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Foot Problems - Here's a tip - Slightly Off Topic :)


Hello all, I'm not usually one to share my aches and pains with the world but some readers may find this useful.

Last year I walked the Camino Frances in a pair of well worn in boots and compared to many had very few problems with my feet. Well after the days walk the balls of my feet were pretty painful but I just put this down to the long distances plus pack etc. I mean I really dint have anything to compare it to. I was walking just as fast or as slow as many people half my age so I thought nothing of it.

Earlier this year I bought a new pair of boots again heavy leather and I just could not break them in. I would get a pain in my right foot after a very short distance. So I would tighten the laces the loosen the laces then investigate different ways of lacing boots till I was almost mad. So I went out an bought another pair of boots, this time softer gore-tex type. They felt great in the store and at home but as soon as I started to walk I was having the same problem. Not all the time and not to the same degree every time.

Eventually after a threat of divorce from my wife who had been watching me changing boots for a month I went to a podiatrist. I won't go into all the details but part from a slight pronation and very tight calve muscles which increase the load on the ball of the foot he said one of your legs is longer than the other. Sure I said every one has one leg longer. No No its a lot longer. So he sent me off for a scan to be completely sure as to how much longer. Guess what? One leg is 18mm longer than the other, yes that's right 18mm. I'm 49 years old and have never noticed. This would explain my low back pain etc. Anyway I picked up the orthotics for my shoes today and although they cannot compensate for the full difference my feet felt immediately better. Both in trainers and both sets of boots. They will take some getting used to because I will be using muscles and tendons at different angle but as I said the positive effect was immediate.

Sorry about the long post but if your reading this and are having foot problems that don't seem to make sence go and see a podiatrist or even 2 or 3.

Sorry about the long post but as I said it may be useful information for someone out there. I was starting to think I may have to put my future Camino plans on hold but now "Have orthotics, will walk" :D

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I completely agree with you about the value of Podiatrist Orthotics.

I have pain in the sole of my heel and bought some Orthotics from Boots (Chemist) which helped a bit, but the custom ones from the Podiatrist are much better. I too had pain in the balls of my feet during/after my Camino last year so you have given me hope that I might be able to avoid this next time,

As you say - new Orthotics do need gentle getting used to though and should be aclimatised to gently. Not the sort of thing to put in for the first time as you start your Camino.

Over pronation, wonky legs etc are a strangely common issue. Most people will tend to over pronate, causing the knee to move inwards, sometimes resulting in quite a bit of pain. A good supportive shoe should be enough to correct the problem in most cases, so I'm not sure if spending potentially hundreds of pounds on orthotics would be sensible! I was dabbling with various boots once and thought that the lightweight trainer-like Salomons but they had nothing even REMOTELY supportive about em. Waste of cash.

I do agree, podiatrists are wonderful.
In 2005 I ended up going to the hospital with very severe tendonitis. Upon my return home, I went to a podiatrist to check out the tendonitis and also the numb toes that lasted me for 3 months! I too, like Pablo, got orthotics and was reassured by the podiatrist that I should suffer no difficulties at all. He was right! Despite walking 400kms further in 2007 I had no foot, toe, shin problems, and would not anticipate problems next year either.
I went to a podiatrist prior to my Camino, as I was having achilles pain on the side of my ankle during my 'training'. He checked my feet, pronation etc throughly, and said that my feet were fine when I walked, but I needed to do some calf stretches along the way...

These stretches were very effective for my achilles problem, and I used them on the Camino. But after walking a few hundred km, I developed soreness in a different place, at the back of my ankles, plus tightness in my calves. I had a wonderful massage in Los Arcos, and the first thing the very kind man there said was that I needed to 'drink more'. I heard this several times along the Camino... that being well hydrated actually helps the tendons to work better.

Once I arrived home, I decided I would check out the issues I had had with a physiotherapist. She quickly picked up that I stood with one of my feet turned inward. She said that I needed to do some hip exercises to turn the foot out. She said that under 'normal' circumstances, this stance wouldn't cause problems, but under the more extreme stresses of a lot of walking, the tension from the way my hip turned inwards would have created tension and pain further down my leg/foot.
I have to admit I haven't been entirely diligent with this hip exercise yet, as I find it a bit hard!!!! But I see another Camino in my 5-10 year plan, probably along the Camino Aragonese first..... and I do intend to help my hip to turn more outwards before I tackle that!
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I walked for 30 days straight and was generally bless with an absence of foot issues. I used moderately priced boots with heel inserts and also used smart wool socks (which I swear by). I did encounter tendinitis once - and it was very painful...but it seemed to be easily remedied by using an alternate pair of shoes...this is the lesson I learned...take an extra pair of foot wear...
Hey Kiwi, how did your achilles pain turn out?

I'm freaking out today because I began having pain about 3 days ago while training for the Camino. The pain is not too bad, in the achilles area, but I'm paranoid that if I don't just stay completely off of it, I won't be able to walk when I get to Spain. YIKES!

I've been icing it and massaging it.

I can't think of anything I did to make this happen, except maybe trained a little too hard...

Any ideas? Thoughts? Advice?
This happened to me too before my camino - I was walking long distances using my broken in boots and got some pain in my knees and feet. Went to see a specialist in orthopeadics - got some custommade insoles - and stopped walking on the hard streets and asphalt. Continued training in my gym (cycling, crosstraining and swimming). My camino went allright and everything was fantastic - I didn´t have pain and I did carry my rucksack about 7 kg with water- the walking on the camino was not on the asphalt. My knees got better (walked from SJPP to Burgos), no aches in Spain. I don´t do walking now - I do crosstraining in my gym and do some swimming and bicycling instead of walking. annie

take some anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen
Anniesantiago said:
Hey Kiwi, how did your achilles pain turn out?
Any ideas? Thoughts? Advice?

Annie, I don't have much problem now as I am not walking too far usually! But it does recur when I do walk a longer distance, especially on asphalt. I have got better at doing the right stretches to ease it. I guess that I have just learned to live with it, and walk through it. One thing I was told in Spain by a massage therapist was that it was essential to drink plenty to help the tendons etc work well. And I suspect the days I had more ankle pain, I probably wasn't drinking enough.

When I worked in industry, we were often issued with heavy boots, which took some breaking in. So we used to wear them and plunge our feet into a basin of warm water, let the boots soak a few minutes, and let them dry. Repeating the treatment if necessary.

This is just for breaking in the boots, of course, and little to do with medical problems.

It seems that many, who dont walk much anyway, use new boots from the start, with dire consequences.

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I grew up in the country, and we did that with our cowboy boots...which are so tight they make you cry when they are new :lol: :lol:
Caminando said:
So we used to wear them and plunge our feet into a basin of warm water, let the boots soak a few minutes, and let them dry. Repeating the treatment if necessary.
This is just for breaking in the boots, of course, and little to do with medical problems.

Here in New Zealand, where we have lots of streams descending from various mountains and ranges, you are often wading across streams in the back country. It is an old tramper's trick to 'wear in' new boots under such conditions- seems to mould them to your own walking foot.

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