Hiking Tips For Your Feet & Legs
If you get after it in the outdoors during the summer, your feet and legs will undoubtedly get worked! Blisters from hiking boots, scrapes from adventurous hikes, strenuous ascents up mountains, and constant sun exposure can all take their toll on your skin and muscles. With a little care before and after your adventures, you can make it through the summer with happy, healthy limbs.
Protect Your Feet
One of the best things you can do to take care of your feet while on the trail this summer is to be aware of how your feet feel as you hike. Don’t get lost in the scenery and forget about that blister forming on your heal. It’s called a hot spot, and if you feel it, stop and address the problem immediately, and keep that blister away. Some people apply duct tape or medial Leukotape on hot spots, while others may wrap the spot with athletic tape or (my favorite) use Second Skin. There are any number of great products on the market that help prevent blisters; make sure you put one in your first aid kit.
Other ways to prevent blisters include taking your shoes off occasionally to dry out sweaty feet, keep moisture away by sprinkling meditated foot powder on your feet before you start hiking, and leave those thick wool socks at home—there are plenty of great lightweight, moisture-wicking socks out there. You can also bring lightweight sandals if there are many river/creek crossings on your trail, lube your feet up on a rainy day, get waterproof boots, and (another one of my favorite techniques) is hike with lightweight trail shoes instead of heavy leather hiking boots. This technique may not be for everyone, but I have terrible ankles, and I prefer using trekking poles for ankle support as opposed to thick boots. And if you totally forget all these techniques, you always have Green Goo First Aid to apply at the end of the day.
Protect The Skin on Your Feet
As soon as you dig out your shorts and sandals for summer weather, you should be applying sunscreen on those newly exposed areas. All too often, we put sunscreen on our faces and shoulders but neglect our legs and feet, which burn just as easily. Plus, after months of wearing long pants and closed-toe shoes during the winter, your skin is especially delicate. Before you go outside, slather a natural, zinc-based sunblock like Solar Goo on any skin that isn't covered by your clothing. Check out our Glampeur's Guide to Skin and Hair Care for more tips on protecting your skin from the sun.
Treat Bites and Scratches
When you're spending your days on trails, lakes, crags, or even in your backyard, a few bug bites and scrapes on your legs are inevitable. When you take stock of these bumps and bruises at the end of the day, speed the healing process with Green Goo First Aid and Dry Skin products that will relieve itching, prevent scarring, and ease pain. We're going to write a full Glampeur's Guide on this topic... coming soon!
Stretch, Stretch, Stretch & Soothe Sore Muscles
Outdoor adventures can be a lot of work, leading to sore and stiff muscles, especially in your legs. Remember to drink lots of water to help your body heal, and give yourself time to sit and take the pressure off your legs and feet for a while at the end of the day. My absolute favorite way to relieve pain is to stretch, stretch, stretch throughout the day. I stop frequently to do the runner's stretch, standing forward bend (with slightly bent legs so as not to strain my back), a quadriceps stretch, calf stretch, and a standing hip stretch. If you don't know how to do these stretches, I recommend taking a yoga class.
The day after I hike (or sometimes the evening after), I then do some recovery yoga. I don't practice vigorous yoga after a hard hike; at my age (44) I can't walk vigorously for miles and miles and then also go big in the yoga class like I could in my 20s. But, I can do a moderate yoga class, with plenty of flow, hip openers and back stretches. And, if I'm lucky I can convince my boyfriend to give me a soothing massage oil or rub Pain Relief salve all over my body. This allows me to continue to play hard throughout the week.
Your feet and legs do so much work. They carry you up mountains, through rivers, and all around your neighborhood during the sunny summer months. Demonstrate your appreciation by giving them a little extra love and attention this season. When your skin and muscles feel great, you'll feel ready for your most active and healthy summer yet.