Exercise is good for health, and one of the best ways to exercise is to take a walk. Hiking has become one of the most common exercises on the planet.
Hikers can walk up to 10 miles in one day. This is even more feasible when they are walking with a group of people.
However, just like sailing, hiking comes with minor obstacles. Having a swollen foot is one of them.
There is no fixed rate for how much your feet swell when hiking. Sometimes, a short walk can cause severe swelling, and sometimes a long walk can do the same. Also, the rate at which the feet swells differs from hiker to hiker. However, foot swelling is a common problem among new hikers.
In this article, I will show why and how your feet swell when hiking. Also, I will show you solutions on how to combat the issue.
By the end of this article, you will learn a great deal about feet swelling, and rest assured, you will be ready for your first hike if you’re new to it.
How Much Do Feet Swell During Hiking?
Your feet will most likely swell after a long or short hike, and the rate at which this happens differs from hiker to hiker. Some hikers can even go long hours without their feet swelling.
Although we cannot determine the rate at which your feet swell, we can determine why it swells.
For example, your feet swell in hiking because your bodily fluids escape into some tissues.
During this process, the following happens:
- Your blood flow to muscular exerting force increases.
- Your blood vessels dilate.
- The enlarged nature of the blood vessels causes an overflow of fluid.
- Fluid enters the surrounding tissues.
- The tissues expand, and swelling occurs.
You can refer to this process as peripheral edema. However, peripheral edema is not the only cause of your feet swelling.
If you are obese, you will sadly experience feet swelling more than a regular person. If you are fat, you will need to burn out far.
However, not only obese people experience feet swelling when they hike. However, they are at greater risk.
Also, if you do not have enough salt in your body system, you are at more risk of having your feet swell. But, again, this process is straightforward to understand.
Salt absorbs water in the body, and if your salt level is low, the excess water in your body will flow to the tissues and cause them to swell.
Therefore, you need to check your salt level before you hike.
Is it Normal for Feet to Swell During Hiking?
Yes. It is normal for your feet to swell during hiking. However, this does not mean your feet will swell when you hike. However, if it does, you don’t need to panic.
If you discover your feet are swelling after your hike, the first thing you should do is rest. In about six hours, your feet should be back to normal.
If you cannot rest or you are in much pain, there are alternative steps you can take to address your swollen leg.
When you have swollen feet, you should take the following steps:
- First, take off all your footwear.
- Second, find a resting spot and lift your legs.
- Third, use ice packs and massage your feet.
- Fourth, relax your feet in cold water for about 15 minutes.
- Finally, you can use a hot balm to massage your feet instead.
You can choose to use a hot balm to address your swollen feet, or you can choose to use cold water to address these feet.
Here are the differences between using a hot balm and using a cold balm:
|Using a Hot Balm||Using Cold Water|
|You cannot use the hot balm to treat injuries on your swollen feet.||You can use Cold water to treat your injuries on your swollen feet.|
|Using a hot balm is suitable for athletes.||I do not recommend using cold water to massage an athlete’s feet.|
|You need to hydrate yourself with a lot of water.||You do not need to hydrate yourself before using cold water to massage your feet.|
How Do I Stop My Feet from Swelling When I Hike?
You must take many precautions to stop your feet from swelling when you hike.
These methods include:
- Check your shoes occasionally for any piece of debris or item. Remove them immediately after you find them.
- Use light gaiters to protect your feet when you hike.
- Keep your feet dry at all times. If you sweat a lot and soak your socks, remove the socks immediately.
- Use a balm on your legs any time you feel a painful spot.
- Take some breaks and rest properly.
- Elevate your feet a lot.
- Using warm water, wash your feet occasionally during the hike. Do not use soap for this process.
- Always allow your feet to air for a few seconds. This allows water in your feet to dry up.
- You can choose to pre-tape your feet before hiking. You can purchase the KT tape Pro for this.
Four Foot Care Tips for Hikers
There are 4-foot care tips you would need to practice as a hiker. With these tips, you will avoid foot swelling and other complications when you hike.
#1. Maintain your Hiking Shoes Properly
This is an essential foot care tip you need to consider. Your hiking shoes are essential because once they are in bad shape, you stand to get swelling or blisters a lot easier.
For instance, if you have a large hole in your shoe, you will notice a lot of dust and debris will accumulate in the shoe, and this will eventually cause swelling.
You must ensure your shoes are always in good condition to prevent such from happening. Your shoes could experience one of the following:
- Frayed laces.
- Frayed surfaces
- Loose waterproof surface.
- Wear and tear on different surfaces.
You can protect your shoes by doing the following:
- Apply a waterproof spray.
- Always carry spare laces during each hike.
- Only use the shoe if you discover you have connected the sole to the leather.
#2. Take Breaks Often
Taking a break during a hike seems like a trivial thing to do, but it is very needed. Taking a break allows you to do a lot that would protect your shoes and your feet.
During your break, you can air your feet and ensure that sweat and other residual liquids dry off. This way, your tissues won’t absorb excess water and swell up.
Also, you can dry your socks if they are wet. You can also wash your feet to clean off any debris from your feet.
Moreover, breaks allow ample time to rest and let your muscles cool off.
In a hike, try to take up to three breaks at least. This way, you would avoid a lot of unnecessary complications.
#3. Wear Well-fitted, Comfortable Shoes
If your shoe gives you a hard time, you will be unable to enjoy your hike, and you may sadly experience some swelling at the end of the day.
To avoid this, ensure you wear a shoe that is not too tight and loose.
I recommend you get well-fitted broken-in boots for your hiking. However, to know if you are comfortable, you will need to observe a few things.
Ensure that the back of your foot sits tightly to the boot heel of your shoe. Also, ensure your toes are not cramped tightly to the front.
If your feet begin to slide, you should know the shoes don’t fit you, and you need to change them immediately.
#4. Take Feet Hygiene Serious
Every hiker needs to understand that a clean and well-kept foot would save them from a lot of trouble. Cleaning up for feet may seem irrelevant, but it is crucial.
First off, ensure you wash your feet properly before going on any hike. Also, ensure to wear clean and dry socks.
Airing your feet also helps in maintaining proper foot hygiene. Finally, it would be best if you clipped your toenails properly.
Long nails won’t go well with your shoes and may damage them, and you could get a lot of dirt into your feet in the process.
While you cannot determine the rate your feet swell, you should note your feet swells because:
- Some bodily fluids have escaped into some surrounding tissues.
- You are obese or;
- Your salt level is low.
Feet swelling may be normal, but proper care of your feet will ensure you do not experience this regularly.
When you are conscious of the right foot care tips, you will have a hitch-free hike with no incessant swelling afterward.
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