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Young person experiencing foot pain+more on the trail...
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Alex Prinzo
Young person experiencing foot pain+more on the trail... on 03/13/2011 12:26:05 MDT Print View

I recently began adding more mileage to my hikes. I have a goal to thru hike the AT, or the PCT one day, so I want to get used to doing bigger miles. I typically go for afternoon hikes of around 3-4 miles, but I want to push it up to around 10-14 now.

This week I went on a hike on Monday, and it was around 4 miles round trip. I noticed when I got out, my right ankle was sore. But I blamed it on the rocky terrain, because I twisted it a little bit. Nothing crazy, so I forgot about it and let it heal up before my 10 mile hike that I planned for Saturday.

So, yesterday was beautiful!! Sun was out, not too many clouds, 50 degree's, and I was a happy guy. 3 hour go by. My right ankle again starts weakening, and I notice myself slowing down and being more cautious with my ankle to not position it wrong. 3 1/2 hour later, blisters start forming on my heels. 4 hours later, my knee weakens and I have to slow down even more...Turns out I slowed down SO much that I almost didn't make it off the trail in time. I was walking in the dark on hard terrain, luckily I had a flashlight.

I really was bummed out after. My body seems like it despises long walks, and being on my feet period. Whenever I worked at a job I always had a hard timing standing up for long periods. What can I do to correct this? And do any of you suffer from these problems? I'm only 23 years old, and I feel my hiking is being spoiled by my own body ailments...Why is this happening to me at such an early age?

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
foot pain on 03/13/2011 13:18:03 MDT Print View

One thing I've learned with age is to take enough time for injuries to heal before stressing the injured part again. It sounds to me like possibly you didn't allow enough time for your twisted ankle to heal (and upping the mileage to boot). Then favoring the injured ankle ended up giving you blisters - that's also pretty common, if you're favoring your left hip, for example, the right knee or ankle may get sore and even injured.

A twisted ankle = stretched or even torn ligaments; those need time to heal. In the meantime, you could do some strengthening exercises on the other ankle, and gradually add them in for the injured one (google for those).

I wouldn't assume that there's anything horribly wrong with your body, just a slight excess of youthful enthusiasm! I'd encourage you to listen to your body when it hurts, and don't push things too much. There's a difference between sore muscles just from fatigue when you're not in shape, and injuries. I find I can ignore the muscular soreness without doing myself any damage, but NOT the injuries.

Erik Danielsen
(er1kksen) - F

Locale: The Western Door
Inflammation on 03/13/2011 13:43:38 MDT Print View

If you have a lot of wheat in your diet, you might try cutting out all gluten for a while. When most people hear "gluten free" they think of celiacs and crohn's disease but a lot of people have joint issues connected with gluten consumption, some being more sensitive than others. Essentially it would just be increasing inflammation of the joint tissues and slowing the body's ability to heal those tissues.

Other than that, spending more time standing and taking more short walks more often might help, as might experimenting with different footwear.

Alex Prinzo
2nd reply on 03/13/2011 15:14:53 MDT Print View

I'll look into the diet, thanks for the tip!! I'm also going to take it easy for a couple of weeks to let this heal before resuming any hiking.

I also didn't mention that about a year and a half ago I went to the podiatrist. He told me I had Plantar Factitious (high arch) without giving me an x ray or anything. He seemed like a salesman in a doctor outfit so I didn't really buy into his diagnosis. Said I needed $500 orthotics!! I went because at the time I was working at a warehouse and standing a lot, and my feet were constantly bothering me. At the time is mostly my feet, but he mentioned that it causes ankle pain, knee pain, and back pain. He said it causes the body to be out of alignment, therefore causing pain in other joints. So now I'm wondering if it just got worse, and he actually was right...

I was looking into Superfeet. I hear a lot of great things about them! They actually have a model you can have custom molded to your foot, so I am thinking about trying this before diving into an Orthotic...Any of you have experience with Superfeet?

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
ankle and foot pain on 03/13/2011 15:59:58 MDT Print View

I have had issues with ankle pain on my right ankle from the start of hiking. This was a combination of not being strong enough, coupled with lack of stretching. and more stretching. Did I mention stretching? That, plus a talented massage therapist made the whole thing go away. Also, my boyfriend had such severe pain in his foot after multiple hikes that he thought he'd have to skip the hike on the Wonderland Trail we were working up to. Again, the massage therapist and proper stretching helped immensely, although in his case he did have to change boots as well.

For stretches, stretching out your calf muscles and your soleus is very important. Also lateral stretching of the ankle. If you email me, I might be able to cut and paste the images of the stretches my on-line trainer gave me that really helped.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: 2nd reply on 03/13/2011 16:06:11 MDT Print View

> He seemed like a salesman in a doctor outfit
Sad. Happens. I would trust your instincts.

