a small but comprehensive first aid kit
If camping out, add one person tent, camping stove, foodstuff and sleeping bag. A bigger rucksack will be required. Ensure you buy one feels comfortable when filled. Then, on short walks, weigh it down with some clothing or heavier items. Start using it to strengthen your back muscles in preparation for those long walks.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst
No matter how well you prepare for your long distance walks, burning and itching feet can become a problem. If you know you suffer from burning and itching feet, sweaty feet or athlete’s foot, be sure to pack anti-fungal powders, sprays or creams. Buy socks made from synthetic materials, which allow the feet to breathe easier. Wash your feet and dry thoroughly after each leg of the trek, and put on clean socks for the next leg. If your hiking boots have gotten wet during the walk, try to get them dried out for the next day’s walk.
Finally, you don’t have to be at the peak of physical fitness to enjoy long-distance trekking and prevent foot and leg injuries. Adequate preparation, ensuring you have the right equipment and knowing your limitations will set you on the right path. You can enjoy a pastime that will improve your overall physical and mental health and provide a great feeling of personal satisfaction.