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Urban myths about boots and backs— are there others?

2020 Camino Guides

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Thanks to the postings of many forum members, like @davebugg, @JillGat and @falcon269, I have learned that two of the things I assumed were true were nothing but folklore.

The first is that boots will give you ankle support. These fine folks have posted convincing evidence that that is simply not the case. Since one of the reasons I was wearing boots was because I thought it helped prevent ankle twisting, I moved down to hiking shoes. Then, when these fine folks showed me that trail runners are, for most people, far superior in terms of comfort and have equally good traction, and when they also pointed out that the huge majority of people walking the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail wore trail runners, I caved and went last year to trail runners. Unless there is a second coming in the shoe category, I will never wear anything else.

The second is that lower back pain means you shouldn’t carry your backpack. Au contraire, if you have a good backpack, the weight will go to your hips and will never put a strain on your back. In fact, I find that my back likes having the pack there, it seems to keep it warm and cozy. And I learned, this by my own experience, that wearing a 5-6 pound day pack, which many people do when they have their packs transported, is in fact worse for your back. An hour with a support-free day pack and my lower back is shouting out in pain.

Since many of us are getting our stuff ready for an upcoming camino, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to post these words of caution about the commonly accepted wisdom out there and to see if other forum members have more myth-busting information to share. Buen camino, Laurie
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
Here's one to invite flak...poles. the theory is that it takes 25% pressure off knees. I met a lecturer in biomechanics on the le puy route he said t h ey were basically a fad with scant, if any evidence. Ive looked in amazement /amusement walkers trailing these sticks ,taping them lighly on flat surfaces belivieving they are taking pressure off their knees..really?
Here's a thought..the manufacturers of skiing poles were looking for new markets..."hey fellas let's tell them it will take pressure of their knees....great idea!"
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
I was anticapating a staunch defence from someone but nice t o see you are ambivalent. I saw one pilgrim cross ing a small stream, slipped and almost speared hi m self with the tip, another was walking across a bridge and caught the tip in a gap a badly wrenched his arm.
To this day i regret not taking a photo in france where a farmer had collected discarded poles and used them to support his tomatoes. ..probably the best use for them!
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
I'm a huge fan of debunking folklore so I hate to do what I'm about to do but ... with regard to this "myth"
The first is that boots will give you ankle support.
I don't care what the studies say. As far as I can tell from my sample of one (me), I tend to stumble. When my legs are tired and I'm losing concentration, I can sometimes do a girly, twisty collapse. It doesn't happen every day or every week, but certainly it will happen to me at least once over the course of a multi-week walk. I find that it happens less often when I'm in a pair of boots that support my ankles. And if it does happen when I'm wearing those boots, the ankle doesn't get hurt so badly and I carry on walking without pain.
And this is why I will be wearing boots for my next Camino. And using poles.
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
Laurie you are one of the founts of knowledge on this forum and you willingly share your expertise. But what I love most is your teachability. It’s so refreshing.
 

Mikel Olivares

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. Camino Francés.
2016, Camino Portugués from Oporto
2017, San Salvador.
My experience:
I never use poles, except in winter and with snow on the mountain, never on trails.
I always use trail runners or sandals. Only use boots in winter, is the only way to protect yourself from water and cold.
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
.........Ive looked in amazement /amusement walkers trailing these sticks ,taping them lighly on flat surfaces belivieving they are taking pressure off their knees..really?
You are absolutely correct. If the users of poles are just tap[p]ing them lightly on flat surfaces they won’t be taking any pressure off their knees. However, if they make the effort to exert some downward pressure onto their poles - this includes not only flat surfaces, but uphills and declines - they will indeed take some weight/pressure off their knees. Not only that, but they will get an upper body workout at the same time.

As to the risk of slips and trips, I think - while using poles - of having four feet. I need to watch very carefully where I put each foot and make sure each is securely placed before transferring my weight. In other words, pay attention. :)
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I'm a huge fan of debunking folklore so I hate to do what I'm about to do but ... with regard to this "myth"

I don't care what the studies say. As far as I can tell from my sample of one (me), I tend to stumble. When my legs are tired and I'm losing concentration, I can sometimes do a girly, twisty collapse. It doesn't happen every day or every week, but certainly it will happen to me at least once over the course of a multi-week walk. I find that it happens less often when I'm in a pair of boots that support my ankles. And if it does happen when I'm wearing those boots, the ankle doesn't get hurt so badly and I carry on walking without pain.
And this is why I will be wearing boots for my next Camino. And using poles.
I hope you don’t think I am trying to convince anyone to change their habits, especially if those habits have worked well. I have had two face plants in cities on the Camino, both of which I remember vividly — one was in Figueras on the Catalán, and one was in Gallur on the Castellano-Aragonés. In both cases, I had arrived at my destination, dropped off my pack and went out to see the towns, leaving my poles behind. I am firmly convinced that if I had had my poles, I would not have fallen, but that of course is impossible to know. Either way, I don’t care what the evidence says, I am sticking with my poles! :) (yet another example where anecdotal evidence has more power than statistically significant evidence, I guess).

I think that the value of posts like this can be more for the newbies who really have no idea what they think and no anecdotal experience to go on —in those cases the myth-busting might be relevant. A good example of this is the sentiment I frequently see along the lines of “I have lower back problems so I will have my pack transported.” That is usually an inaccurate description of cause and effect. As a result, so many people miss the opportunity to enjoy the freedom and spontaneity that comes from packing light and carrying it yourself.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Then, when these fine folks showed me that trail runners are, for most people, far superior in terms of comfort and have equally good traction, and when they also pointed out that the huge majority of people walking the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail wore trail runners.
I am not sure what the evidence is for either of these assertions. I have seen them in posts before, and in my view they have been evidence free assertions. The worst of these turned out to be a fantastic web-site that was effectively the work of a single person as a vehicle for his personal opinions. Unfortunately, as also often happens in other areas of human endeavour, the vocal minority overpower debate by the volume of their exchanges, and not always by the fundamental correctness of the positions they advocate.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Either way, I don’t care what the evidence says, I am sticking with my poles! :)
Ditto.
And 'maybe, maybe not' about that 'evidence.' I plant my poles and really use the arms; pushing against resistance through the whole range of motion - as one does while swimming. It is a significant boost of speed and a corresponding decrease in stress on my knees and dodgy ankle. I can't comfortably walk distance without them. But with them much is possible. One data point. 😉
However, if they make the effort to exert some downward pressure onto their poles - this includes not only flat surfaces, but uphills and declines - they will indeed take some weight/pressure off their knees. Not only that, but they will get an upper body workout at the same time.
Exactly.
And like others...they have saved me from many faceplants. Grace is not my middle name either (love that, Laurie!).

My personal bit of debunking is about socks. I use whatever, and the thinner the better. The only time I've gotten blisters - and they were bad - was when I tried to use fancy liner socks.
 

josephmcclain

Active Member
Strongly disagree with the post on poles. IF they are used correctly they are a fantastic aid for the entire body. If they are not used correctly they are useless. I have never seem comments to contrary by anyone who actually uses them correctly. See YOuTube videos for help. I also wrote on thing here about how to use them. Of course, the good thing about NOT using them correctly is that they provide a lot of black comedy moments on the camino.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Well, I can see that people have turned defensive with their hard felt personal beliefs. If this thread keeps going in the insulting direction it is going, I will close it. But really, guys, I don’t see why we have to get so contentious.

With regard to trail runners, I can tell you that it is a fact that the overwhelming majority of thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail wear trail runners.


Hikers were asked what they wore at the beginning and at the end. At the start, the split was about 70% trail runners, 30% boots (and a negligible number of hiking shoes). At the end the trail runners had increased to 80%, meaning that 10% of total hikers walking the AT switched from boots to trail runners during the hike. And that means that of the total people who started the AT in boots, one third of them switched to trail runners.

Why do I think this is relevant? If I am a person who is unitiated in the ways of long distance walking, I am likely to think, long walk equals hike equals hiking boots. That person may be surprised, like I was, to learn that hard-core long distance hikers, walking on a path that is many times more punishing than any camino, overwhelmingly prefer trail runners. So for me, that was an “aha” moment. Surely those people are on to something.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (July 2016), Primitivo (July 2018), Portuguese (March 2019)
If it’s serious mountain hiking, boots are probably essential. If it’s light hiking, trail runners but for the Camino there’s nothing quite so pleasant for covering the km as a decent pair of Adidas supernova trainers with a good quality insole for that extra ‘walking on marshmallows’ effect. The Primitivo - no problem, the Portuguese tarmac and cobblestones, effortless. Re poles, essential for (a) strenuous uphills and particularly downhills for taking the pressure off the knees and (b) for avoiding fluid buildup and the resulting carrot fingers after 25+ km daily walks. Also great for acting as a third leg, leaping around to avoid mud and deep puddles.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Here's one to invite flak...poles. the theory is that it takes 25% pressure off knees. I met a lecturer in biomechanics on the le puy route he said t h ey were basically a fad with scant, if any evidence. Ive looked in amazement /amusement walkers trailing these sticks ,taping them lighly on flat surfaces belivieving they are taking pressure off their knees..really?
Here's a thought..the manufacturers of skiing poles were looking for new markets..."hey fellas let's tell them it will take pressure of their knees....great idea!"
Well, it looks like the science is less damning than the biomechanics guy thought. There are web references to studies concluding that they do have a positive benefit.


