Blisters or Bliss: Choosing the Best Hiking Boots

The winter months are prime time for mountain trekking and adventure – whether you prefer the rainforests of the Gold Coast Hinterland, or the snowfields of New South Wales, Victoria or New Zealand.

what to look for in hiking boots

As a trekking enthusiast from way back, as well as a local podiatrist, I know firsthand the difference that a good pair of hiking boots can make: blisters, or bliss!

The Best Hiking Boots

The best hiking boots for you, may be completely different to what your mate wears.

And there are so many different types to choose from – trail boots and mountaineering boots; high cut, low cut, mid cut; leather or synthetic.

So here are a few tips to help you determine the best hiking boots for your needs.

How Will You Be Using Your Hiking Boots?

If you prefer shorter walks on well-constructed paths, a low cut hiking shoe should meet your needs.

Heading out for an all day hike with a lightly loaded backpack? Then a mid-to-high cut day hiking boot should provide you with the perfect combination of support and flexibility.

If a 2 week trek through rugged terrain is more your speed, look for backpacking boots with stiffer midsoles, and a high cut, as they offer superior support and protection. These will also serve you well if you are hiking in snowy and icy conditions, as crampons work best with rigid soled boots. However they do take a while to break in – something that is best achieved gradually, before you set off on your next trip!

The 3 Main Components of Hiking Boots

1 – The sole: While it’s certainly not the only component to consider, start by examining the sole of the boot. The lug pattern will determine your traction and grip – the greater the spacing, the better the traction and mud dispersion. Also, look for a heel brake on the outside back corner of the boot. Good boots will have a heel zone separate to the rest of the boot, to provide grip particularly during steep descents.

2 – Midsole: The midsole, like the middle child, is often overlooked. The midsole provides cushioning and support; if you are hiking longer distances and over more difficult terrain, a firmer midsole made of polyurethane will give your ankle and foot more support, and less fatigue. For less strenuous hikes, a midsole made of EVA will be comfortable.

3 – The Uppers:  Again, your choice of upper material will depend on how you will be using your hiking boots. In rain and snow you will truly appreciate waterproof membranes like Gore-tex; leather may be the best option for challenging terrain; while synthetic might be a more affordable option for the casual hiker.

what to look for in hiking boots

Getting the Best Fit

If you are investing in a pair of good hiking boots, here are some tips to help you get the best fit possible:

  • A good boot should fit your foot snugly, without being tight. Make sure the boot is wide enough in the toe box area, that you can still wiggle all your toes.
  • It’s best to time your boot fitting for afternoon or evening, as our feet tend to swell over the course of the day.
  • If you wear orthotics, make sure you bring them to the fitting, as well as the socks you are planning to wear when hiking. From a podiatrist’s point of view, the style and fabric of Injinji toe socks not only optimises your foot’s biomechanics, it also creates a more comfortable – and less sweaty – environment within your boots when hiking.
  • Take your time – Walk in the boot around the store, and on different angles and gradients (if at all possible) to test how your foot is sitting in the shoe. Check if the seams, stitching, or any other areas are rubbing on your foot, and that there is sufficient width.
  • When it comes to length, your toes should not touch the end of the toe box: your longest toe should be a thumb width from the end of the toe box.
  • Your boot lacing technique can help or hinder the fit. If you have narrow heels for example, the heel lock technique will stop your toes sliding forward in the shoe when descending, preventing you from bruising and damaging your toe nails.

Breaking in your Boots

Finally, make sure you break in your boots before heading off the beaten track. Hiking shoes with their lower cut and softer midsole may be comfortable from the very first wear, but the more rugged models usually take time to soften and conform to your feet. Just remember that the breaking in process does not convert a poor fit into a good fit.

hiking boots for Overland Track in Tasmania

Looking for Hiking Boots?

At Trevor Lane Podiatry, our footwear range includes a European brand called Ecco, with styles including hiking shoes and back country leather high boots. I have worn a high cut Ecco hiking boot in Gore-tex, the Expedition, on hikes in the Snowy Mountains, Europe, and the Overland Track in Tasmania, and highly recommend them.

If you live in the Redlands, Trevor Lane Podiatry is your local podiatrist clinic. We’d love to assist you with choosing the best hiking boots for your needs, boot lacing techniques, and preparing for your next hike or overland adventure – so call us today on 3207 4736 or make an appointment 24/7 via our secure online booking system.

Are Thongs Bad for your Feet?

Depending on your age or where you live, you might know them as flip flops, jandals, BBs, pluggers, or thongs.

Whatever you call them, one of the most common questions we hear in our podiatry clinic is:  “Are thongs bad for your feet?”

