Mountain hiking and blisters: find out how to avoid them

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Michelangelo Buonarroti argued that “the human foot is a work of art and a masterpiece of engineering”. From this enlightening consideration it follows that take care of the feet. All the more so if, in addition to using them daily for walking, we put them to the test on rough or uneven terrain, such as those we often encounter on our way if we are, as happens to a number of Italians, trekking enthusiasts.
So what we could define as the golden rule of the good hiker: or rather take care of your feet before, during and after the excursion. Keep in mind, in fact, that in addition to walking, the feet allow us to maintain an upright position and distribute our body weight in a balanced way on the ground.
Who has never been confronted with a blister on the feet during a mountain hike? We think the answer is pretty obvious, as those with trekking experience know that the bladder is a variable that should always be considered.

What is a blister and how does it form when hiking in the mountains?

It is an accumulation of plasma and other bodily fluids between the layers of the epidermis or between it and the dermis. The main cause of the formation of blisters is certainly theexcessive friction, which causes fluid to accumulate in a serum pocket or bubble. In reality, it’s a kind of trick that the skin uses like self-defense: the bubble is intended to protect the deeper layers of the skin from germs and bacteria. The case history is varied, but blisters generally form more easily if our shoes or boots are too looseself the foot rubs against a seam inside the shoe, if the stockings form folds between shoe/boot and leather.
Heat, sweat and finally wet feet exponentially increase the risk of blisters.

The importance of shoes

A good hiking shoe should wrap your foot well, in order to keep it again. Moreover, it must be breathable, comfortable and “accurate”. The sole should be more or less flexible depending on whether you are walking on a trail or on snow. For day trips, on moderately easy trails and with a light backpack on the shoulders, it is better to choose a low shoe (for example, trail running), while if we are about to to begin a trek of several days, it is preferable to use a more structured shoe, which covers at least the malleolus. Not everyone knows how important it is the way the shoe is fastened: when climbing it is better to leave the laces slightly loose on the instep (so that the foot can bend forward more easily), on the contrary, it is better to tighten the laces well to protect the nails and ankles.

Hiking boots

Are technical socks really useful?

I am absolutely fundamental. It is better to avoid cotton socks, as well as old “grandmother” socks: the first are too light, the second not very breathable. The trekking socks they are made with synthetic materials (quite light, but resistant and breathable) and have reinforcements at the most important friction points, that is, the toes and the heel. In addition, the thickness of the sock must be related to the climatic and/or seasonal conditions. For the sock, exactly what has been said about the shoe is valid: it should never be too big, in order to avoid that the foot can “have play” inside it, thus favoring the formation of blisters and abrasions.

Patches and dressings

Next generation patches and colloidal patches can be a good temporary remedy to relieve us if the blisters occur in the middle of our mountain hikes.
If despite the precautions taken we happen to feel a little friction, well, better not waste time. It is best to stop and immediately apply a blister patch to the affected area. Prevention is better than cure, also because the characteristic of blisters is to form very quickly and to make the disorder disappear only after several days. Which, on medium to long rides, can be a big deal.
If the problem occurs frequently, however, we must consider that the problem could be in the shoes. Also for these consider a specific model, such as those present in the lines of Rossignol Trail Clothing.

Why is it better not to pop the blisters?

Although grandmother’s remedies always have a certain charm, it is better not to joke with blisters. If when we return from our mountain hikes we find that we have them and see that they are intact, it is better to do nothing and let them follow their natural course. First of all because damaging them interrupts the healing process “designed” by our body. Then because, while trying to take all possible precautions, the conditions in which we will pierce our blisters will certainly not be the same as those of an operating theater or a doctor’s office, and they could favor the appearance of infections annoying or dangerous. That said, here are some tips for preventing or treating blisters without engaging in risky DIY operations.

A few tips to avoid blisters while hiking in the mountains

Maintain the foot as much as possible dry. In the mountains it may happen that you have to wade in a small stream, or walk on waterlogged ground, but even more simply to cope with the physiological perspiration of your feet. All situations that can force us to have damp or even wet lower limbs for several hours. All situations that represent a source of stress for the skin, with the risk of the formation of bacteria, bad odors or the foot slipping inside the shoes we wear. Therefore, it is always better to carry at least two in your backpack spare socks it’s a towel to use if necessary. These two little tips are all the more important if you are facing a journey of several days.
The “remedy” of cold water. Wherever possible, after many hours of “hiking” it is advisable to remove shoes/boots and socks to immerse feet in very cold water, typically that of streams and streams. This activity, to be done for example once arrived at the refuge, indeed promotes vasoconstriction and accelerates blood circulation, limiting swelling and inflammation. In addition to creating a regenerating effect for muscles and joints. Once the foot is dry, massage it for a few minutes, possibly with a refreshing and moisturizing cream.

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