Even with the best fitting boots in the world, hiking can result in foot injuries. This is primarily due to the amount of stress and pressure exerted on your feet on a daily basis. In the human feet, there are over 120 muscles, ligaments, and nerves held together across 33 joints, formed by a network of 26 different bones. Even daily walking is a repetitive action that keeps a constant pressure, often in excess of twice your body weight, on these tiny bones, tissue, and joints. The potential for stress related strain and damage is pretty much constant.
And when you are out hiking across uneven terrain, the pressure can be magnified several times over. With ill-fitting hiking boots, the chance of injury to your feet becomes even more acute. A foot injury can result in severe or chronic foot pain. It is estimated by the American Podiatric Medical Association that 77% of Americans experience foot pain at some point in their lives. And hiking is one of the five top exercise related activities that result in injury and foot pain.
Three main regions of the foot are most vulnerable to damage from ill-fitting hiking boots:
- The toes
- The forefoot, involving the metatarsal and sesamoid bones
- The hindfoot, involving the heel and the sole of the feet
The heel is the side that comes in direct contact with the ground. It is the sponge or rather shock absorber that has to adjust itself to uneven terrain to help us stay upright. Heel injuries are one of the most common types of hiking injuries. Typical foot injuries caused by a poor selection of hiking boots include:
- Plantar Fasciitis: one of the most common causes of heel pain. This is a stress injury caused to the plantar fascia, the flat tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. Heel pain from Plantar Fasciitis leads to swelling, inflammation, and chronic discomfort.
- Heel Spurs: Continuous stress and tears in the bones and tissue in the heel eventually lead to a gradual build-up of calcium in the heel bone. The result is a painful growth on the bottom of the heel bone, a condition called heel spur.
- Sesamoiditis: Stress in the ball of the feet can injure the sesamoids, two corn-like bones under the big toe joint. Pain and aches in the forefoot are the results.
- Achilles Tendonitis: The Achilles tendon is used for everything from walking, running, jumping and even standing still. Excessive stress to this tendon leads to tendonitis, causing acute pain and swelling in your feet.
Regardless of the reason, foot pain is always an abnormality, one that should be looked at by skilled podiatrists at the earliest. Taking foot injuries and symptoms like heel pain lightly can lead to severe complications in future, often resulting in vastly increased treatment costs. If you are suffering from hiking related pain in central Texas, consider fixing and appointment with a skilled foot doctor in Austin, Dr. Jeff LaMour. His clinic offers highly specialized podiatry services.