Australians Love Their Thongs!

Here in Australia, our climate means that we appreciate convenience, coolness, breathability, and comfort, in our clothing and footwear choices.

Add to that our casual lifestyle and love of the beach, and you can see why thongs could almost be part of our national costume!

are thongs bad for your feet

But is our love of thongs actually doing us harm?

Common Problems with Thongs

Some people have trouble tolerating thongs over long distances or periods of time. This is usually because their calves are tight and shorter than normal, or they have less flexibility in their lower back. This is not the fault of the thongs, rather, it’s the individual’s unique anatomy.

We often see clients at our podiatry clinic, complaining of sore feet after taking a couple of weeks’ holiday. They may even blame it on their thongs, saying things like:

  • “The feeling between my toes makes me feel ill”;
  • “I had to claw with my toes to grip my thongs”;
  • “I think I alter my walking pattern in thongs, maybe that’s why my feet are sore?”.

In fact, the culprit is not so much wearing thongs, but rather, the sudden change in footwear.

In the working world, we tend to wear more supportive shoes such as steel cap boots and lace ups, t-bar or mary jane styles.

However when we are on holidays, we suddenly switch to thongs – and our muscles, ligaments and tendons are not conditioned to this completely different style of footwear. Our feet have to work harder when we walk in thongs, which can lead to muscle strain and pain.

Should I Wear Thongs?

Wearing thongs comes down to things such as your individual:

  • Fitness;
  • Lifestyle, and activities – wear enclosed shoes, with cushioned soles, and preferably lace ups that have been scientifically proven to give you the most support, if you are planning a big day of walking, for example;
  • Health – some diabetics have little to no feeling in their toes and feet, so we recommend closed in footwear to protect them from injury;
  • Mobility and flexibility;
  • Lower limb mechanics;
  • And of course, personal style choices.

Today’s Thongs

In days gone by, thongs were just flat pieces of rubber with straps – even now, if you can bend your thong in half in your hand, more than likely it is not doing much for your feet.

Are thongs bad for your feet? Like so many things in life, moderation is key. If you wear thongs a lot, make sure they are good quality ones. Look for a sturdier make, and for features such as molded arch contours, or a cup in the heel to stabilise and support.

At Trevor Lane Podiatry, we understand that wearing thongs is part and parcel of our great Aussie Aussie lifestyle, so we stock Orthaheel thongs for men, women and children, as well as Vionic Beach.

And here’s a little secret – you don’t have to be afraid to mention thongs at our podiatry clinic – because our podiatrists wear them sometimes too!

What Age do your Feet Stop Growing?

People are often curious to know: At what age do your feet stop growing?

The story of how our feet grow and develop throughout our lives is quite fascinating – even if you’re not a podiatrist providing foot care for every age group!

Rapid Growth in the Early Years

The long bones in our feet start to grow, and our toes start to form long before we are born – in the third or fourth month of gestation.

During the first year of life outside of the womb, our feet are primarily influenced by hereditary factors, as well as applied pressures – which is why it is important not to constrict your baby’s feet with socks, booties or shoes that are too tight or rigid.

Between birth and the age of 4, our feet double in length, with growth of up to 10mm per year. So if it feels like your child is outgrowing their shoes long before they wear out, this is why!

By the age of 10, about 90% of girls have completed the majority of their foot growth, compared to about 80% of boys. This means that even though your child may still be at primary school, they are likely already wearing “adult” sized shoes.

There are noticeable changes to foot length between 9 and 11 years of age.

As the school years are a critical time in the growth and development of feet, it is a good idea to read our guide to children’s school shoes and/or have them professionally fitted (a service we provide at our podiatry clinic, in addition to stocking a range of quality shoes).

when do your feet stop growing

When do our Feet Stop Growing?

Feet usually stop growing a few years after puberty. In girls, the “normal” age for feet to stop growing is around 14 years, while in boys, it’s around 16.

However the final closure of growth plates in the feet occurs between 18 and 20 years of age.

Although technically your feet stop growing when you are a teenager, in actual fact your feet will change size throughout adulthood.

How Feet Change During Pregnancy

A classic example is what happens to women’s feet during pregnancy, when shoe size can change as much as half a size or more. This is due to:

  • Pregnancy hormones relaxing the ligaments in the body in preparation for birth; and
  • Increased body weight, which in turn reduces the arch height, thereby increasing the foot length and width.

There may also be some fluid retention which leads to swelling.

How your Feet “Grow” in Adulthood

As you get older, your foot shape and size will continue to change even though growth has finished. This is because your feet will flatten out and elongate with age – it’s estimated that most people over the age of 40 gain half a shoe size every 10 years or so!

