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Preparation to avoid some feet problems

Swede

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I and my wife have walked the CF 2011,2012,2013 and now in the end of August and Sept 2015
#1
This is one of the best recommendations I have ever seen on Youtube regarding walking 800 km. I have seen too many pilgrims walk into stores in Spain and buy new boots since their light trekking shoes had broke down. Then they had to continue in new boots and all kind of problems with your feet could occur. Well taken care feet will take you safely to Santiago.

 

H Richards

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
June 2017 Francés
October 2017 Le Puy / Francés
June/July 2018 Norte
#2
I love this guy's videos. His particular style of slightly nerdy deadpan delivery for me really makes his videos entertaining.

I know this is gonna kickstart a whole new blister discussion, but I just wanna say I walked the Frances as a hiking newbie with new shoes last year and had zero blisters, so I'm living proof it is possible!

The key here is to have shoes that fit well and are comfortable right from the start. I must have tried on twenty pairs before settling on my pair.

And then there's my other secret German weapon - Hirschtalg - a foot cream made from deer fat, which creates the best protection against feet losing their natural protective oils, making them vulnerable to rubbing. Works better than anything else I'm tried... but not good for vegans :)
 
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Swede

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I and my wife have walked the CF 2011,2012,2013 and now in the end of August and Sept 2015
#3
I love this guy's videos. His particularly style of slightly nerdy deadpan delivery for me really makes his videos entertaining.

I know this is gonna kickstart a whole new blister discussion, but I just wanna say I walked the Frances as a hiking newbie with new shoes last year and had zero blisters, so I'm living proof it is possible!

The key here is to have shoes that fit well and are comfortable right from the start. I must have tried on twenty pairs before settling on my pair.

And then there's my other secret German weapon - Hirschtalg - a foot cream made from deer fat, which creates the best protection against feet losing their natural protective oils, making them vulnerable to rubbing. Works better than anything else I'm tried... but not good for vegans :)
I knew such a reply would come at once. It´s like a Table Tennis match. But what shall the other 99% or 95% do? Blisters and feet problems are a very common problem. I have helped many pilgrims with feetproblems during my Caminos. Weak shoes or too stiff boots/shoes, not walking enough before, unfamiliar with long distance hiking with heavy backpack, walking long distance in heat or shoes/boots that didn´t withstand heavy rain, not so suitable socks. Here you have some of the main problems. Your answer will not help people, who are not in your position and why should you argue against a really good advice that is found on this video and will make many people think before they start a Camino that can be very painful? Then you have swollen ankles and feets. There are many things for the average pilgrim to be aware of and be prepared for. It´s not so easy to stop for a weeks rest if needed.
 

H Richards

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
June 2017 Francés
October 2017 Le Puy / Francés
June/July 2018 Norte
#4
I knew such a reply would come at once. It´s like a Table Tennis match. But what shall the other 99% or 95% do? Blisters and feet problems are a very common problem. I have helped many pilgrims with feetproblems during my Caminos. Weak shoes or too stiff boots/shoes, not walking enough before, unfamiliar with long distance hiking with heavy backpack, walking long distance in heat or shoes/boots that didn´t withstand heavy rain, not so suitable socks. Here you have some of the main problems. Your answer will not help people, who are not in your position and why should you argue against a really good advice that is found on this video and will make many people think before they start a Camino that can be very painful? Then you have swollen ankles and feets. There are many things for the average pilgrim to be aware of and be prepared for. It´s not so easy to stop for a weeks rest if needed.
Why do you think I'm arguing against the advice? Nothing I said contradicts anything he said.

My point was the single, most important factor is to get shoes which fit your feet perfectly and are comfortable to walk in. I'm a good A/B test case here, because the two caminos I did, one I had bad blisters, and one none. The only difference was the fact I got better shoes (and used the Hirschtalg) the second time. It's good advice - put the time in to find shoes which feel like you could walk endlessly in them, rather than just saying "good enough" on the first pair that doesn't immediately rub.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#5
This is one of the best recommendations I have ever seen on Youtube regarding walking 800 km. I have seen too many pilgrims walk into stores in Spain and buy new boots since their light trekking shoes had broke down. Then they had to continue in new boots and all kind of problems with your feet could occur. Well taken care feet will take you safely to Santiago.

Yeah....from personal experience I totally disagree with his conclusion re. using well worn trusted boots. I did this and by Leon they were falling apart and at that point I had no choice but to stick with them, my feet ended up totally wrecked. I did my second camino in much newer sandals with less preparation and had no real issues.

