Hiking is a fantastic hobby, particularly in a place like Colorado. The nearby parks and many, many trails are beautiful and fun to explore. The stunning vistas and strenuous workout are both worth the effort. Still, heel pain on the trail can really stop you in your tracks. It’s painful and usually gets worse the longer you continue on. So what can you do? The best thing, of course, is to work to eliminate and prevent heel pain altogether.
If you’re already suffering from heel pain, the most important treatment—whether you like it or not—is to rest. Don’t tackle strenuous trails. Don’t go for long hikes. Stick to low-impact activities and ice your heel when you can to alleviate swelling and inflammation. Stretch your feet and lower legs regularly. Strengthening exercises may be beneficial as well. Wear supportive footwear, too, to reduce daily strain on the back of your foot.
If you don’t currently have heel pain but worry about it, or know you’re at risk for it, now is the time to take steps so it doesn’t ruin your hikes. Here are a few things you can do for your lower limbs to prevent painful heels on the trail:
- Get the best hiking boots – Have someone who really knows how to fit boots help you find a pair that appropriately supports your feet and cups your heels.
- Cut your weight – The heavier you are, the more pressure is on your heels, so do what you can to reduce weight safely. For some people, cutting weight means reducing body fat, while for others it means carrying smaller hiking packs.
- Stretch and exercise – Stretch your feet and leg muscles daily. This reduces strain from tight tissues and strengthens support muscles to better absorb pressure.