Weight also impacts on the size and shape of your foot. So if at the age of 20 you weighed 80 kilograms and wore a size 9 shoe, chances are slim that you will able to fit the same shoes when you are 50 years old, and weigh 100 kilograms.

It’s important not to get hung up about the actual number or size on the box, next time you need to buy shoes; instead, concentrate on finding the best fit. Not only can brands be sized differently, but as you can now see, the size and shape of your feet can fluctuate as well.

And remember – if you have any concerns about how your child’s feet are growing and developing, you can always make an online booking or call our Redlands Podiatry Clinic on 3207 4736 to make an appointment.

What is Digital Gait Scan Analysis?

We have seen great strides (pardon the pun!) in the technology available to podiatrists over the past couple of decades.

see your podiatrist for gait analysis

We are all living longer and want the best possible quality of life – and modern technology can play a role in achieving this.

As part of our commitment to providing our clients with superior foot care, our Redlands podiatry clinic is equipped with the latest technology. By using a computerised gait scanner for example, we can conduct an in-depth gait scan analysis to identify and prevent any potential issues, before they have a chance to negatively affect your mobility, health and wellbeing.

A digital gait scan analysis is particularly valuable as it can help detect potential long-term issues, which can arise due to conditions such as:

  • diabetes;
  • differences in limb length;
  • or even seemingly minor biomechanical flaws in your foot, ankle or leg.

How a Digital Gait Scan Analysis Works

The computerised gait scanner captures information about your gait (the way you walk) –  far more than can be seen by just observing you as you walk down a corridor.

This innovative diagnostic tool is comprised of around 4000 sensors, with a scan rate of approximately 300 frames per second, providing the podiatrist with a wealth of information that would otherwise be missed by the naked eye.

By capturing approximately one million points of data, digital gait scan allows your Redlands podiatrist to analyse the actual pressure on specific areas of the sole, through each of the three stages of gait:

  • The heel strike phase;
  • Mid-stance – when your foot is directly on the floor and your body is directly above your foot; and
  • The toe off stage.

In years gone by, podiatrists had to rely on looking at the sole of your foot, and wear and tear on your footwear, to indicate any biomechanical flaws or problems.

Now, digital gait scan analysis can reveal any signs of overload in a particular area before it becomes a problem, and is particularly useful for a number of reasons.

digital gait scan analysis result

Identifying Over Use Injuries

A lot of the conditions we see in our Redlands podiatry clinic are due to over use.

Over use does NOT mean that the client has done too much or too little. Rather, it may be that there is a biomechanical flaw in the way that the foot works in conjunction with the ankle, knee and back, and over time this repetitive strain, stress and excessive load takes its toll.

As a result that particular structure or affected area of the body becoming fatigued; when fatigue occurs, the chances of injury increase; and then the quality of life starts to decline.

Digital Gait Scan Analysis for Diabetics

Digital gait scan analysis is just one of the ways a podiatrist can assist diagnosed diabetics, whose poor circulation and reduced nerve sensitivity can lead to a number of foot problems.

With our computerised gait scanner, your Redlands podiatrist can actually assess the loads under the various points of the sole of your foot. We know what is considered a normal load for a particular area on your foot – based on your foot size, the shoe that you’re wearing, the surfaces you’re walking on, and most importantly, your body weight.

If we diagnose overload, we can potentially prevent ulceration of the sole of the foot. Digital gait scan analysis allows us to detect any problems at a very early stage – long before you will even notice them – so we can prescribe an insole, orthotics, padding or shoe modification, to reduce that excessive load and prevent future complications.

We can help diabetic patients even when they have developed an ulcer, as we can still measure the load and then design a device or innersole specifically for that client’s foot, and their individual biomechanics. This will assist the healing process, reduce the risk of infection, and the risk of amputation – which not only has a huge impact on the patient’s life, but also places great strain on our health system.

Digital gait scan analysis by a trained podiatrist is a powerful tool to identify any potential pain or other impacts of the way you walk, long before they occur. If you have any concerns with your feet or lower limbs, please make an appointment at our Redlands Podiatry Clinic, by calling 3207 4736 or you can book online.

Looking for a Podiatrist with Online Booking?

This month’s foot care tip is a little bit different to the normal.

It’s about how at our Redlands podiatry clinic, we are constantly looking for ways to improve, and better help our patients.

So we are excited to announce the launch of our online booking system, which allows you to make an appointment 24/7!

Redlands podiatrist with online booking

New Online Booking System

Now it’s even easier for you to book to see a podiatrist, for those times when your feet are in need of some expert attention.

Even if you are a brand new client at our podiatry clinic, you will love the ease and convenience of being able to make a booking online.

