Going on a cold-weather hike is a simple pleasure. Spending time outdoors is good for your physical and mental health. If you suffer from seasonal affective disorder or the winter doldrums, getting outside for fresh air and exercise will work wonders for your body and spirit. However, a cold-weather hike could cause some trouble for your feet. Read on to learn about five ways you can care for your feet after returning from a long hike in cold weather.
1. Inspect Your Feet
After you finish a cold-weather hike, take off your shoes or boots and socks. Take a close look at your feet. Examine the tops and bottoms, each toe and the areas between the toes. Look for signs of frostbite, which include redness, numbness and tingling. Inspect your heels, the balls of your feet and your toes for blisters or calluses. If you can’t see or reach your feet, ask a loved one to check them for you.
2. Address Any Injuries
Address any injuries to your feet as soon as possible after a hike. Even a small cut could quickly wreak havoc by way of an infection. Keep a first aid kit in your vehicle and in your home. Even if an injury doesn’t cause you any pain, it’s still important to take care of it. Minor issues, such as a small blister, can usually be treated at home. If you’re diabetic, have a circulatory disorder or have a large blister or wound on your feet after hiking, it’s best to seek medical care for your injury.
3. Let Your Feet Dry
Tight-fitting socks and shoes may make your feet sweat on a long hike. Wet feet are more prone to fungal infections and other skin problems. As soon as you’re in a warmer indoor environment, let your feet air out. If possible, wash your feet with warm, soapy water to remove dirt and sweat. Dry your feet thoroughly, including the areas between your toes. Allow your feet to air dry for a while before putting on a clean pair of socks.
4. Wear the Right Socks
Wool socks are a wise choice for long cold-weather hikes. They’re breathable, wick away moisture and insulate your body heat. However, they might be too warm once you’re indoors. After hiking, give your feet a rest. A clean pair of soft cotton socks allows your feet to breathe. If you have swollen feet or ankles, compression socks may be a good choice.
5. Check for Wear on Your Shoes or Boots
Just like you need to check your feet for injuries after a long hike, it’s also important to check your shoes or boots for damage. Worn footwear will lead to future foot pain and problems. Check your shoes or boots after each hike. If the insole is worn or frayed, replace it. If the outsole is getting bald like a tire, it’s time for a new pair of shoes.