Feet care

Yay! Summer is finally here!

One of the fun things to do in the summer is to go hiking. There are trails in parks, on hills and in the mountains where you and your family can spend time outdoors looking for wildlife, unusual plants, or just sitting by a stream and listening to the water gurgle.

One of the most important things to remember about hiking is that comfortable shoes with good traction are very important. Nowadays there are lots of choices for your feet, everything from heavier leather boots to lightweight sneaker-like shoes.

I prefer lighter shoes but like to use them with trekking poles, which help me keep my balance on rocky trails, and for stability when crossing over downed logs or streams. Lighter shoes don’t work well if you are hiking off trails. For those situations I prefer an ankle-high leather boot with a heavier sole because it is more firm.

Next to shoes, good socks are key. Lightweight wool hiking socks are great because they help move moisture away from your foot. This is called wicking. There are a variety of hiking socks, just like boots and shoes. Check the tags to see which ones match the style of hiking you want to do.

Hiking is no fun if you get blisters. I often get them in the same place, on the bottom of my left big toe. Scientists conducted research and found the best way to keep from getting blisters is to use paper surgical tape, which is available at any drug store.

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By taping areas where you usually get blisters, the study showed that the inexpensive paper tape could help keep feet blister-free. Blisters are often the worst injury to get on a hike, because you have to use your feet all the time. If you feel a hot spot on your toes or feet, stop hiking and tape the spot with paper tape.

Have fun hiking this summer, and keep your feet happy.

— Brett French, french@billingsgazette.com

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