Another study referenced here — https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/4470/are-trekking-poles-proven-to-be-helpful

But as in many things, the devil is in the details — proper usage is crucial to get the beneficial effects. I rationalize what may well be my improper usage by telling myself I am not using poles to reduce muscle fatigue or pressure on the joints, but rather to keep myself in an upright position!
 

Charles Zammit

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
St Jean Pied de Port - Finisterra 2017
GR70 France 2018
Via Francigena 2019
Some one is confusing ''weight '' with torsional , lateral or shock loadings , all forces that conspire along with gravity to tear the cartilage and rip the tendons in healthy knee joints .

If one was a ballet dancer or perhaps a professional footballer then you might have a chance to shift your weight , lift your foot and recover from a stumble without sticks and without placing stress on your knees . Unfortunately few of us are , so add a few years , a higher centre of gravity due to a pack and tiredness and the likelihood of a twisted knee increases many fold .
How I wish my poles would decrease the weight I carry , perhaps I should invest in the latest ' Nimbus 2000' , now that's a broom stick that might make a Camino interesting :)
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Here's one to invite flak...poles. the theory is that it takes 25% pressure off knees. I met a lecturer in biomechanics on the le puy route he said t h ey were basically a fad with scant, if any evidence. Ive looked in amazement /amusement walkers trailing these sticks ,taping them lighly on flat surfaces belivieving they are taking pressure off their knees..really?
Here's a thought..the manufacturers of skiing poles were looking for new markets..."hey fellas let's tell them it will take pressure of their knees....great idea!"
What 'theory' states this? I have never seen a figure that high in any peer reviewed article. I can just about do it with a static double pole plant in ideal circumstances, which indicates to me that I will be getting less than 50% of that force in regular use, and then only in circumstances where using that maximum is possible. That cannot be sustained. I don't know what a realistic figure is, perhaps 5-7% of body mass, but certainly not the one being suggested here.

And watching people walk with poles without pressing down on can be frustrating, and when I have asked what instruction they got when they bought the poles, there response is generally 'none'. The retailers here are much more to blame for poor pole use than manufacturers in my view.
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
Thanks to the postings of many forum members, like @davebugg, @JillGat and @falcon269, I have learned that two of the things I assumed were true were nothing but folklore.

The first is that boots will give you ankle support. These fine folks have posted convincing evidence that that is simply not the case. Since one of the reasons I was wearing boots was because I thought it helped prevent ankle twisting, I moved down to hiking shoes. Then, when these fine folks showed me that trail runners are, for most people, far superior in terms of comfort and have equally good traction, and when they also pointed out that the huge majority of people walking the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail wore trail runners, I caved and went last year to trail runners. Unless there is a second coming in the shoe category, I will never wear anything else.

The second is that lower back pain means you shouldn’t carry your backpack. Au contraire, if you have a good backpack, the weight will go to your hips and will never put a strain on your back. In fact, I find that my back likes having the pack there, it seems to keep it warm and cozy. And I learned, this by my own experience, that wearing a 5-6 pound day pack, which many people do when they have their packs transported, is in fact worse for your back. An hour with a support-free day pack and my lower back is shouting out in pain.

Since many of us are getting our stuff ready for an upcoming camino, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to post these words of caution about the commonly accepted wisdom out there and to see if other forum members have more myth-busting information to share. Buen camino, Laurie

Laurie:

Do the trail runners have the firm (vibram) soles?

Joe
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2022)
Always interesting to get a range of views.

My 2 cents work.......

Poles. I can't walk a Camino without them.
80% of pole users I see on Camino don't know how to use them and are just carrying extra weight.
It requires significant downward and rearward pressure on the poles. (through the straps)
Used well, you feel your whole body propelled forwards and upwards.
I have tested using kitchen scales and estimate the required downward pressure somewhere between 10-15 kgs. It's a lot........

Used that way, poles take significant pressure off knees and other joints.

You can quote whatever scientific study, but I won't walk a Camino without them.

Those who continually bang on about poles being useless, generally have not used them, don't know how to use them, or don't need them. :p

It's a bit like a young fit person saying zimmer frames are useless......... tell that to the 90 year old who needs one.

Boots. I have worn them on 3 caminos. Love them.
But a physio 1/2 through my last one told me they are only really required on mountainous ground. And the extra weight was not doing me any good.
But I feel they stop me twisting an ankle.
I honestly feel I would have twisted an ankle a couple of times without them.

But.........Next time out I'm going to try trail runners. Based on physio advice. ;)
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
The first is that boots will give you ankle support.
Not sure that this has been 'disproven'. A 1996 study by the University of Massachusetts for one of the US Army agencies compared two combat boots with four commercially available shoes and boots, and among other things, found that the two combat boots and a Red Wing work boot had the highest rearfoot stability scores compared to Reebok Pump, Nike Cross Trainer and Rockport Hiking Boot that were tested. What was also found was limited evidence that the higher topped footwear was associated with less joint pronation, only one of the elements of ankle support that might be considered.
 

kmrice

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago - Fisterra 2008
St. Jean Pied de Port - Santiago 2013
I wear mid boots not just because I believe they have often saved me from a twisted ankle, but also for the protection they give my feet. The stiff, thicker soles prevent the soreness I get walking on rough, rocky surfaces and the heavier uppers cushion against rocks and brush. Maybe thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail have tougher feet than I. Most are also younger and spryer!

Colin Fletcher said in The Complete Walker, over 50 years ago and before there were hiking poles, that a stick converts you from an unstable biped into a more stable triped. I find hiking poles convert me into a very stable quadruped! They are particularly helpful going down; I can plant a pole when stepping off a rock onto another. They are also great when crossing a stream. They give my upper body a work out and take some of the effort off my legs, especially going up.

The worse use of poles I’ve seen was by an otherwise nice woman who would, on roads, dangle them by the wrist straps and drag them behind her. The racket of the steel tips scraping the pavement was like fingernails on a blackboard.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria to Santiago 2014
Pamplona to Santiago 2017
Norte. 2018
Here's one to invite flak...poles. the theory is that it takes 25% pressure off knees. I met a lecturer in biomechanics on the le puy route he said t h ey were basically a fad with scant, if any evidence. Ive looked in amazement /amusement walkers trailing these sticks ,taping them lighly on flat surfaces belivieving they are taking pressure off their knees..really?
Here's a thought..the manufacturers of skiing poles were looking for new markets..."hey fellas let's tell them it will take pressure of their knees....great idea!"
I like them for balance. Since I’m over 70 they certainly help keep me upright and on 2 feet.
 

Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
Here's one to invite flak...poles. the theory is that it takes 25% pressure off knees. I met a lecturer in biomechanics on the le puy route he said t h ey were basically a fad with scant, if any evidence. Ive looked in amazement /amusement walkers trailing these sticks ,taping them lighly on flat surfaces belivieving they are taking pressure off their knees..really?
Here's a thought..the manufacturers of skiing poles were looking for new markets..."hey fellas let's tell them it will take pressure of their knees....great idea!"
I use poles on steep ascents and rocky descents also for stream crossings, and for all of those they are useful. For most of the rest of the time I sling them on my pack.
 

alaskadiver

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017-Camino Primitivo
April 2019-Camino de Invierno
All I know is that I have been thru hiking longer than 90% of the forum members have been walking Caminos. I made the stupid mistake of buying into the advice of inexperienced hikers on my first Camino and wore Merrill shoes. Ended up with a severe case of plantar fasciitis, a Morton’s Neuroma, and Achilles tendinitis in one foot.
Got a good scolding from my podiatrist over it. I just finished walking the Invierno yesterday in my Vasque Goretex lined backpacking boots (lightweight, not mountaineering boots). No plantar fasciitis, no neuroma, no tendinitis, no blisters, and no wet feet even in pouring rain and walking through streams.
My poles helped, as always, to keep the strain off my knees on steep downhills, and from losing my balance on stream/mud crossings. Plus the movement keeps my hands from swelling.

To each his own. My advice is don’t take advice on the face of it and go out and try and figure out what works for you. Also remember that those thru hikers on the AT and PCT are in the kind of physical condition that the vast majority of Pilgrims are not. Most pilgrims have never even hiked or walked extensively, let alone carried more than a cheap bag with a bottle of water on their back. I say this based on the numerous number of absolutely basic questions asked on this forum.
 
