One of the great advantages of living in the state of Arizona is the beautiful outdoor scenery that surrounds us. Whether it’s the Sonoran desert, the forests of Flagstaff, the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon, or the red-rock buttes of Sedona, there is something that inspires us all. While these major landmarks are the most widely recognized, many of nature’s hidden gems are off the beaten path, waiting to be discovered. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to bust out those hiking boots, enjoy the cooler weather, and discover your next adventure…but before you go, lets go over a few ideas to keep your feet in optimal hiking condition.
Get the Gear
Let’s start with the basics…Socks. Socks come in many different styles and types. They are made from a variety of materials and even vary in sock categories (ranging from light-weight, mid-weight, and heavy weight). You must also take into consideration what conditions you will be hiking in. For example, if you know you will be in an area that is colder, you might consider a heavier sock made of wool. In hot conditions, acrylic socks may do a better job of wicking away the moisture from sweaty feet. At any rate, a quick visit to your local outdoor recreation outlet and the experts there can help you pick out the perfect sock for your activity. Be sure to ask them questions about the following sock qualities:
Comfort (itchiness, compression, etc.)
Wicking and Breathability
Let’s move on to footwear such as shoes or hiking boots. Again, there is a head-spinning array of different brands and types. We will cover only the very basics here. At the risk of sounding overly obvious, it is important that your boot or shoe fits properly. Without proper fitting boots or shoes, you open yourself up to all sorts of aches and pains ranging from blisters, plantar fasciitis, knee pain, and even low back pain to name a few. Best practice when buying hiking boots is to try them on at the end of the day after your feet have swollen the most. In this manner you can better guarantee a snug fitting shoe that is not overly tight and definitely not too loose. If you wear orthotics, it is important that you bring them with you when trying on new shoes, as they will affect the type and size of shoe or boot you ultimately choose. You also want to bring socks that you normally wear, as you will be better able to assess how the shoes fit and feel. Finally, be sure to break in your hiking boots before your first outing by starting to wear them around the house for short periods of time. As they begin to feel more comfortable, start to wear them for longer periods outside.
These are only a few tips to get you started. The Internet has a vast collection of knowledge and advice concerning hiking gear that goes beyond the intent of this article. However, just because you have selected the optimal set of boots, socks, and gear, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that anything won’t go wrong on the trail. Always be prepared with plenty of water and a proper first aid kit. If you should sustain an injury while on the trial, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gary N. Friedlander of Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona. We’ll get you back out there on your feet in no time!