It’s fantastic to see so many people accomplish an amazing achievement by completing the OXFAM Trailwalker event. Unfortunately, not everyone who starts is able to finish. Every year large numbers of people are forced to pull out due to injuries, illness, fatigue or severe blistering.
Sadly I’ve seen this first-hand working on course as a Podiatry volunteer. Whilst we as Podiatrist’s and Podiatry students, do everything we can to keep participants going, there is only so much we can do to reduce the pain associated with severe blisters.
The good news is that whilst some people are more prone to blisters than others, there is a range of preventative measures competitors can take to reduce the risk of blisters during the event. With only 16 days left until the Oxfam Trailwalker Melbourne 2017 – it’s an important time to check you are ready for the event.
… just promise me one thing – that you’ve worn in multiple pairs of shoes in preparation for the Trailwalker and you’re not wearing a brand new pair on the day!
Blisters are a small pocket of fluid that develops under the top layers of skin and can range from mild to severe. There are many potential causes of blisters including regular friction from shoes, excessive heat, bacterial or fungal infections, allergic reactions to detergents or materials and in some cases due to other medical conditions. Blisters develop more easily when the skin is damp or has reduced integrity, for example from sweating or exercising in wet conditions. Blisters, as some of you will already know, can be quite painful and prohibit walking. Therefore it is important that Oxfam Trailwalker event participants take some simple precautions, learned during training, to avoid blistering.
What foot problems to look out for when Training for Oxfam Trailwalker
By now, you and your team have completed an extensive Oxfam Trailwalker training plan that has involved many long distance bush walks. It’s important that your team have practiced on un-even bush terrain and not just flat surfaces, as the impact on shoes and feet is quite different. During training you should be taking notice of how the soles of your shoes are wearing and how comfortable your feet are inside:
- Do your feet constantly move around in the shoe?
- Do you notice ‘hot spots’?
- Are your toenails starting to dig into the skin or become bruised?
- Do your feet swell badly during a training session?
- Do you get blisters regularly developing in the same spots?
- Do you have large areas of callus or hard skin?
All these signs are indications that something is not right and you are at increased risk of developing issues during the event. If you are noticing ‘hot spots’ or blisters on your training walks you need to urgently make changes. This could be as simple as wearing a different pair of socks, changing your shoes or taping your feet in a certain way to help prevent blistering.
If you are unable to determine what the cause of your blistering is, you may need to visit a Podiatrist to diagnose your symptoms. Podiatrists specialise in foot and lower limb injuries and frequently provide treatment to patients with blistering. If you don’t have any problems with blisters or injuries during training, then just please promise me one thing – that you have worn in multiple pairs of shoes in preparation for the Trailwalker and you’re not wearing a brand new pair on the day! The number of people I’ve seen wearing brand new shoes and wonder why they have massive blisters is frightening.
Other Physical Problems to avoid during Oxfam Trailwalker Melbourne 2017
Your training should have also highlighted to you any other physical problems that you may experience during walking. These could include:
- tight back muscles
- weak/tight hamstrings
- pain or aching in the arches of the feet
- stiff and tight calf muscles
- heel pain
- aching joints in the feet, ankles, knees, hips and lower back
The long-distances of the walk can exacerbate the smallest niggling injury, so it’s important that you seek treatment. Hopefully, by now, you have had your injuries addressed by the relevant health care professional. If these issues are not tackled prior to starting the Oxfam Trailwalker Melbourne 2017, the impacts can be devastating over 100km’s! So often I hear from competitors during the event say, how they have had back pain each time they have trained – but haven’t thought to go to a Physio to get it checked out! Health practitioners can not only treat your current issues but also give you tips and tricks to help you get through the event comfortably.
This year our head Oxfam Podiatrist, Anna Beetham, has suggested that teams supply their own bandages and tape to ensure adequate supply. Whilst large amounts of dressings, tapes etc are kindly donated to the event we suggest it is best if you can bring your own along to avoid disappointment if our supplies run out. That way we can still treat your feet in the best possible way to keep you out on the track.
Hopefully, this article has made you aware of the potential for blisters to ruin your Oxfam Trailwalker Melbourne 2017 event. We love seeing smiling faces at the finish line, not disappointed people who are unable to finish with the rest of their team. Just remember there are plenty of preventative measures you can take to ensure your feet are okay. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to give me a call on (03) 9939 3339.