Backpacking Light Magazine (Print) PDF Reprint - Can Arch Support Boost Trail Performance?


Backpacking Light Magazine (Print) PDF Reprint - Can Arch Support Boost Trail Performance?

PDF reprint of a treatise on the benefits of arch support, how to achieve it, and when to use it.

Description

Originally Published In: Issue 8, Fall 2007

PDF reprint of a treatise on the benefits of arch support, how to achieve it, and when to use it from Backpacking Light Magazine (Print Version).

  • Title: Can Arch Support Boost Trail Performance?
  • Author: Howard E. Friedman, DPM
  • Word Count: 3,831
  • Images: 3 Photos

Abstract

A few years ago, an official providing foot care for hikers on the Appalachian Trail at a comfort station in Damascus, Virginia was shocked to see that one backpacker’s feet were both swollen and painful. Not only had the thru-hiker been carrying his own 40-50 pound pack, but for the last several miles he had also been carrying his partner’s gear as well, since his companion was badly injured, all while wearing ill-fitting boots. The swollen painful feet were a clue to a significant foot injury. The extent of the injuries, however, became clear only after the hiker’s trip to the emergency room: stress fractures in multiple metatarsals in both feet!

It’s not clear that any type of arch support would have prevented all of the foot injuries that overburdened hiker developed. However, some mechanical support under the overloaded arch of the foot may have decreased the extent of the injuries and provided some relief. Expert opinions vary, however, about what advice long-distance backpackers, going “light” or otherwise, should follow when it comes to adding arch support to their sturdy boots or trail shoes.

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