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Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
I'm a huge fan of debunking folklore so I hate to do what I'm about to do but ... with regard to this "myth"

I don't care what the studies say. As far as I can tell from my sample of one (me), I tend to stumble. When my legs are tired and I'm losing concentration, I can sometimes do a girly, twisty collapse. It doesn't happen every day or every week, but certainly it will happen to me at least once over the course of a multi-week walk. I find that it happens less often when I'm in a pair of boots that support my ankles. And if it does happen when I'm wearing those boots, the ankle doesn't get hurt so badly and I carry on walking without pain.
And this is why I will be wearing boots for my next Camino. And using poles.
How high are your boots? I've done quite a bit of reading on this, and while high boots will give you some support, if they are close fitting and fairly tightly laced the low boots worn by many walkers do not. You could also consider wearing light shoes but using an ankle support.
 

Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
Laurie:

Do the trail runners have the firm (vibram) soles?

Joe
Depends on the trail runners. The ones I prefer do not, I dislike stiff soles. Mine have sticky rubber knobbly soles that are amazingly good on wet roads and rocks, the down side is that those tend to wear out relatively quickly.
 

Island

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues 2019
Pilgrims' Way 2020
Via Francigena 2020
California Mission Trail 2020
Also remember that those thru hikers on the AT and PCT are in the kind of physical condition that the vast majority of Pilgrims are not.
Most of my FT & AT hiking mates are in medium athletic health or worse. The greater difference I would note is the quality of gear on the AT is remarkably higher: packs with very good weight to hip transfer, very good socks and sock maintenance routines and more purposeful shoe choices.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
I am reminded of the time I was walking downhill from a volcano rim, in my expensive footwear, when I was passed, by local men carrying a load of firewood, running down the hill in flipflops.
---
Perhaps people could minimize the risks to feet and backs and knees if they simply slowed down. Take a few extra days to get there.
 

Mikel Olivares

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. Camino Francés.
2016, Camino Portugués from Oporto
2017, San Salvador.
In the A T, you always have to adapt to the situation. You start with boots and mountain sleeping bag at the end of March in mountains sometimes with snow and after a month you get off of them, they are not useful, temperatures rise. But the time of torrential rains begins, you need other clothes and shoes.
Many days you go wet everything, including the backpack and everything you have inside. Footwear, socks, no matter type or composition, or color, LOL. You are leaving on the way clothes that you do not use, polar, shirts, long pants, gloves, etc. You make space in the backpack to carry more food and water to extend the number of days without resuply.
I started with a Lowa Renegade boots and finished with sandals.
IMHO, I believe that each person is different, what one does well does not have to go well with another person.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016; Mansill de las Mulas to Finisterre/Muxia 2017; Aragones 2018; Suso/Yuso, Meseta 2019
@peregrina2000, I understand what you are saying about conventional wisdom changing. Before I walked my first Camino I was told that you must wear merino wool shirts. On me they were itchy so I changed to a different fabric. I was told that your sleeping liner must be silk. To me it was clammy so I bought a cotton and silk blend liner. I like my poles, they give me rhythm and balance, but they did not prevent my serious face plant last September. Having options is good so we each can choose what works for us!
 
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JeepsNRoses

Camino Dreamer
Camino(s) past & future
CF (2017) May 15th SJPdP - Pamplona
CF (2019) Dec 18th Sarria - Santiago
CF (2020) May 17th SJPdP
Poles: I use Pacer Poles, only Pacer Poles. Using them correctly, it helps my posture which means less of the backpacker’s lean that aggravates pinched nerves in my back. The slight stretching lift associated with planting and lightly pushing off with each step helps lessen the heel strike impact all the way up, i.e., knees, hips, pinched nerves. Using them helps me keep what isn’t perfectly aligned and facing forward, better aligned and mostly facing forward esp when muscle fatigue and/or poor sleep are a factor.
Boots vs. Shoes: it isn’t as simple as one or the other, ankle support vs. not, etc..
 

Mera

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France, Camino del Norte, Camino de Madrid
Camino Porto, Camino Primitivo
I hope you don’t think I am trying to convince anyone to change their habits, especially if those habits have worked well. I have had two face plants in cities on the Camino, both of which I remember vividly — one was in Figueras on the Catalán, and one was in Gallur on the Castellano-Aragonés. In both cases, I had arrived at my destination, dropped off my pack and went out to see the towns, leaving my poles behind. I am firmly convinced that if I had had my poles, I would not have fallen, but that of course is impossible to know. Either way, I don’t care what the evidence says, I am sticking with my poles! :) (yet another example where anecdotal evidence has more power than statistically significant evidence, I guess).

I think that the value of posts like this can be more for the newbies who really have no idea what they think and no anecdotal experience to go on —in those cases the myth-busting might be relevant. A good example of this is the sentiment I frequently see along the lines of “I have lower back problems so I will have my pack transported.” That is usually an inaccurate description of cause and effect. As a result, so many people miss the opportunity to enjoy the freedom and spontaneity that comes from packing light and carrying it yourself.
Having poles to me is like holding on to something when I go up or down the stairs. They help me a lot on hills, up an down both. I personally never would do the Camino without them. Today it was raining on the Camino del Norte. I don't think I could have done it in the muddy trail without them.
 

chinacat

Veteran Member
It requires significant downward and rearward pressure on the poles. (through the straps)
Used well, you feel your whole body propelled forwards and upwards.
This is my experience too ... my uphill ‘performance’ is improved to the extent that I’m not sure I could manage without them. It’s the difference between a tiring slog and an energetic stride. And it feels great to be using my upper body too .... breathing deeply ... exhilarating! 😄
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
This thread proves once again there are a lot of different opinions on what works best. As stated several times, there is no one solution as far as Camino equipment.

Keep on walking,
Joe
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Poles: I use Pacer Poles, only Pacer Poles. Using them correctly, it helps my posture which means less of the backpacker’s lean that aggravates pinched nerves in my back. The slight stretching lift associated with planting and lightly pushing off with each step helps lessen the heel strike impact all the way up, i.e., knees, hips, pinched nerves. Using them helps me keep what isn’t perfectly aligned and facing forward, better aligned and mostly facing forward esp when muscle fatigue and/or poor sleep are a factor.
Boots vs. Shoes: it isn’t as simple as one or the other, ankle support vs. not, etc..
Great post, @OhSuziq, and good to see that you are getting a full range of benefits from your pole use. Any poles, used correctly, will give their users these advantages. The one great advantage of Pacer Poles is that for new pole users, it is almost impossible to hold them incorrectly. Other parts of good pole technique then follow. Poles with straps seem more difficult to master, aggravated perhaps by the lack of instruction given in retail outlets about their proper use.
 

davebugg

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Boots Do Not Provide Injury Preventing Ankle Support

From A Previous Post:

Individually held preferences are something which cannot and should not be debated. Folks have a right to make choices based on whatever criteria they believe is important to them. To that end, I want to say that whatever your reason for wanting boots, flip-flops, bare feet, sandals, trail runners, etc. do not feel that you must change your decisions based on what 'everyone else' does. Be comfortable with your choice.

It is not my intention to offend anyone, as I believe that there are times and situations where boots are a reasonable choice to make when hiking, backpacking, or walking. I own and use a pair of Lowa Camino boots in certain cold weather seasons and weather conditions in the mountains when backpacking.

That being said, if one is looking for and asking for factual information in order to make decisions between choosing boots or trail runners (and running shoes) to wear for Camino, ankle support is not a reason to choose boots.

First, there are defined and diagnosed medical issues where an ankle needs to be supported. However, the only sure ankle support for medically indicated need are ankle braces which can fit inside of the shoe.

Despite anecdotal evidence and subjective opinion to the contrary, research has repeatedly shown that boots do not provide the level of stiffness and the shear rigidity needed to keep ankles free from injury.

The ankle is best protected with exercise and use, where the ankle is allowed to use uneven surfaces, exercise, and balancing on one foot in order to build strength and endurance and lessen susceptibility to injurious fatigue.

Boots can, in fact, exacerbate the risk of injury.

A foot in a boot is sitting higher off the ground than when in a shoe because the outer and midsoles are much thicker and built up. Additionally, the outer sole of boots are trimmed closer to shell of the boot, meaning that the outer sole has a fairly narrow profile. Both of these factors have been shown to have a higher risk of the footwear 'rolling' when stepping on an unstable surface or piece of debris like loose rocks or uneven surfaces.

As the boot begins to roll, the boot carries the foot with it, the higher material of the boot above the ankle exerts more force against the foot to make it roll with the boot. That material is not stiff enough to keep from flexing, which means that your ankle is going to start bending as the roll of the boot continues. And because the foot is higher off the ground inside the boot, the ankle can be forced into a more significant bending.

Another factor about boots that helps lead to injury is their weight. The heavier the weight that the foot and lower legs need to lift, the more stress and fatigue the ankles and supporting structures are exposed to. Such weakens the ability of the ankle structures to maintain resiliency.

