Pain in the foot

1:35 p.m. on April 7, 2009 (EDT)
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7 forum posts

Went on my first backpack trip this past weekend. Could not have had a better weekend here in North Carolina. All went well except a pain in my foot that I have felt before on hikes. It feels as though my arch is trying to bend the opposite way it was intended too. This has hapened with shoes (Merrell) as well as boots (Montrail). Will a pair of insoles fix this? I have worn my shoes for at least two years and you can tell the foot bed does not have full contact with my arch. I would like some opinions before I go out and start trying insoles that may or may not fix the problem.

1:42 p.m. on April 7, 2009 (EDT)
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Insoles helped me when I worked as a medic and was on my feet all day. Make sure you can try them before you buy to make sure they'll work for you.

2:30 p.m. on April 7, 2009 (EDT)
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352 forum posts

There's a series of tests you can do at home to see if you have high arches (that's my problem). Basically, wet your feet and stand on a piece of paper. The imprint will give you an idea about your arches, check it out on the internet.

I started feeling some pain during a thru-hike after a looong day that turned into swelling and eventually a stress fracture. It's not a fun way to end a hike! It was the sum of a tight ilio-tibial band and calves, mixed with a falling arch that caused the fracture.

I'm happy to say that regular stretching and a custom footbed made by a specialist solved the problem. Well worth the 300$CAN if you ask me!

5:08 p.m. on April 7, 2009 (EDT)
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I have used Superfeet in boots and find the one I have (they have several models) works pretty good. My problem is flat feet, so a boot with a high arch hurts my feet.

Like Franc says, custom orthotics can help, but some "off the shelf" ones might work as well, depending on the shape of your foot.

I saw a machine in a shoe store a while back that does a scan of your foot, then I think the company has various orthotics shaped to whatever the scan is. Probably close for most people and not as costly as true custom orthotics.

7:19 a.m. on April 8, 2009 (EDT)
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Thank you for your replys. I printed out some information on the wet test as sugested. I will determine what type of feet I have and go from there. Franc, I do not do enough stretching which is something I will work on.

11:11 a.m. on April 8, 2009 (EDT)
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119 forum posts

Outashape, I think you're on the right track. I will also put in a good word for superfeet insoles. They have a couple varieties categorized by color - I went with the green. While they won't fix everyone's issues, they have dramatically improved my foot comfort over the past month. They felt a little awkward at first but once my feet got acclimated with them I was sold.

4:53 p.m. on April 9, 2009 (EDT)
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I developed plantar fasciitis in summer 2007. I was carrying a 75 lb pack in tennis shoes. Always wear good boots. An orthopedic surgeon told me to stretch the achilles 5 times per day for 2 minutes each time. It finally seems to be going away after a year of stretching. I also began using superfeet(green) and that helped also. Make sure you stretch everyday. Foot problems really put a damper on packing.

5:24 p.m. on April 9, 2009 (EDT)
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440 forum posts

Sounds perhaps like some plantar fasciitis, possibly caused, in part, by what may be unaccustomed over-stretching of the same in a shoe/boot that might not have enough support for an arch that could be considered "high", whilst traversing uneven terrain.

Arch-supportive inserts might help. One might also consider strengthening and stretching exercises of the foot and calf, esp. after the current pain subsides.

For the most definitive advice and treatment, seek the attention of a suitable professional, such as a podiatrist or orthopedic foot specialist.

8:27 p.m. on April 11, 2009 (EDT)
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33 forum posts

I have flat feet and while I don't have any pain while hiking or backpacking, I do
get plantar fasciitis when cross country skiing / snowcamping. Having flat feet while having the additonal weight of forty plus pounds of a backpack will stress your feet. While I have arch supports the best solution I have found was using the old football 'walking tape job'! It is a wrap of adhesive tape that goes from about three to four inches above the ankle all the way down to the ball of your toes. Emphasist is on keeping the arches up and foot in the correct posture.

11:25 p.m. on April 11, 2009 (EDT)
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You should definitely consider visiting a podiatrist to see if you need orthotics. These sorts of things are not always just "flat feet" but can be any of a number of factors. For example, some people have ankle joints that are several degrees off from the "ideal" for proper leg alignment. This problem can contribute to pronation problems and numerous other issues that get chalked off as "flat feet." As the years go by, this problem will not only slowly damage your feet and ankles, but your knees too. Visiting a podiatrist should nail down exactly what's going on.

FYI, podiatrists seem to use at least two basic methods to fit people for custom shoe inserts (which are hugely better and more durable than generic inserts sold at stores): One method is to wrap your foot in plaster-dipped strips of material, which is used to create a form which is in turn used to create a shoe insert. The other method is to have you step onto a special foam block, leaving an impression which is then used to create a shoe insert. The foam block method appears to be the newer of the two technologies, but I haven't yet nailed down whether one method is actually better than the other.


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