Keep your feet warm for an exceptional hike!

2022/10/18 Home Education and advice

Keep your feet warm for an exceptional hike!
Phédavril Racine St-Jean Phédavril Racine St-Jean Athletic Therapist

With the onset of the colder weather, there is nothing worse than freezing your feet or being so uncomfortable that you can’t do your outdoor activity. Autumn is such a beautiful season with its colors so do not let the cool temperature deprive yourself of it. Here are some practical tips to keep your feet warm and safe to fully enjoy your fall activities.

Protect your feet

It is essential to always have your feet dry. You will avoid having blisters due to friction, fungus like athlete’s foot or even being cold due to humidity. The secret to beating humidity lies in the socks.

  • Make sure you always have at least 2 pairs of socks to change them when they get wet.
  • In addition, verify to make sure that they are made of at least 30% natural fibers such as wool, merino wool or bamboo. These 3 fibers are thermoregulators so they will keep warm and at the same time circulate the air between them. Thus, there will be no accumulation of moisture.
  • Knee-high compression socks promote adequate venous return. Using this type of stocking will allow you to be less cold because your legs will have better blood circulation during all the hours of your activities.

These days, you can get nice sport-style compression stockings made of merino wool or bamboo from the Sigvaris or Sockwell brands and they don’t look like our grandmothers’ beige stockings either!

Measure to have the right size of shoe

Another important factor to avoid chafing or other injuries is footwear.

  • Shoe size greatly influences comfort. If they are too big, your feet will slip inside, and you risk losing your nails. If they are too small, your feet will freeze, and you will probably get blisters. So, here’s a simple trick to make sure you have the right size shoes or boots. Remove the sole inside of the shoe or boot and stand on it. Then, check to have one centimeter between your longest toe (either the big toe or the 2nd toe) and the end of the sole. This way, you can make sure you have the right shoe size.
  • The materials of the shoe or boot must also be taken into consideration. In the fall, Gore-Tex can be a highly valued material for its waterproofing and lightweight properties. However, if your feet sweat a lot, it is important to bring several pairs of socks to keep them dry, because your foot will breathe less in this type of shoe.

In general, if you opt for a shoe that has a rigid sole that adapts to different surfaces, a heel support to stabilize the ankle and toe protection to protect against hard objects such as roots or rocks, you will have pleasant hours of walking or hiking during the autumn season!


An orthotic and exercises can both help too

A final piece of advice that could make your hikes more enjoyable for hours on end are orthotics and exercises, more specifically muscle strengthening.

  • If you avoid hiking because your feet, knees or back hurt, your leg biomechanics may not be at their full potential (e.g., flat, or hollow feet or weak ankles). So, a custom-made plantar orthosis designed by an orthotist following an assessment of your body can be a solution to discover new activities or return to your usual activities.
  • Back or leg pain are often common symptoms that keep people from moving and they seem to be more present when it is cold. However, there is a way to reduce them by strengthening the pelvic girdle, the gluteal muscles, and the abdominals. Having good muscles will provide better endurance, better distribution of forces to each joint and better stabilization to adapt to different types of surfaces and efforts.


Happy hiking!

All in all, by opting with the right sized shoes or boots, with warm socks, and with good stabilization from orthotics and/or physical reinforcement, you will fully experience the colors of autumn as you walk or hike your favorite trails.

If, despite these tips, you experience pain that lasts for more than a week, do not hesitate to consult one of our physiotherapists and/or our orthotist who will take care of you. Don’t let an injury ruin your enjoyment of exploring our beautiful landscapes!

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