Trail shoes and trail runners, on the other hand, do the opposite when confronted with the same type of uneven surface or debris. The outer and midsoles are much closer to the ground. They are also wider than the shoe making for a contact point with the ground that is more stable. Their much lighter weight keeps ankle structures from fatiguing.

Now here is the thing researchers found as most significant: A foot in a shoe that is kept a bit loose can compensate, to a large degree, when the shoe starts to roll off of an uneven surface. As the shoe rolls, the shoe tends to slip around the foot. In other words, the shoe moves around the foot for the most part, so the ankle won't immediately bend out of place with the shoe. This allows the wearer of the shoe to have enough time to react to the rolling and twisting shoe to keep the ankle from injurious strain.

Yes, there are people who get ankle injuries in trail shoes and trail runners. But those injuries are less frequent and less severe, on an average, than with a foot encased in an above the ankle hiking boot.

As I stated above, there will be any number of folks that, with no predisposing medical conditions, will state anecdotal evidence along the lines that they, or a friend, or other family members, et al, were saved by above the ankle boots. Subjective opinion is like that. :) But objective evidence begs to differ on the best way of protecting ankles from injury.

Articles:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11686947
The protective effect of 'high-top' shoes remains to be established.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3943374/
These findings provide preliminary evidence suggesting that wearing high-top shoes can, in certain conditions, induce a delayed pre-activation timing and decreased amplitude of evertor muscle activity, and may therefore have a detrimental effect on establishing and maintaining functional ankle joint stability.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8368420
There was no significant difference among these 3 groups, leading to the conclusion that there is no strong relationship between shoe type and ankle sprains
http://www.biomedcentral.com/1758-2555/1/14/
For extrinsic factors, although they found some discrepancies among the included studies, they generally reported that the prescription of orthosis, but not high-top shoes, could help decreasing the risk of sustaining ankle sprain injury in players with previous sprain history.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0016282/
There is no scientific proof however that special socks or high-top shoes can prevent sprains.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1959831
There was no statistically significant difference in the incidence of lateral ankle sprains between recruits who trained in modified basketball shoes or standard lightweight infantry boots.

Others:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC164368/ Predictive Factors for Lateral Ankle Sprains: A Literature Review
http://www.podiatrytoday.com/blogged/what-evidence-reveals-about-prophylactic-ankle-bracing
Therefore, this study showed no protective benefit in the incidence of an ankle sprain with the use of ankle braces worn by high school volleyball players
 
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davebugg

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How high are your boots? I've done quite a bit of reading on this, and while high boots will give you some support, if they are close fitting and fairly tightly laced the low boots worn by many walkers do not. You could also consider wearing light shoes but using an ankle support.
High topped boots do not provide injury prevention support. There is no objectively measure difference in outcome between low, mid, and high-topped boots or shoes. The reasons are detailed in my post. :)
 

Charles Zammit

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
St Jean Pied de Port - Finisterra 2017
GR70 France 2018
Via Francigena 2019
I made the stupid mistake of buying into the advice of inexperienced hikers on my first Camino and wore Merrill shoes. Ended up with a severe case of plantar fasciitis, a Morton’s Neuroma, and Achilles tendinitis in one foot.
Sounds dreadful Alaskadiver !
Did you fall into the trap of using the ridiculously thin and non supportive inner soles that Merrell's come with ? I'm quite interested in just what caused such a collection of serious problems . I have chosen the reverse of your own selection of footwear , for years I used Vasque boots exclusively , I loved them , unfortunately age and a widening foot made the narrow Vasques unwearable . It is now only due to Merrell Moabs with supportive inner soles that sees me still walking well and comfortably .
 

omar504

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Well, it looks like the science is less damning than the biomechanics guy thought. There are web references to studies concluding that they do have a positive benefit.


Another study referenced here — https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/4470/are-trekking-poles-proven-to-be-helpful
I use poles on steep ascents and rocky descents also for stream crossings, and for all of those they are useful. For most of the rest of the time I sling them on my pack.
But as in many things, the devil is in the details — proper usage is crucial to get the beneficial effects. I rationalize what may well be my improper usage by telling myself I am not using poles to reduce muscle fatigue or pressure on the joints, but rather to keep myself in an upright position!
If proper usage is crucial it seems many don't know how to use them and seem to think merely trailing them along is taking "25%" of pressure off their knees...surely that is fantasy? Counter the times they are "useful" with going through the hassles of whether airlines will let you carry them on board,number of stream crossings you'll encounter,downhill sections and the percentage of the time they are use f ul is very small...therefore are they necessary?...let alone having to watch a video to learn how to use them
 

omar504

Veteran Member
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What a lively topic! There were only one or two responses when i went to bed la s t night...now all these!
With boots/trail runners...on my first camino on the vdlp i wore columbia runners...worked fine so bought a new pair for next 3 caminos. Then i li k ed the look of asolo, both gortex and lea ther then a few years later wore leather berghaus (or as l like call this brand burger house) then switched to beautiful full leather zamberlan. My point is all were great BUT i always trained before hand and put gel soles in so maybe the key is breaking them in and training before you go...but even that last statement some will disagree with!
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
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High topped boots do not provide injury prevention support. There is no objectively measure difference in outcome between low, mid, and high-topped boots or shoes. The reasons are detailed in my post. :)
Dave, I have found at least one study that clearly identifies differences, eg in rearfoot stablity, between different collar height footwear. I provided the link earlier.

As for the links you provided in your earlier explanation, this appears to be the standard list used by pro-shoe advocates. The mere fact that I was able to easily find just one academic study report that didn't support the 'shoes are better line' not included in this list indicates to me that there is at least the prospect of bias in the construction of the list.

Further, the list is now substantially outdated. Even some of the items under 'scientific articles' no longer link to sources that substantiate the claims being made in the summary that is provided with the list, and some other links no longer work.

The relevance of these sources is also an issue for me. They all appear to be studies conducted on athletes, mainly basketball players in extreme performance conditions, and have not been conducted on walkers. There are clearly differences across sports activities, as is acknowledged in the National Athletic Trainers' Association Position Statement: Conservative Management and Prevention of Ankle Sprains in Athletes (copy here) which includes, for example, this statement:
Work on the role of footwear in the incidence of ankle injuries has been limited and produced conflicting results. Part of this difference may be related to the type of athlete being studied. In basketball players, a high-top shoe with the ankle taped was more effective in preventing injuries than a low-top shoe with the ankle taped. Conversely, in football athletes, a low-top shoe with ankle stabilizer was more effective in preventing injuries than a high-top shoe with ankle stabilizer.
In short, the available sources are neither as unequivocal nor as relevant as I think you are presenting them as, and most point to the jury still being out, rather than falling on one or other side.

That said, there are other factors that forum members might want to consider, including weight, impact attenuation and breathability where typical shoe construction offers advantages over typical boots. Your earlier posts here and elsewhere have addressed these. I know this might being seen as damning with faint praise, but I think I could find examples that don't conform to this general observation.
 
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dougfitz

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I think we all suspected that ;) ;)
And in times past, water quality was such that it was safer to drink ale. I suspect the alcohol content might have been very much lower that modern beers, but the brewing process must have removed the pathogens.
 

WalkingJane

Active Member
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May and October 2015
(2015 October)
June 2018 Portuguese
I like them for balance. Since I’m over 70 they certainly help keep me upright and on 2 feet.
Yes! I'm also "over 65" and used poles for balance on the Frances and Portugues, and also use one here at home. Mostly using it as intended, sometimes simply having it in my hand seems to help me stay upright. Agree with the note about "dangers". When getting up from a seat I've nearly managed to trip myself before getting up and steady. (once)
And my 2 cents about shoes. Preparing for my first Camino I tried on boots. My feet totally revolted. So I set off in "walking shoes", got sore feet, and in Burgos bought some Keen sandals. Which are now what I wear nearly all the time, home and away. Yoga foot exercises help too.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
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As for the links you provided in your earlier explanation, this appears to be the standard list used by pro-shoe advocates. The mere fact that I was able to easily find just one academic study report that didn't support the 'shoes are better line' not included in this list indicates to me that there is at least the prospect of bias in the construction of the list.
I can see how you might view the list as you do, but how you choose to view it that does not really change the validity of the data. If you have been looking at Google for information on this issue, you know that there are limited data sources from which to look at. As such, I would be surprised if studies on the list were not included in discussions like this about shoes vs boots.

The additional study you found does not indicate that the other studies are invalid in their findings, nor does it indicate that there are no other studies or research supportive of boots having no significant ankle injury protection. In fact, here is another that is not on the current list:

Risk Factors for Lateral Ankle Sprain: A Prospective Study Among Military Recruits

Further, the list is now substantially outdated. Even some of the items under 'scientific articles' no longer link to sources that substantiate the claims being made in the summary that is provided with the list, and some other links no longer work.
One of the items no longer link due to the web page no longer being active. I will correct that. However, all but one of my cites is newer than the one you included in your post, so I do not understand that criticism.