No matter what time of the day or night, you can make an appointment to see one of our podiatrists. You can choose a time and day to suit you, and even pick your podiatrist.

Book Online Now

Your Security Matters

Ensuring the security of your information is important to us, which is why we have invested in one of the best online booking software packages.

When you book online with our Redlands podiatry clinic, you should notice two things:

  1. the green lock symbol in the address bar;
  2. and the URL which starts with “https://”.

Make sure you always look for these two signs whenever you are making a payment online, or entering sensitive information such as your date of birth, passwords, and physical address.

signs of a secure online booking system

If you can’t see the green lock symbol, and the URL doesn’t start with https:// – do NOT enter your information, as the website is not secure and you are at risk.

The Best Podiatrist in Redlands?!

It’s no secret – at Trevor Lane Podiatry, we strive to be the very best podiatrist in the Redlands.

After all, we have not only been providing foot care in the Redlands for over 20 years, we:

  • are the only Redlands podiatry clinic providing foot mobilisation technique, which may help you to achieve a full range of movement following injury;
  • use the latest technology (such as computerised gait scanning) in the diagnosis and treatment of any foot problems;
  • have both male and female podiatrists available;
  • stock a range of quality footwear, from school shoes to running shoes and even thongs, designed to support your feet in style and comfort.
  • are proud to offer friendly, personal service including professional shoe fitting;
  • regularly share helpful foot care tips here on our website;
  • and offer a secure online booking system.

So next time you need to come to our podiatry clinic, you can make an appointment quickly and easily using our new online booking system 24/7, or by calling 3207 4736 during business hours.

When Your Podiatrist Recommends Orthotics

What are orthotics and how can they help?

Orthotics are devices which are placed into your shoes, and are designed to adjust your movement pattern and so reduce discomfort and strain – perhaps in your feet, perhaps elsewhere in your body.

3d foot scan for orthotics

They may be used to treat a range of conditions:

  • to aid recovery from a sports injury;
  • to compensate for a difference between your two feet;
  • to prevent problems in the future;
  • or to relieve pain in your feet, knees and even your back (see my earlier article about podiatry and back problems).

There are orthotics for plantar fasciitis, orthotics for bunions and arch support, orthotics for heel pain, orthotics for running, children’s orthotics, orthotics for diabetics, knee orthotics, ankle orthotics, toe orthotics and orthotics for flat feet, to name just a few.

Seeing a Podiatrist about Orthotics

Before prescribing orthotics, your podiatrist will conduct a thorough assessment, and have an in-depth discussion with you, to gain vital information about:

  • your feet and how you walk. At our Redlands podiatrist clinic, we use the latest technology, including computerised gait scanning.
  • your weight;
  • your age;
  • your usual shoe style;
  • the surface you spend most of your day on;
  • your medical history (including any injuries);
  • your lifestyle.

Discussing Orthotics with Your Podiatrist

These are all taken into account so your podiatrist can recommend the best orthotics for your needs.

  • Will an over-the-counter orthotic suffice – or do you need custom-made?
  • What material should your orthotic be made of?
  • What will best suit your usual shoes and your lifestyle?
  • Is budget a concern?

What Type of Shoes Do you Wear?

Considering the combination of shoe and orthotic is critical.

The design and style of your everyday footwear has a direct influence on the type of support your podiatrist will recommend for you.

For example, if you work in a professional office and usually wear court shoes or dress shoes, this will restrict the size of the orthotic; whereas running shoes or kids school shoes allow for more design choices.

As a Redlands podiatrist for over 20 years, I know that orthotics that fit with your preferred shoe style are incredibly important. They may not be the most supportive device available – but experience tells me that the best results are gained when you actually wear your orthotic!

Another tip if you need orthotics: when purchasing shoes, look for those with removable liners, as this allows greater choice and selection of orthotics.

Cost of Orthotics

Orthotics range in price greatly, depending on the material type and functionality. The more expensive orthotics are custom-made, have more function, and offer the best quality in terms of technological innovation and material choice.

However once again, there needs to be a balance between offering a client the best orthotic for their condition, and what they can actually afford. Your local podiatrist should help you with a solution that ticks all the boxes: a good shoe, a good orthotic, and a good fit with your budget.

Type of Materials

Orthotics are usually made from materials such as EVA foam, polypropylene plastic, and carbon fibre, depending on whether it is a functional or accommodative orthotic device.

Different brands use different trade names for these materials, so a good podiatrist needs to be familiar with the various names and their equivalents, in order to prescribe the best orthotics for your needs.

orthotics Redlands

Functional Orthotics

Functional devices are often used for conditions which affect the body above the foot – such as ligament injuries; knee strain and lower back problems.

