Getting out of town frequently means lots of walking. Here are a few ways to prevent foot problems while traveling.
As the travel industry recovers after the pandemic, many of us are finally able to take the vacation we’ve been dreaming of. Vacation activities like walking tours, nature hikes, and even just getting around the airport can mean more time on our feet than we’re used to. The result? Foot pain.
Foot pain takes the fun out of your vacation, and can remain even after you’ve returned home. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to prevent foot pain from ruining your trip:
- Gradually increase your activity before you leave
- Pack the right shoes (and socks!)
- Bring a solution for blisters & bunions
- Know how to stretch your feet
- Recover right
Let’s look at preventing (and treating) the most common types of activity-related foot pain.
Gradually increase your activity
A sudden increase in walking or hiking puts stress on your feet and ankles. If you’re like most people, your joints, muscles, and tendons aren’t used to the miles you’ll cover on a walking tour or half-day hike!
One of the best ways to prevent injury is to gradually increase your activity levels, so your body can learn to adapt to the stress. For example, if you know you’ll be going to a theme park next month, plan on walking a little bit every day. Even 15 minutes is a start. Increase the duration and distance of your walks as the weeks go on, and you’ll have a much easier time (and more fun!) on your vacation.
Not only is exercise great for your health, it will help you avoid unnecessary injury—as long as you don’t try to push yourself too hard. If you’re not sure what level of exercise is right for you, work on a plan with your doctor.
Pack the right shoes (and socks!)
We want to look nice on vacation, and packing space is limited. Unfortunately, this often means we don’t bring the right shoes for our trip and end up injuring our feet.
Shoes designed for walking provide much more support and cushioning than dressy shoes or casual everyday shoes. Hiking shoes and boots add protection from rough terrain and typically provide ankle support. In either case, you’ll need the right socks too—good socks provide cushioning, absorb moisture, and can reduce the chance of blisters. If you’ve got circulation issues, compression socks can help you avoid discomfort and swelling.
For your vacation, you’ll want to pack a walking or hiking shoe that you’ve used before. When you’re away for a week, it’s no fun to find out your new shoes don’t fit properly on the first day! Poor-fitting shoes do more than just cause blisters. If your shoes don’t provide the right kind of arch support, you might end up with plantar fasciitis—a common type of heel pain.
Your podiatrist can help you find an orthotic insert that will prevent injury and ease the pain of plantar fasciitis. If your symptoms continue, a nighttime splint is a common treatment option.
Bring a solution for blisters & bunions
Even with the right shoes and socks, sometimes blisters happen. If your vacation will involve lots of walking or hiking, bring a pack of moleskin. Moleskin is a type of adhesive cotton bandage that you can apply to the inside of shoes or directly to your feet to reduce friction and discomfort. It’s easy to pack along in your purse or bag, so you can apply it at the first signs of rubbing—before a painful blister forms.
If you have a bunion, increased activity may cause inflammation and pain. Over the counter pads and cushions are available, but if you’re packing these for your vacation you should know that these bunion pads typically only provide temporary relief. If you leave a bunion untreated, it will only get worse, and can even affect your gait—causing even more foot problems.
A podiatrist can provide bunion treatment options like pads, inserts, or splints that can help prevent a bunion from getting worse. If you’re experiencing frequent foot pain from a bunion deformity, surgical treatment is the best way to correct the issue—so next year’s vacation will be pain-free!
Know how to stretch your feet
Stretching is a great way to avoid foot injury, and it’s also a common part of treating many foot and ankle problems. Your podiatrist or physical therapist can show you how to do toe curls, big toe stretches, and achilles stretches that will keep your feet and ankles limber.
However, if you’re experiencing nagging foot pain during your vacation, it could be the symptom of an inflamed tendon—or even a broken bone. You don’t have to drop something on your foot to break it! Stress fractures can be caused by a sudden increase in activity, or frequent activity. If stretching doesn’t seem to help, or makes foot pain worse, see your podiatrist as soon as possible.
Touring a new city or spending the day at a theme park is lots of fun—and lots of stress on your feet and ankles. This stress causes inflammation, which can lead to pain and discomfort the next day. That’s no good, when you have a long list of activities planned for your vacation!
Luckily, there are some easy ways to help your feet recover after an activity. For pain and injuries like plantar fasciitis, cold therapy is effective at reducing pain. Along with icing, compression and elevation can provide relief. This popular recovery combination is known as R.I.C.E.—Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Sometimes, RICE and an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen are all you need to get back on your feet.
For dull aches and soreness, heat therapy can increase blood flow and relax muscles. A heating pad is easy to pack and can be a welcome relief at the end of a long day on vacation. However, soaking your feet in hot water is often a bad idea, especially if you’re diabetic. A foot soak can dry out and damage your feet. Combined with poor circulation, this can lead to potentially serious complications.
You deserve happy feet!
If you want a relaxing, fun vacation, taking care of your feet can make all the difference. Most important of all—listen to your body!
If you’re experiencing foot pain, it’s important to get treatment before your symptoms get worse. Because foot problems affect the way we walk, untreated pain and injuries can quickly lead to secondary problems.
Schedule an appointment with a board-certified podiatrist in the Nashville area today!.