His graph looks great but is based purely on anecdotal evidence and what he thinks feels right. In my equally anecdotal knowledge of camino injuries most people I know have experienced issues in the middle stages due to heat, long road sections etc.
 

H Richards

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
June 2017 Francés
October 2017 Le Puy / Francés
June/July 2018 Norte
#6
If you think what wearing in a pair of shoes actually does, it's just a process whereby the shoe is made to fit your foot better, by breaking down the fibres which would restrict, rub or be too rigid. This happens as a natural consequence of performing the same movement thousands of times over.

Now, consider you could drastically reduce the need for this to happen by choosing shoes initially which fit your feet comfortably through all positions it will be moved into. Then you could hit the road walking in a new or nearly new pair.

I'm aware this is a tall order, but such shoes do likely exist for you. We just need to put the time and effort in to seek them out.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#7
I have just watched that video and a couple of others he has done. They are very good. I especially like the fact that he sensibly outlines some of the main considerations and suggests ways to approach the situation.

Most of the problems on the camino - or in life! - do not have a single clear solutions. That is the explanation for the debate currently on this thread. One person says - this is the key solution. Another person says - no, I have a contrary example that disproves it. That does not mean that the "suggestion" or "consideration" is invalid. It simply means the matter is more complicated than an absolute statement can address.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: September 24 - October 31 (2015); February/March (2019)
#8
I suspect the main risk with wearing new footwear on the Camino is that you may not know completely how the boots are going to feel when you are walking more than 20km a day in them. If you’re like most people, when you buy shoes you simply lace them up and then walk around the store a little bit, and then pronounce them a good fit or a bad fit. If you got the fit right, then you may luck out on the Camino. A friend who wore new footwear on his first Camino was not so lucky and found his boots were too small. He had terrible blistering problems. I’m honestly not sure how much of the risk of wearing new footwear has to do with them not being limbered up.

I found during my training lead-up to my first Camino that I didn’t really start noticing hot spots until I had walked over 10 km. I soon learned that the pair of Merrill boots I had planned to wear would be a major problem on the Camino. I had thought these boots fit perfectly in the store, but once on the trail for a good stretch of time I realized that the toe box was too narrow. I changed to Keen Targhee boots, which are known for having a nice, wide toe box. I had only minor blister issues on my Camino.

The one critical area he did not cover in his video is that of foot hygiene and care. I found this to be essential in avoiding blisters. Dry socks are essential. I changed socks a couple times a day. I also applied petroleum jelly to my feet prior to putting socks on each time. Once I started following this regimen my few small blisters went away, never to return.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#9
Most of the problems on the camino - or in life! - do not have a single clear solutions. That is the explanation for the debate currently on this thread. One person says - this is the key solution. Another person says - no, I have a contrary example that disproves it. That does not mean that the "suggestion" or "consideration" is invalid. It simply means the matter is more complicated than an absolute statement can address.
I entirely agree @C clearly . When I presented my contrary example I was just trying to rather clunkily demonstrate that my "proof" was as good as his, ie. not at all and as such presenting a graph with a profile of when people get injured was a bit disingenuous on his part.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#11
presenting a graph with a profile of when people get injured was a bit disingenuous on his part.
Yes, the bathtub curve is just of an illustration of a common trend or tendency.

I thought it was interesting that he made a point about the potential for injuries after weeks on the road. People say "oh you will be strong after 3 or 4 weeks walking." I just came back from 31 days walking and by the end, I felt more tired than strong!
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2, El Norte incompleto
#12
I have seen too many pilgrims walk into stores in Spain and buy new boots since their light trekking shoes had broke down. Then they had to continue in new boots
My experience was the opposite. I met pilgrims who ditched their boots and bought trail runners to finish their Camino. Have you noticed that you see a lot more boots discarded along the Camino than lighter weight shoes?

His graph looks great but is based purely on anecdotal evidence and what he thinks feels right. In my equally anecdotal knowledge of camino injuries most people I know have experienced issues in the middle stages due to heat, long road sections etc.
I agree.
I have worn trail runners on 3 Caminos (650-800 kilometers each) and never had a pair break down yet. I love them!
Same here, but I've only walked two Caminos so far.:)

And I definitely felt stronger at the end of the Camino, plus I lightened my load - not in my backpack, but the approximately 3.5 kilos of weight that I lost off my body.

