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Are my feet meant for walking?

Frank Mestre

Let’s Camino
Camino(s) past & future
1st. Camino coming up 29th. April
Camino Frances here I come.
#1
Just back from a 15 mile. 24 kl. Trek in preparation for next weeks colossal challenge El Camino Frances. My dilemma is that I thought I had broken my walking boots in over the last few weeks. But my feet still ache so much at the end of my walk. I don't know whether to persevere with the boots and just take it as ' the norm' that after 15 mile your feet will ache or should I try trainers or even open walking sandals with socks? I do find the boots heavy and tiresome.? Especially in this hot weather.
 
Last edited:

LakeMcD

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015
Portuguese 2016
GR10/Norte/Primitivo 2017
Chemin LePuy: 2018
#2
Depends on what you mean by "ache". If your training walk was at least half on pavement then I would think that a moderate amount of aching would be not uncommon. But if they are specific hot spots then you might have a potential problem on your hands or foot. My bias is use a quality trail runner (La Sportiva Wildcat non Goretex would be a good example) that is breathable, well cushioned and has a decent tread on it that would let your foot articulate naturally instead of stiff soled boots ( not sure what you have). There is a saying that one really doesn't break in a pair of boots to accommodate your feet but instead break in the feet to accommodate your boot instead. This applies more to the stiff soled boot, ever wonder why they engineer a rocker curvature on the sole?
 

stgcph

Camino tortuga
Camino(s) past & future
CF (Aug/Sep 2017)
CF (Aug/Sep 2018)
#3
Not easy to say. People have different preferences, some like trail runners others advocate trekking sandals and then others swear to boots -and they are all right. Personally I prefer boots because of the better support that they provide. Just remember that breaking in leather boots takes some walking; I walked around 300 km in my boots before they began to feel really comfortable.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2015 & 2018) San Salvador (2018)
#4
Were you planning on taking trekking sandals with you? If you have a pair of sandals, or trainers, why not try a long walk in them and see how your feet feel at the end of the day? You will also have to see if your body completely recovers overnight. If your feet still ache tomorrow, then you may need to rethink your shoes.

I wear Keen hiking shoes especially for hills, but I take Keen trekking sandals that I wear usually in the afternoons when it gets hot.

Are you stopping during your training walk? You should rest every couple of hours, and take your boots off.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#5
Just back from a 15 mile. 24 kl. Trek in preparation for next weeks colossal challenge El Camino Frances. My dilemma is that I thought I had broken my walking boots in over the last few weeks. But my feet still ache so much at the end of my walk. I don't know whether to persevere with the boots and just take it as ' the norm' that after 15 mile your feet will ache or should I try trainers or even open walking sandals with socks? I do find the boots heavy and tiresome.? Especially in this hot weather.
Hi Frank,

On what sort of terrain did you walk and what exactly were you wearing?
 

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#8
Just back from a 15 mile. 24 kl. Trek in preparation for next weeks colossal challenge El Camino Frances. My dilemma is that I thought I had broken my walking boots in over the last few weeks. But my feet still ache so much at the end of my walk. I don't know whether to persevere with the boots and just take it as ' the norm' that after 15 mile your feet will ache or should I try trainers or even open walking sandals with socks? I do find the boots heavy and tiresome.? Especially in this hot weather.
One pound on the foot equals five pounds on the back. That's based on studies by the military. It is also why long distance backpackers and thru-hikers have largely abandoned the leather boot for trail runners and trail shoes.

Broken in footwear -- of any kind -- doesn't have a lot to do with general foot soreness. Broken in footwear eliminates pressure points from the shoe and, if they are leather boots, help to make them more flexible. A proper fitting trail runner should basically be good to go right out of the box.

After a long past of wearing traditional leather boots for backpacking and then spending the last decade or so using trail runners for distance backpacking, and last year on Camino, I would not go back to a heavy boot.

Something to also consider is to look at changing your insoles; they can make a huge difference in comfort in any shoe. However, the more comfortable a shoe is to begin with, the better the outcome will be.

The muscles in the feet have their own set of exercises, stretching, and warm-up needs. As with any new activity requiring the use of muscles hitherto used lightly, it takes a bit of time for the feet of a non walker to adapt to long distance walking. Below are some exercises that I have posted before. It is directed at helping to prevent plantars fasciitis, but they are good for helping get feet to prepare for distance walking.

