Do you want to know how to avoid ball of foot pain while hiking?
You have come to the right place. When preparing for hiking, most people forget to prepare their feet. They forget that the feet will do most of the work. In another article, we discussed a few exercises to prepare for hiking.
Hiking is hard work, strenuous even depending on the terrain that you choose to hike. This is why it is important to understand the different effects that hiking can have on hikers feet.
Fortunately, owing to its popularity, it is so easy to get information about how to avoid some of the most common negative effects of hiking.
What causes ball of foot pain?
Many things could be the culprit to ball of foot pain. However, the most common ones can be wearing the wrong shoes for hiking. In the same way that you sometimes experience heel pain due to wearing flat shoes for too long, you can also experience ball of foot ache when you wear the wrong shoes for the trail.
Ball of foot pain is also referred to as Metatarsalgia. It is the pain that you feel when your ball of foot becomes inflamed. This occurs as a result of engaging in activities such as hiking,m jumping, running and others, basically, most activities that involve the feet.
If you are an ardent lover of the trails, you must have experienced this pain at one time or another. Maybe you treated it at home, or perhaps you let it sideline you for some time, before you could back to the trails.
Today, we will show you how to prevent ball of foot pain. Hiking is a pleasure, not a punishment!
Here are the main causes of ball of foot pain
There are many cause of this pain. However, here, we are only going to look at those that are related directly to hiking.
Wearing shoes that are too small
When you know that your feet are going to be involved in vigorous activity, you need to wear fitting shoes. For the hiking trails, you know that a pair that is too fitting can hurt your heels. Now, it also seems that you will not only hurt your heel, but your ball of foot as well.
It is recommended that you always wear hiking boots or shoes that are a half-size bigger than your would wear a dress shoe. This gives you enough room for your foot to expand (feet swell a little) as the blood starts pumping.
You also get enough room to wear thick hiking socks with your boots.
Wearing the wrong orthotics
If you know you have high arches, that is, the arch between the heel and the ball of your foot is high, you need to look for fitting orthotics. These are inserts that will support the “hollow” area. If you ignore these, you will get these stabbing pains in the ball of foot region.
Cushioning the shoes will help your feet. However, you can even do much better than that if you use gel pads for the shoes. They help prevent foot pain after hiking because they give your foot the support where it needs it most.
When your second toe is longer than the first one
Believe it or not, this is quite common. Therefore, you would need to prepare your hiking shoes specifically for a person in such a situation.
When it has been long since you hiked
If you have been several months away from the trail and then you go for hiking without preparing amply, you will get very sore feet after hiking. This actually happens with every kind of exercise. For example, when you lift weights, you could suffer from DOMS – delayed onset muscle soreness.
Pain on top of foot after hiking is very common after you hike a steep trail. Therefore, you might want to start with the easy, flat trails it has been some time since you last hiked.
If you have had a foot injury
If you have had a foot injury or you have had bunions removal, they can alter the way you walk. Therefore, this causes ball of foot pain when you go hiking.
How to prevent foot pain after hiking
Now that you know a few causes of ball of foot pain while hiking, it is time to find out how to prevent the occurrence of the same. Remember, this pain is characterized by sharp stings and it can render you immobile for sometime. It is therefore best to avoid it than find a cure for it.
Get enough cushioning in those boots
Lack of proper cushioning is the number one cause of foot pain while hiking.Most hiking boots and shoes come with their own stock inserts. However, in most cases, these are never enough. You need better ones, and if possible, you need customized ones.
Remove the stock insoles that get thinner with time, eventually turning too thin. You can try Superfeet insoles as they make awesome choices for everyone and for every kind of shoes. You can buy Superfeet insoles on Amazon.com.
Should you be worried about the extra cost of the insoles? Well, they are designed to last a long time. In most cases, these insoles will outlast the shoes that you use with them.
Rest and give your feet time to recover
This is very important. There is a lot of stretching in the heel and the ball of foot area, because these foot areas are in contact with the ground when walking. Therefore, every time your foot gets into contact with the ground, microscopic injuries occur to your muscle fibers. These tiniest injuries will then get inflamed causing you a lot of foot pain.
Take a rest every now and then. Sit down and rest your legs on an elevated place so that for a moment, the feet do not have all that blood flowing to them. Rest for 15 minutes after every 2.5 miles of hiking. Consider taking a longer lunch break too of 90 minutes. Of course, as your hike progresses, you will want to take longer rests. It is all good for your legs.
Hike as lightly as you can
If you have to carry your child on a hiking carrier backpack, carry less items considering that you have the weight of the child on your back. Remember, every weight that you carry in your pocket is going to be borne by the feet.
If you are hiking a short distance, it is OK to carry more weight. However, hiking a long distance with a lot of weight on your back is going to leave you suffering from hiking foot problems.
You will not only get pain the ball of your feet, but you are also going to suffer from plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, blisters and others.
Always audit your backpack and gear. If you think you will not need something, you will not. Leave it behind. Eventually, you will learn the art of packing light even for the long hikes.
Use ice packs on your feet
Tell you what, ball of foot pain does not manifest immediately after hiking. It can take hours to set in. Therefore, when you are back home or to your camp, you need to give your feet some proper treatment.
Put an icepack on the feet. This is going to prevent swelling of the ball of foot. It can also help the injured muscle fibers to mend faster.
Use lightweight shoes for hiking
Unless you are hiking in winter in which case you would need heavier and warmer boots, use lightweight hiking shoes. Hiking foot problems start with the weight that you subject the feet to. Not only should the shoes be light in weight, but they should also be breathable. This mitigates sweating and other ills that come with long distance hiking.
Listen to your feet and act immediately
A smart hiker listens to his or her body. This means that you pay attention to your feet keenly. When you feel something is amiss in the ball of foot area, you need to stop hiking and work on it.
You should always carry some bandages and moleskin so that when you feel any spot on the sole of your feet starting to become tender, you can sit down and fix that immediately. Foot problems escalate when you let them grow. If you feel something is not right, find a spot, sit down and fix it.
Warm up before a long hike
If you have been out of action for sometime, do not just wear your hiking boots and hit the trails. You need to warm up some for this. When you warm up, you get your feet ready.
You also get your mind ready for the work ahead. By warming up, we mean you should get accustomed to walking around home. If possible, you can wear your hiking boots. If they need inserts, you can get them.
Avoid stressing your feet too much while hiking
Avoid stressing your feet too much when you are on the trail. For example, when you walk over sharp rocks, they press right into ball of your feet, causing distress and pain. Walking on such ground makes you curl your foot too much and that stretches the muscle on the ball of your foot. This will give you foot pain after hiking. Watch where your foot lands.
These are simple steps for how to avoid ball of foot pain while hiking. It is easy if you follow the advice we have give you here. However, the most important thing is to know the adaptation of your feet so that you can get the right inserts.