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!