Arch Stretching

Stretching your arch muscles is not too difficult, but the exercise is a little peculiar. The first thing you need to do is take off your shoes and get barefoot, and then place a towel on the floor. Now, simply place your foot on the towel, and curl your toes to clench the towel. Pull the towel toward you, and that is it. Place the towel in front of you again, and repeat. Be sure to do the same for your other foot.

This exercise is typically suggested by professionals for those who actually have plantar fasciitis already, but it can definitely be helpful to everyone. You should try and do this several times a week, but make sure to not overstretch your feet while you’re doing it.

Calf Strengthening

The calf and the tendons surrounding your heel need to be strengthened. A simple exercise that may help you do this is calf rises. What you want to do is stand straight on level ground. You should be barefooted for best traction, but it is not absolutely necessary. Now, all you have to do is lift your heels off the ground so that you are standing on your toes. Stay in this position as long as you can before returning your heels to the ground, and just repeat this at least nine more times.

Another way to do this exercise that works great is to stand at the edge of a stair or curb. You want your toes to be what keeps you on the stair or curb. Then, raise your heels up so that you are on your “tippy toes” and then back down again, but allow your heels to go lower than your toes past the edge of the stair or curb. This exercise allows for a fuller stretch.

Alleviate Pronation

Pronation is a natural part of your foot’s movement. This refers to how the foot rolls and applies pressure when the heel finally hits the ground. Pronation may be normal, but that does not mean the constant shock it receives when you walk or run does not have an effect on it. One way you can alleviate the pressure is to try doming. To do this, just place your foot flat on the ground, and then press your toes on the ground while keeping your heels firmly on the floor. This should create a dome between your heel and toes. Maintain this position for 10 seconds, straighten your foot, and then just start again.

Work the Interossei

The Interossei muscles help support your arch muscles thus preventing this issue. All you have to do is place a large rubber band around your toes for resistance. Then, stretch your toes and hold for 10 seconds. Squeeze your toes for another 10 seconds, and repeat these steps about five to 10 times.

What to Do When Your Feet Are Hurting?

Whether or not you’re at risk of getting Plantar Fasciitis, you’re going to come across a time where you’re feet are going to hurt. Maybe you were standing all day at work, ran a marathon, or whatever. If your feet are hurting, take a break and rest, stretch, and recover. Get off your feet for a little bit and either ice or heat your feet. If you notice any swelling or severe pain, then ice it. If it’s just sore, then apply heat with a hot bath. Then, make sure to rub out the tension and to do some basic exercises. You can try the ones above or do some other types. One popular one is to roll a tennis ball underneath the feet. This helps to preserve the arch and massage it at the same time
 

Frank Mestre

Let’s Camino
Camino(s) past & future
1st. Camino coming up 29th. April
Camino Frances here I come.
#9
Thanks Dave sounds like some sound advice I will try all those exercises. Gracias amigo.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) portugues(2013)San Salvador (2017)
#10
You have some great advice/information above. I will add this: it was important for me to get proper advice in an outdoor shop, and to pay the extra for better insoles. The sales people in that shop say that the insoles that come in the shoes are not worth anything, as buyers generally get custom insoles anyway. Sounds like you might need to risk getting a pair of walking shoes or trail runners, but with advice from a reputable outdoor shop. Good luck, keep posting about this till you have got it sorted.
 
D

Deleted member 39850

Guest
#13
Thanks Dave sounds like some sound advice I will try all those exercises. Gracias amigo.
Good to do all the exercises. I generally walk 12-15k in my regular life, every day. But on Camino I found that my feet ached every morning in between the tendons, all around the top of the instep... places I had had no idea could even hurt. I think it finally passed by about day 20-25. I can't recall exactly. I know I took ibuprofen in the mornings to cope with it. I don't think it means you were not meant for walking. Whenever you can get a massage for those feet, definitely do so.
 

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#14
I'm leaving my boots at home. I've got a week to try out both trainers and sandels. Noetheless i'll take them both away with me.
If you get third-party insoles, keep the ones that come with the shoes and take them with you. They weigh all of two puffs of air. At the end of the day, swap out the insoles to your extra pair, and allow the other to air out. With a change of socks, you can then wear them comfortably during the evening, tied looser to allow your feet to relax. Given that you can easily purchase walking sandals in Spain along the Camino, I would skip purchasing them now. There's a good likelihood that you won't need them, and that's less weight and bulk to carry. Flipflops for a shower are very light, flexible for packing.

