A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it

Advertisement

Luggage Transfer Correos

Urban myths about boots and backs— are there others?

Camino Badges

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
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 downs and losing my balance on stream 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.
Now tell us what you really think @alaskadiver ;) ;)

You make a lot of sense!
 

alaskadiver

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017-Camino Primitivo
April 2019-Camino de Invierno
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 .
Sorry for the delay, I’m only now seeing your post as I just got back from Spain a day ago. My (women’s) Vasque St Elias are wide sized, plenty of toe box space. To your first question, no I didn’t use the inner soles that came with the Merrel Moabs. Silly me didn’t want to ruin my expensive custom orthotics so I wasted my money on But even with my orthotics my Podiatrist thinks I would have developed the same problems.
The simple answer is that for me I needed to use my custom orthotics and a heavier soled shoe. Walking on asphalt or any hard surface is terrible for the feet. The Merrells were very comfortable but failed to provide the needed cushioning and sole protection that I needed. I’ve never had plantar fasciitis in my feet until that first Camino. My experience has always been hiking with a heavy pack on tundra and wild cross country terrain so I didn’t know that walking on hard surfaces for 20km a day would be so damaging in what are basically sneakers.
Everyone is different as can be seen by people who say they can walk the entire Camino in sandals. The key thing is that people need to wear what works for them and stick to it.
I loved the feel of my Merrells and for day hiking in the wilderness with no pack I would wear them again.
 

Charles Zammit

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
St Jean Pied de Port - Finisterra 2017
GR70 France 2018
[ Via Francigena 2019]
I am in Vercelli now nursing a sore knee I am sure was brought about by miles of walking past rice paddies on rock hard gravel roads. I do wonder whether I will reach Rome at this rate.
Yes I'm wearing Merrels . :)
 

mvanert

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona - Santiago 2014, St. Jean to Estella June 2016, Estella to Santiago April 17, 2018
I wear trail runners most times, sandals on hot days and good trails/roads and I use poles, primarily up and down hills. These work for me and that's all that matters. Enough said.
 

lizlane

Small Town Girl, Small Town World
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2019
@peregrina2000, Laurie you made me laugh! I'm a Leo and not naturally graceful at ALL! This is the exact reason my mom got me ballet dancing so I could develop some! As a woman involved with dance, I have rolled my ankles more times than I can care to remember, often in public and the shoe has never prevented it. (Try standing on your tippy-toes in point shoes for ballet!) From high heels to sandals, the ONLY boot/shoe I have ever worn that I didnt roll my ankle in was a steel-toe men's 6 work boot used at a local greenhouse where I was on my feet 98 percent of a ten-hour day.

I trip when I'm tired and I was hazard a guess that most people do. Having some support is key. Watching where you are going is also KEY! You'll know me when you see me, I'll be that spaced-out pilgrim swept up by the views that stumbles over a pebble. For my pilgrimage, I have mid-level boots and sandals and poles. It is also important to know how to ascend and descend sideways. Straight up and down is pain waiting to happen. Poles provide balance.

You will also know me on the way because my ankles pop and snap and crackle with every step. I've rolled them that many times. When I'm walking with company, people are concerned when I do the ankle roll. I always reassure them that they are made of rubber and I'm fine, just embarrassed.

People can say what they want about boots that go above the ankles but I wish that I knew then what I know now about my own level of gracefulness and what works for my body. I found the boots that "Sara" wore in the movie the Way and wish I bought them because they were a perfect fit. Nobody else was wearing them on the forum so I tried some of the standards. Bottom line is on boots, if they hurt your feet in 30 minutes of wearing them in the store, they will hurt your feet walking 15 miles a day.
 

Texas Walker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte (2017 summer)
Portugues (2015)
Frances (2014)
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
Eh, that one time you need the things pays back for all the times you carry them on the pack the rest of the trip. Mine come apart and fit into the water bladder pouch that is not used for the plane ride...also I check the pack and build in longer than 90 minutes plane changes. (I try hard to get at least 2 hours on a transfer point.) We also put the pack into a duffel for the flight.
I don't tell myself it's to help the knees. It's for balance, and the occasional stray dog.
 

Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Camino(s) past & future
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
I have run a wee bit tired of the banter that peddles diverse medical articles that support this or that strategy for equipment;
IMHO it boils down to what premis you lay down for your argument.
In my case, I have had a bad arched foot all my life, including at flat transverse arch in my forefoot...
I can count at least seven different models that I have tried on since 2010 when I started walking longer distances after my cancer op and the ensuing convalescense.
From Teva , to ECCO, to Hanwag, from very soft in the beginning to stiffer and stiffer soles and orthodic inlay soles in the bargain. I have really tried to find the right footwear !
After doing my last stint last year from Seville to Zamora, I had developed a very hard area at the inside of my arch, just behing the ball of the big toe. I only discovered when I came home...
Sort of hard as a stone. Turned out that the sole on my latest Hanwags, grade A/B, is so soft that it bends just behind this ball of the big toe, instead of AT the ball of the big toe, and therefore straining the plantar fascia and the muscle groups beneath it into a hardening mess.
It took me 2 weeks to soften this hard-as-a-stone area. ( the medial & lateral head of flexor hallucis brevis muscle group)
My latest buy is now a grade B sole on a pair of Meindls that bend where I want it to and where my foot find it beneficial...
I furthermore feel that I am doing a better speed with the same effort, as I am rolling over the sole...
The conclusion of my own experince is, that after having this lazy arch my whole life, I have now, at the age of 64, achieved the best wet footprint to show after my shower that I have EVER had....
And my orthodist is content at the improvement, too..

The same goes w the poles;
I have a Scheuerman condition, which is a slight curvature of the back, forward , in my case at the shoulder blades and in my own case, the use of of the walking poles has enabled me to stretch out by using them constantly.
Straightening out has also improved my breathing and lung capacity...

I am loath to be put in the same category as alleged dimwits that merely prods tentatively at the surface , because I literally pounce at the ground with my sticks...and it has prevented me from taking a few falls...

By all means, let people go barefoot or in sandals if they have perfect feet and to walk without support if they have young and strong backs,
But pleease respect that for some people these premis questions actually matter, and let us resort to dicuss at this level of personal experience instead of drawing some categorical conclusions...

You DO NEED an analysis of any new situation and people and feet are different....
 
Last edited:

Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
Which is why, when I say that I often walk in sandals, I usually point out that I walked barefoot as a child, have always walked in light shoes and sandals, and therefore my feet are accustomed to it. For someone who has always used boots or heavier shoes, moving to much lighter foot wear takes a lot of time because it takes many months for tendons and ligaments to start to adapt. Someone who already has odd shaped feet, weak arches, bunions etc may be much better off finding shoes and insoles that work for their feet.

It's why my usual answer to the question "Which shoes should I buy?" is "Ones that fit." Mr and I can drive shoe shops to despair between us because I have small but extremely wide feet and can't tolerate a shoe that puts any pressure on my Achilles tendon (although high boots are fine) whereas he has long, very narrow feet and needs arch support. And we both learned a very long time ago that it was worth all the trouble it takes to get shoes that really fit properly. I had my high boots made to measure, and I have huge difficulty in finding sports shoes that I can wear because they almost all have a high heel counter and are cut much too narrow for my feet. I envy the people who can walk into an outdoor shop and expect to be able to find a pair of shoes that fits them well because I will be lucky if there is even one pair in the shop that I can get my feet into let alone walk in.

The other thing is that many people grossly underestimate the amount of strain that doing the Camino puts on their feet and legs. If you're a regular walker you'll probably be fine because your joints and ligaments are already accustomed to it, but I see many people setting off who are not regular walkers and who then try to cover long distances from the very beginning with the result that they suffer from all sorts of foot and leg problems. That's made worse by the fact that many pilgrims are limited on time and desperately try to cover the distance in a hurry instead of being able to walk to their own pace. Walking every day is very different from doing a sedentary job and going for a walk at the weekend.
 

K Turner

One step at a time
Camino(s) past & future
14 August 2019 (SJPdP 16 August)
It took a good amount of trial and error on to find what works best for me. I have Ehlers-Danlos, a connective tissue disorder. The collagen defect causes daily joint dislocations. I use a single pole to keep one hand free, and for stabilization as well as to make awkward steps safer. Using two poles didn't work out.

I wear Merrell Moab, mid-rise. They have helped my ankles on numerous occasions while not being obstructive.

One of my hiking partners swears by a thin pair of socks under a thick pair, but that didn't work for me at all. I decided on thick wool socks, even in the local 110F/43C weather. I wear slip-on ankle supports over them, but for the arch support.