The relevance of these sources is also an issue for me. They all appear to be studies conducted on athletes, mainly basketball players in extreme performance conditions, and have not been conducted on walkers. There are clearly differences across sports activities, as is acknowledged in the National Athletic Trainers' Association Position Statement: Conservative Management and Prevention of Ankle Sprains in Athletes which includes, for example, this statement:
  • "Work on the role of footwear in the incidence of ankle injuries has been limited and produced conflicting results. Part of this difference may be related to the type of athlete being studied. In basketball players, a high-top shoe with the ankle taped was more effective in preventing injuries than a low-top shoe with the ankle taped. Conversely, in football athletes, a low-top shoe with ankle stabilizer was more effective in preventing injuries than a high-top shoe with ankle stabilizer. "
In short, the available sources are neither as unequivocal nor as relevant as I think you are presenting them as, and most point to the jury still being out, rather than falling on one or other side.
I do not disagree that different sport activities create differences in how forces are employed to the structures of the ankle, foot, and lower leg. In my classes and internships with sports medicine clinical work, the issue has to do more with implementing prevention strategies to work with the differences in footwear requirements, and less to do with the stress forces involved. In other words, ankles break and ligaments tear based on the same stresses and over extensions. . HOW those factors occur is the primary difference. In other words, a basketball player using boots or trail shoes will have the same forces occur as if he is using court shoes.

And Court Shoes are very similar in construction to trail shoes in terms of overall weights of materials in the uppers, weight, and cushioning. Obviously, tread and outersole composition are significantly different due to their application of use, but comparisons can still be made.
 

dougfitz

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but comparisons can still be made
It sounds like you are arguing that walkers on the camino are going to subject themselves to the same stresses that basketball and football players might during competition. I cannot see this is a valid line of argument, and it creates, in my mind at least, the doubt that results obtained studying athletes participating in demanding sports can be easily applied.

There are many instances where studies based on sports and the military are extended without any obvious consideration of whether the results scale to less demanding activities. This is but one of them.
 

davebugg

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It sounds like you are arguing that walkers on the camino are going to subject themselves to the same stresses that basketball and football players might during competition. I cannot see this is a valid line of argument, and it creates, in my mind at least, the doubt that results obtained studying athletes participating in demanding sports can be easily applied.

There are many instances where studies based on sports and the military are extended without any obvious consideration of whether the results scale to less demanding activities. This is but one of them.
I agree that the scale of forces are generally different, but that scale is far less than one might imagine. It isn't about how hard those forces are that create the injury, it is how hard those forces need to be to create an injury. In other words, the only primary relevance to the strength or aggressiveness of an injury-causing force -- which exceeds the threshold for injury -- is how severe the injury will be, NOT whether there will be an injury.

In the study that followed the Israeli military recruits, much (not all) of the activity detailed in that study is the same as what Camino walkers experience.

In walking, and especially if there is added weight from a pack, when a torsional force is applied with a rolling foot, for example, it is the body weight which creates the potential injurious force as it drives the joint and other structures to that point of injury. That force can be multiplied based on a variety of factors, such as the foot slipping off of an edge of a path or elevated rock (Zubiri anyone :) ).

At the higher forces in play when basketball players and volleyball players were looked at, that accelerated force did not create differences in injury rates when low top shoes were used vs high tops or mid tops.

One could try to argue that at lower potential forces for injury of walking, the high top could then provide a higher level of protection. But there are two things which counter such an argument: 1. If lower topped shoes did not increase injury rates at those higher force levels in sports, then that will probably remain the same at the lower rates of force of a walker. 2. Research has shown no differences in injury rates based on shoe height, during lower energy activities.
 

omar504

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admittedly this off google and I put in..do I need hiking poles

Many articles quote a 1999 study that says using trekking poles takes up to 25% of the strain off of your knees. The reality for most hikers isn’t that great. In fact, there studies that show that there’s no difference whatsoever between shock absorbing poles, regular poles, and no poles.
 

dougfitz

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admittedly this off google and I put in..do I need hiking poles

Many articles quote a 1999 study that says using trekking poles takes up to 25% of the strain off of your knees. The reality for most hikers isn’t that great. In fact, there studies that show that there’s no difference whatsoever between shock absorbing poles, regular poles, and no poles.
@omar504, when @peregrina2000 addressed the issues she had raised, she had the courtesy to provide references we could go to. Are you going to do the same?
 

omar504

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@omar504, when @peregrina2000 addressed the issues she had raised, she had the courtesy to provide references we could go to. Are you going to do the same?
indeed
the study was also without poles...enough references for anyone!..It's The Sport Journal..sounds serious!
 

Anamiri

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admittedly this off google and I put in..do I need hiking poles

Many articles quote a 1999 study that says using trekking poles takes up to 25% of the strain off of your knees. The reality for most hikers isn’t that great. In fact, there studies that show that there’s no difference whatsoever between shock absorbing poles, regular poles, and no poles.
My knees disagree, they know the difference, so do my feet and back. They like poles - I only discovered this at 58.
 

Bob Howard

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Frances 2018
In 2016, while in Pamplona I went to Corte Ingles to nose around--great outdoor gear floor. I saw two pilgrims (sans pack of course) walking around Corte Ingles doing the light surface tap thing with their poles as they walked through the store. I personally found that except for a few downhill sections--like the short pitch coming down from Alto del Perdon and the rather brutal downhill to Molinaseca--I tended to not use them. As to being a myth, the literature and many youtube videos about hiking poles seem pretty convincing as to their efficacy.
 

Donna Sch

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My preference is hiking shoes as I am a person who tends to kick things. I only wore boots on my February camino because I was expecting mud and possibly snow. The year before they got blizzards. I got an early Spring with clear pleasant weather and the boots were overkill as a result. And the high sides kept rubbing against an ankle so it became an issue.
I have trail runners at home and they would not last for long caminos and the fronts are not as sturdy. I need a stiffer sole to prevent midfoot problems so hiking shoes are my thing. Poles? I love them. My other half used his on one day to try them out and never used them again. I find them helpful for uphills and very uneven or unstable surfaces. And being on the clumsy side they have saved me usually every second day. And my pace is more consistent.
Re packs, I totally agree that a day back can be more stressful than a real hiking pack for your back. I'm a fervent Aarnpack fan and they balance so well. And the wraparound effect is like another layer of clothes.
 

dougfitz

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Sorry Doug. I didn't mean to echo your post. I've been traveling and I've been more selective in the threads I've been reading. Sickness in Carrion wasn't a priority. I did wonder though why it went on for so long with so many posts.
There's nothing to apologize for here!
 

JeepsNRoses

Camino Dreamer
Camino(s) past & future
CF (2017) May 15th SJPdP - Pamplona
CF (2019) Dec 18th Sarria - Santiago
CF (2020) May 17th SJPdP
My preference is hiking shoes as I am a person who tends to kick things. I only wore boots on my February camino because I was expecting mud and possibly snow. The year before they got blizzards. I got an early Spring with clear pleasant weather and the boots were overkill as a result. And the high sides kept rubbing against an ankle so it became an issue.
I have trail runners at home and they would not last for long caminos and the fronts are not as sturdy. I need a stiffer sole to prevent midfoot problems so hiking shoes are my thing. Poles? I love them. My other half used his on one day to try them out and never used them again. I find them helpful for uphills and very uneven or unstable surfaces. And being on the clumsy side they have saved me usually every second day. And my pace is more consistent.
Re packs, I totally agree that a day back can be more stressful than a real hiking pack for your back. I'm a fervent Aarnpack fan and they balance so well. And the wraparound effect is like another layer of clothes.
@Donna Sch, I would love to hear about your Aarnpack components & set up you used on the Camino. 💐
 

Arctic_Alex

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Finished: Camino Frances April/May 2019
Canceled: Primitivo May 2020
Here's one to invite flak...poles. the theory is that it takes 25% pressure off knees. I met a lecturer in biomechanics on the le puy route he said t h ey were basically a fad with scant, if any evidence. Ive looked in amazement /amusement walkers trailing these sticks ,taping them lighly on flat surfaces belivieving they are taking pressure off their knees..really?
Here's a thought..the manufacturers of skiing poles were looking for new markets..."hey fellas let's tell them it will take pressure of their knees....great idea!"
Do not blame the poles for people using them the wrong way ;-)
I would never go on serious mountain hikes without them, I would never want to be without them with a heavy pack of 20kg and more ... on the Camino Frances I decided to go without poles as there is no mountain hiking and the pack is light :)
However, I know even in flat terrain and with a light pack, poles on the long run give me a better posture which helps my back.