Just a thought :)
 

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#15
I'm leaving my boots at home. I've got a week to try out both trainers and sandels. Noetheless i'll take them both away with me.
Frank, I just posted this to a different thread. Maybe it will help :)

Take your fully loaded backpack, the socks you will wear while walking, and your insoles. The pack and socks should be on and the insoles placed inside any shoe you try on. The same applies if you get your feet measured. Keep in mind that a formal foot measure is only a suggestion; it simply puts you in the ballpark. It is always how the shoe feels that matters while in the store.

The shoe should be wider than your usual size. With a loaded backpack and the number of hours that you will walk puts a different level of stress and accomodation than regular recreational walking in a park or day walk.

Likewise, you are likely going to need a shoe at least a full size longer than your regular shoes. Maybe even 1.5 or 2 sizes longer. Keep in mind that one shoe size longer is actually not that great a difference. The objective is to be able to keep you toes from banging the front of the shoe, when tied snugly, while descending a steep decline with the extra weight of a pack.

Walk around the store, up and down stairs for a good 30 minutes. Some outdoor/backpacking related stores will have inclines and rock piles specifically to allow one to see if the shoes are big enough to keep toes from banging around.
 

jerbear

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de madrid, camino francis, camino inverino (2012, 2013,2014)
CdM, Francis, San salvador, primativo june 2015 CDM , francis, inverino 2016
Camino madrid, via de Plata. Santiago.
Coast of the dead malpica to muxia
#16
I'm leaving my boots at home. I've got a week to try out both trainers and sandels. Noetheless i'll take them both away with me.
I switched to hoka one one - gaviota. Inmo they are one of the best shoe for asphalt. After 7 years of caminos 18 total i will truge off again. I usually walk 900 to 1100 miles 11 weeks.feet can stop you could be flexible. Buec camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
March/April 2015, Late April 2016, Sept/Oct 2017
#17
It may be that your foot muscles are weak and you're using them for the first time in ages. I went to a sports doctor to get some strong pain relief for my first Camino, as I had not been able to walk on my heels for many years without pain. (I made a stupid mistake bouldering in 1987, and fell about 14 feet onto a huge rock. I landed on my feet, but damaged them badly.) The sports doctor examined my feet and my walking and told me that he thought that because I had walked on the balls of my feet for years, and not walked much, I had very weak foot muscles. (He also told me that foot pain was the number one reason women in their 50's came to see him.) So instead of pain relief in a pill, he prescribed exercises. --While on the camino, my feet grew 1 and a half sizes. They are wider and bigger now. My feet hit the ground differently. -- At first, sometimes during walking, I could feel my foot muscles cramping up-- at night I could feel them healing. - Now, my feet are strong . After 28 years, I can walk and stand, and carry a pack. :) -- It is my miracle from my Camino, and every day I am thankful.
 

AnitaLV

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2011. Coastal- will start on April 19 from Porto
#18
[QUOTE="Frank Mestre, post: 611756, member: 67903" I do find the boots heavy and tiresome.? Especially in this hot weather.[/QUOTE]
It is my 4th day on Camino From Porto. I always used to be boots fan. And I came to Porto with boots. However, after first day in this weather I went back to Decathlon’s store and bought runners. Happy now:) except the fact that I have to carry boots in my bag as extra kilo
 