The more rigid the material, the further up the body you get the effect. Being more rigid, they have greater impact on the plane of movement which has excessive – or restricted – motion, and is therefore causing problems.

These rigid materials – eg polypropylene and carbon fibre are thinner; and because they are custom-made, functional orthotics generally cost more.

Your weight affects the thickness and rigidity of the material chosen for your orthotic. For example, for individuals less than 80kg, a 3mm polypropylene will generally be chosen; those weighing 100 kilograms will require a 4mm device; while heavier individuals will need 5mm.

Accommodative Orthotics

Accommodative orthotics are made of cheaper and less functional materials such as EVA foams and are usually molded to the entire length of the boot. Although they are cheaper, they are bulkier, meaning your shoe choices will be more limited.

Commonly prescribed for clients with Diabetes, Charcot’s, or high arch feet, they primarily provide comfort contouring of the foot.

They are most useful in treating problems in the feet themselves, while functional orthotics help with further up the body.

Why is Discussion about Orthotics so Important?

If you are unhappy with your orthotic, feel you have not been offered material choice, or don’t know why a specific recommendation has been made, I urge you to go back to your local podiatrist and to find out.

The staff at my Redlands podiatrist clinic know that the keys to achieving the best outcomes in the shortest possible time frame with orthotics, are making sure the client:

  • understands the reasoning behind their orthotic type and material,
  • is happy from an economic perspective.

We have found that this results in clients being more likely to adhere to their treatment program (which likely includes exercises as well as orthotics), thus achieving less pain, faster healing, and better quality of life.

If you have any questions, feel that you might benefit from orthotics, or would like to check out our range of orthotic-friendly shoes, call us today on 3207 4736.

How Long Should Your Shoes Last?

Equipment for those structures way down there! How important are the shoes we choose for our feet?  What should I consider when choosing shoes? How long should my chosen footwear last?  When is it time to put aside the old faithfuls for a new pair?

Whether you are jogging about your local streets for self satisfaction or training for an event (marathon, ½ marathon, tri or community awareness initiative), todays footwear has been scientifically designed to provide:

  • Protection
  • Cushioning
  • Traction

Be it your everyday shoe (80% of the week) or your sports shoes they all offer (tri-layered)

  • Upper (Protector)
  • Midsole (Cushioning/Support)
  • Outersole (Traction)

Shoes are designed to be fit to your specific lower limb mechanics, but more importantly, owing to the modern light weight material used (EVA’s) within have a “shelf life”.

E.V.A.: Ethylene Vinyl Acetate, otherwise known as expanded rubber or foam rubber, comprises air cells purposely constructed to absorb impact.

However, like most things this foam eventually looses its shine.

The average person’s foot will strike the ground between 10-14,000 times/day, or 120,000 km’s in a lifetime.  How does this relate to the wear/expected wear of my shoes?  Experts are suggesting; on average a person of reasonable fitness may walk anywhere between 3-5 kms/day equating to approximately between 1000 – 1700 kms/yr.  Additional factors such as the individual’s weight and foot strike also determine when ones shoes require replacing, thus allowing for a somewhat large range of time estimated to purchase new pair of shoes.

To reduce this guesswork, signs to look out for that indicate your feet’s friends are in dire straight are:

  1. Creasing of the midsole – if there are prominent crease lines evident before you even place your thumb to check the compressive response of your shoe, the midsole is more or less worn out.
  2. Press Test – Use your fingers and thumb to press into the centre of the sole.  Does it feel cushy? Or hard and unyielding?  If it is the latter – consider some new shoes.
  3. Twist Test – Pick up the shoe and twist it like a wet towel, if so the shoe is tired.
  4. The Heel Counter (Rear of Shoe) – Tap it, does it sound hard or does it simply fold and collapse, again if the latter consider replacement pair.

Most importantly, listen to your body.  Are you suddenly experiencing aches and pains after your daily walk or busy business day on your feet, if so this may be your body’s way of suggesting the shoes are on their way out.  Time to consider a new pair.

Consider the following analogy, the interval at which we replace our tyres on our cars. We know that when the traction or the tyre tread begins to wear out or is worn out (around every 25,000kms) we increase the risk of an accident / injury exponentially.

This analogy also applies to our bodies, shoes have a shelf life/and kilometre rating, when the magic has faded, the support has given way to jarring/twisting of our joints, injury potential is inevitable hence reducing our health in the long run.

So remember, whether you’re a runner or a walker, the general consensus with regards to footwear replacement is not a function of time but rather a function how many kilometres the individual has done in the shoes.