> mostly my feet, but he mentioned that it causes ankle pain, knee pain, and back pain. He said
> it causes the body to be out of alignment, therefore causing pain in other joints.
Partly right, in that a problem at the foot level can go all the way up to the hips and beyond, because the rest of your body does unnatural things to relieve the problem at your foot.

I have no idea what the real source of your problem is, but have you considered that you may be wearing shoes which are too small for your? Unlikely? You might be surprised. It happens ALL the time.
Go to a good shoe store and get your feet measured with a Brannock device, for length AND width. Do this while wearing new thick wool socks.
Then buy some LIGHT low-cut shoes which are a half size longer and a size wider, and wear them for a while with those thick wool socks. For instance, if you measure 9 D, buy 9.5 E shoes.

> Superfeet
Insoles are useful, but the OTC stuff is mainly driven by marketing. Sort out shoe size first.


Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Young person experiencing foot pain+more on the trail... on 03/13/2011 17:24:04 MDT Print View

Shoe size is first, then a show that fits the foot, then the socks to match and then the insoles.

It took me a LONG time to find comfort but I did! For example I found after a bajillion shoes I wear Keen shoes and boots best (wide toe box but a normal heel area), I wear my shoes 1/2 size bigger than supposedly I should - otherwise my feet go bad fast. I only wear Injini toed socks - they stopped 99% of the inner toe blisters I used to get. I wear them daily often, my feet feel so much better (but they take getting used to of course). As for insoles I wear custom fitted ones from a running store that are heat molded. At $60-ish they work extremely well for me.

Not that these things will work for you...but with time you may find something that does.

Also...if you have had a long term issue with standing and feeling uncomfortable I would have a podiatrist or doctor look at your legs/feet and see how you walk, what your gait is - you may have a longer leg, a foot issue or bone issue that could be corrected. Look into it - it could be well worth the time and money to find the core reason you hurt!

Alex Prinzo
3rd reply on 03/13/2011 17:48:55 MDT Print View

Wow! This site rocks!

I'm used to forum sites that take days to get this many response's! I'm very glad to see how active it is here, thanks for all your input!

When I went, he did measure me for a longer leg, and examined my step. He seemed to think that everything seemed normal, but my high-arch. I also do notice a little heel pain from the walk as well now. I realized it when I woke up, and also while I was out today. I'm really thinking there might be something going on with my feet...

Right now, I am using Asolo Fugitive GTX as my hiking boots. There the only ones I got that stay dry, and some what comfortable while on the trail. I DO feel they are a bit heavy though, and what might be contributing to my ankle issue. It almost feels like my foot is too high up, and when my foot is on a narrow surface it tends to want to roll to the sides(twisting ankle motion). My father actually bought me these boots for my birthday last year, and I NEVER had them fitted to me. He just went out and bought an expensive boot without realizing how critical the fitting process is. I am curious to see what you guys use? I am willing to invest a lot of money in footwear. I'm not saying that price determines quality, but just saying that money is no option haha. I would like to buy something that could be applied to thru-hiking, and something that is going to be very durable. I like trail runners, but feel they lack the "ruggedness." Is there a durable, lighter, option to what I use now? Or should I really make the switch to "trail runner" styled footwear? Any other insole brands to look into etc?

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: 3rd reply on 03/13/2011 18:44:51 MDT Print View

I'm a fan of Garmont shoes/ boots. They make killer shoes too, but you seem like you're favoring boots.

Maybe try the Garmont Vetta Hikes. I melt while trying to compare shoe weights off of their websites (example: 12 oz for 1/2 pair size 8) Half pair? how bout 'per boot' size 8? what do 10s weigh?... anyway... sorrry

The Vetta Hikes are light enough (whatever that means) (lighter than Asolos) and are sorta mid height so you get a little ankle protection and a little more movement in the ankle region.

They do make trail runner/ shoes but I quit trail runners- too soft for me. I have XT wings and they are too small in the toebox and apparently I like a stiff sole- cause my feet will hurt after 10 miles.

Anyway- Garmont- try em.

Alex Prinzo
Thanks for suggestion on 03/13/2011 19:37:53 MDT Print View

Thanks Jeff, checking them out right now!!

The only reason I am trying to steer away from a trail runner is because of the durability. I like the "go anywhere" kind of feel boots give me lol. I was also looking at the XT's. I think I might get them for some summer day hikes when I don't want to lug around a boot. Right now, I only have funds for one or the other, and I would rather have a boot right now.

