The Footfriend guide to buying walking boots

The Footfriend guide to buying walking boots

Whether you’re buying for the first time, or you’re ready to replace your old “trusties” as they just can’t do one more year and you are panicking as buying new walking boots can be such a problem to get right can’t it?

At Footfriend we get asked all the time on what to do or what to look for when buying walking boots. Here are our top tips which should give you confidence and hopefully avoid most problems to get you trouble free walking boots which will soon become your “new” friends.

1. Never buy your boots online!

You really need to examine the boots and try on several pairs to be certain they are the right ones for you. Even if you are replacing your boots with the same brand and size they may not be identical to your original pair as manufacturers often make slight alterations from year to year which may or may not suit your feet. It is only through trying them on that you will know if they still suit your feet.

2. Mid afternoon is the best time to buy walking boots!

Our feet gradually increase slightly in size during the day due to the effects of gravity increasing fluid pooling in our feet and ankles. So boots bought in the morning can be too tight by late afternoon!

3. Wear walking socks when trying on your boots.

If you try your new boots on with thin socks or tights then when you go to wear them and are wearing thick walking socks they will be too tight.

4. Don’t be brand conscious.

All brands build their boots on different lasts. Some will be wider than others, others will be shallower or deeper than others. Different brands will suit some feet better than others so try on several brands to compare.

5. Make sure you buy the right size.

Not as simple as it sounds! A large percentage of people buy walking boots that are too short for them. They may be the same size as your street shoes and feel great in the shop but the trouble will start when you are walking downhill! When we walk downhill our feet slide slightly forward in our boots. If there is no extra room for this your toenails will bang on the front of your boots and you will get painful blood blisters under your toenails.  This is a totally avoidable injury! A technique I teach people to avoid it is to remove the insole from the boot and stand on it. You should see minimum 1cm (approx. 1 finger width) extra length of insole beyond your longest toe. This could be your big toe or your second toe!

6. Make sure the insole is removable.

This gives you the flexibility of replacing your insole with an extra cushioning one if needed. People who need orthotics also need this.

7. Look for a boot with a very stiff sole.

Walking boots need stiff soles as you will be walking on a variety of terrains not just pavements! You will need to walk occasionally over very sharp rocks which very quickly can split or puncture a soft sole and injure your feet. Typically a “vibram” sole or something very similar is what you should look for.

8. Select the right type of boot for the terrain you will walk most.

There are two main types of walking boot. A solid leather construction type boot is heavier but ideal for very hard, uneven and particularly stony ground. These will protect your feet the best and offer ankle support. The more fabric based boots are lighter and perfect for gentler walking. They have stiff soles to protect your feet but there is a little bit less ankle support. A different benefit of these boots is that they are often lined with “gortex” or similar fabrics which are waterproof so are great especially over wet grassland.

9. Make sure they are 100% comfortable in the shop.

You can be 100% certain if they don’t feel right when trying them on in the shop then they will give you trouble when trying to enjoy you walk!

Hopefully, if you follow these tips, buying walking boots won’t be such a daunting prospect and you are more likely to get it right. If you like these tips and know someone who will benefit from this advice – please share it!

The importance of skincare for your feet – yes men, you too!

The importance of skincare for your feet – yes men, you too!

Summer is coming! This is the time of year when our skin is likely to be at its driest, and is on display for all to see! Skincare is important and easily addressed. Read on for our top tips on keeping the skin on your feet in top condition.

Skin is the largest organ of the human body, it covers the entire body, holding everything together, and provides a protective layer from the external environment. In particular, it protects us from all sorts of microbes and infections. But it can only do this if it’s integrity is intact, meaning there are no breaks, cuts, scratches or cracks etc. For most parts of the body, minor breaches of this integrity carry a low risk. Rarely do we get an infection from a cut finger (if looked after properly!)

Feet are different! When there are cracks in the soles of our feet, combined with the mechanical pressure of walking, microbes can be driven into our skin from any surface we walk on, resulting in viral, bacterial and fungal infections. Some of these can be difficult to eradicate.

Dryness is the biggest cause of a breach in our skins integrity! When skin is dry it doesn’t have the protective oily layer  which provides a barrier against microbial entry to our skin. Dryness of our skin also leads to a loss of stretch and flexibility necessary around moving structures especially on our feet. If our skin can’t stretch or flex it may crack when under mechanical pressure such as walking. These cracks are often around the heels. They are usually small and unnoticed until it is too late.

Dry skin is less of an issue when we are younger, but as we age, all of us will experience drier skin and our ability to fight infections will reduce. With a little care and attention to the skincare of your feet you can reduce the risk of infection, reduce pain from cracks / fissures and improve the comfort and appearance of your feet.

Footfriend’s top tips for the skincare of your feet.

Don’t wash your feet with soaps or shower gels on a regular basis. Soaps and shower gels act as detergents and will remove the protective oily layer on your skin. All that is needed is a rub down with a flannel at the end of your bath or shower. Don’t worry they won’t smell! If you have filthy feet from being barefoot, then the occasional use of soap or shower gel won’t hurt.

  1. Wear socks or hosiery when possible. Bare skin does tend to dry out faster especially on feet.
  2. Use a “foot specific moisturiser”. The skin on your feet will be the driest on your body so you need a moisturiser capable of dealing with this. A body skin or face moisturiser won’t do! We feel that 10% urea based creams as standard or 20% urea based creams for particularly dry skin with cracked heels is the best for feet. In particular the “CCS Foot Care Cream” and “CCS Heel balm” are a favourite with our patients. It is a formulation that feels and smells nice on, is non greasy and most important is hypoallergenic which means anyone can use it, even people with diabetes. It is also available in most major pharmacies, nationwide, so is easy to obtain.
  3. Little and often! It’s no good using a moisturizer once a week – it needs to be done daily. Typically a small pea sized amount will spread all over one foot top and bottom. (Don’t do between your toes – if it gets too moist there you can get a fungal infection). Remember, whatever cream you use, immediately after applying it there will be a film of this cream on your skin surface so either cream your feet as you get dressed and put some socks on immediately so you don’t leave residue on your carpets or perhaps just as you get into bed at night would be another good time.
  4. For the best results if you have deep cracks and calloused skin as in the image above you may need to visit a podiatrist for some professional help until your skin is in a better state.
  5. Remember if you are moisturising your feet – you are moisturising your hands also! So there is no need for a hand cream – just get a foot cream!

What next?

If you are still unsure about your skincare needs and want further advice or need some professional help to start you off, please make an appointment at your earliest convenience.