On a side note: If you do not feel it really in your arms, you have not been using your poles properly ;-)
 

AlmostAnastasia

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2018
Here's one to invite flak...poles. the theory is that it takes 25% pressure off knees. I met a lecturer in biomechanics on the le puy route he said t h ey were basically a fad with scant, if any evidence. Ive looked in amazement /amusement walkers trailing these sticks ,taping them lighly on flat surfaces belivieving they are taking pressure off their knees..really?
Here's a thought..the manufacturers of skiing poles were looking for new markets..."hey fellas let's tell them it will take pressure of their knees....great idea!"
One pole is helpful for balance when walking down tricky/rock paths.
 

Jitterbug bender

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2019
Thanks to the postings of many forum members, like @davebugg, @JillGat and @falcon269, I have learned that two of the things I assumed were true were nothing but folklore.

The first is that boots will give you ankle support. These fine folks have posted convincing evidence that that is simply not the case. Since one of the reasons I was wearing boots was because I thought it helped prevent ankle twisting, I moved down to hiking shoes. Then, when these fine folks showed me that trail runners are, for most people, far superior in terms of comfort and have equally good traction, and when they also pointed out that the huge majority of people walking the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail wore trail runners, I caved and went last year to trail runners. Unless there is a second coming in the shoe category, I will never wear anything else.

The second is that lower back pain means you shouldn’t carry your backpack. Au contraire, if you have a good backpack, the weight will go to your hips and will never put a strain on your back. In fact, I find that my back likes having the pack there, it seems to keep it warm and cozy. And I learned, this by my own experience, that wearing a 5-6 pound day pack, which many people do when they have their packs transported, is in fact worse for your back. An hour with a support-free day pack and my lower back is shouting out in pain.

Since many of us are getting our stuff ready for an upcoming camino, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to post these words of caution about the commonly accepted wisdom out there and to see if other forum members have more myth-busting information to share. Buen camino, Laurie
I have hiked the Appalachian Trail. For the first 700 miles I wore Lowe Renegade mid-rise boots. I never had a single fall. At the ~700 mile mark I switched to low cut Lowe Renegade shoes, and I fell three times the first day, and once each of the following two days. Every time I stepped on an uneven surface, my ankle would roll. I limped into the next town after three days of misery and switched back to the mid-boots (which I had mailed forward). I never fell again in the next 1300 miles. The mid-rise boots do offer additional support, especially for those of us with weaker ankles.

As for the comments below about using poles, I did also use poles on the AT. I did not use them for walking on level trails or roads, but I found that they significantly reduced knee pain on downhill sections, and were a huge help with stream crossings and rough terrain. They also prevented me from face-planting on multiple occasions. I will carry them on my Camino and stow them when they are not needed. This assessment is based on over 2000 miles of experience, not on casual observations of other peoples' experiences. Just sayin'
 

Jetrues

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2019
Here's one to invite flak...poles. the theory is that it takes 25% pressure off knees. I met a lecturer in biomechanics on the le puy route he said t h ey were basically a fad with scant, if any evidence. Ive looked in amazement /amusement walkers trailing these sticks ,taping them lighly on flat surfaces belivieving they are taking pressure off their knees..really?
Here's a thought..the manufacturers of skiing poles were looking for new markets..."hey fellas let's tell them it will take pressure of their knees....great idea!"
They definitely are helpful to me on hills, especially going down.
 

MarkN

Mark
Camino(s) past & future
Leon to Santiago Oct 2016
Porto to Santiago Oct 2017
Porto to Santiago May 2019
And in times past, water quality was such that it was safer to drink ale. I suspect the alcohol content might have been very much lower that modern beers, but the brewing process must have removed the pathogens.
You say 'in times past' as if it isn't safer to drink ale today? 😉
 

MarkN

Mark
Camino(s) past & future
Leon to Santiago Oct 2016
Porto to Santiago Oct 2017
Porto to Santiago May 2019
So blisters...
(not trolling just interested in an informal polite discussion)
I know the medical sites state friction as a primary cause, but in my experience it's more pressure than friction. Shoes fitting loose but with some movement don't give me blisters at all.
But then the medical sites seem to all agree to not pop blisters when I've overwhelmingly heard the opposite advice from pilgrims. In fact my mother told me to use white thread to pop them. When I asked if blue would do she chuckled and admitted that was just what she was told as a child in Austria.
Thoughts?

Ahh darn it I just noticed the title as boots and backs. My bad. Apologies!
 

Opa Theo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francais to Santiago
Poles are great. They are like having a hand rail going up or down tricky sections. They may dissuade aggressive dogs. On flat stretches I simply disconnect my Z poles and loop them through the bottom of my shoulder strap.

What brands of inserts do people use for trail runners?
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2017)
Frances(2018)
Ingles(2019)
Aragones(2020)
Portuguese(2020)
So blisters...
(not trolling just interested in an informal polite discussion)
I know the medical sites state friction as a primary cause, but in my experience it's more pressure than friction. Shoes fitting loose but with some movement don't give me blisters at all.
But then the medical sites seem to all agree to not pop blisters when I've overwhelmingly heard the opposite advice from pilgrims. In fact my mother told me to use white thread to pop them. When I asked if blue would do she chuckled and admitted that was just what she was told as a child in Austria.
Thoughts?

Ahh darn it I just noticed the title as boots and backs. My bad. Apologies!
Below are a couple of things I've posted before. Perhaps they will help clarify things a bit :)
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Blisters are a product of friction.... often referred to as shear force friction. The skin of your foot, and the sock that is in contact with that area of skin, are sliding and rubbing together.

Strategies for the prevention of shear force friction and blisters have changed and matured over recent years.
  1. A properly fitting shoe. In brief, it needs to be long enough and wide enough to accommodate any insoles, orthotics, metatarsal pads, etc, PLUS the socks that you will be wearing, PLUS the increased pressure on the feet from wearing a loaded pack.
  2. Light padded Merino wool sock designed for walking or backpacking, or the same type of sock in a good synthetic blend. A heavy pad on a sock allows potentially more movement against the skin, takes longer to air out, and takes longer to dry when washed.
  3. A sock fit that is snug and form fitting to the foot, but not gangrene-inducing tight. You want the shear force to be between the sock and the interior of the shoe, not the sock and the skin. A snug fitting sock will help to make that happen.
  4. Allow the shoe to move over the sock a bit. By keeping the shoes a bit looser on the feet, the sock will take the brunt of the shear force. If a shoe is tied snug, then that forces the foot to move more in the sock, which means the sock and skin are absorbing the shear force. An exception occurs on long downhill grades; the shoes need to be tied tight enough to keep your toes from hitting the front of the shoe which can cause injury and trauma to the nail bed and toe joints.
  5. While there are foot lubricants, from Body Glide and Hiker's Goo to plain old vaseline, they have a fairly short viable working span as the material rubs off of the skin and is absorbed by the socks. For prophylactic protection from shear force friction to blister prone areas on the feet, a long lasting barrier is the better option. The placement of tapes, like Leukotape P, or moleskin-type products, if adhered correctly, will last the whole day.
  6. To apply tapes and moleskin type products,
    1. Clean off the area of application with a bit of alcohol to remove grease, dirt, and body oils. A bit of regular hand sanitizer works for this, in addition to hand cleansing.
    2. Cut a piece of your chosen barrier material to fit the area you want protected; be sure to cut rounded corners rather than square in order to help the material from rolling up away from the skin.
    3. Apply a thin smear of Tincture of Benzoin to the skin area where the adhesive will stick. This will increase the holding power of the tape or moleskin.
      1. If the tape or moleskin, etc. is going on top of a blistered area, avoid getting the Benzoin on the roof area of the blister, and add a thin coating of ointment/vaseline onto the blister roof, avoiding the surrounding skin area. This will allow removal of the product without hurting the blister wound.
    4. Place the barrier on the area, taking care to not handle the adhesive; spend a bit of time rubbing the material to create friction so that the adhesive will heat up and adhere more firmly.
    5. At the end of the day, remove the barrier and use some alcohol to wipe the area that was covered.
      1. Since fungus (athletes foot) and pathogens splash around in showers, shower shoes are not necessarily preventative to one's feet being exposed or infected. It is helpful to use an alcohol or astringent product applied to the feet after showering.
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As with most things in life, there are variables to consider when treating blisters. There are two primary choices:
  1. Do not drain the blister.
  2. Drain the blister and keep it drained.
The concern about draining a blister is that it can provide a route of infection because the skin is opened, allowing some exposure to a wound. While this is true, it is also true that with proper care the risk is low.

To keep a blister intact, a highly experienced Forum member, dougfitz, provided this guidance:
  • That first step is to leave an intact blister intact and not to puncture it as a first response.
  • The priority should be to protect the blister roof by using an island dressing or cutting a doughnut shape to fit over the blister that will protect it from both direct pressure and further shear stress.
  • You can make the doughnut from a couple of layers of ordinary moleskin, or a single layer of padded moleskin, and keep that in place with Fixomull or a similar conforming tape.
This post is primarily focused on treating a blister by draining it. It is meant to provide guidance into the best practices in order to walk more comfortably with a blister. However, it assumes:
  • You are not going to take time off to let your blister start to heal.
  • You are needing or wanting to continue walking with your blister.
  • The blister is prominent and large enough to cause discomfort while walking.
  • There is some likelihood that the blister’s ‘roof’ will become ripped or torn while you are walking.
Blister treatment falls under hygiene level two. So, clean hands (soap and water, or hand sanitizer, or rubbing alcohol, etc). All that needs to be done is to cleanse hands so that the level of potential pathogens is reduced to below the level which could cause infection to this type of wound.

