How to: Avoid Blisters whilst Hiking

Hi! Welcome back! This month I’m coming to you with a bit more of a informative post. Last year I completed a fundraising challenge of ‘1000 miles in 100 days’. 700 of those miles were on foot and the other 300 were on bike.

It was all in my local area and compliant with lock down rules. Let me tell you, I now know the countryside of South Oxfordshire in excruciating detail.

I definitely learned how to avoid blisters the hard way and today I want to share my knowledge with you, so you can learn the easy way.

Here are my top tips on how to avoid blisters whilst hiking. Don’t forget to like, subscribe and let me know what you think in the comments! I hope you enjoy!

Blisters make one unhappy hiker

1. Invest in your feet

In my humble opinion, if there is one piece of hiking equipment you can’t be stingy on, that is your shoes.

Your feet are going to be carrying you for miles on end and deserve every ounce of respect.

Of course hiking boots are expensive which makes the investment quite inaccessible. If you’re on a budget, look second hand or on the Next Door app. You could even make a ‘wanted’ post on freecycle, I reckon that could be successful. Especially if you live in an outdoorsy area.

You can also find some great deals in the sales. My hiking boots are from my 17th birthday. My Dad bought me them in the sale and they are really good quality. I can not remember how much they cost but they were definitely well under £100.

They have lasted me six years and are still going strong. I understand that not everyone will have the opportunity to invest in a good pair easily but if you are planning on going on some long hikes, it is definitely something worth saving up for.

Walking boots made to last

2. Lace up properly

This was my downfall when I started my long distance walking. I developed blisters that grew their own blisters, as well as one blackening toe nail.

There are a few different methods that do it but I didn’t actually use them (I am relentlessly lazy). I just put my foot into the boot, ensuring the heel was right against the back, leaving lots of toe space. Then I tied the laces as tight as I could from bottom to top. You should be able to shake your foot about without the boots coming loose or your toe touching the front.

This sounds like a really ‘duh’ point but it’s essential.

3. Size up

Lots of hikers advise sizing up when you buy your walking boots. This is because when you go on a long distance hike, your feet will swell up and then rub against the shoe or the big toes will bump against the front.

I am a size 6 and so are my walking boots. I felt fine in mine once I started lacing properly so I suppose it isn’t absolutely necessary.. maybe my feet are just on the smaller side of 6. I would advise speaking to some one at the store about it when you purchase though and trying on a variety of sizes to judge.

4. Layer up

Wear double socks! This was the second thing I learned that changed the game for me. My blisters stopped growing and my toe stopped blackening.

The idea of doubling your socks doesn’t sound so appealing when you’re walking in the heat but believe me, your feet will thank you. The extra sock or the double layer socks provide a much needed extra barrier from the friction between your shoe and your foot. That layer is a lifesaver.

You can buy very affordable but very good double-hiking socks from mountain warehouse. Alternatively you can cut up an old pair of tights and use the bottom as socks.

5. Air them out!

When you sit down for your break, take the socks and shoes off. This helps keep them clean and will help prevent any infections on blisters you might have already.

I would often lay back, put my feet in the air and move them in the motion I would if i was cycling a bike. This always helped to bring down the inflammation which helped me power on further.

When you get home it is also good to lie down and have your legs up against the wall for five to ten minutes.

Wild Swimming Spot Oxfordshire

6. Pamper them

If you’re only out for day hikes, run a foot bath when you get home. Peppermint, Black Pepper, Eucalyptus and Rosemary would all make great essential oils to add to your bath, helping to bring inflammation down.

Swim/paddle in rivers every chance you get. The cold water is great for you and definitely helps relieve the pains in your feet.

Massage them! Even just gently brushing my fingers around the soles helps me after a long walk.

On my walks I carry around a homemade lavender spray with me. It’s just salt, lavender and water. It helps sooth my feet so much on my breaks, as well as keeping them fresh. I also used it one day on a wasp sting, and it helped loads. That sting stayed contained and small where as when I got stung again two weeks later and didn’t spray with lavender, the sting swelled up, covering half of my thigh.

Essentially, Lavender is magical.

No blisters = One very happy hiker

Thank you for reading!

I hope that you got some use from this. Hiking is a fantastic way to get to know your local area or explore distant corners of the world. If 2020 has taught us one thing it is the importance of spending time in green spaces so this summer, be sure to plan lot’s of outdoor adventures!

Do you have any tips I haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments!

To read more about my 1000 mile journey you should check out my post about how it helped my mental health – Head injuries, Anxiety and Nature’s Healing Power.

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