Prepare Your Feet for That Fall Hike in the Woods

As the days become cooler Americans are heading for the mountains, forests and
fields for recreation. Hikers, hunters and “leaf peepers” are lacing up their walking
shoes and hiking boots to take advantage of all that fall has to offer.
Those who enjoy the outdoors aren’t always aware of the beating their feet can take with constant, vigorous hiking
on uneven terrain. Walking up and down steep hills and on slippery surfaces puts stress on the muscles and
tendons in feet and ankles. But, with a little bit of preparation, you can avoid problems such as heel pain, ankle
sprains and Achilles tendon injuries.

Use the Right Shoes

Cross-training athletic shoes don’t offer the support needed for hiking on uneven, steep and slippery terrain.
An investment in strong, well-insulated and moisture-proof hiking boots will lessen the stress on muscles
and tendons and reduce risk of injury. A supportive shank decreases strain on the arch by allowing the boot to
distribute impact as the foot moves forward. If a boot bends in the middle, don’t buy it!

Easy Does It!

Hiking is like skiing; beginners should take on less difficult trails until they become better conditioned and more
confident. Lax physical conditioning is a primary cause of foot and ankle injuries. In addition to stretching
exercises, strengthening of foot and leg muscles as well as exercises to improve your sense of balance will improve your ability to deal with challenging terrain. And don’t attempt more than your body is ready for; ease into your hiking routine before planning a long, strenuous trip.

Listen to Your Body

If you start hurting, take a break! Pain is your body’s warning sign that something is wrong. Serious injury risk
escalates significantly if you continue hiking in pain. And if foot or ankle pain continues even after you’ve rested,
plan a visit to our office as soon as possible. Ankle and Achilles tendon injuries, especially, need to be properly
evaluated and treated as early as possible. Left untreated, they can lead to serious problems that will keep you off the trails for a long time.