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Hikers- tips for sore feet

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So I hike pretty much every weekend, typically somewhere around 6 miles. Lately I’ve been wanting to push that out to longer hikes, and I’m finding that if I do go past about 8 miles, my feet really start to hurt. It’s been this way for the last 10 years, through several pairs of boots and on different types of terrain. I almost always wear heavy waterproof boots because it rains so much here and I hate hiking with wet feet. I find that on the way out I’m having a great time, enjoying myself, enjoying the scenery. Today I did 9.5 miles and my feet were screaming at me for the last mile and a half. It was hard to think about anything else except how good it was going to feel to get back to the car and take my boots off.

Nothing else hurts. My legs and heart and lungs tell me I could do more. It’s just my feet.

Any tips, tricks, or ideas to try?
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Replies

  • RunForPizza88
    RunForPizza88 Posts: 56 Member
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    Hmm tricky one if it is wet and muddy...have you considered trail running shoes/trainers may be more comfortable than big boots? They also have a lot of grip. Hoka have some trail shoes if you look in their website but I’m sure there’s other brands too.

    I’ve hiked rockies in Canada, Bavarian alps in germany, Arizona...I always wear nike free trainers and no probs covering usually over 12 miles in a day. But the terrain has always been very dry!
    Everyone I pass on the trails are wearing big boots but my feet would be screaming at me if I wore those....!
  • sgt1372
    sgt1372 Posts: 3,993 Member
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    When I hike, it is normally 6-10 miles at a time.

    The only thing that comes immediately to mind is to wear properly fitted and well broken-in shoes.

    The lighter the better unless you are mountaineering and need really heavy boots. There are waterproof Gortex boots offered in many different weights and styles available now.

    If your shoes are properly fitted and,well broken-in already, my only other suggestion would be to try custom fitted orthotic inserts. You can get them made by a podiatrist.

    Good luck finding a solution to your problem.
  • Machka9
    Machka9 Posts: 25,298 Member
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    Different footwear
    Different socks
    More walking during the week?
  • UltraRunnerGale
    UltraRunnerGale Posts: 346 Member
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    I am an ultra runner and I feel your pain. Truth be told, this was an issue for me for 9 years. By accident I tried some Dr. Scholl's Running inserts in my shoes earlier this year and it's been magical!! I was Googling inserts and these, along with super expensive ones, were listed as great choices. I figured for $15, I'd give them a shot. Holy aching feet!! So far, I've worn them up to 40 miles with minimal foot pain!! These are NOT those custom ones at the kiosk that cost $50, these are right off the shelf and about $15. You can find them at a lot of drug stores, Wally World, places like that. Sometimes you have to look at multiple places as they don't all carry them, but a great place to start!! Hope this helps!! :)
  • jjpptt2
    jjpptt2 Posts: 5,650 Member
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    How many hours on your feet is that?

    I've had similar problems with my feet, but I only hike once or twice a year, and those hikes are 10-12hrs wiht a 30lb pack, so it's just not something my body is accustomed to.

    Some very general thoughts...
    • Could it be friction? Friction can cause discomfort - it's why cyclists use chamois cream - and that discomfort can be far more significant than you might think it would be. You mention having been through several pairs of boots... what about socks? I'd look for synthetic or wool socks with a tight weave and fine threads. Some outdoor/hiking socks can be fairly coarse against the skin.
    • Could it be from impact? A stiffer sole and/or boot with a rock plate could help. My Salomon hiking boots are much more flexible (and thus I feel more, especially on rocky trails) than my Oboz hiking shoes.
    • Could it be support? Arch support or similar? You can get relatively cheap insoles/inserts, but I'm not sure how effective they would be, or prescription orthopedic inserts if you wanted to go that route.

