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Hard edges of heels
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Andrew DiMicelli
Hard edges of heels on 01/18/2013 14:11:27 MST Print View

Hi, I am in Patagonia right now and just came back from a 2 day trek and am going to Torres del Paine and Fitz Roy afterword. I am using La Sportiva wildcat´s and Darn tough 1/4 cushion socks.

The outer edges of my heels is hard and a little rough on both feet. They start to bother me (kind of like a burning sensation ) after a couple hours, especially when i step with a lot of weight on my heels. I don´t know if they´re rubbing my shoe or what, but after two days I finally started to develop some sort of blister (it´s really small and kinda hard, looks like a little bubble). It definetly got much worse on the second day and I´m worried about how this would develop on the 10 days of TDP or other longer treks. I also put on Bodyglide liquified powder on night. Does anyone have any ideas about what this or how to deal with it?


Andrew DiMicelli
Hard forefeet and ingrown toenails on 01/18/2013 14:17:49 MST Print View

I´m actually going to just throw all my foot problems in this thread..

I have a similar problem, though not as bad on the outer edge of the balls of my feet and of my big toes.

I also have ingrown toenails developing on the inner part of each big toe. I just went to the foot doctor (forget name?) and he cut them pretty far but they´ll come back soon. I have an ingrown nail clipper that I´ll try to use before my treks. But even with them cut pretty far back, when my toes were really macerated the other day, it felt like my nails were going right through the soft skin with each step. How have you guys dealt with ingrown toenails before?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Hard edges of heels on 01/18/2013 15:37:04 MST Print View

Hi Andrew

OK, I will offer some guesses - but I emphasise they are guesses from a long way away.


I know exactly what you mean about the hard skin around the edges, and even the tiny blisters. But what causes it - that's a little harder. The 'burning' sensation however is very good clue: it means there is far too much friction inside your skin, usually between the hard surface layer and the very live tissure underneath that. Your skin is howling in protest.

I suspect that the footbeds in your shoes have a sort of heel cup arrangement? This is sometimes done to TRY to control the sideways movement of your heel. It's a new invention, and there is no reason to think it's a good one. In fact, there's a lot of reason to think it is bad if the bumps are much more than tiny. For the last few hundred years footbeds were always flat, and one did not have this problem.

If the footbed has edges sticking up, and if your heel problem is serious, I would take a razor blade and trim off all the bits of the footbed which are sticking up. Make the top surface dead flat. What I can say with some confidence is that a flat footbed is never a problem.

Outer edge of the balls of my feet and of my big toes

Same story. But whether you could have ridges at the edges of the footbed here is debatable. If so, flatten them. If not then I suspect that your shoes are a bit too narrow for your feet. The skin at the edges is being squashed up and rubbed. This is very common! You need wider shoes.

Few shop assistants would suggest you buy a shoe which is too 'small'. But precious few of them ever stop to see whether the shoes they are holding (selling) are too narrow for you. Many do not even know about foot width. Sure, XYZ shoes fitted Joe just wonderfully, but that does NOT mean they will fit YOU.
Measure your feet for size AND width (with socks on) on a Brannock Device and never EVER buy shoes smaller than that width! We usually go up a size (length) and stay above the measured width. We have zero foot problems.

Ingrown toenails developing on the inner part of each big toe

Same story yet again. WHY are they growing that way? Because the big toe is spendng the whole day jammed into the next toe, so the nail has nowhere else to grow. Poor foot!

Buy some shoes which have a flat footbed and are really wide enough!
Buy some loose sandals and let your feet recover for a few weeks.


Andrew DiMicelli
Feet suck.. on 01/19/2013 04:44:39 MST Print View

Hey Roger, thanks for the insightful information!

Yes, you are correct, the edges of the heel curve up quite a lot. If I cut it all the way flat it seems like there would be so much material missing that the insole wouldn't fit the shoe properly. Im not sure how serious it is but my feet are verybsensitive and have two blisters on my heels afrer only two days hiking, im sure it would get much worse on my longer treks. Im actually starting my next one in 2 days. Should I do it anyway?

About the little blister bubble thing on my heel, should i pop it or will it go away within the days before my next trek?

I think the problem with the nails started a few months ago. I think the wildcats I'm using now have enough room, I sizes up quite a bit to leave more room. Now it seems like they're already ingrown and I can't do much about it. I was only home for 3 weeks and all the doc could do was cut them

The problem with the last part of your post is that I don't have any time to let my fee recover. I'm in Patagonia right now and am doing several treks with only a few days in between. I do have sandals so ill try to wear them a lot but I don't know if buying new shoes is a good idea. I had already compared about 30 pairs before choosing the wildcats


Edited by adimi24 on 01/19/2013 04:47:56 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Feet suck.. on 01/19/2013 17:11:44 MST Print View

Hi Andrew

> Should I do it anyway?
Well, I would in a flash.

