By Sanjay Ghosh
The great outdoors are calling! So who are we not to listen? Hiking provides us with many benefits. First of all, hiking is fun! And surrounding ourselves with nature reduces our stress levels, improving our mental health. But not only that. Hiking reduces your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease and it improves your cardiovascular health.
But let’s be honest. Anybody who has been out on the trail knows the feeling of coming back from the hike with sore, painful feet. Hiking pushes our feet to the extreme, with hours of walking on uneven terrain. And in the more extreme cases, the resulting foot pain can prevent you from hiking for quite a while. So while we all look forward to challenging hikes, nobody looks forward to sore feet in particular. That’s why we came up with 5 great hiking tips. Use them, and your next adventure will feel like a walk in the park.
Tip #1: Pick the Right Hiking Shoes and Insoles
Would you wear flip-flops while skiing? Of course not! But a shocking amount of people still go hiking with old beat-up sneakers. Those might be fine for walking to the supermarket, but not for clambering up rocky inclines and narrow traverses. It can quickly lead to painful foot conditions, like blisters and sprains or even plantar fasciitis . So before you go on your next hike, go to a professional sports shop, where you can try out a few hiking shoes.
Of course, once you have your new hiking shoes, you want them to last as long as possible. That’s why we always recommend a pair of high-quality insoles to help share the load. Shoe inserts give you proper arch support, provide cushioning, and keep hot, humid conditions at bay. And they help your pricey new hiking shoes last much longer. It’s a lot more affordable to buy a new pair of insoles than a new pair of hiking shoes, after all. And it’s way more affordable than surgery.
Tip #2: Break In Your Shoes
Of course, when you have your brand new hiking shoes, you can’t wait to take them out for a spin. But you should be careful not to use them on a challenging hike right off the bat. Instead, allow yourself 2 weeks to let your shoe and foot get used to each other.
This is because new shoes often need to loosen up before they reach their maximum comfort potential. Though there are lots of quick fixes that supposedly speed up the breaking in time, they shorten the lifespan of your shoes. We’d recommend wearing your shoes around the house and on some easy hikes for about two weeks. Definitely don’t push it here. Nice and easy does it.
The process of getting the perfect fit is the dreaded “breaking in” of your shoes. It can be quite intense. Especially with the more heavy-duty hiking boots. That’s why some high-quality merino wool socks or comfortable squishy insoles can speed up the process— while relieving your feet.
Tip #3: Use Proper Hiking Techniques
You might think walking is easy. After all, you’ve been doing it ever since you were a kid. But hiking and walking are not the same thing. Have you ever exhausted yourself on a trail, while people double your age pass you left and right? We’ll let you in on a secret. It has to do with your hiking technique.
In a nutshell, proper hiking is like music. It has rhythm. Nothing saps your energy faster than speeding up and slowing down on your hike. Instead, try to work up to a steady beat, so your feet bounce up after each downstep. This is much easier with supportive and stable hiking boots and insoles. If you’re still having trouble, try singing some hiking songs while you walk. Depending on your skill, it will either help you make new friends or clear the path for you 😁.
Tip #4: Take Breaks and Stretch
When you notice your legs are turning to jelly and your feet feel tight, don’t power through. Of course, sometimes pushing your body is the right thing to do, but more often than not taking a break and stretching is the more effective option.
If you’re wearing high-quality hiking shoes, with soft socks and squishy hiking insoles, you’ll be able to walk for a long time without needing to stop. But no one is a machine, so when you do feel the need, listen to your body and stretch.
Tip #5: Treat Your Feet After Hikes
Let’s face it — no matter what you do, you’ll need to recover after an intense hike. Of course, when you’re following our tips, you might need less recovery time than if you don’t. But it’s almost certain that your body will need some rest after so much exercise. To speed up your recovery, you’ll want to take special care of your feet after every hike.
The first thing you should do is to soak your feet in water. The rule of thumb is as follows. If your feet are swollen, use cold water until the swelling goes down. Afterward, warm water will relax your feet and improve circulation. Elevating your feet and massaging them can also do wonders for your feet.
If you’ve been using shoes and insoles that trap moisture, you should air them out. That way, they don’t become a breeding ground for bacteria. Of course, choosing for special moisture-wicking insoles can go a long way in preventing these conditions in the first place.
So, in summary, to make the most out of your next hike, you should keep the following 5 tips in mind:
- Pick the Right Hiking Shoes and Insoles
- Break In Your Shoes
- Use Proper Hiking Techniques
- Take Breaks and Stretch
- Treat Your Feet After Hikes
But most importantly, when we hike, we should look further than just our own health. The mountainsides and traverses we explore deserve everyone’s appreciation. And what better way to show appreciation for nature than to safeguard it. That’s why we made responsible and sustainable exploration the focus of Primal Soles. So you can explore nature to the fullest, without taking anything away from future explorers.
When you buy Primal Soles, you buy the only 100% recyclable cork insoles in the market in full accordance with EU regulations. The entire production process is CO2 negative. And we have a program in place that makes recycling them effortless for you. Because over time and after lots of hiking, your insoles will wear out. But we’ll always be there, at the end of the trail, to give your feet the support they deserve.
So why not try Primal Soles. We make insoles for low arches and insoles for high arches. Or try our brand new line, with a design based entirely off the feedback of thousands of users. Primal Clouds —because they feel like walking on clouds.
Support nature. And let nature support you.