As we creep into the latter part of October (how did that happen?!), all of us in northern Virginia look forward to enjoying peak fall foliage. The many wooded trails of Lawrence Park or any of the other beautiful parks in Fairfax County are great places to get out and enjoy a hike, replete with the full colors of fall.

Podiatrist Kenneth R. Wilhelm, DPM of Clifton Foot & Ankle Center has some advice for you to consider: make sure you’ve thought about proper foot protection before you set foot to trail. What you anticipate as a lovely afternoon in the outdoors can leave your lower limbs limping with regret.

Follow these 4 tips for keeping your feet safe:

  1. Don’t skip the warm-up. Crossing unfamiliar, uneven terrain can be tough on feet, especially if you’re not terribly active to begin with. In the days leading up to your planned hike, take some shorter walks and do some foot and ankle stretching exercises. Strengthening your bones, muscles, and ligaments can help prevent injury on the trail.
  2. Don’t skimp on shoes. Buy the best boots you can. Hiking boots offer the kind of support required when you’re negotiating a slippery slope. Look for moisture-proof boots with thick soles, good insulation and excellent support. Get them professionally fitted to your feet: shoes that are too big or too small can easily cause blisters.
  3. Pick the right socks. Don’t be fooled into thinking that a thick, cotton sock must be great cushioning. Cotton socks tend to retain moisture and the thicker they are, the more moisture they’ll retain. Choose thin socks made of moisture-wicking synthetic material.
  4. Treat feet well post-hike. At the end of your hike, cool down tired feet with a foot bath and a soothing massage. Relax muscles in the bottom of your foot by rolling them around on a small ball. Examine your foot for any signs of lesions such as a skin rash or blisters. If you have pain that persists more than a day or two, contact us for an appointment.

If you know you incurred an injury such as a twisted ankle, call us as soon as possible at our podiatry office in Centreville at (703) 996-3000. Make sure you treat a foot injury seriously for the best chance to heal quickly and enjoy your next outdoor activity.

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