If you walk regularly sooner or later you are going to experience some discomfort from blisters, shin splints or chafing. Of course prevention is better than cure and you can minimise ailments such as these by paying attention to your clothing and shoes or boots.
Blisters: Blisters are caused by friction, heat and moisture. Before you set out on your walk you can do a lot to prevent blisters. Make sure your shoes are snug fitting- neither too big nor too small. Check your socks for any rough spots and position seams carefully. The tiniest irregularity in either your shoes or socks will cause friction. Smother your feet in lubricant. There are proprietary products available in sports shops but petroleum jelly is cheap. readily available and is excellent. This will act as a barrier to moisture and help prevent blisters. Nappy rash ointment for babies works just as well too!
If you are on a long walk stop at intervals and take your feet out of your footwear. This will cool down your feet and dry them off. Use talcum powder to dry off the feet and change to dry socks if necessary. If you should develop a blister clean the area around it with antiseptic wipe. If the blister is small cover in bandages to prevent further friction but if it is bigger you may need to drain it.To drain it you will need a sewing needle and a length of sewing cotton. Sterilise the sewing needle with alcohol or boiling water. Thread the sewing needle with six inches of sewing cotton. Pierce the blister at the base and exit at the other side drawing the thread through the blister. Leave a tail of thread at least one inch long at each side of the blister. This will drain the blister without breaking the skin. Do not remove the skin over the blister. By next morning the blister should be drained and the healing process started.
Chafing: Chafing can occur where there is skin to skin friction or clothing to skin friction particularly on the inner thigh, the groin area, armpits and nipples. Again pay attention to clothing before you go walking. Choose tops and shorts which are of a soft man made wicking fibre such as Coolmax with well finished flat seams. This wicking material draws the sweat (wicks) away from the body and dries quickly. Do not wear cotton. While cotton is cool it gets wet easily from sweat and stays wet and so will contribute to chafing rather than preventing it.
Use an antiperspirant to keep the armpits dry and apply lubricant liberally to the other sensitive areas. If you have problems with inner thigh chafing wear bicycle- type close fitting shorts. If you are unlucky enough to experience chafing wash the area with lukewarm soapy water, apply some anti bacterial lotion and nappy rash ointment and cover with gauze. This will ease the itch and promote fast healing.
Shin splints: Shin splints is the name given to pain at the front of the lower legs (the shins) along the inside edge of the large leg bone - the tibia. It is experienced more commonly by runners but can also be experienced by fast walkers. It is caused by inflammation of the muscles and tendons in this area.
Walking on uneven or hard surfaces or uphill and down hill, wearing worn or ill – fitting shoes may contribute to the problem. To prevent injury increase your level of exercise slowly so your muscles and tendons become accustomed to the demands of exercise. W arming up with light exercise before walking is helpful and can prevent shin splints. If you do experience shin splints put an ice pack on the affected area and take a proprietary pain –killer. Take seventy two hours rest from walking apart from your daily activities. If the pain persists consult your medical advisor.
Remember with all ailments prevention is better than cure and easy does it!