The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Preparing for Fall Foliage Excursions: NYC Podiatrists Present 5 Tips for Happy Hiking Feet

Posted by on Friday, August 22nd, 2014


Fall foliage hikes and camping trips are popular pastimes in New York State. This annual spectacle is not to be missed! With Columbus Day and Labor Day weekends off work, there’s no excuse to miss out on Mother Nature’s stunning array of crimson, burnt sienna, and canary leaves. Well… almost! Foot pain can really ruin an otherwise idyllic weekend if you’re not careful. The NYC podiatrists at The Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine offer tips to ensure that your feet remain in top condition during this autumn’s hike.

NYC fall foliage in Central Park
Whether you just take a stroll through Central Park or drive an hour outside of the City for more robust fall hiking, you’ll want to make sure your feet are prepared.
Image source: Flickr user Anthony Quintano

Hiking Foot Problems

We see patients for a number of conditions after a hike, including:

Achilles tendinopathy

– Ankle sprains

– Arch pain

– Blisters

Bunion pain

– Calluses

– Corns

– Fungal infections

– Heel pain

10 Tips for Happy Hiking Feet

1. Choose stable shoes. Many a foul step has been taken by hikers in tennis shoes! Even on carved out paths, a mud patch, or errant root puts stress on foot muscles and tendons — or, worse yet, leads to a more serious ankle sprain. Even cross-trainers are not built for hitting the trails. A sturdy, well-constructed pair of quality hiking boots with good insulation and moisture-proofing, as well as a supportive shank, is essential.

2. Get a good fit. Keep in mind that your feet can change size and shape over time. Also, your feet are likely to swell in size by the end of a hike. To get a good fit, you should try on shoes at the end of the day when your feet are most swollen and try them on with your hiking socks. Look for a style and size that hugs your foot, but leaves your toes free to wiggle. You want about a finger’s width between the tips of your toes and the front of the boot.

3. Wear the right socks. To prevent blisters and nasty fungal infections, opt for a layer of synthetic socks to keep the feet dry and friction-free. Layer wool socks over top to absorb moisture away from the skin, add cushioning, and keep your feet comfortable. On your hike, bring at least one extra pair of socks with you and change them out if your feet start to feel damp. Sprinkling a little powder into your boots doesn’t hurt either. Don’t forget to trim your toenails before you go — not just to protect your new socks from getting snagged, but to protect yourself from damage that could lead to soft tissue injury and ingrown nails, too!

4. Start off easy. Ideally, you will work on progressively increasing your walking distance at home before your hiking weekend. As with any part of the body, your feet need to be gradually conditioned. Just as you wouldn’t try to make a marathon your first race, you don’t want to go charging up a steep mountain slope after a relatively cushy summer attending backyard barbecues in sandal feet. That’s how muscle fatigue leads to injury.

5. Address hot spots right away. Pain is not normal! If you start to feel your foot rubbing or aching in a particular area, stop and do a little preventative First Aid maintenance. Apply moleskin, medical tape, or gel pads to the areas that hurt. Slathering on blister cream before slipping into your socks can help reduce friction too. If you know you’ve got weak ankles, consider hiking with a compression wrap for added support.

Visit a NYC Podiatrist to Prep Your Feet for the Trip

A NY podiatrist can help you:

– Find the best boot style and size if you need added assistance.

– Identify any biomechanical or gait abnormalities that are likely to cause pain.

– Treat any blisters, cuts, calluses, corns, or fungal infections before you go.

– Take care of any nagging aches and pains in the balls of your feet, arches, or heels.

– Learn about foot care products that can help you take better care of your feet.

Book your appointment in Manhattan or Westchester NY before your trip!



If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.