Sometimes the best way to see the untamed, rugged and raw landscapes of a destination is to see it on your own two feet. Trekking is all about embracing unique moments in some of the most isolated parts of the Australia, and immersing yourself in the incredible landscapes this country has to offer.
The Larapinta Trail is an exceptional trek that takes you deep into the West MacDonnell Ranges in the Northern Territory, and while you may have already planned your trip, booked your spot, packed your bag and informed all your friends about your upcoming trek, one of the most crucial parts of preparation is one that some people often take for granted: preparing your feet for the long journey ahead.
Being your most important means of transportation, it is important to condition your feet for your upcoming trek along the Larapinta Trail. Foot woes can either make or break your trip, so it is essential to keep your feet in prime condition before and during your trek.
We’ve listed our top foot care tips to help you ensure your trek is unforgettable for all the right reasons!
Well-fitting trekking boots are one of the best ways to take care of your feet even before you start trekking along Larapinta trail. The discomfort caused by an ill-fitting shoe can stop you in your steps; whether it’s a blister forming on the heel of your shoe, corns, calluses or injuries that arise from adjusting your stride to alleviate the pain from the aforementioned conditions.
With ill-fitting shows, your focus shifts from completing the trek to the blisters, and every step you take makes it worse. However, the right pair of shoes can be the difference between completing your trek with a grim or a grimace.
One of the first things to consider is that you ensure that the heel sits tightly on the rear of the foot and gives a little wiggle room for the toes in the front. This doesn’t mean that you should pick a bigger size, as they will make your feet slide too much front to back, which can cause friction and can lead to blisters.
You may have bought the right trekking boots but if you don’t lace them properly, it’s likely you’ll experience discomfort on the trail.
The “dual lacing system” is one of the most popular ways to lace your trekking boots, and most hikers use it as it is effective in keeping your heel firmly toat you keep your feet firmly at the back of the heel tight enough but not so tight that you cut off circulation from the toes and the instep. Then, tie the ankle loosely or as tight as you want. If you don’t want to cut the laces, you can skip the midsection and then go ahead and tighten at the calf area using the same laces.
Another important foot care tip is to clip your toenails a week before the trek. If they are too long and you wear your trekking boots they’ll be can push against the top of the shoe and cause discomfort. At the very worse cast, this can make your toenails bleed – or even fall off!
Although most people cut toenails slightly curved, it is recommended to get a straight cut. That reduces the chance of having in-grown toenails and reduces the friction between the nail and the skin. But avoid cutting them too short- ensure that you keep about 2mm of the white nail. If you cut too deep into the skin, this can increase the chances of ingrown nails and infections.
Try to use a nail clipper specifically made for cutting toenails and not fingernails because they cut straighter. After clipping the toenails, file them to reduce the friction against socks and shoes.
Socks are a very important factor in foot care. Most seasoned hikers and trekkers recommend a two sock system for feet protection during hiking. The first sock prevents excess moisture by removing it away from your feet to the outer sock. The second sock, made of wool or wool mix, reduces friction by cushioning your foot and the trekking boot, and reduces moisture by absorbing it from the inner sock. This two-sock system reduces friction from your toenails - instead the friction is between your foot and the sock.
Sometimes even after if you are wearing well-fitted trekking boots and using the best socks, your feet still hurt when you walk long distances. This is because despite the best preventative gear, sometimes your feet can still get hot spots. If you are prone to blisters despite wearing worn-in shoes and quality socks, some hikers also tape their feet before the hike (or during the hike when a hot spot occurs) to prevent blisters.
To do this, tape the locations on your foot where you feel your trekking boots rubbing against. The night before the trek, prepare your feet for taping by shaving off any hairs to avoid feeling them pull when you eventually remove the tape. For added comfort, you can apply baby powder underneath the tape in case you have sensitive skin. We recommend applying the tape the previous night to ensure the tape adheres properly on the skin.
Blisters can be cause by a number of factors, however during treks are commonly caused by moisture, heat or friction from sand or stones in the boots. While you may have tried all the listed blister prevention methods listed above, you may find that you still get hot spots that turn into blisters. One of the suggested ways to treat a painful blister is to clean the area, sterilize a needle, pierce the blister and cover it with band aid and then a tape. While the below guidance explains how to treat blisters yourself, we recommend enlisting the help of one of our guides who have experience in treating blisters on the trail.
In order to get the best experience when trekking along Larapinta trail, ensure that you incorporate these feet conditioning, feet protection and blister prevention tips before and during your trip.
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