I also disagree with following Brierly stages. I don't think that he had some grand plan to ease pilgrims into the Camino.

What I do agree with in the video is the necessity of testing out your footwear over many consecutive days of long walks. Before my first Camino, in addition to walking 5 miles every day (as I still do most days) One week I walked 10 miles a day for 5 consecutive days to see how my feet held up in the shoes and socks that I had chosen. Then I walked 15 miles as a final test. Rather than taking the same trail runners that I had already put quite a few miles on, I took a new pair of the same model, that I wore on just a few walks to make sure that there weren't any manufacturing abnormalities that made them feel different.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times, but soon again I hope....
#13
I have thrown out this advice before on here, and here it is again. It is quite simple. Whatever shoe/boot and sock and insole combination you decide to wear on the Camino, make sure you walk at least ten walks of a minimum of ten kilometres each in them before you start your Camino. You do not have to wear your pack and if no hills are available to walk on, that is okay as well. If you are unable to simply walk ten kilometres ten times before you start, that alone is a problem that needs to be addressed and remedied.
Those walks will let you know any problems you will encounter and do break in the shoe/boot. There is simply no other way of knowing. Walking a few laps around the outdoor shop won't reveal anything.
It also allows you to maybe switch up sock types if one type gives you problems.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#14
Take a GOOD look at the distribution curve. Yes, the distribution of problems is bi-modal. His explanations are valid...BUT FOR THE PEOPLE ON THE LINE.

Folks who plot below the line have fewer problems. Pilgrims who plot their experiences above the line have a greater incidence of problems. That is how numbers, statistical distribution, and these curves work.

Many, many pilgrims, my self included, will fall under the curve. Then there are some who fall above the curve, some or all of the time.

BTW: Here is the home video page for all 36 of this fellows videos...


Hope this helps.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
May and October 2015
(2015 October)
June 2018 Portuguese
#15
Well, my 2 cents... I solved the "boot" issue well before leaving home for my first Camino. Tried some on and my feet said "no way!" after one or two steps. They are always happiest with no shoes at all, so a pair of boots was not going to work! So I started in some trail runners and a long downhill stretch in them had me limping. Found a pair of Keen sandals in Burgos, and all was well. Straps on that pair are wearing as I have been using them daily here at home, so got a new pair for the Caminho Portuguese which I'll be doing in June, and am wearing those now. A bit of pad under my right heel helps as my hips are not exactly even. These sandals have elastic laces that can be adjusted, and that make some automatic adjustment as I walk. For me, 10 km in any shoes is about the limit; doing yoga for many years has me tuned in to my body and I pay attention to its messages. ;)
And I use hiking poles.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#16
It is quite simple. Whatever shoe/boot and sock and insole combination you decide to wear on the Camino, make sure you walk at least ten walks of a minimum of ten kilometres each in them before you start your Camino.
No, not so simple, although the advice is a good start. I walk dozens of 15-km walks in my boots/shoes/shoes beforehand, without any signs of problems, but always get a few blisters on the Camino. An extra 10 km, day after day, plus different and uneven surfaces, and heat, lead to blisters in spite of my preparation.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances May 2017
#17
I’m on the Camino Portuguese right now on day 5 and have the same two blisters in the exact same places as last year on the Frances. I trained for the past 5 months with trail runners and backpack and feel for 70 am in good enough shape. Blisters are just a part of doing a lot of walking. I have great knees because I wear compression sleeves on both legs each day. Works for me. Buon Camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
April 2017 or Sept 2017
#18
I suspect the main risk with wearing new footwear on the Camino is that you may not know completely how the boots are going to feel when you are walking more than 20km a day in them. If you’re like most people, when you buy shoes you simply lace them up and then walk around the store a little bit, and then pronounce them a good fit or a bad fit. If you got the fit right, then you may luck out on the Camino. A friend who wore new footwear on his first Camino was not so lucky and found his boots were too small. He had terrible blistering problems. I’m honestly not sure how much of the risk of wearing new footwear has to do with them not being limbered up.

I found during my training lead-up to my first Camino that I didn’t really start noticing hot spots until I had walked over 10 km. I soon learned that the pair of Merrill boots I had planned to wear would be a major problem on the Camino. I had thought these boots fit perfectly in the store, but once on the trail for a good stretch of time I realized that the toe box was too narrow. I changed to Keen Targhee boots, which are known for having a nice, wide toe box. I had only minor blister issues on my Camino.

