There are amazing nature opportunities in Florida and throughout the US and other countries on your travels. Hikers at home and on vacation will hike mountains and wander through woods and fields. However, they are often not prepared for the beating their foot and ankle might take.
“Hikers and others who like the outdoors typically do not realize how difficult it can be to stand up to continuously and engage in vigorous walking on uneven ground,” said Dr. Jairo Cruz, a Podiatrist in Brandon and Zephyrhills Florida. Dr. stated that poor physical conditioning and inappropriate footwear bring many outdoor lovers into his office. Each patient had issues related to foot and ankle problems. These included persistent heel discomfort, ankle sprains, fractures, Achilles tendonitis, fungal infections, and severe blisters. Those with diabetes may come in with ulcers or sores on their feet as they may not be able to feel the pain or irritation while hiking.
Walking up and down steep hillsides and hiking through wet slippery fields and wooded areas puts tension on the bones, muscles, and tendons of the feet and ankles, especially if you haven’t warmed up properly before beginning a long hike. Likewise, many people don’t recognize that cross-trainers and other athletic shoes aren’t the best choice for extended hiking. Well built hiking boots are essential and they can prevent foot and ankle injuries and strains such as sprained ankles or strained Achilles tendons.
Dr. Cruz advises hikers to make the investment in high-grade hiking boots. He said strong, well insulated and moisture-proof boots with steel or graphite shanks provide exceptional ankle and foot support that lessen the tension and muscle strain to decrease the chances of injury. “The supportive shank decreases stress on the arch by permitting the boot to disperse your weight evenly as the foot moves forward.” Being evaluated for a custom orthotic device in the office is also an important consideration to balance and optimize your foot and ankle function.
In damp and cold weather, wearing the right socks can help prevent blisters, fungal infections, and frostbite. Synthetic socks are a good first layer to keep the feet dry and minimize blister-causing friction. For the 2nd layer, wool socks maintain heat, absorb moisture away from the skin, and make the hiking boot more comfortable. Wool lets moisture vaporize more readily than cotton, so fewer blisters form.
Training prior to a hiking trip is essential to avoiding injuries. However, what do you do if your feet or ankles hurt during a hike? The discomfort generally is caused by overuse of muscles and motions that are not common for your foot or ankle. This can even occur with simple walking. To prevent a serious injury, such as a severe ankle sprain or an Achilles tendon rupture, rest for a while if you begin feeling a lot of pain. You may also want to slow your pace and even do some calf stretches before moving forward. In cases of severe pain, it may be best to end the hike and train better for the next time. Daily walking is an excellent way to strengthen the muscles around the foot and ankle. The bones will also stay stronger the more you exercise.
Dr. Cruz advises coming into his Brandon or Zephyrhills office if there is an extreme amount of foot or ankle discomfort following a hiking trip. “I’m most worried about ankle instability and strained Achilles tendons. Avoiding medical care for these problems at their early stages might cause a major injury that will keep you off of your hiking routes for a very long time,” Dr. Cruz stated.
Get in touch with Dr. Cruz today if you’re planning a hiking trip and you’re concerned about any foot problems. He has podiatry offices both in Brandon and Zephyrhills. Please get in touch and schedule an appointment by calling (813) 502-5904 or (813) 782-3233.