Birdbass

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk September/ October 2018
#19
....Hey Dave....thanks......time for the Classic book on the practicalities of the 'long distance' haul, methinks....I'm sure we would all ( ....or at least most of us!!!) would be eagerly looking forward to it's completion!!!!!!!!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte at the moment, Camino Frances, Camino Ingles in 2013 - 2014, Camino Lebaniego
#20
Just back from a 15 mile. 24 kl. Trek in preparation for next weeks colossal challenge El Camino Frances. My dilemma is that I thought I had broken my walking boots in over the last few weeks. But my feet still ache so much at the end of my walk. I don't know whether to persevere with the boots and just take it as ' the norm' that after 15 mile your feet will ache or should I try trainers or even open walking sandals with socks? I do find the boots heavy and tiresome.? Especially in this hot weather.
No worries
I walked the Camino Frances, The Ingles and had the "aching feet" without blisters for the first few days.
It stopped after a week. I am sure that these are just the short muscles in the foot which are simply not trained enough and get fit over time.
Buen Camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago, St Jean to Santuago, 2015
Camino Portuguese, 2018
#21
Just back from a 15 mile. 24 kl. Trek in preparation for next weeks colossal challenge El Camino Frances. My dilemma is that I thought I had broken my walking boots in over the last few weeks. But my feet still ache so much at the end of my walk. I don't know whether to persevere with the boots and just take it as ' the norm' that after 15 mile your feet will ache or should I try trainers or even open walking sandals with socks? I do find the boots heavy and tiresome.? Especially in this hot weather.
My feet would not tolerate boots. What works for me is Keen sandals with merino wool socks - lighter or heavier depending on the season.
Jane
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2, El Norte incompleto
#22
[QUOTE="Frank Mestre, post: 611756, member: 67903" I do find the boots heavy and tiresome.? Especially in this hot weather.
It is my 4th day on Camino From Porto. I always used to be boots fan. And I came to Porto with boots. However, after first day in this weather I went back to Decathlon’s store and bought runners. Happy now:) except the fact that I have to carry boots in my bag as extra kilo[/QUOTE]
You can mail them to Santiago and pick them up when you get there.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#25
What to Do When Your Feet Are Hurting?
Woderful post, Dave, thank you! Bookmarked.
I walk in lightweight Keens (not boots) and on the Camino my feet throb when I'm lying down in bed. Every night. But they always come right by morning.
I wore boots once on the Camino: first time, last time. the aching feet were much worse than with the lighter-weight shoes. The camino isn't a hike and so they're overkill unless you have ankle stability issues and need that kind of support.
 

drmokc

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues and Camino Fisterra/Muxia (Autumn 2018)
#26
I switched to hoka one one - gaviota. Inmo they are one of the best shoe for asphalt. After 7 years of caminos 18 total i will truge off again. I usually walk 900 to 1100 miles 11 weeks.feet can stop you could be flexible. Buec camino
Regarding the hoka gaviotas... Did you feel like you had adequate stability on the non-paved hilly parts of your walks? Especially in the rain? They are certainly comfortable. I have a pair, but hadn't considered them for the Camino Frances in September/October..
 
#27
Likewise, you are likely going to need a shoe at least a full size longer than your regular shoes. Maybe even 1.5 or 2 sizes longer. Keep in mind that one shoe size longer is actually not that great a difference. The objective is to be able to keep you toes from banging the front of the shoe, when tied snugly, while descending a steep decline with the extra weight of a pack.
I agree with most of your advice but not this - though I do walk the Camino with the trail runners that I use every day - they're very snug at the back of my foot and wide enough at the front but I certainly don't need any extra length
 

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#28
I agree with most of your advice but not this - though I do walk the Camino with the trail runners that I use every day - they're very snug at the back of my foot and wide enough at the front but I certainly don't need any extra length
And you are correct, you may not need the extra length... that's why it's important to rely on how they feel with the fit, and not just the measurement alone. However, a large number of backpackers and trekkers do need the extra length, which is why it is important for one who is purchasing footwear to not be put off by a shoe which is longer -- and sometimes substantially so -- when trying on shoes as I had described.

I have provided a lot of first aid to feet with toes that have been bloodied, and toenails blackened from a shoe that was purchased by someone using their normal street shoe measurements.

Thanks for making sure that folks understand that what I wrote is not an absolute, but merely a guideline; I appreciate that. :)
 

jerbear

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de madrid, camino francis, camino inverino (2012, 2013,2014)
CdM, Francis, San salvador, primativo june 2015 CDM , francis, inverino 2016
Camino madrid, via de Plata. Santiago.
Coast of the dead malpica to muxia
#29
Regarding the hoka gaviotas... Did you feel like you had adequate stability on the non-paved hilly parts of your walks? Especially in the rain? They are certainly comfortable. I have a pair, but hadn't considered them for the Camino Frances in September/October..
I just switched a couple of months ago. Stability is very balanced in my opinion. The lugs on bottom seem to work well on mud as well as concrete.
 

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