The one critical area he did not cover in his video is that of foot hygiene and care. I found this to be essential in avoiding blisters. Dry socks are essential. I changed socks a couple times a day. I also applied petroleum jelly to my feet prior to putting socks on each time. Once I started following this regimen my few small blisters went away, never to return.
I’m on Camino #3 and have never taken my socks off during the day. I’ve had no blisters. You need to walk long distance in whatever shoe you plan to wear to see how they do. Everyone is different.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times, but soon again I hope....
#19
No, not so simple, although the advice is a good start. I walk dozens of 15-km walks in my boots/shoes/shoes beforehand, without any signs of problems, but always get a few blisters on the Camino. An extra 10 km, day after day, plus different and uneven surfaces, and heat, lead to blisters in spite of my preparation.
Always worked for me. ;)
Over thirty years of walkabouts of one sort or another with a pack on my back.
Not saying that there is a way to have a blister free Camino, and don't believe I said it in the first place. What I am saying is that one should wear whatever they plan on wearing on their feet and take several long walks with it on. Those walks will definitely let the person know if the shoes/boots fit, if the socks are too thick or thin etc.
Besides, going on several 10k+ walks prior to the Camino is good training, anyway.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#20
I am not smug. Blisters can happen to anyone. I’ve walked 12 Camino’s. Some with never a sign of a blister, some with blisters daily. I’ve worn boots, joggers and sandals. I’ve walked In cold, in mud, for days with wet feet, and in heat. I really cannot connect anything specifically to blisters, except perhaps having tough or tender skin to start.

I’m currently on the VdlP walking in sandals and have had no blisters so far, after about 500km. But no way am I discounting that it could happen at any time.
 

Pam Scott

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago compostella 2015
#21
I agree with a lot that's been said. But fundamentally you boots must fit your feet not the other way around from the start. You can't break them in. If they are not comfortable when you first try them on they never will be. You need to do the mileage you plan to do, with the weight you plan to carry regularly for a few days on the trot. It's also a good idea to take your pack with the weight with you when you go to try your boots/shoes on. It can make quite a difference
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: September 24 - October 31 (2015); February/March (2019)
#22
I’m on Camino #3 and have never taken my socks off during the day. I’ve had no blisters. You need to walk long distance in whatever shoe you plan to wear to see how they do. Everyone is different.
You are fortunate. I'll keep giving the advice to change into dry socks. It helped me immensely, and I know it has helped others as well. It is true that everyone is different, but we all sweat and moisture combined with heat can cause blisters to form on anyone. In my book, dry feet are happy feet.
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2, El Norte incompleto
#23
I’m on the Camino Portuguese right now on day 5 and have the same two blisters in the exact same places as last year on the Frances. I trained for the past 5 months with trail runners and backpack and feel for 70 am in good enough shape. Blisters are just a part of doing a lot of walking. I have great knees because I wear compression sleeves on both legs each day. Works for me. Buon Camino
Since you know where you tend to develop blisters have you put tape on those areas? I swear by Omnifix tape. I put it on the balls of my feet daily and around my second toes, because those are the places that I've had blisters in the past. A big part of testing out footwear on long walks is to discover where you might be blister prone, so that you can treat the area prophylactically.
 

Anamiri

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
#24
Since you know where you tend to develop blisters have you put tape on those areas? I swear by Omnifix tape. I put it on the balls of my feet daily and around my second toes, because those are the places that I've had blisters in the past. A big part of testing out footwear on long walks is to discover where you might be blister prone, so that you can treat the area prophylactically.
Yes pre-taping works for me too (as well as getting and pre-trialing the most comfortable shoes I can find).
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France's (2016) Portuguese 2017
#25
Boots one size larger than your shoe size. Surgical tape across the ball of your foot and heel then Aquaphora ointment. One very thin pair of socks and then thicker walking socks on top. Sounds difficult but it takes a few minutes each morning.
Two full Caminos and no blisters at all.
 
Camino(s) past & future
This upcoming May 31st through July 1st approximately.
#26
This is one of the best recommendations I have ever seen on Youtube regarding walking 800 km. I have seen too many pilgrims walk into stores in Spain and buy new boots since their light trekking shoes had broke down. Then they had to continue in new boots and all kind of problems with your feet could occur. Well taken care feet will take you safely to Santiago.

Love it. I just hope that I have done all he suggests as we set out next week.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
#27
I have just watched that video and a couple of others he has done. They are very good. I especially like the fact that he sensibly outlines some of the main considerations and suggests ways to approach the situation.

