Foot and ankle injuries can ruin a hiking adventure, but they are easier to prevent than one may think. One of the best ways to prevent injuries begins with a good quality, proper fitting hiking boot with good ankle support. This way no blisters can form and injuries are less prone to occur. Here are some other preventative measures Dr. Jennifer Ryder suggests to make hiking more enjoyable.
How to Prevent a Blister:
Blisters are formed by friction causing fluid to collect between layers of irritated skin. In extreme cases swelling and tearing may occur which can cause discomfort. Keeping your feet dry will also minimize a blister’s opportunity to form. Never wait for a “hot-spot” to develop; place tape on blister prone areas prior to hiking to maximize prevention. If you are especially prone to blisters you may consider using a layer of NewSkin or Moleskin in place of standard tape. Also, foot powder can be used to decrease formation of a blister by decreasing the amount of friction and sweat produced.
How to prevent and treat a "Toenail bruise":
A Subungual hematoma refers to a toenail that becomes bruised when blood forms under the nail, from pressure. This is a common hiking injury because of improper fitting footwear. It is most common when a toe repeatedly hits the sides of the shoe because the toe box is either too small or too stiff. Immediately following the injury it is important to apply ice and rest for a couple of days. See a podiatrist if the toenail gets worse or more painful.
How to Prevent Ankle and Arch Pain:
If you are still experiencing ankle and arch pain with a benefiting shoe, stretching may be a solution. It is best to do arch and foot stretching several days before and immediately prior to hiking. Using a walking stick that acts as a balancer will help even out your steps while hiking, making you less injury-prone. If an ankle injury occurs, it is important to rest, ice and elevate your ankle to minimize injury. You may also take ibuprofen to reduce pain. Additionally, it may be beneficial to carry an ankle brace in your backpack in case the injury becomes more severe. If swelling, bruising or any of the above symptoms progress, it is imperative to see a podiatrist as soon as possible.