With summer approaching, spending time outdoors on the weekend is probably on your mind. Close by are Craighead Forest Park and Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center, in addition to our other neighborhood treasures. They are great for picnicking and camping, but a day well spent including hiking the trails. Traveling to other areas of the country or doing a roadtrip? You may want to get yourself a nice pair of hiking shoes to really enjoy what the US has to offer.
New to hiking? You’ll want to learn more about the types of hiking shoes you can buy. For low-key easy hikes, regular sneakers or cross trainers can be just fine. However, for different types of trails, you’ll want more terrain-specific shoes. Trail running shoes are for those who want to make their jogging more interesting. They are generally light, but have strong soles and grip for the uneven and possibly slippery terrain. Hikers will usually share these trails with trail runners. Rough-Trail Hiking Shoes are usually boot-like, which have mid to high ankle cuts for extra support. Soles may be thicker and shoe material tends to be sturdy but lightweight. Off-Trail Hiking Boots are more supportive and sturdy than the rough-trail shoes. The ankles are supported higher up, there’s more cushion and a thicker outer sole with grippy tread. They help you traverse uneven, rocky trails, but because of the extra support, they can be heavier as well.
Regardless of the type of shoes you buy and the type of hiking you plan to do, you’ve got to prepare your feet and break in your hiking shoes. Otherwise, you may not last very long and your first slightly difficult hike may leave you with painful feet that discourage you from going back.
Here are some tips to prepare for a successful hike:
- Start slow and easy. Going on a difficult hike as one of your first few hikes can be straining and even dangerous. It’s important to know how your feet, ankles, and legs react to hiking.
- When purchasing hiking shoes, try them on with the type of socks you plan to wear. Make sure they are comfortable as is – breaking them in should only make them more comfortable. A snug fit is important to prevent cramping, bruised toenails, and blistering.
- Break in new hiking shoes by wearing them around the house or when taking a walk around the neighborhood. This will give them some flexibility and time for your feet to get used to them.
- Hydrate well and make sure you have water with you for the hike. Pack a healthy snack as well. If you become too tired or dehydrated, you risk becoming lightheaded or unstable, leaving you at risk for injury.
- Stretch and warm up before you begin hikes, especially your ankles.
Wondering if your feet are ready for a hike or did you sustain an injury? Make an appointment with us at The Podiatry Group. Our podiatrists, Dr. Mark E. Reiner, Dr. Michael A. Haughey, Dr. William G. Coates, and Dr. Erik D. Rosenlof can assess your feet and recommend any orthotic inserts you may need for a painless and enjoyable hike, as well as any treatment you may need.