Levon Jensen
(LevonJensen) - MLife

Locale: Canadian Rockies
shoes on 03/13/2011 19:55:32 MDT Print View

ill post from the "young person" point of view haha, im 23 aswell with a super high arch - ive walked/bushwacked in everything from redwings ( custom fit leather work boots ), massive rubber boots with steel toes (great for walking in muskeg all day till you get in farther then the boot covers haha), to normal high boots, and into running shoes.

while wearing Boots, ive rolled my ankle 5-6times fairly bad, just due to weight and rocks/logs. while wearing running shoes i have never even come close, ( if i could wear them at work i would )

i recently bought a pair of mt 101s, i wear them trail running, walking my dog, snowshoeing in -30c weather, and im also working up to Longer distances, ( purchasing gear for longer trips right now ) They are my new favorite shoes, i wear them all day everyday doing everything, they are currently outside letting the mud dry from a walk today haha.

i have never had a blister since switching shoes,

If some one gave me gortex boots they would be up for sale the next day, i would never use them.

If the pain is really bad, go see a proper orthotic doctor and get your feet looked at, better to fix it now then to slowly kill your feet/knees/back.

Hopefully that helps somewhat, i had a few bad experiences in scouts carrying massive packs/boots that almost put me off backpacking, untill i got into surveying in northern BC, brought back the woods for me and taught me alot about proper footwear, and having fun outdoors.

Alex Prinzo
Thanks for suggestion on 03/13/2011 20:12:45 MDT Print View

Thanks for your insight!

It's definitely frustrating being young, and complaining of issues like this. Kind of embarrassing too because people think I'm a wimp, and I'm just complaining. "Your too young to be having issues like that, man up..." Sucks hearing that...

I'll keep looking into trail-runners for sure. I'm not one to rule anything out. Whatever works the best for me is what I want. I personally would like to find a boot, and a trail runner that work well. I mean what do you guys use if you have to hike in snow? I can't see trail runners keeping your feet warm, or keep snow from coming inside. Or do you just use boots when snow is an issue? I hear people thru hike the PCT with just running shoes, but how do they keep their feet warm during the parts with snow? I don't get it lol

Levon Jensen
(LevonJensen) - MLife

Locale: Canadian Rockies
snow on 03/13/2011 20:34:36 MDT Print View

-gortex sock,

-thick wool sock, thin plastic liner, thin wool sock,

-40 degree bootie cover for runners

2 pairs of runners are required as you need one that fits a bit bigger for the extra socks.

-i personaly use the plastic liner trick as its cheap, my feet are fine and warm as stated above i went snowshoeing the other day in -30c weather,

Medium thick wool sock up till -15c ish, around +10c ill go to a very thin sock.

There are quite a few articles on this webpage about the above, and more. possibly buying a 20dollar membership and reading should help a ton, ive learned more reading the forums and the articles then i could anywhere else.

I hate my goretex boots as at work my feet will sweat get wet ( inside the boots ) then get very cold, When i trap the sweat or dont allow it to happen my feet are alot warmer.

Jerry Bridgeman
(jerry2636) - MLife

Locale: Huntington Beach, Ca.
foot pain + on trail =Overpronation? on 03/13/2011 22:53:29 MDT Print View

I had foot pain + knee problems and what I found worked for me.

Since I can't tell what your real problem is, hopefully this will give you some ideas to look at. The main clues I see are your high arch and foot rolling. I had the same problems.

I had lots of knee pain and I could only avoid it by taking careful slow steps. I found after many-many years the knee pain was caused by my shoes.

I learned there are different shoe designs that are angled differently on the bottom.

Most shoes are designed for people who walk on the inside of their foot and I do the opposite and walk on the outside of my foot. This causes severe rolling of my feet and ankle with a normal shoe which puts stress on inside of my knees. Once I found the right angled shoe I was shocked that I was able to walk normally again. Now I am even backpacking again. Its nice when I do a long hike and my knees are not killing me.

Look at one of your old shoes and see where it is worn the most. If it is worn on the outside edge your walk is called:

"Severe Overpronation: The outside of the heel strikes the ground first and the foot rolls inward excessively which means the foot and ankle cannot properly stabilize the body. Shock is not efficiently absorbed when overpronation occurs. Additionally, due to overpronation, the big toe and second toe must do all the work at the end of the gait cycle during toe-off.

The best shoes for moderate to severe Overpronators are Stability shoes or Motion Control shoes depending on the severity of overpronation."

This website has some good info to start with. Also google it and read.

But go into a real running shoe store and try on the different shoes and find one that your foot comes down stable and doesn't roll. Everyone likes different shoes. I look at the shoes on the gear lists and rarely see the same shoe, so you need to test them.

The reason I mention this is I ordered a pair of shoes that were highly recommended for hiking and can you say instant knee pain. Only took one step and I was in pain. That is when I figured out shoes were causing the my knees to hurt.

I hate to say it but your "nice" boots are causing your problems.

