I’m often asked why I Boot Up to walk easily accessible sidewalks, parkway and greenway paved trail systems. My reasoning is basically 5-fold.
1) I often walk through narrow dirt trail systems in publically owned wooded areas with overgrown brush and weeds within Tigard, OR City boundaries. You can find these remote trail systems within and around Dirksen Nature Park, Bull Mountain Park, and Cook, Cache and Sunrise Parks and sections of Genesis loop. Also Fields and Brown property behind the Tigard Library running parallel with the train tracks. To include other unimproved land areas not well known to the general public.
2) If you love trail walking or work within rural and forested environments, or like to hike, camp, hunt over the weekends protective all-weather clothing, backpack and supportive footwear in my opinion is the best attire to wear during daily walking exercise to keep the feet and body conditioned to participate in any of those activities year around.
3) Boots are more resistive to walk in than tennis shoes and require daily use to keep feet conditioned to wear them comfortably for any occasion. They also provide a superior level of protection from puncture, abrasions or blunt force that may occur on uneven and unstable outback surface conditions.
4) Regardless of foot wear choice and activity, an improperly fitted boot like any shoe can cause hotspots and blisters; to include lift toenails ever so slightly which allows fungus to enter under them. Toenail fungus is the cause of yellowish, thickened and cracked nail and painful conditions. To learn more about proper fitting foot ware, foot care and toenail fungus connection and treatment – Read: Clear up Yellowed, Thickened and Cracked Toenails Visit: Article short link: https://wp.me/p8mORL-uu
5) If you have ankle supination problems [where the foot strikes the outer back edge of heal first with unstable force], a properly fitted boot with 6″ ankle height support will likely keep the foot from buckling inward and may prevent strain or sprain of the outer ankle joint.
My go-to walking gear consists of ankle high tactical boots with insole inserts for additional padding and arch support. I also wear lightweight protective long-sleeved and tactical flex-pant clothing, hat and often Don a backpack with 3 liters [~6.6lbs] of water. Additional gear consists of a flashlight, jerky or power bar, rain proof wind breaker, extra pair of socks, water purifier drinking straw, first aid kit and a pair of well-worn boots – should the primary boot compromise a foot during a long walk.
If boot change out or foot treatment does not occur prior to developing a hotspot… This can result in a painful domino effect in any combination(s) of weight bearing joints, i.e., knee, hip, back and neck. In general and in many cases – weight bearing joint pain begins at the feet first and works its way up the body as exercise activity continues without foot ware adjustment. If foot discomfort is not addressed timely and pain persists daily this doesn’t motivate people to walk more.
My recommendation for anyone looking to condition the feet and body for long walks; traverse up and down hills as much as you walk the flatlands. It is hilly slops where boot ware can be tested for excessive slippage, uncomfortable pressure points and hotspots caused by improperly fitted footwear. This is the time to make adjustments, not while on a long or remote hike in the mountains. I can’t begin to tell you how many types of insoles, socks, moleskin [protective adhesive hotspot Band-Aid-like patches] and boots I’ve gone through to find the right combinations that allows me to walk on average 8-10 miles per day comfortably anywhere without pain.
Before beginning long distance walking program, it is helpful to first plan conditioning the feet and breaking in the footwear over a 4 week period. I recommend walking daily at a pace and distance you’re comfortable – then increase duration gradually. There is a secondary benefit to hauling up-to10-12lbs of essentials on daily walks most don’t consider. The additional weight takes extra cardio and muscular endurance effort while burning more fat calories.
Once feet are conditioned, try donning a lightweight back pack and add weight gradually on a daily basis if you want the increased fitness benefits to condition the body… especially feet for a remote hiking expedition.
Good health to you and your family.
Marc Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET., is a member of the Tigard City Council. He is a strong proponent of City involvement in providing recreational opportunities for its residents. 2018 Copy right. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., “To learn more about MirrorAthlete Fit Healthy Lifestyle, City Recreation and free monthly newsletter, visit: www.mirrorathlete.org