Also, any product used to dress the blister should be clean as well. It doesn't have to be sterile, but should at least be in its protective packaging.
  1. If the blister still has it's 'roof', it is recommended to leave the 'roof' intact, but to drain the fluid. Needles are not the ideal tool, as the initial puncture can reseal later, allowing fluid to build up again. A disinfected tool (alcohol or flame from a lighter/match) which can create a slit at the base of the blister near the skin of the foot is best --- a pair of tiny scissors to snip a slit; a disposable scalpel blade or a hobby knife blade as part of a first aid kit.
  2. If the blister has 'de-roofed', then trim off any skin tag which might flap back into the raw open wound.
Preparing the wound for dressing

1. Cleaning the wound by flushing away any debris away with clean water or a mild dilution of hydrogen peroxide. Pouring or squirting the wound is fine, but any dirt particles sticking to the wound MUST be cleared away.

2. A topical antibiotic ointment, not creme, is gently applied after the blister wound is dry. The ointment serves two purposes: it reduces any risk of infection and it prevents any dressing material from inadvertently adhering to the wound.

Blister Dressing

A primary issue is getting whatever method of dressing used -- be it taping, Moleskin, hydrogel pads, bandaids, etc --- to stick and remain in place, which can sometimes be a huge challenge.

Here are a few strategies to help.

1. Use hand sanitizer or alcohol to clean the skin area, not the wound, to which the tape or dressing will be stuck to. Get as much dirt and body oils removed as is possible.

2. To the cleansed skin, apply a thin smear of Tincture of Benzoin then allow to dry. Do not put any directly on the wound. This will multiply the holding power of the adhesive that is used. If you aren’t familiar with it, think of it as rubber cement for the skin.

I carry a few crushable ampules of the stuff. You can get them on Amazon or at a pharmacy

3. When the adhesive is finally applied, rub the area of the tape or moleskin or Compeed or etc... The idea is to create heat from the friction to allow the adhesive to warm and adhere better.

For dressing a blister, this NOLS video does a good job of describing the methods which work best. For a blister with a roof, I like to place a hydrogel dressing, like Spenco, to the top of the blister and them use Leukotape P or Omnifix or etc... to affix the dressing in place. The hydrogel provides basic cushioning and additional protection, helping the tape to reduce additional damage to the wound.

For a de-roofed blister, the addition of the ointment to the open wound is applied prior to the hydrogel being put into place. The hydrogels are package and designed to be sterile. Bandaging is done as previously described.

IF the blistered area, whether roofed or de-roofed, is so tender it is uncomfortable to walk on as treated above, then remove the dressing and then redress the blister the same way as before, but with the addition of using the 'doughnut' padding as the NOLS video demonstrates.

Unless additional attention is needed, it is best to leave the dressing in place until the end of the day. Then, remove the dressing, re-cleanse the wound, shower, cleanse, apply ointment, and redress for evening activities. At bedtime, remove the dressing, re-cleanse and apply antibiotic ointment and wear a clean sock.

The next morning, carefully evaluate for any sign of infection, and apply ointment and redress the area for a new day of walking. Check again for signs of infection periodically during the day without removing the covering. If the wound seems worse, then think about taking at least a day off to let the wound do a bit of healing. Even a half-day off your feet can be of help.

To help evaluate a blister for infection:

With freshly and thoroughly washed hands (alcohol based hand sanitizer will work, too), feel the area around the blister for signs of:
  • warmth
  • foul smell
  • pus
  • pain
  • swelling
  • holes or peeling skin
  • the area bleeds when you touch it, or doesn’t seem to be healing at all.
If any of these symptoms occur, you need to be seen by a medical provider for proper evaluation and treatment.

Be aware that even if the blister has been left intact, it is still possible for infection to occur, so evaluate ALL blisters, intact or not.
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
indeed
the study was also without poles...enough references for anyone!..It's The Sport Journal..sounds serious!
oops!..looks like I forgot to give the link to the article http://thesportjournal.org/article/...n-standard-and-anti-shock-trekking-poles/..of which an early section says

No significant weight transfer from lower to upper body was evident regardless of pole design indicating that dependency on hiking poles during load carriage walking on level ground is negligible.

The use of hiking or trekking poles has become popular with both the weekend recreational hiker as well as the serious hiker. As early as 1996, 49% of hikers in the Austrian and Italian Alps were using “trekking poles” (Rogers et al, 1995). Over the last few years, hiking poles have evolved from simple, single walking sticks to dual, spring-loaded, telescopic poles equipped with wrist straps and carbide tips. Manufacturers of hiking poles have made largely unsupported and anecdotal claims of the benefits of employing hiking poles while hiking. Such claims as extra balance, surer walking, and reduction of stress are common (Jacobson et al, 2000). The claim supporting “reduction of stress” on lower limbs (Haid and Koller, 1995; Wilson et al, 2001) stems from the belief that part of the load is transferred from the legs to the arms and shoulders Neurether, 1981).
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2017)
Frances(2018)
Ingles(2019)
Aragones(2020)
Portuguese(2020)
https://www.academia.edu/18237927/T...Induced_Muscle_Injury_during_Mountain_Walking


In conclusion, this is the first investigation to examine the efficacy of trekking poles on indices of muscle dam-age; furthermore, to our knowledge, it is also the first documented study to use an ecologically valid environment to test this type of equipment. We have demonstrated that trekking poles reduce RPE in mountain ascent and reduce the extent of muscle damage after a day’s mountain walking.These findings have strong application for exercisers wishing to engage in consecutive day’s activity in mountainous terrains by maintaining greater muscle function, reducing soreness, and, hence, reducing the potential for the prevalence of injury.
 

Bob Howard

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016
Frances 2018
I had my mind opened a bit about blisters by Rebecca, the Australian podiatrist who seems to be quite the blister guru. I subscribed to her website, but fortunately her explanation for how blisters occur is on Youtube. Although there are many different theories about blister causation and treatment, her explanation of blisters as not being caused by "rubbing" in the sense that I thought. Her short video is very enlightening. Her website includes videos about prevention and treatment. But the most interesting to me is her description how sheer force actually works. Give it a look and see what you think. I am wondering whether davebugg knows of her work, and whether he agrees.
 

Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Again, soon as possible!
Thanks to the postings of many forum members, like @davebugg, @JillGat and @falcon269, I have learned that two of the things I assumed were true were nothing but folklore.

The first is that boots will give you ankle support. These fine folks have posted convincing evidence that that is simply not the case. Since one of the reasons I was wearing boots was because I thought it helped prevent ankle twisting, I moved down to hiking shoes. Then, when these fine folks showed me that trail runners are, for most people, far superior in terms of comfort and have equally good traction, and when they also pointed out that the huge majority of people walking the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail wore trail runners, I caved and went last year to trail runners. Unless there is a second coming in the shoe category, I will never wear anything else.

The second is that lower back pain means you shouldn’t carry your backpack. Au contraire, if you have a good backpack, the weight will go to your hips and will never put a strain on your back. In fact, I find that my back likes having the pack there, it seems to keep it warm and cozy. And I learned, this by my own experience, that wearing a 5-6 pound day pack, which many people do when they have their packs transported, is in fact worse for your back. An hour with a support-free day pack and my lower back is shouting out in pain.

Since many of us are getting our stuff ready for an upcoming camino, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to post these words of caution about the commonly accepted wisdom out there and to see if other forum members have more myth-busting information to share. Buen camino, Laurie
I could not walk the camino without hiking boots with full ankle support. How do I know this? Because I cannot walk 200m down my road (which is flat as a pancake) to my local shop for a chocolate bar without wearing hi leg boots. My ankles are screwed (thank you British Army), and I cannot wear shoes, or trainers etc and don't even own any. I need ankle support and good quality hiking boots do provide that.

Do all pilgrims need boots to walk the camino? Hell no! Whatever is best for you. But I have met a few that could only walk in boots. So you are probably right, it being a myth but nothing is 100%.