One lesson I have definitely learned is what works for one may not work for another.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
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.
Frankly, that entirely depends on whether you have bad quality ankles or not.

If you don't, then lighter footwear will be better except if you are doing a longer Camino in colder and wetter conditions than typical, so that instead of ankle support, the boots provide protection from the elements instead.

In some cases, walking on tarmac can also be easier with heavier footwear, but that is by NO MEANS a universal.

But just personally, I could **not** survive without my army boots and the ankle support they most definitely provide -- but that includes in daily life pottering about town as well.

Meanwhile I've seen too many pilgrims in pain from poor footwear choices, but even so -- on occasions where I've given advice to people on the Francès, 9 out of 10 has been "get a lighter pair", but then there's the odd 1 in 10 where it was clear that that particular pilgrim needed a heavier one.

Really though -- there's no such thing as one-size-fits-all where shoes and boots are concerned, except that those without particular medical problems and walking the Francès only would do well to choose a lighter pair, but one nevertheless capable of not getting completely soaked through and ruined in the Galician rain.

Unless there is a second coming in the shoe category, I will never wear anything else.
Awesome that you found exactly the right footgear for you personally !!!
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
I'm overjoyed. have just managed to find the perfect sandal for me after over 10 months of searching. Its wide enough, and made for an orthotic, slight rocker bottom (arthritic big toe), super comfy - and not three sizes too big. I had begun to think such shoes didn't exist. The issue for me is that my feet are a 38 long (just) but a 41 wide - which makes for an impossible search. In these giant shoes (41) I constantly knock my toes, and am really clumsy. especially on stairs where I almost fall down daily . I am much more nimble when wearing a shoe that fits.

I've done two Caminos in Brooks runners, which were fine but not when my toe is flared up- impossible to make an orthotic work well in a shoe 3 sizes too big. I cant find a rocker bottom shoe to fit my feet anywhere.

So imagine my joy on finding these sandals. Perfect for September
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Here's one to invite flak...poles. the theory is that it takes 25% pressure off knees.
Weeelllll -- they *can*, but typically that would be to misuse them.

Poles typically are used for balancing and to help propel yourself forward by backward pressure. (of course you need to learn how to use one without imbalancing your gait, stance, or walking, quicker said than done)

I use a hiking staff and the way I use it does, when needed, help to redistribute weight ; but learning how to use one correctly takes longer than most people's Caminos (!!). AND weight support isn't even the basic purpose of a staff either, which is (just like poles) as an aide for forward propulsion.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Frankly, that entirely depends on whether you have bad quality ankles or not.
And THAT is the prefaced qualification I make in the guidelines I've shared. As I and others have noted, there are medical conditions and concerns which dictate that some choices are made because of a known requirement or need. It is quite right to underscore that concern.

I think when the context of Laurie's thread about 'myths' is considered, it is NOT addressed for those cases like yours, which, while not uncommon, are not the norm. It is targeted to those with no ankle issues, who are told, or who believe, that above ankle boots will protect them from ankle injuries.

Care must always be exercised not to make blanket generalizations about gear or footwear which are too broad. When a forum member, like yourself, who has needs outside of those generalizations, it is helpful to have those reminders about exceptions and generalizations posted.
 

Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
But just personally, I could **not** survive without my army boots and the ankle support they most definitely provide -- but that includes in daily life pottering about town as well.
However army boots are generally cut higher than the light boots that many people wear for walking. The low boots/high shoes give very little useful support although they may well keep the water out if you splosh through puddles. When I need boots for winter walking in rough counry I have a pair of high boots that I had made to measure and they are wonderfully comfortable.
 

Barbara

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy
I think most people rush at the start. I've always done slow Camino, never trained before starting, and wear the same shoes that I wear every day. As you say, ones that fit. I've also cycled two Caminos, though I walked up most of the hills. But I've always started with very short days, and wound up the pace towards the end. Third day is usually the hardest, in my opinion. I'm about to set off on a Saint Martin pilgrimage, Poitiers to Tours and then on to Candes Saint Martin. About 270 km. Not the big one starting in Hungary. Not just yet anyway. If anyone is interested, it's as old as the Saint James and at one time was considered more important.
Enjoy your Caminos, and remember it's not a race!
 

nickpellatt

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2015 Portuguese 2018 Norte May 2019 Finesterre and Muxia April 2019
I'm going to add something I think not mentioned in this thread yet. Socks!