For a proper fitting of a shoe, there is more then the size of the shoe. You also need to look into the angle of the shoe to fit your walking style.

Hope this helps you,

Alex Prinzo
Thanks again for your help!! on 03/13/2011 23:12:15 MDT Print View

Wow, your story really does sound a lot similar to mine!

I just remembered last year around august I was at Gander Mtn. and tried on a pair of Salomon XA 3d whatever there called haha! They were AMAZING!! I have never and I mean NEVER have felt something so comfortable around my feet. I was just thinking about buying them for a sneaker because they're cool looking, but all this talk about boots=bad make me think. I just checked out that they offer a gore-tex model, but I don't see it being to beneficial. Being that your story sounds so similar would you recommend this shoe, or have you ever tried it out? And I'm also curious to what you ended up buying to alleviate your problems.

Thanks A LOT for your input! Its comforting having someone(s) guide you into a direction rather then suffering(for a looooong time) until finding the remedy. Again, so glad I joined this site!

** I just looked at a pair of old shoes. Well, we we're wrong on the over pronating...Looks like the most wear occurs on the inside of my foot, and heels. The whole toe was basically worn out, but there was excessive wear on the ball of the foot area. I also just thought of another thing that might be helpful. I used to be "pigeon toed" as a kid. My mom used to have to correct me all the time when I would walk. I got better with it, but not perfect because friends will mention it sometimes when they are walking next to me. Could this be my problem? **

Edited by IAMALEX on 03/13/2011 23:49:28 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Thanks again for your help!! on 03/14/2011 03:21:42 MDT Print View

> .Looks like the most wear occurs on the inside of my foot, and heels. The whole toe was
> basically worn out, but there was excessive wear on the ball of the foot area.
Worn shoes around town is one thing.
Worn shoes on the trail is another.

Basically, that amount of wear is going to be bad news. Yes, light joggers are much better than boots, but we accept that they have a finite life. Better a light foot and a comfortable foot, than a lead weight and/or a leg pain.


Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Young person experiencing foot pain+more on the trail... on 03/14/2011 07:20:02 MDT Print View

Consider the point of the barefoot/minimalist footwear trend: sometimes footwear does more harm than good, and we often don't need all of that structure and support imposed on our feet.

Still, some people might benefit from more support or even orthotics.

You might want to slowly and carefully experiment with minimalist shoes like the Merrell Trail Glove. I plan to do this this year. I can do light running on concrete and asphalt barefoot, but I can barely make it a mile on a fairly easy hiking trail with rocks and roots. Less height and support in footwear definitely helps with avoiding sprained ankles.

Jerry Bridgeman
(jerry2636) - MLife

Locale: Huntington Beach, Ca.
foot pain+more on 03/14/2011 11:00:02 MDT Print View

>>I just looked at a pair of old shoes. Well, we we're wrong on the over pronating...Looks like the most wear occurs on the inside of my foot, and heels. The whole toe was basically worn out, but there was excessive wear on the ball of the foot area.<<

This is the clue you are looking for. Your shoes should wear evenly across the whole shoe or they do not fit you. Your shoes are putting loads on the outside of your ankles and knees. This is why you don't feel good about being on your feet long.

If the inside of your shoe is worn out then you need a shoe angled so there is more padding on the outside edge of our foot so the shoe will support your foot evenly. Then it will wear evenly. Basically you are currently walking on the inside edge of your shoes.

You have to go into a good running shoe shop and tell them what your problem is and find a shoe that supports your feet properly. They have 3 common styles (angles) of shoes. You most likely will never find a perfect shoe but one that works good enough.

Look for a shoe that makes flat contact with the ground with a normal stride. Your foot shouldn't roll or the shoe twist on your foot. Your foot should be relaxed when striking the ground.

Good luck,

Alex Prinzo
Final Thoughts on 03/14/2011 12:04:02 MDT Print View


Sounds like I'm going to have to ditch this boot idea no matter how hard I try to cling to it. I think I'm going to go a store that can measure my foot like you said, and figure out the best option. I'm so bummed that I can't just go outside anymore, and just go walk. I think that this pigeon toed problem is the culprit. It would explain the wear, and it would explain the pain in my ankles/knee's. I looked online and people who have this problem run into ankle pain down the line, and knee pain. So I'm thinking I might visit the doctor as well to make sure my bones aren't to blame. I'm sure it's just a mild case now that I'm older, but enough to throw me off balance.

I will let you guys know what the diagnosis is once I know! Thanks again for all your help! This site is by far the biggest tool I think anyone getting into backpacking could find...Thanks again everyone!

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Final Thoughts on 03/15/2011 21:58:16 MDT Print View

Don't worry, after years and years of blowing money on tons of shoes that don't fit, you'll find the perfect pair...

...then next year the company will discontinue the shoe. Bet me.