Well it’s that time of the year again! Oxfam Trailwalker is for a wonderful cause and every year raises much needed funds and awareness. Unfortunately, it also goes hand in hand with some foot and lower limb injuries that could easily be avoided with a little preparation!
So here are 10 friendly suggestions from the team here at my FootDr podiatry to help you get through the hard yards relatively unscathed!
First and foremost, prepare your body for the challenge with some training. Covering a distance of 100 km in one hit with no training is a great way to get injured. Start preparing a few months out from the big day by going for regular walks (beginning with a smaller distance for novices) and progressing to a bigger team walk on the weekends (for instance 30 km) over varying terrain. The course incorporates a variety of surfaces and gradients so choosing walking trails that are similar will help you adapt when in the big event! Regular walks will also increase your fitness and get your body comfortable with walking/jogging long distances.
2. Address any problems early!
If you have had any pre-existing injuries or worries with your walking/jogging style; seek advice on support/guarding against major injury. The team here at my FootDr podiatry centres conduct biomechanical assessments regularly and would only be too happy to advise you on best course of action!
3. Wear in your footwear!
The shoes you choose to wear for the event should be supportive (adequate cushioning) and suited to your particular foot type.
The shoes should NOT be brand new. New footwear takes time to shape specifically to your foot; wearing them straight up for 100km WILL GIVE YOU BLISTERS.
It is best to wear the shoes for a couple of weeks prior to the event for some bigger walks to make them comfortable. Resting the shoes for 3 days prior to the event will also make sure that the rubber in the soles is at it’s full potential!
Regular stretching and massage can help keep the muscles pain and injury free. A tight loaded muscle is more likely to suffer injury when fatigued. Keeping flexible will help protect you from major injury; so stretching after warming up during regular exercise and after warming down will go a long way to conditioning yourself for the major walk. Through-out the course there are a number of health professionals including podiatrists and physiotherapists who can help you in the event of minor injury or pain.
5. Stay hydrated!
In the days leading up to the walk drink plenty of fluids to prepare your body; starting a 100km walk/jog dehydrated will only lead you to fatigue quickly and predispose you to injury. Exercise causes the body to use up it’s water stores whether for fuel or perspiration. There are regular drink stations along the trail walk, do not hesitate to use them!
The dreaded blisters will inevitably make an appearance during Oxfam due to the constant friction war of skin vs shoe! There are a number of ways to reduce the friction including good socks, checking you footwear fits correctly and if you are aware of any specific points you are prone to blistering, a few well-placed bandaids or strips of strapping tape can also help to prevent the blisters.
Podiatrists and medical staff will be on-hand at the check points to help relieve any discomfort, but being proactive will help reduce the pain!
Yes Toenails! Cutting your toenails 3 days prior to the event will ensure that they are not too long that they will cause injury but also not too short that they will cause discomfort!
8. Health Professionals are there to Help
If at some point during the walk you feel you have injured yourself and are in worlds of pain, CONSULT A HEALTH PROFESSIONAL at the nearest check point. Everyone who participates in Oxfam is a hero in their own right, but major injury is not part of the legacy. Seek medical assistance even if you are unsure, it is better to be safe than sorry!
9. Assess the damage
The finishing point! You will be very tender towards the end of the walk/jog, not only have your muscles and joints in your legs taken a bashing but so have your feet. After finishing the big race, it’s a good idea to assess for any damage and have it seen to- whether it is blood blisters, skin irritation, lost toenails or major callus build up the last thing you want is infected feet!
The following day- you will be sore. It is important to rest and recuperate; basic first aid Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation is a good treatment for the residual soreness; especially for the feet and legs! So put them up, throw on some ice and rest easy knowing what a great job you’ve done!
If you have any queries regarding footwear advice, biomechanical assessment or injury prevention don’t hesitate to come in and see one of our helpful, friendly podiatrists.