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Top 5 tips for keeping feet happy & healthy when training for long distance walking

So you have decided to train for a long distance walking event? You’ve never done one before but think it might be fun to join a group of friends to get out for a few hours on the weekend, explore some different walking tracks and maybe raise some money for a charity whilst you do it. There may even be the chance to travel interstate or overseas! There are a number of local long distance walking events during the year including “Oxfam trailwalker”, “Coastrek”, and “The bloody long walk” to name a few.

The first mistake people seem to make when agreeing to partake in such an event is not appreciating how hard long distant walking can be. Remember, you are on your feet for a lot longer than running the same distance! Preparation and doing your research is the key to success. Sore feet that are blistered and battered can be a deal breaker so I’ve put together my top five tips for keeping feet happy and healthy when training for your first long distance walking event:

  1. Keep toe nails short. Long toe nails can not only make your shoes too small they will increase the risk of trauma which could lead to extreme discomfort and the loss of the nail.
  2. Identify areas that are prone to rubbing inside your shoe and use tape to protect the skin. Be careful not to remove too much hard skin that may develop. This is your skin’s way of protecting itself when subjected to pressure or friction so go easy with removal, particularly if it’s not painful.
  3. Purchase appropriate footwear early on and practice walking with both the footwear and socks you intend on using on the day. If you have a support crew it’s a great idea to have a second pair of shoes available in case the first pair get wet or are rubbing and always carry extra socks.
  4. Have existing foot orthoses checked well in advance and do not try to introduce significant modifications or new devices close to the event. Discuss other options such as taping and padding with your Podiatrist if the event is only a few weeks away.
  5. Research the surfaces you will be walking on and try to incorporate these surfaces into your training. Walking on soft sand is very different to walking on a bush track! A pair of walking gaiters should be purchased if you are walking off-road but make sure you know how they work and have practiced using them. The last thing you need in your shoe is sand, dirt or worse still a small rock.

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