Feet are so important to our comfort and walking ability, but they are often mistreated and under supported. I buy cheap shoes all the time because I like to change up my shoes. Because of that, I wear out a lot of shoes, and my feet pay for it. That was okay for many years. I’d buy cute flats and sandals. I’d stand or walk all day to go home with tired achy feet. I could deal with that in my 20s and 30s, but when they hurt to stand up or get out of bed, throb as I walked through the parking lot on my way into work, and snapped at the littlest shift, I knew I had taken it too far. I saw my doctor and was told it was gout, and then another told me it was plantar fasciitis. I did the diet and exercise they told me and the pain went away for a while. But each time the pain went away, it would come back quicker. I didn’t know what to do. So I bought insoles and thicker soled shoes. That helped for a while.
When the fixes stopped working, my toes in one foot started going and staying numb. Then it began to feel like I had something under the balls of my feet. Hiking seemed to make this worse. But, I loved hiking, and it was making the rest of me feel better. So I started buying different and more expensive shoes. My feet still hurt.
I had Nevados which I loved, but didn’t hold up to my weight long. I still have them for yard work and am considering getting new inserts to see if I can hike in them again. I replaced those with Hi Tec and always got blisters from them. On my long hike, I pounded the insoles through within a few days. That wasn’t going to work. Upon throwing those away, I studied what other hikers with falling arches were buying and suggested. I had a list of shoes to try when I went to REI and fell in love with Oboz. They were comfortable, had a roomy toe box, and my feet didn’t slide in them. I wore them for more than just hiking and liked the support and feel. I thought this was it. That is until I went on a backpacking trip with them. The first thing that threw me off was that they didn’t have the grip on rocks that I had with other shoes. The hike turned into longer days than anticipated and my feet were very tired. Well that was expected, hiking with a 35 pound pack for 12 hours does tend to wear out the feet, legs, and knees. I didn’t think about my shoes being a problem until my feet hurt even when I’d wear them for short hikes. The pain became regular no matter what shoes I was wearing.
I finally had to go see a podiatrist. I was worried what the diagnosis would be and that the doctor would want me to have surgery. I didn’t want to have my feet operated on because I was afraid that it would be the end of my hiking. It seems all the people I know who had foot surgery had problems afterwards. It turns out that the bones in my feet are so close together that they are pinching the nerves going between them. The heightened pain is because the casing around the nerves is wearing away. New shoes and a shot to help the nerves rebuild the casing is the solution.
For the shoes, I was told to go to Reno Running Company so they could watch my gait on the treadmill and get shoes with a large toe box. No more squeezing my toes together, no heal at all, and some arch support were also suggested. The salesman was great. We spent an hour looking and talking about shoes. I tried on several sizes and styles before I settled on a pair that caused no pain walking around the store and standing in place. My feet felt like they were on cloud nine the rest of that day in the shoes. When I take them off there is no extra feeling at the ball of my foot. I even found that the company, Altra, makes trail runners and trail shoes that are quite popular. If these shoes turn out to be good for the long hauls, I’ll try new hiking shoes. But I have a lot of money in other pairs to see if I can deal with it a little longer. Although, there is nothing like having my feet feel good after a day of teaching or walking.