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Suggestions for post-walking foot care?


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Hi, everyone,

I have benefited from a lot of very good advice about blisters, pain, tendonitis, etc. on this forum and others. I wonder whether you have special tips for caring for feet at the end of the walking part of the day. On my first Camino, I started getting heel pain in Arzua, and by the time I got to Santiago, I couldn't put weight on my heel. After 6 months in a walking cast (which is apparently unknown in Europe, by the way), I was back to normal and have walked every year since. My doctor tentatively diagnosed it as tarsal tunnel (the foot equivalent of carpal tunnel) and wasn't terribly helpful with suggested preventive remedies.

I had a minor recurrence a few years ago, but that year I was living in Portugal and couldn't find a walking cast or a doctor who knew what one was. I basically just stayed off the heel for several weeks and got a few cortisone shots that seemed to help.

Since then, I've decided to try icing my feet every day after walking, and I haven't had any problems. Bars are usually very accommodating (so long as I'm sitting outside) and it's a nice bit of forced relaxation. And in some places (the river in Zubiri comes to mind), it's very nice to sit with your feet in some running water. I'm not sure if the icing helps, but I haven't had any more problems, so I'm going to assume it does.

Do you have other general tips for ways to help keep the feet happy during all of the abuse the Camino gives them? Many thanks, Laurie
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peregrina2000 said:
Do you have other general tips for ways to help keep the feet happy during all of the abuse the Camino gives them? Many thanks, Laurie

My feet gave me the most discomfort of any body part during the Camino. First off, they're flat (no arch), which is a recipie for discomfort due to no natural support. I also had to deal with plantar fascitis, and a couple foot bones that I'd broken years ago acted up as well. In addition, I had some blistering early on in my arch area due to too-hard foot inserts, along with a recurring heat rash. And my feet tend to cramp up where my arch is supposed to be, and also on one or two of my toes.

Of course, good boots, boot inserts, good socks, and blister management were paramount (I replaced my boots and boot inserts early on during a break day in Logrono). But as for soothing them at the albergue, I did the following: 1) Took a hot shower - and sometimes a cold one just for the feet. 2) Massaged and stretched them as needed. 3) Rubbed them down with an analgesic gel, such as Reflex or some other pain-reliever from a farmacia. 4) Took an ibuprofen tablet or two to reduce pain/inflammation. 5) Treated any signs of blistering or rashes with antibiotic ointment, iodine, and cream. 6) Took a nap to let them rest. 7) Gave them a chance to breathe by walking around in Teva-style sandals post-nap. 8. Kept nails neatly trimmed. 9) Drank plenty of vino tinto to relax and dull the ache - and orujo de hierbas, when available, was a special tonic for that purpose. :wink:

One thing I had to be careful of in the albergues was getting out of bed during the night or in the morning - especially if I was in a top bunk. Despite my above efforts, my feet always stiffened up while I slept. In addition, the plantar fascitis is the most painful upon awakening, due to the aforementioned feet stiffening caused by the inactivity of sleeping. Therefore, I had to be very cautious. Jumping from basically any height was out of the question due to the pain and potential for injury - both to my feet, and to other parts of my body when collapsing due to the agony of landing hard on a cold concrete floor with stiff/sore feet. :cry:

Finally, I avoided doing too much pain prevention in the mornings. So I never took the ibuprofen before walking (although I did take a single aspirin, mainly to promote heart health). I did put some of the analgesic gel on my feet before donning my socks, mainly to relieve my stiffness and plantar fascitis. But I wanted to avoid killing too much of the pain because it's the body's warning signal. Short-circuiting that alarm system is a sure way to damage the feet by pushing them too hard. So, I figured it was best to save the majority of pain management for the albergue. :arrow:

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