Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » Developing foot problems - take care with your footwear


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Ryan Mills
(erkenbrand) - M

Locale: Living in the city near the airport
Developing foot problems - take care with your footwear on 06/25/2013 21:30:07 MDT Print View

So, about 6 months ago I woke up with some odd pain in my right foot. Felt like it was asleep, and began tingling which quickly became incredibly painful. Thereafter, depending on how I walked certain toes would flare up in agony, or be OK. You should have seen the drunken sailor's rolling gate I developed. This continued for days, only abating slightly over two weeks.

I finally broke down and saw my doctor. She had no idea, but thought there could be some nerve damage. That sent me on to the neurologist who poked, prodded and shocked me. And he found nothing. His comment was . . . it's your shoes.

Apparently, he had a resident who'd hiked Kilimanjaro and come back without any feeling in the first two toes of each foot. After going to new shoes the problem eventually disappeared.

In my case I'd been wearing a new pair of Oboz for a couple of weeks when the problem started. Taking the doctor's advice, I switched to some New Balance, traditionally my favorite brand. The pain lessened over the next week, but didn't vanish. So, I then hopped into some Merrell's. Again, a little improvement.

It's now been 4 months since I started going through shoes. Although my foot is greatly improved, I still have occasional flareups, and it's permanently bordering on that 'asleep tingling' feeling. None as acute as in the first week. Much to my UltraLight loving dismay, I've found that the best trail footwear for me now is the classic mid cut hiking boot. As a matter of fact, that's the best daily footwear as well.

The moral of the story . . . be very careful about your footwear. Even if it seems to fit right, take care to be sure. My doctor is pretty sure I may be on the 'permanent' problem list now.

But I'm still getting out. ;-)

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Developing foot problems - take care with your footwear on 06/25/2013 21:38:15 MDT Print View

"...and it's permanently bordering on that 'asleep tingling' feeling."


Your entire foot, or a particular part?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Developing foot problems - take care with your footwear on 06/25/2013 21:46:19 MDT Print View

Lots of hikers get their boots laced up improperly, and the longest toes are allowed to slam up into the toe of the boot, and this produces either pain or numbness.

For the hiker on Kilimanjaro, this same thing can happen, and it might be even worse due to the steepness of the descent. It might be further worsened by cold temperatures on the summit. Again, this can produce either pain or numbness.

Related to the altitude of Kilimanjaro, lots of hikers use the drug Diamox to help prevent altitude illness. One standard side effect of Diamox is numbness and tingling in the extremities. That is complicated by the cold, and it is hard to sort out what causes what symptoms. After one big climb when I took Diamox, I didn't get all of the normal feeling back in my toes for a couple of weeks.

Kilimanjaro may not be relevant to you, but only to the hiker there.

--B.G.--

Ryan Mills
(erkenbrand) - M

Locale: Living in the city near the airport
re: foot problems on 06/25/2013 21:51:09 MDT Print View

It's mainly a problem with the forward, right third of my foot. At first, all of my toes were a mess, but now it primarily manifests in the outside three. But when wearing the boots is almost gone.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: re: foot problems on 06/26/2013 06:10:50 MDT Print View

When you take you shoe off it felt/feels like you are standing on a pencil or maybe a wadded up sock?

Charles G.
(Rincon) - M

Locale: Desert Southwest
Developing foot problems - take care with your footwear on 06/26/2013 07:33:19 MDT Print View

You might want to consider Morton's neuroma as a cause of the pain. This, in my experience, is pain centered on the second toe and involving the ball of the foot. One thing that helped me was looser lacing of the shoe, or boot, in the forefoot area. Having the laces too tight compresses the foot around a nerve bundle resulting in potentially exquisite pain.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Developing foot problems - take care with your footwear on 06/26/2013 09:24:02 MDT Print View

"You might want to consider Morton's neuroma as a cause of the pain."

Yep. But wouldn't you think that a Doc could figure that out?
Blows my mind how often they don't.

Or they do, but don't know what to do except cortisone injections (NOT!)

Nothing like a "loose shoe treatment" to see what happens.

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - M

Locale: Western Washington
numb toes may be muscular on 06/26/2013 12:56:45 MDT Print View

My boyfriend had exactly this thing happen to him--his doctor said "oh, its just the nerve dying" and the podiatrist said he had metatarsitis, and wanted to put an orthotic in his shoe. However, before he took that step, my boyfriend had a massage with a really good massage therapist. She said that the muscles all down that side, from calf to thigh to torso, were really, really tight. 2 sessions and he was fixed--we had thought he might have to quit hiking. Changing boots was essential as well, but the problem didn't completely correct until the muscles got sorted out.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: numb toes may be muscular on 06/26/2013 13:40:44 MDT Print View

"...a really good massage therapist"

Sometimes hard to find, but worth the effort.

I was told by two ortho guys I needed knee surgery... the only trick they knew...

A PT took one look, said "Hum, no medialus". We fixed that and life was good.

Anymore, a PT is the First place I go when things seem broke.

Edited by greg23 on 06/26/2013 13:41:20 MDT.

Christopher Chupka
(FatTexan)

Locale: NTX
Basic Training on 06/26/2013 14:28:08 MDT Print View

Quite a few of us suffered the "numb toe syndrome" in basic training. Went from comfy running shoes to all leather black speed lace boots. I bet it was 6 months after basic before my toes were normal. When I got to my unit I wore nothing but my comfy jungle boots as was the fashion at the time.

I would think the change of footwear suggestion would be a good place to start.

Ryan Mills
(erkenbrand) - M

Locale: Living in the city near the airport
Thanks! on 06/27/2013 08:46:48 MDT Print View

Thanks for all of the suggestions. I'll talk with my doctor on my next visit.

The foot compression might be part of the problem. The hiking boots I'm now using have a lot more room, and don't compress my feet at all whereas all of my shoes due to varying degrees.

There's nothing like an excuse to get a massage. Time to find somebody and get that scheduled. :)

Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - M

Locale: norcal
happened to me too. on 06/27/2013 17:03:59 MDT Print View

Yeah. This happened to me too.

I was hiking in Yellowstone for two weeks. When I came back about a week later I lost the feeling in my two front toes.

Doc said it just happens and science isn't exactly sure WHY it happens but that it's not long term.

I got my feeling back in my toes in about six months.

The issue was that my shoes were TOO TIGHT. Now I give my feet a bit of breathing room...