Over the years, experience amongst Lighthouse2Lighthouse Lady walkers have accumulated in the knowledge and wisdom that your walk will only be as good as the shoes you walk in.
A newly registered walker’s first task will be to identify the shoes she will practice with and walk the Walk in the next year. One has to make an informed decision on what type of shoes to purchase, taking into account:
- A strong, non-slip, thick sole with good tread
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Enough space in front of your toes to wiggle them
- Your heel should not slip out of the shoe when you walk
- Side-seams on the shoe that might produce friction
- Mesh-uppers on some shoes allow sand pebbles/water through
- Use ankle hiking boots if you have weak ankles
Your shoes need to be walked-in training shoes that have done a lot of walking miles, with a sturdy sole to protect your feet against hard pebbles and shale. The training shoes should not be too tight, to accommodate sweat absorbent seamless socks. This prevents blisters from forming. Be aware that training/hiking shoes with mesh uppers tend to let sand in which creates friction between the shoe and sock. This can lead to irritation of the skin and blisters. It is recommended to wear gaiters around the ankles to prevent sand from getting into the shoe.
Every person’s feet are different, so there is not one ‘perfect’ shoe for all feet. Practice with your chosen pair of shoes and log at least 200 kilometres in them before the Walk starts. Any problems with the shoes, whether it is ‘toes with no feeling’ or ‘shin splints’ problems, have to be resolved before the Walk.
During the 12 years of the L2L Ladies Walk, many women were unable to complete the Walk and had to quit due to severe blistering and the pain and discomfort it caused. Preventing this from happening, start with the right shoes.
Your feet are the two most important parts of your body to condition before the 4 day Walk. Walking for 5-7 hours a day, 4 days in a row poses a much bigger challenge to your feet than a once-a-week hike in the morning or a few 1-hour runs during a week. The secret to a comfortable walk, is to walk more often. One’s feet need to harden and become accustomed to placing one foot in front of the other for long periods of time.
Blisters are caused by friction, heat and sweating. Each walker has her own personalised method of preparing, treating and preventing blisters on her feet during long walks, but experience has show L2L Ladies Walk that the following tips from ‘The Walking Site’ (www.thewalkingsite.com/blisters.html) are wise words to follow:
Hydration: a dehydrated walker is at a higher risk to form blisters on their feet. If you stay hydrated, you can perspire freely and avoid small salt crystals forming on your feet which can cause friction and the forming of blisters.
Shoes: properly fitted shoes, that are not too tight or too loose and breathes well.
- it should fit your foot exactly like your shoe does, not too tight or too loose.
- Select a soft wicking fabric such as coolmax.
- No cotton.
- Ensure that the socks have no bulky stitching at the toes or heels
- Some walkers wear 2 pairs of socks (one pair being nylon pantyhose ankle socks to keep sand out)
- Do not wear socks that are too worn, because the thin areas can produce hot spots and blisters.
- Test your socks out before the long walk and never wear unwashed socks
- Always carry a spare pair of socks during long distance walks, to change into when your feet became sweaty of wet
- Stay dry by dusting your feet and inside of your socks with talcum powder or foot powder before and during a walk.
- Lubricate your feet by rubbing it in with petroleum jelly before and during a long walk as a preventative. Other creams to consider are Prep cream, Bepanthon Baby cream or Camphor cream.
- Blister pads to stick on areas of your foot or toe where you are likely to develop hot spots during long walks
- Wrapping your toes or parts of your foot with micropore/athletic tape is another common practice for prevention of blisters. Make sure you apply the tape smoothly and not too tight. It can also be used to cover a blister that has already formed.