More than most outdoor activities, hiking puts an immense amount of stress on your feet. That’s why choosing the best hiking boots for plantar fasciitis and and the best insoles for hiking is essential to your life on the trail. In this post, we'll share tips to help you do just that.
Plantar Fasciitis is the most common foot condition in the USA. 1 in 10 people will experience this painful ailment at some point in their lifetime. The most common symptom is a stabbing pain on the bottom of your heel. The pain is often worse in the morning or after standing for an extended period.
The plantar fascia is a thick, connective band of soft tissue that stretches from the heel to the base of your toes. As a ligament, it connects the bones in these two areas and it’s designed to absorb the high amount of stress we place on our feet. The plantar fascia is strong and can withstand a great deal of force, but too much pressure can damage or tear it.
The body responds to this damage by becoming inflamed, and inflammation of the plantar fascia is called plantar fasciitis.
If you’ve ever stood atop a mountain after an exhilarating hike, take a moment to thank your feet. They’ve trekked on dirt trails, jumped over rocks and waded through streams for you. Without their help, you’d still be at the trailhead checking your map, no summit to brag about.
But choosing the best hiking boots for plantar fasciitis can be as daunting as hiking the Appalachian Trail blindfolded. There are three main types of hiking footwear—all designed for different levels of intensity. Matching your hiking goals with your footwear will increase your enjoyment, and your mileage on trail.
Light Hiking Shoes - A low-cut model with a flexible mid-sole. Best for day hiking, trail running, and ultra-lightweight backpacking trips.
Mountaineering Boots - Heavier and more durable than typical hiking boots. Sometimes leather and sometimes plastic with a removable inner boot. Constructed for alpine climbing, glacier crossings, and high altitude. Most mountaineering boots have stiff soles and are designed for use with crampons (spikes for walking/climbing on ice).
Pick the footwear category that best describes your intended use. Wearing heavy mountaineering boots for a short day hike will slow you down and feel clunky. At the other extreme, climbing snow-covered peaks in light hikers can be a dangerous undertaking.
Searching for the best hiking boots for plantar fasciitis will often involve many of the characteristics of selecting a typical hiking boot. Follow these tips:
Nearly everyone will benefit from additional arch support and a heel cup that helps stabilize the foot. Foot fatigue, sore feet, or ‘hot spots’ are all signs that more support will yield more comfort. Adding an aftermarket insole to your hiking boots will help prevent injury and solve these 3 common foot issues:
Overpronation - Also known as collapsing arches. Characterized by an inward rotation of the ankle and resulting in a flattening of your arch. Overpronation decreases the efficiency of your stride resulting in more effort to go the same number of miles. It can also cause blisters when the forefoot moves too much inside the shoe.
Plantar Fasciitis - Overpronation can also lead to Plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tendon that connects your heel to the ball of your foot. It is extremely painful and can take weeks to heal.
Heel slippage - Usually caused by a loose fitting heel pocket. Leads to increased friction, ‘hot spots,’ and blisters. Remedied with an insole that has a deep heel cup and strong arch support.
When looking for the best insoles for hiking, follow these tips:
What do you think is the best hiking footwear? Have any tips to share?
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