    Just a few thoughts... GL.
  • spiriteagle99
    spiriteagle99 Posts: 3,699 Member
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    I switched to lighter shoes for hiking. My feet are going to be wet one way or another, and I'd rather have the extra cushion of running shoes. I wore heavy boots when I started, then switched to lighter fabric boots, then to low-top Moabs, then to running shoes. I used to wear padded insoles, but all the ones I liked are off the market and I refuse to pay $50+ for the ones available now. If you do use Superfeet, be aware that they are of different stiffness levels. The green ones always killed my feet because they were so rigid. Pink was better, but still more rigid than I need or want. Also, still too expensive. Your feet do get used to doing more miles, same as with running. I used to have issues hiking at about 20 miles. Then that didn't really happen until 25 miles. Then it only happened if I had multiple days of high mileage. I also learned to massage my feet at the end of the day, to air them out at breaks, and to soak them in cold water if at all possible.
  • earlnabby
    earlnabby Posts: 8,171 Member
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    Possibly try lighter footwear and change your socks halfway through (or more) if it is wet conditions.

    Where do your feet hurt? Is it the bottom, top, toes, allover? I had a problem with the balls of my feet hurting after longer hikes and it stopped when I went with shoes with essentially no heel. I also have a problem with my right foot hurting on the outside top near the ankle. That is osteoarthritis of the metatarsal and cuboid bone and I can't do anything about it except to wear lightweight footwear that gives me good compression over the area. I always keep one or two extra pairs of socks with me in case my feet get wet.
  • lillyblack1982
    lillyblack1982 Posts: 62 Member
    edited October 2018
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    jjpptt2 wrote: »
    How many hours on your feet is that?

    I've had similar problems with my feet, but I only hike once or twice a year, and those hikes are 10-12hrs wiht a 30lb pack, so it's just not something my body is accustomed to.

    Some very general thoughts...
    • Could it be friction? Friction can cause discomfort - it's why cyclists use chamois cream - and that discomfort can be far more significant than you might think it would be. You mention having been through several pairs of boots... what about socks? I'd look for synthetic or wool socks with a tight weave and fine threads. Some outdoor/hiking socks can be fairly coarse against the skin.
    • Could it be from impact? A stiffer sole and/or boot with a rock plate could help. My Salomon hiking boots are much more flexible (and thus I feel more, especially on rocky trails) than my Oboz hiking shoes.
    • Could it be support? Arch support or similar? You can get relatively cheap insoles/inserts, but I'm not sure how effective they would be, or prescription orthopedic inserts if you wanted to go that route.

    Just a few thoughts... GL.

    Yesterday it was 3 hours 40 minutes, 9.5 miles.

    I usually wear thick wool-blend socks. Yesterday I wore a pair of running socks under a pair of thicker wool socks, which seemed to help somewhat.

    I’m thinking about trying the insoles. Do you have to get your shoes a size bigger so that they fit?
  • lillyblack1982
    lillyblack1982 Posts: 62 Member
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    earlnabby wrote: »
    Possibly try lighter footwear and change your socks halfway through (or more) if it is wet conditions.

    Where do your feet hurt? Is it the bottom, top, toes, allover? I had a problem with the balls of my feet hurting after longer hikes and it stopped when I went with shoes with essentially no heel. I also have a problem with my right foot hurting on the outside top near the ankle. That is osteoarthritis of the metatarsal and cuboid bone and I can't do anything about it except to wear lightweight footwear that gives me good compression over the area. I always keep one or two extra pairs of socks with me in case my feet get wet.

    It’s the toes. Sometimes the balls also but usually just the toes. Yesterday’s hike had a pretty steep portion and going uphill is no problem but coming downhill is murder on my toes.

    I might try just changing out my socks and wearing trail runners. They’ll for sure get soaked but I always take my shoes off when I get back to the car anyway.
  • kdbulger
    kdbulger Posts: 396 Member
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    Try a pair of trail running shoes. They are suited to some wet, intense terrain, but may provide more cushion than a pair of hiking boots. If the lower cut is a problem, get some leg gaiters to help. Try different sock layering options to reduce friction too.
  • lillyblack1982
    lillyblack1982 Posts: 62 Member
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    Thanks for all the suggestions so far guys, I’m going to try the trail runners next week and see how it goes.

