A hot topic on Camino is BLISTERS! While on Camino it is extremely important to take good care of your feet. I have seen feet that can never be unseen. Many pilgrims have to stop walking because of infected blisters. They can literally stop you from completing your Camino.
I want to share with you a few tips that saved the day for me.
On my first Camino, I managed to do the entire French Way with only 2 small blisters. They manifested in the first week of walking before I was aware of how to take care of my feet. Thanks to the good fortune of meeting seasoned walkers who shared these tips with me!
How to care for your feet
- Ensure that you have broken in your shoes and wear the correct socks for hiking. socks will keep your feet protected from moisture and cushion the correct places.
- Spend time caring for your feet every day. Before you start walking cover any spots you have had blisters before with a compeed (I like these as they stay on and protect nicely), or whatever choice of bandage you have made.
- Air your feet during the day. When you stop for a coffee or a bite to eat take your shoes and socks off and air your feet. Yes, I can see the horror on some of your faces, this is not something you would do in any café at home however, you will soon see that it is an acceptable practice on the Camino.
- Carry an extra pair of socks if you suffer from sweaty feet and change them during the day.
- Elevating your feet is a nice reward for a job well done, this can help to prevent swelling and aching feet also.
- When in wet conditions one of the tricks to dry out your shoes overnight is to stuff them with newspaper to absorb excess water. Damp shoes are a breeding ground for blisters.
- As soon as you feel any small particles of dust and dirt in your shoes it is best to take the time to stop and shake it out as this is going to create friction.
Oooops too late
You will know there is a blister in the making when you feel what is coined as a hot spot. When you sense irritation, rubbing or warmth act immediately. Cover the spot with whatever your bandage choice is. If you feel a stinging sensation then you have probably not acted quick enough.
- If a blister has developed the best action to take is to cover it with a bandage, this will stop further friction and keep you comfortable enough to finish your day.
- Ask for a foot bath at the hotel and soak your feet in salt water.
- Clean the area gently with an antiseptic then take a sterilised sewing needle with a short thread of cotton and thread it through the blister, allowing it to drain. Clean with betadine once it is drained and cover with gauze and whatever dressing you have chosen.
- One more tip that I was given; ensure you are hydrated, this helps to keep your body in optimal condition and gives it the best chance at healing.
Extra foot tip… Toenails
Keep your toenails as short as possible and rounded. This helps prevent damage to the nails from pressure. Walking on mixed terrain is not a usual daily activity for most. A lot of Pilgrims suffer the loss of toenails when this detail is missed.
If all else fails, pull out those stylish hiking sandals complete with socks and give your feet a nice break from boots!