Only eight weeks until my next camino and my head is whirling with all sorts of planning strategies. The most important piece of equipment I shall be taking with me are my feet and I thought I would share my plans for keeping them happy.
Last year I employed some new blister prevention and management techniques. Mostly, I am glad to report, prevention.
In order to prevent blisters forming under my fourth toes which is a frequent occurrence for me, I purchased some simple gel lined toe sleeves. I put these on every morning and never had a problem. I will be buying some more this year for my small toes and also for my big toes where the pads get sore occasionally from all the pounding.
I replaced the standard insoles that were fitted in my boots with Pro11 Wellbeing Orthotics (full product title – Orthotic insoles full length with arch supports, metatarsal and heel Cushion for plantar fasciitis treatment) currently £7.75, but the price seems to vary from time to time. Amazon link
I am about as far as you can get from an expert on orthotics. I saw lots of recommendations on the camino forum for ‘superfeet’, but when I searched for this brand there were so many options that I was totally overwhelmed and couldn’t make a decision about which style to go for. In true Amazon style I was sidelined by the “Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed…..” teaser and the most highly reviewed product was the item above. They are specifically intended for sufferers of plantar fasciitis, from which, fortunately, I do not suffer. After a few days walking I found that there was too much arch support for my left foot and I was getting cramp at the end of a day’s walking. I eventually connected the two and shaved some of the thickness away from the arch support with my penknife and all was then well.
When my boots got wet and I removed the soles to aid drying, the inserts that are applied to the underside became unstuck. I kept putting them back in place, but eventually left them out and it seemed to make no difference.
On a couple of occasions I would pop the original innersoles back in my boots, for a change, but could feel the difference and lack of support immediately. I have since bought several more pairs and will be using them again this year (the original pair are now in my old walking shoes)
A new item I used for both prevention and management last year was ‘Hikerswool’. Again, I had seen it recommended on the forum (and had used fresh wool plucked from a fence on my first camino to pad a blistered heel). The website blurb says “HikersWool provides friction-free comfort and wicks away moisture so you can avoid painful and annoying blisters!”
It is produced in New Zealand, but is available in Europe from Germany. The kind guys I ordered from offered me an additional pack free of charge to share amongst fellow pilgrims in need. And I did indeed give some to a couple of guys to relieve pain from blisters, and they were very grateful for it.
I used it frequently as a prevention whenever I felt a ‘hotspot’ and as a buffer around the base of my heels when a couple of deep compression blisters formed.
To use, you place the product inside your sock at the point of the hotspot. The wool felts and binds itself to the sock and stays in place until removed. It is easy to use and brings instant relief. I shall be taking more this year and I will also have some spare to give to anyone who needs it.
€12.50 per pack plus €3.45 shipping
This year I will have an additional weapon in my blister armoury in the form of ENGO Blister Prevention Patches
These are high shine patches that adhere to the inside of the shoe at the point of a hotspot to remove friction between the sock and the lining of the boot/shoe. I have already applied one patch onto the inside of the heel of my new boots which were threatening to cause a blister. The patch stopped the friction instantly. It didn’t stick as well as I would have hoped and peeled away from my shoe lining along one edge, but it hasn’t become further unstuck and the patch has stayed well in place over ten or more long walks.
They are very expensive for what they are at £13.99 for a pack of four large and two small patches, but if they do the job as promised, it will be money well spent. Amazon link.
Hopefully my feet will repay me for all the care and expenditure by remaining blister free – that would be a camino first for me!
Goodness Maggie, who knew there was so much to know about blister prevention. I love your ‘scientific’ approach to problem solving and really look forward to your next Camino blogs. What is your route this time?
Hi Janice, great to hear from you even though you have left us. I hope all is going well for you and Geoff back in the UK.
This year I will be walking the camino del Norte which follows the coast from the French border and starts at Irun. It is a stunningly beautiful walk with the sea to the right and the mountains to the left. Watch this space!! xx
Morning Maggie, only eight weeks to go I can’t believe it. Looking forward to your posts and photographs very much. Many thanks for all the links on this blog. There is some very useful information there. I was blessed with size nine feet and foot comfort is everything. Much love and keep us all up to date with your preparation please I find it as interesting as the camino/ xx
Amazon UK will not ship these types of product to Australia, but some can be obtained from Fishpond.com.au.