People laugh at me, have mocked me, and said 'good luck with those!'. I dont buy expensive hiking socks ... I wear normal black Primark socks, that cost around £5 for 7 pair. (Primark is like a WalMart for cheap clothes for anyone not familiar with them).

Now, it has been suggested that I am a little careful with money (I wont deny it), but I have done 3 long Camino's and 1 short one, all wearing regular, cheap socks, with few issues.

In 2009, I bought very expensive socks in an outdoor shop to hike Kilimanjaro, and had feet problems. A few years ago I bought 'No Blister lifetime guarantee' running socks for an upcoming marathon. First time out? Blisters. Needless to say I cashed in on the warranty and got my money back.

I work in cheap socks. I meet my goal of 10,000 steps every day in cheap socks. I run in cheap socks. So I'm suggesting it's a myth to think you need to buy expensive hiking socks. And they are expensive! If something works for you 48 weeks a year, changing to something different for the Camino doesnt work for me.
 

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)
I work in cheap socks. I meet my goal of 10,000 steps every day in cheap socks. I run in cheap socks. So I'm suggesting it's a myth to think you need to buy expensive hiking socks. And they are expensive! If something works for you 48 weeks a year, changing to something different for the Camino doesnt work for me.
I thought I was the only one. I wear cheapo ankle socks, no problemo. Before one camino (when I thought I needed boots), I got super expensive liner socks to wear under my wool hiking socks (it was early March) - and by the time I got to Pamplona, there was a good crop of blisters between my toes, and the socks went in the box that I posted to Santiago.
With light breathable shoes and ankle socks this never happens to me anymore.
 

Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
I happily wear cheap cotton socks. I think it depends on how sweaty your feet get, mine don't, so I never have to take special precautions for avoiding damp skin.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
I'm overjoyed. have just managed to find the perfect sandal for me after over 10 months of searching. Its wide enough, and made for an orthotic, slight rocker bottom (arthritic big toe), super comfy - and not three sizes too big. I had begun to think such shoes didn't exist. The issue for me is that my feet are a 38 long (just) but a 41 wide - which makes for an impossible search. In these giant shoes (41) I constantly knock my toes, and am really clumsy. especially on stairs where I almost fall down daily . I am much more nimble when wearing a shoe that fits.

I've done two Caminos in Brooks runners, which were fine but not when my toe is flared up- impossible to make an orthotic work well in a shoe 3 sizes too big. I cant find a rocker bottom shoe to fit my feet anywhere.

So imagine my joy on finding these sandals. Perfect for September
Can you share the name of these magical sandals?
 

Nanc

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (Sept 2016)
SDC/ Finesterre/ Muxia (2016)
Hmmm
Seems like we lost OP’s idea and have been revisiting the debate of poles/ verses non, boots verse trail runners etc
My thoughts on myths?
“ you can’t drink too much water “. ‘water intoxication is a thing

“You should.....”
“This is the best.... the only.......”
What a foot , a back, a body , a mind needs, varies soo much, that what is perfect for one can be disasterous for another. We can share what works for us but not tell another what they should do

Risking blasphemy but “ the Camino provides”
I believe in serendipity, god shots, providence, luck and trail angels, but blindly going out, without thought ,prep, or care, assuming someone else will bail you out can lead to “ problems”

“There will always be a bed “ yes when you traveled, you had easy access to a bed, and if town was completo , the next town was close and had beds. But we have seen, in the trenches, as the years progress, that people really can have trouble finding a bed ( esp below the 80e hotel prices)
Your dry Camino that never rained may not be duplicated for someone else. Your foot are regimen that resulted in nary a blister may fail for a foot of a different type
 

Book your lodging here

Get e-mail updates from Casa Ivar (Forum + Forum Store content)




Advertisement

Booking.com

Most downloaded Resources

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store

Casa Ivar Newsletter

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

Follow Casa Ivar on Instagram

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 15 1.4%
  • February

    Votes: 6 0.6%
  • March

    Votes: 43 4.0%
  • April

    Votes: 162 15.2%
  • May

    Votes: 261 24.6%
  • June

    Votes: 81 7.6%
  • July

    Votes: 21 2.0%
  • August

    Votes: 22 2.1%
  • September

    Votes: 304 28.6%
  • October

    Votes: 129 12.1%
  • November

    Votes: 13 1.2%
  • December

    Votes: 6 0.6%
Top