    I forgot to mention during the week I usually walk the dog 3 miles daily, or I run on the treadmill about the same distance. I try not to do the weekend warrior thing!
  • jjpptt2
    jjpptt2 Posts: 5,650 Member
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    Based on your last 2 posts... I'm betting friction is part of the problem.

    Get some good socks and see what happens.
  • girlinahat
    girlinahat Posts: 2,956 Member
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    jjpptt2 wrote: »
    Based on your last 2 posts... I'm betting friction is part of the problem.

    Get some good socks and see what happens.

    also, as it's the toes and you suffer the most on the downhills, you might want to adjust sizing of the shoes.

    Definitely go with lighter shoes. You don't need big heavy walking boots for most things. Your ankles, legs and core will get stronger without, and you'll find it easier without heavy boots on your feet.

    Personally I would go with shoes that drain quickly over shoes that are waterproof.
  • CSARdiver
    CSARdiver Posts: 6,252 Member
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    Take a break and alternate your lacing. Sounds minor, but makes a world of difference. Give your feet a rest at intervals and sit down somewhere and give your shins a massage. Put your left foot over your right knee and rock your right foot back and forth through the full range of motion 20x, then switch legs. This relieves some the vascular pressure that builds up over time.

    At night do an Epson soak.

    I use a light wicking sock under wool socks and that helps as well.
  • ritzvin
    ritzvin Posts: 2,860 Member
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    ditto on the personal preference for trail runners.

    You said it was the toes...are your current shoes possibly too narrow in the toebox?
  • jjpptt2
    jjpptt2 Posts: 5,650 Member
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    earlnabby wrote: »
    Possibly try lighter footwear and change your socks halfway through (or more) if it is wet conditions.

    Where do your feet hurt? Is it the bottom, top, toes, allover? I had a problem with the balls of my feet hurting after longer hikes and it stopped when I went with shoes with essentially no heel. I also have a problem with my right foot hurting on the outside top near the ankle. That is osteoarthritis of the metatarsal and cuboid bone and I can't do anything about it except to wear lightweight footwear that gives me good compression over the area. I always keep one or two extra pairs of socks with me in case my feet get wet.

    It’s the toes. Sometimes the balls also but usually just the toes. Yesterday’s hike had a pretty steep portion and going uphill is no problem but coming downhill is murder on my toes.

    Is it the bottom of your toes, or your toes in general? If the shoes are too big/wide, your foot can slide inside the shoe and cram your toes into the walls/toe of the shoe, rather than holding your foot in place.
  • lillyblack1982
    lillyblack1982 Posts: 62 Member
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    The toes in general, especially the big toe and smallest toe. A couple weeks ago I got a blister in between the toes, but it turned out there was a fir needle in my shoe that was rubbing around and may have contributed.

    I can never seem to find shoes that fit just right. I tend to think they’re too small when I buy them and they’re new. Then as they break in they become too big. I have very long narrow feet, without much arch and one foot slightly bigger than the other. I can never find shoes or boots that are “just right”.
  • mbaker566
    mbaker566 Posts: 11,233 Member
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    it sounds like you are wearing the wrong size or that the toe box is too small for your toes. i like some brooks and altras and saucony as their toe box is a little bigger
    you can also explore different ways to tie your shoes to minimize foot slide
  • KBClimber
    KBClimber Posts: 20 Member
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    Superfeet and trail runners! I have superfeet insoles in my mountaineering boots and those definitely help. You can get them in various arch heights at REI so you can get a pretty custom fit. I also prefer hiking in trail runners as they are lighter and can offer more cushioning than boots. However, I would also suggest getting a larger size boot as it sounds like your toes are hitting the end of the shoe on the downhill. You can also try lacing your shoes up higher and using the extra lace holes near the ankle to keep your foot from sliding down as far into the shoe when you hike downhill.
    Best of luck and enjoy it out there!
  • jjpptt2
    jjpptt2 Posts: 5,650 Member
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    Shoes that are too big can be just as problematic as shoes that are too small. OP, you need to figure out if your toes are crammed in a too small shoe/toe box, or if your foot isn't secure in the shoe causing your toes to get slide into/against the wall of the shoe.