WHERE are you walking? Tell me it’s the Le Puy route!!
Hi Margaret – I am sure most of these products would be available via different outlets around the world. I included the links so that anyone interested could see all the details. Many thanks for the info re fishpond.com.au – I have not heard of that one.
Not Le Puy, but el Norte with a twist!
Hi Mary. It’s lovely that the first two comments on this post are from non pilgrims. I didn’t think it would be of any interest to you, so I am delighted that you didn’t find it too boring.
I am really beginning to ‘gear up’ now, and will report on other equipment choices over the next weeks.
Very best wishes, as ever x
Great information Maggie! I especially like your toe gel sleeves. My son who runs marathons uses toe socks to prevent blisters. He has some toes on one foot that scrunch up so the separation really helps, just like what you’re doing. I hope your next Camino is a wonderful new adventure for you. Two months will go by quickly and before you know it you’ll be strapping on your pack and lacing up those boots. I think you mentioned you were doing the Del Norte or am I confused? We begin ours on July 2nd walking out of Irun (my daughter in law and I). She’s beside herself with excitement (as I was last year). Such an experience to have with a loved one. I will be following your next blog with keen interest. Best to you dear Maggie!
Hi Sandy. The toe sleeve are excellent – one pair lasted all 1,360 kms last year. Lots of people have recommended the toe socks – I may get around to trying them one day, but I am hoping I have made the right choices for my next camino.
I am as ‘high’ about this camino as I was the first time around – experience doesn’t dull the anticipation or the anxieties.
You will have a wonderful bonding experience with your daughter in law and she can relax in the knowledge that she is accompanied by a ‘pro’.
I hope I can provide some useful info for you about the Norte – I will be finishing just about a month before you start. On your start date I will be doing my duty as ‘the mother of the bride’ at my daughter’s wedding, and I will be able to fit into an elegant dress with my post-camino slim-line body.
Buen camino a ti, mi amiga x
Hi Maggie – just love your scientific approach to Happy Feet! I agree the gel caps are simply the best – I was introduced to them by a camino angel on my first walk and believe me I think about him often when I am walking. This year i have bought a half size bigger shoe and looking forward to see if it will make a difference with hot feet. I. Am busy with my visa now and I have just less than 6 weeks till I leave – all very exciting . Thanks for this little gem once again
You are most welcome Marilyn and I am so looking forward to meeting you in Málaga and walking with you on your first day of the Mozárabe. It will be good training for the start of my camino a week later
Buen camino amiga!
I would never have guessed there is so much to do with foot comfort. Now you are an expert!
Guess you must take special care of your feet because without them, you might as well stay home.
😀 😀 >3
I’m sure there is a whole lot more that I haven’t discovered yet Tess. It makes a huge difference to the camino experience if your feet are relatively happy.
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I so believe you. I took a holiday a couple years ago. We walked miles and miles and miles each day. My feet sweat in my runners. Not happy feet.
Maggie – Hikers Wool is a must on any packing list. Have used on 2 camino’s now and both without a blister. By far the best ever birthday present given to me. Good luck for your upcoming Camino. Look forward to your blogs.
Hi Jo, it was new to me last year but was certainly appreciated. Instant relief for all manner of problems.
Many thanks for your good wishes. I will keep you posted.
Let me know how your efforts go Maggie. For me it was finding the right socks and the right shoes/boots.
If I discover any new tricks, I shall certainly be sharing them Tony.
Buen camino for your forthcoming adventure.
Wow, only 8 weeks – love your camino adventures and look forward to every post! Great blister prevention info! I love those toe socks – I have funny shaped toes, so use them a lot of the time. Happy preparing! As you walk we’ll be cycling in Spain (further south). Cheers, Yve Weinberg
Hello Yve. Many thanks for your comment. So many people have recommended toe socks, but I still haven’t got around to trying them yet. Although if I have any foot issues after the preparation I have done this year, they will definitely be top of my list.
Wow…which camino will you do next?
Nevermind my question.. I just read which one you will do next! My friend Barbara will also do that one this spring!
Hi Kristina, when does Barbara start her camino? Maybe we will meet up.