> little blister bubble thing on my heel
If you remove the irritation, that sort of blister may just go away.

> I had already compared about 30 pairs
Trouble is, if you do have wide feet, those 30 may easily all have been too narrow. This can happen easily.
I need a 4E width for my feet. There are not many brands which offer 4E. I could go through nearly every popular brand on the market and still not find something suitable. Many 'popular' brands only make one width (usually D), and that only suits some people.

For now, I would suggest making the footbed really flat at the edges. Don't make the area under the ball of the foot any thinner: keep that flat too. And swap into the sandals if necessary for part of the day - making sure they have a flat footbed too.

But caution: I have seen sandals which had this horribly shaped surface which was extremely unconfortable, and I have seen sandals which were far too narrow for the owner's toes. She cut off the strap around the little toe region and they changed from agony to comfort. The photos she had of her feet were ... distressing!


Andrew DiMicelli
Mods on 01/19/2013 17:37:01 MST Print View

Okay, I'll cut the beds.

My sandals are completely flat and its an adjustable band over the top, not the thing between the toes. These are also my camp shoes

Last question. Since I am leaving for tdp in one day and won't have any time to make sure that the flatter foot bed has fixed the problem. If it doesn't and I'm in the middle of a 10 day trek, what else could I do on the trail to help?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Mods on 01/20/2013 03:29:44 MST Print View

Hi Andrew

Take sandals
Walk barefoot
Learn to fly

Sorry - gallows humour.

Good luck!

PS: update on return?

Maris L
(Ablaut) - M
/- on 01/20/2013 12:36:51 MST Print View


Edited by Ablaut on 01/23/2013 13:49:07 MST.

Andrew DiMicelli
I´m a little girl on 01/21/2013 04:43:39 MST Print View

Well, I´m leaving tomorrow for the trek. I will cut the footbed but not much else I can do here in Chile..

I´ll update when I get back. Thanks for the help!

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Foot problems on 01/21/2013 08:04:35 MST Print View

I ended up getting a horrible heal blister on my thru hike even though my feet were very used to high mile days. The insole had little ridges sticking up, caused by the insole being slightly larger than the shoe. I cut the little ridge out and problem went away. I assume you have run your finger over the area to seeif you have an issue like this.

Another problem that I had was small hard spot showing up on the outside of my foot just behind my little toe. It was almost like very thick callous but the thickness was enough that it really hurt. I found a solution to this problem. When I start seeing this happen I shave my foot. Removing a few layers of the callous eliminates the pain. Not sure if this is the same as your problem but it could be a potential solution.

Good luck.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
Ped-egg on 01/21/2013 18:15:49 MST Print View

This has also happened to me before, and it really becomes apparent once I start hiking fairly consistently. While, it's not going to help you much now since you're already heading back, I've found that using a ped-egg between hikes really helps smooth out all the hard calloused skin that leads to painful friction. Check em out if you haven't heard of it:

It's like a cheese grater for might want to ignore the gimmicky infomercial that plays once you click the site.

Edited by Konrad1013 on 01/21/2013 18:17:56 MST.

RA Amundsen
Shave on 01/22/2013 02:26:56 MST Print View

For the hard edges, I've usually shaved the hard skin with a knife. Roger's advice on shaving the insole makes a lot more sense.

Phillip Asby
(PGAsby) - M

Locale: North Carolina
Re: Ped-egg on 01/30/2013 08:34:24 MST Print View

+1 on the ped egg

I have hard callouses and have had the hard callous split exposing the very sensitive skin beneath, bleeding, risk of infection and every step moves those hard edges quite painfully. It is zero fun.

The ped egg used regularly will definitely help keep these in control and limit friction with the outer shoe and limit the movement with the skin underneath.

also - Gold Bond foot lotion helps a tremendous amount by softening up the skin and keeping it flexible.

Andrew DiMicelli
Heels on 02/03/2013 12:48:29 MST Print View

Hey guys thanks for the responses.

I've done a two day hike, 4 day, and a 3 day. My heels generally feel okay for a day or two but then they get very irritated. I cut the insole down quite a lot around my heel, but in irder to get it flat I've cut so much that now there is a little gap between the insole and the shoe which I think might be still affecting my heel.

I wear my flip flops whenever not hiking but my heels are not getting any better. I will be in South America for a few mor months so I can't get one of those eggs but should I try to shave my heels with a nail file?

I don't know that they have down here but maybe I can find some kind of foot lotion to try to loosen the skin up

I'm also going to try to find some sort of wide running shoe with a flat insole to wear when not hiking and for work ( I'm starting work on a farm tomorrow and don't want to wear my wildcats)