San Diego's diverse landscape offers endless hiking options from coastal trails to desert treks to elevation gains in the thousands. Before tackling your next adventure, be sure your footwear is supportive so that you can spend time enjoying the view instead of tending to an injury.
Stewart Sanders, physical therapist and director of Sharp Rees-Stealy's Running Clinic, explains what to look for when researching your next pair of hiking shoes or boots.
1. Pick a pair that fits.Having the correct size can prevent blisters. If your footwear is too tight or loose, foot stress could occur. Try on shoes and boots at the end of the day, when your feet are at their largest.
2. Choose footwear that is suitable for your needs.If you are going to encounter wet terrain, such as walking in water, rain or snow, choose footwear that is waterproof to protect your feet and keep them warm.
Footwear with high ankle support or wider-based soles will prevent ankle sprains on uneven surfaces. If your terrain is rugged, a stable boot might be more appropriate than a shoe. If your hike is short and flat, a shoe could be the right choice.
3. Find footwear that lets your feet breathe.Material that is breathable allows proper ventilation for your feet. Heat can lead to blisters and tired feet. Socks that wick away moisture are also key to preventing blisters. Be sure to wear the socks that you'll be using when trying on shoes or boots.
4. Bring your orthotics.Custom orthotics are meant to support your feet, legs and body. They should be worn in all of your walking and hiking shoes unless otherwise directed by your medical professional.
When getting fitted for custom orthotics, let your practitioner know what kind of activity that you do, how much activity and the type of footwear that you intend to wear.
5. Replace your footwear when needed.Stop using your shoes or boots when they no longer feel comfortable. Aches, pains and blisters in your feet and legs are signs that you aren't getting the support that you need. Another sign that your footwear may be worn out is if you begin to have pain and discomfort early during hikes or walks.
Try the press test. Press your thumb on the outsole upward into the midsole. If the midsole compresses less with pressure applied or if you notice heavy compression lines, then there is little or no cushion left and you will lose support.
Another sign of needing to replace your footwear is when the tread on the bottom has worn off. This can lead to slips, falls and other injuries.
If the shape of your shoe changes and the stitching begins to fray, it's time to buy a new pair. If the supporting properties of your footwear begin to falter, then the integrity of the shoe can be compromised and may affect waterproofing ability and overall stability.
Here are 8 more hiking tips from Sharp Health News.
For the media: To talk with Stewart Sanders about finding proper footwear, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 858-499-3052.