Prevent Foot Injury while Traveling This Summer

As published in Queen Anne News and City Living Seattle

The sun is out and summertime is finally here. Whether you stay local and taking a hike to enjoy the breathtaking views of the Pacific Northwest, visit a theme park or take a vacation out of town, there’s a good chance that there will be a lot of walking involved. While the summer months are a great time to explore and be active outside, nothing ruins a trip faster than blistered and aching feet. Before you head out on your summer adventure, here are a few tips we recommend for protecting your feet while traveling.

The best thing you can do for your feet is ensure that you wear the right shoes. Shoes that have more support and a firm midsole are best for a lot of walking. If you’re planning on wearing sandals, choose a pair that provides support such as Birkenstock or Orthoheel.

It is also important that you break shoes in before your trip for maximum protection against blisters and skin irritation. When you get a new pair of shoes, you should stretch them out and wear them on a long walk, hike or whatever activity you plan to do on your trip.

In addition to good, comfortable shoes, socks also play a role in preventing skin irritation. We advise wearing thin, breathable, double layer socks that will wick perspiration away from your feet and prevent rubbing against your shoe. Avoid cotton socks in really hot weather, wet conditions or if you’re prone to sweating as a damp socks on skin can cause friction leading to irritation and blisters. Also be mindful of thick socks, which can make shoes tighter and slow blood circulation.

Along with good shoes and socks, you should also consider bringing along a foot care kit. Being prepared will help prevent or minimize skin irritation, blisters and injuries. The kit should include: an extra pair of breathable socks, band aids, antibiotic ointment, medical tape, nail clippers and tweezers.

Even with the right equipment and preparation injuries can still happen. Here are some of the most common foot injuries and tips on what to do:

Blisters: When skin is damaged by friction or rubbing, heat or cold blisters can form. If you get a blister, be sure to apply antibiotic ointment and cover it with a bandage to ensure the skin is protected from further friction. If the blister pops, try to leave the “roof” of the blister there to offer some protection and then cover with a band aid.

Sore feet: Walking, hiking or running for extended periods of time can cause sore feet, especially if you aren’t used to that level of activity. Make sure to take adequate breaks to give your feet a rest to prevent the pain. Additionally, drink lots of water to help prevent dehydration.

Foot or leg swelling: Any time you are inactive for long periods of time your body is prone to blood clots since blood is not circulating to all areas of your body. The feet and lower legs are particularly susceptible to swelling and potential blood clots. For long flights or car rides, it is especially important to take short walks to keep blood moving and reduce the risk of blood clots. You can also pump your calf muscles by moving feet up and down at the ankle for 10-15 seconds every so often to keep blood moving.

Sprained or broken ankle: Ankle injuries are common when hiking on uneven ground or participating in physical activity. If you hurt your ankle while traveling, the first thing you should do is get off of it immediately. Apply light compression, elevate the ankle above your heart and put something cool on it. We recommend bags of frozen peas or corn, which conform to your body better than a bag of ice. To tell if your ankle is broken compared to sprained, push gently on the ankle bone and if it’s tender, it is likely that it is broken.

If you don’t know what your injury is or if pain persists for more than three days, you should visit a podiatrist. A podiatrist can help you identify the problem and make sure that your injury is healing properly to get you back on your feet and on to your next adventure.

Gregory Grant, DPM, FACFS practices podiatry at Pacific Medical Centers in the Canyon Park and First Hill Clinics. He specializes in reconstructive surgery, trauma, wound care, biomechanics. To learn more about Dr. Grant, click here or call 206.505.1001 to make an appointment.

Kirk Alexander, DPM, FACFS practices podiatry at Pacific Medical Centers in the Northgate, Renton and First Hill Clinics. He specializes in foot and ankle fractures, tendon problems, bunions, hammertoes and deformity reconstruction. To learn more about Dr. Alexander click here or call 206.505.1001 to make an appointment.