Most of the problems on the camino - or in life! - do not have a single clear solutions. That is the explanation for the debate currently on this thread. One person says - this is the key solution. Another person says - no, I have a contrary example that disproves it. That does not mean that the "suggestion" or "consideration" is invalid. It simply means the matter is more complicated than an absolute statement can address.

Could not agree more!
 
Camino(s) past & future
2013 CF
2014 Le Puy-St Jean. 2014&16 Volunteer St JP
2016 Portuguese
2017 Porto-Santiago
2018
#28
Since you know where you tend to develop blisters have you put tape on those areas? I swear by Omnifix tape. I put it on the balls of my feet daily and around my second toes, because those are the places that I've had blisters in the past. A big part of testing out footwear on long walks is to discover where you might be blister prone, so that you can treat the area prophylactically.
Hi Richard
do you use a different tape for the toes compared to the ball of your feet?
I have heard people talk about different types of tape and having not used tape am not sure what would be best to buy.
Thanks
happymark
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2, El Norte incompleto
#29
Hi Richard
do you use a different tape for the toes compared to the ball of your feet?
I have heard people talk about different types of tape and having not used tape am not sure what would be best to buy.
Thanks
happymark
I'm not Richard, but since you quoted my post I'll reply. :D For me the Omnifix works for toes and balls of feet, or heels or anywhere else. You can cut it to fit wherever you need to put it. Frankly, just about any tape that stays put should work - there are people who swear by duct tape on their feet.. What I like about the Omnifix, is that it is thin, soft and comfortable. And it adheres well all day, yet removes easily without leaving a sticky residue.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France's (2016) Portuguese 2017
#30
Hi Richard
do you use a different tape for the toes compared to the ball of your feet?
I have heard people talk about different types of tape and having not used tape am not sure what would be best to buy.
Thanks
happymark
No just ordinary surgical tape from any pharmacy. It peels easily at night. The very thin socks grip the Aquaphor ointment and any movement/ friction is then between the two pairs of socks.
 
Camino(s) past & future
St. Francis Route 2017
#32
I have commented elsewhere on this forum regarding shoes and feet. To save a search, I'll recap: I wore Saucony Peregrine 6 Trail Runners. I broke them in for about 100 kilometers on the hills here on Fidalgo Island while wearing a pack. On the Camino, I had a twice per day ritual of rubbing Vaseline (vaselina in Spanish) into my feet in the morning and after showering at the end of the hiking day. I wore a silk liner sock under a medium weight Smart Wool sock while hiking. I did not have a single blister much less a hot spot. Shoes, like my trail runners, including regular running shoes, have about an 800 kilometer life span. Good for one Camino Frances. Because feet tend to swell from the constant day after day walking, I bought my Sauconys a full size larger than I normally wear. If you are fortunate enough to have an R.E.I. (Recreational Equipment Inc.) store near you, the shoe folks are familiar with Camino adventurers and can offer expert advice on what to wear. Happy, but tired feet at the end of the day are preferable to cranky, and tired feet. I took along an extra pair of liners, but did not need them as the Everun cushioned liner that comes with the shoe was excellent. I took them out of the shoes to air them every night. For those who elect to use Vaseline, and run out, ACOFAR DERM (vaselina pura filante) is a fine Spanish brand widely available in Farmacias throughout Spain. One year ago today, May 26, 2017, I was en route from Cacabelos to Trabadelo. Sigh.
 

Sunisa

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
in 2019 - 2021
#33
I read on some forums that applying some ointment like vicks or tigerbalm onto your feet before you head out will help to avoid problems. worth a try
 
Camino(s) past & future
St. Francis Route 2017
#34
Hi Sunisa. I lived for decades in Asia and whenever I had sore muscles I used Tiger Balm (originally invented in Myanmar/Burma). I still use it (both red and white). Because it is primarily an analgesic, I can't really comment on its efficacy as an inhibiter of blisters. It is very similar to Vicks Vaporub. You might try it on some long training hikes before you engage the Camino just to see if it works for feet. Let us all know if it does work as that will provide another option to footsore Peregrinos.
 

Sunisa

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
in 2019 - 2021
#35
Hi John, thanks for the suggestion. I will definitely try it out. Next month I am going to run a 42K marathon and also follow your suggestion for a long hike is a good idea to have the same hiking shows for a trial run. Will keep you posted :)
 

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