Able to leap obstacles with a scramble or a bound, and clear a hut with the removal of a single piece of footwear, feet are designed, with the help of a good pair of boots, to carry our equipment, and us, for a short walk or a multi-day enduro. Often abused, they are generally forgotten unless they give us a problem such as a blister or a strain.
Good preparation and boot choice will help minimise any problems in the long term.
Start with boots and socks that are correctly fitted by knowledgeable shop staff using a Brannock device for accurate foot measurement, and a slope to test toe clearance in the front of the boot. The best time to fit boots is later in the day as your feet will have swollen a little. This is normal, so allow for this when choosing and fitting any footwear. Make sure there is adequate room in the toe box and that your heel is held securely, unable to slide around in the back of the boot.
Choose a pair of socks that will wick moisture on the hottest of days. Woollen socks in the summer can cause your feet to overheat and may result in blisters. Some close fitting boots may necessitate the purchase of a thin pair of summer weight socks to avoid space issues on a hot walk.
A good stretching regime is worth the time taken before and during your walk. There are many websites showing foot-specific stretches to help prevent strains; stretching your legs and feet before and after setting out will reduce the risk of injury when you get out there, and during recovery after a gruelling outing.
Before leaving home trim your toenails to prevent them catching on each other, your socks and on the inside of your boots. Each of these puts pressure on the nail bed; nails that are too long, broken and have rough edges tend to suffer the pressure from a toe box that is too short or too low. The resulting black nails and toe blisters are both painful and unsightly. After trimming take a nail file and file downwards towards the front of the toe to clean up any rough edges.