The summer months are perfect for getting outside and having fun but they can definitely take a toll on our feet. Whether we’re walking, dancing, hiking or relaxing at the beach or cottage, here are our recommendations for the perfect footwear to take with you and the best ways to pamper those tootsies.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT FOOTWEAR
HIKING – If fitness hiking or trekking is part of your plans this summer then we definitely recommend light hikers (unless you’re planning on crossing the Andes, in which case get a pair of proper mountaineering boots). Light-weight hikers provide ankle support but if your ankles are relatively strong, then we suggest a light hiker running shoe. Here are some more tips for finding the perfect hiking shoe and read our tips below to learn about foot care.
WALKING – You’re footwear will depend on the intensity of your walking but typically a pair of good trainers should suffice. These differ from light hikers in that they are lighter but provide less ankle support.
DANCING – We know you absolutely love that pair of 6-inch stilettos but before you plan to wear them all night long at that exotic night club, consider what they’re doing to your body. Wearing heels forces your ankles to bend forward, a movement that restricts circulation in your lower limbs. They also stiffen your Achilles tendons, put additional stress on the inner sides of your knees and force your back to sway unnaturally, a process that taxes your lumbar erector spinae muscle, leaving you with a sore lower back. Save your spikes for that special night out and only walk around in them for no more than a few hours. One idea is to wear them to the nightclub and then change into comfortable flats or sandals.
RELAXING – These include everything from slippers to flip flops to sandals and, well, barefoot actually. Obviously these are reserved for lounging poolside or at the beach or in your hotel room. (We do not recommend going on a 5-km hike through town wearing flip flops.) These types of footwear typically do not have any support so they should be reserved for lounging. However, it’s a good idea after spending a day in them, to enjoy a foot soak (see below).
CHOOSING THE RIGHT FOOT CARE
The first thing you want to do before embarking on a city walk, forest hike, beach stroll or all-night dance party this summer is to prepare your feet properly. Remember to cut your toenails back, because if they’re too long they’re going to hammer against the toe box of your shoe and you’re going to lose a nail. Make sure the corners of your nails are rounded nicely so that your toes fit in your shoe, and, when they’re continually moving for balance, they don’t dig in and scrape each other.
Depending on the structure of your feet, you may also want to invest in orthotics, which will help counteract fallen arches, over-pronation or excessive supination. Consult with your doctor before purchasing any orthotics as the wrong kind will end up doing more damage.
Unless you’re a hardcore hiker chances are your feet are going to be negatively affected by a long march through a forest, on a beach or through a city. And the last thing you want during your summer vacation is painful blisters. If you’re planning a long walk or hike we recommend the first thing you do before putting on socks is apply Friar’s Balsam, or Tincture of Benzoin, to the heel of your foot. At Mountain Trek, that’s the colourful potion we dip Q-tips into and swab on the heels of your feet to anchor bandages on. You can find these at any pharmacy.
Our second recommendation is to use a tape called Mefix (we no longer use MoleSkin at Mountain Trek). Mefix is much thinner than MoleSkin and takes up barely any room in your shoe. We cut this tape to a 2 ½ inch length, round the corners so your sock doesn’t peel it off, and then stick that from the sole of your foot over your heel bone, working up the achilles. Any friction that occurs as your foot goes up and down gets aborbed by the tape rather than your skin.
Another product we use at Mountain Trek is called Molefoam. It’s a fuzzy foam pad that protects from pressure in our shoe: we cut little donuts out of it and place it over bone spurs, bunions, callus points, any place you’re worried about pressure that you normally feel in any shoe.
In extreme cases, you might also want to invest in Lamb’s Wool. At Mountain Trek we use this product for some guests that get blisters because their toes are overworking for balance. We simply weave the wool in between the toes so the there’s something to alleviate the friction and absorb moisture so the skin doesn’t get too soft and rub or peel off. Lamb’s wool can also be purchased at your local pharmacy.
Finally, whether you’ve just gone on an all-day hike or have lounged on the beach with your feet in the sand, there’s nothing better than a foot soak at the end of the day. Fill a basin with hot water, add a teaspoon or two of Himalayan bath salts and then slowly immerse your feet. (Better yet, fill an entire bathtub with water and a 1/4 cup of bath salts and immerse your whole body.) Then all you have to do is relax, enjoy the warm sensation and let the salts go to work on your body. These are just a few of the benefits of Himalayan bath salts:
- Detoxifies the body by balancing systemic pH
- Improves hydration by providing trace minerals
- Improves mineral status of the body
- Reduces muscle cramps by improving minerals and hydration
- Helps balance blood sugar
- Supports hormone balance for everyone, no matter what hormonal issues you face
- Helps balance blood pressure because it provides unrefined, mineral-rich salt in an ionic solution
- Improves sleep by supporting blood sugar and hormone balance
- Acts as a powerful antihistamine
- Supports weight loss by balancing hormones and improving energy
- Supports thyroid and adrenal function