Davey
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2017)
Frances(2018)
Ingles(2019)
Aragones(2020)
Portuguese(2020)
I had my mind opened a bit about blisters by Rebecca, the Australian podiatrist who seems to be quite the blister guru. I subscribed to her website, but fortunately her explanation for how blisters occur is on Youtube. Although there are many different theories about blister causation and treatment, her explanation of blisters as not being caused by "rubbing" in the sense that I thought. Her short video is very enlightening. Her website includes videos about prevention and treatment. But the most interesting to me is her description how sheer force actually works. Give it a look and see what you think. I am wondering whether davebugg knows of her work, and whether he agrees.
Yes, I am very familiar with her writings, and agree with much of what she states. Her website is well worth reading.
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
https://www.academia.edu/18237927/T...Induced_Muscle_Injury_during_Mountain_Walking


In conclusion, this is the first investigation to examine the efficacy of trekking poles on indices of muscle dam-age; furthermore, to our knowledge, it is also the first documented study to use an ecologically valid environment to test this type of equipment. We have demonstrated that trekking poles reduce RPE in mountain ascent and reduce the extent of muscle damage after a day’s mountain walking.These findings have strong application for exercisers wishing to engage in consecutive day’s activity in mountainous terrains by maintaining greater muscle function, reducing soreness, and, hence, reducing the potential for the prevalence of injury.
interesting but the conclusion mentions..mountain ascent, mountain walking and mountainous terrain so I wonder at the relevance for say, the CF
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2017)
Frances(2018)
Ingles(2019)
Aragones(2020)
Portuguese(2020)
interesting but the conclusion mentions..mountain ascent, mountain walking and mountainous terrain so I wonder at the relevance for say, the CF
One can think of it this way:
If this study was done only on flat terrain, then I would wonder about the relevance in mountain terrain. However, given the forces experienced while walking in mountainous terrain, if it helps under those conditions, it would be easy to extrapolate that they would also be effective on easier terrain.

The other factor is that the various Caminos, including the Frances, incorporate some pretty aggressive terrain with ascents and descents. It ain't just the Meseta :)
 

Bob Howard

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016
Frances 2018
I used to wonder if walking on cobblestones could produce enough shear force to cause a blister. Still don't know, but it turns out there is something very good about walking on cobblestones:

"Recent research has found that the surface you walk on can actually help your health. It’s well-known that older adults may be able to lower stress, improve balance, and even lower blood pressure simply by walking. But, until recently, little attention has been paid to what people are walking on. One recent study suggests that walking on a cobblestone has health benefits not found when walking on a flat surface.

Researchers at the Oregon Research Institute uncovered this health secret among adults over 60. Those who walk on cobblestone surfaces can get huge reductions in blood pressure, as well as overall improvement in balance and physical performance.

Cobblestone paths are common throughout China. Traditional Chinese doctors actually . . . "

 

Bob Howard

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016
Frances 2018
A clarification for my previous post. Repetitive motion even on perfectly flat or smooth terrain can produce shear force resulting in blisters--so certainly cobblestones could, especially with the added weight of a pack. I suppose I was wondering in the pantheon of walking surfaces and blister production, where do cobblestones fit in.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
oops!..looks like I forgot to give the link to the article http://thesportjournal.org/article/...n-standard-and-anti-shock-trekking-poles/..of which an early section says

No significant weight transfer from lower to upper body was evident regardless of pole design indicating that dependency on hiking poles during load carriage walking on level ground is negligible.
Thank you for providing this.

The description of the trial methodology is
During each successful trial the subjects contacted a piezoelectric force plate positioned in the floor with the foot and contralateral hiking pole.
This disturbs me, because it indicates that the forces measured were the combined downward force of the pole and the walking pole. If that is the case, it would worry me were the study to produce any other result!

Not long ago, @David proposed a very similar 'experiment'. If he is watching, he may be able to point to that thread, and the discussion in that why conducting a test in this way is going to produce this exact result.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
interesting but the conclusion mentions..mountain ascent, mountain walking and mountainous terrain so I wonder at the relevance for say, the CF
@omar504, a good question. In the first place, no experimental process can accurately reflect specific real-world circumstances, and this study is no different. That said, the CF does present three of the four specific challenges the researchers identified. Far better in my view than testing on a flat and level surface, because no real world walk is like that.

Like many of these things, scaling the benefits to environments that are more or less demanding than the trial conditions is really not something we can do individually. This, though, is no reason to think that the benefits don't exist.
 

Edit

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
French Way 2007, 8,15 VDLP 2011, Port-SDC 2015,16, 17 Geneva-Astorga 2016 Budapest-Finisterre 2017..
Thanks to the postings of many forum members, like @davebugg, @JillGat and @falcon269, I have learned that two of the things I assumed were true were nothing but folklore.

The first is that boots will give you ankle support. These fine folks have posted convincing evidence that that is simply not the case. Since one of the reasons I was wearing boots was because I thought it helped prevent ankle twisting, I moved down to hiking shoes. Then, when these fine folks showed me that trail runners are, for most people, far superior in terms of comfort and have equally good traction, and when they also pointed out that the huge majority of people walking the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail wore trail runners, I caved and went last year to trail runners. Unless there is a second coming in the shoe category, I will never wear anything else.

The second is that lower back pain means you shouldn’t carry your backpack. Au contraire, if you have a good backpack, the weight will go to your hips and will never put a strain on your back. In fact, I find that my back likes having the pack there, it seems to keep it warm and cozy. And I learned, this by my own experience, that wearing a 5-6 pound day pack, which many people do when they have their packs transported, is in fact worse for your back. An hour with a support-free day pack and my lower back is shouting out in pain.

Since many of us are getting our stuff ready for an upcoming camino, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to post these words of caution about the commonly accepted wisdom out there and to see if other forum members have more myth-busting information to share. Buen camino, Laurie
Yeh.... those legends..... I find them crazy.....

At the beginning of the Frances, where there are a lot of people.... suffering with blisters.... all of them wearing boots in the summer..... because this is generally acknowledged to be the best footwear..... nonsense!!
(Unless winter conditions/lot of rain, as was stated before.)

I always appreciate if somebody has the courage of questioning those legends.... so congrats and thanks for speaking out!
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)

Beeman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo,2017,Argonne and salvador,sept.2019
Always interesting to get a range of views.

My 2 cents work.......

Poles. I can't walk a Camino without them.
80% of pole users I see on Camino don't know how to use them and are just carrying extra weight.
It requires significant downward and rearward pressure on the poles. (through the straps)
Used well, you feel your whole body propelled forwards and upwards.
I have tested using kitchen scales and estimate the required downward pressure somewhere between 10-15 kgs. It's a lot........

Used that way, poles take significant pressure off knees and other joints.

You can quote whatever scientific study, but I won't walk a Camino without them.

Those who continually bang on about poles being useless, generally have not used them, don't know how to use them, or don't need them. :p

It's a bit like a young fit person saying zimmer frames are useless......... tell that to the 90 year old who needs one.

Boots. I have worn them on 3 caminos. Love them.
But a physio 1/2 through my last one told me they are only really required on mountainous ground. And the extra weight was not doing me any good.
But I feel they stop me twisting an ankle.
I honestly feel I would have twisted an ankle a couple of times without them.

But.........Next time out I'm going to try trail runners. Based on physio advice. ;)
I used to twist my ankle several times each day in the mountains,with boots. Since I have gone to trail runners,about 7 years ago,I have NEVER twisted my ankle. It seems crazy,but true.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2017), Primitivo (2019)
I am not sure what the evidence is for either of these assertions. I have seen them in posts before, and in my view they have been evidence free assertions. The worst of these turned out to be a fantastic web-site that was effectively the work of a single person as a vehicle for his personal opinions. Unfortunately, as also often happens in other areas of human endeavour, the vocal minority overpower debate by the volume of their exchanges, and not always by the fundamental correctness of the positions they advocate.
Well, now we arrive at the crux of the discussion. Namely, that people will rationalize any predisposition (prejudice) to favor their decision to not carry a pack, use those clicking clacking poles ( I think they find the noise and rhythm metronomic), choose footwear etc... in the end everyone has a different experience in mind and that’s fine for them- but only them! Take the information and make your choices, but if you’re looking for approval- walk softly and make your own decision on the stick.
Oh , that was a bad one!
 

Barbara

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
Dalie used to wear steel shoes with tungsten studs. Of course, she only took them off when she finished her walk.
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
Why do people get so bent out of shape over poles? I am it getting into it.

Very good post Laurie, the point that a proper pack transfers weight to your hips and is safer for your back then a day pack is worth noting. As are the comments over footwear to match the terrain. Boots are great for mountain work where cold, wet and volcanic rock abound. Walking shoes are great for just that. And treking sandles with socks may be a crime against fashion are very good on long hot dusty roads where build up of heat on your feet is a factor.
 

Keyes

Pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2016
Francesco 2017
Francigena 2017
Portuguese 2018
Norte 2019
(2020 la Plata)
I wear trail runners when running trails, thickly cushioned Brooks and Hoka when running streets, and the same model of Salomon hiking boots (replaced annually) that have worked comfortably for me for years. I've rolled ankles in each situation, but never to the point of injury. Similarly, I love my hiking poles and use them for reasons well noted by @OhSuziq and @trecile. Maybe these are my "feathers", so if Dumbo could fly with his I hope to walk many more Camino with mine. Do what works best for you, and "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
 

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