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Thread: Foot Pain While Hiking

  1. #1
    Senior Member BIGEarl's Avatar
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    Talking Foot Pain While Hiking

    I have been experiencing for pain for some time. The pain has always been located in the front areas; ahead of the ball of my foot and in the toes. Usually, the toe discomfort has been in the second through fourth toes from the base of the toe to the end, but occasionally the large toe joins the action. Itís a sharp, burning pain. The forefoot pain is always between the balls of my foot and the bottom of the toes. The pain is almost always there after a steep and rough descent. Consequently, itís generally at the end of the hike; the final few miles are extremely tough.

    Once the pain reaches a very high level I have no choice but to stop and wait for it to subside. Usually, only a few minutes are needed for the recovery. This stop and start routine always happens several times during a hike. A few years ago I needed fifteen to twenty miles before the pain was unbearable. Now, a short hike of seven to ten miles can do it.

    Well, seven to ten miles is at best about half the normal hike distance Iím interested in during the summer. A while back I started really digging in for information about the potential problem and possible solution by chasing symptoms on various high-reputation websites. The Mayo Clinic site was one of my primary targets having been recommended by a number of doctors that I have personal experience with.

    Last week, we completed two relatively short hikes; Hancocks and Tecumseh. Multiple times on the exit hike for the Hancocks I needed to stop and wait for the pain to go down. The same was true for Tecumseh. I ended the day with sore toes. The toe pain generally remained all week and I started the hike yesterday with sore toes.

    In researching the symptoms that I was experiencing the information seemed to point to common causes for two different conditions. I donít know which or even if one of the two conditions is mine but I decided to address the possible cause to see if a solution was available. The first solution I decided on was a metatarsal pad. On-line there are a number of sources for these items. Theyíre inexpensive and available from a number of manufacturers. I was interested in finding a local source. I checked everywhere for these things and could only find models intended for women (evidently, these are popular to address foot discomfort caused by certain shoe types). In the course of my research, I found the same general complaint exists with many runners. Last resort, I called a store that caters to runners and they had exactly what I was looking for. I drove over and picked up a pair.

    Friday I installed the pads into my boots. On Saturday, I started the day with sore toes and we hiked the Whiteface & Passaconaway loop. Roughly an hour into the hike I decided the right boot felt great but the left boot needed some adjustment. I removed the foot bed and repositioned the metatarsal pad. Back underway the left boot felt significantly better than before. I didnít make any additional stops to adjust the pads, but there was still room for improvement on the left side.

    We completed the hike and I did not make even one stop for toe pain. I canít remember the last time I was able to complete a hike without at least a couple stops. My toes hurt at the end of the hike, but probably no worst than they did at the start. Iím very happy with the change.

    Maybe, Iím headed for a solution to the problem.

    Iím hoping.


  2. #2
    Senior Member ColdRiverRun's Avatar
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    Morton's Neuroma

    On descents your foot goes through more compression; from impact and sliding. Anything causing pressure to that area will agitate it. You feel it less on your climbs up because they are more controlled and your foot spreads out.
    Cory D
    ďI donít know if momma was right or if itís Lieutenant Dan. I donít know if we each have a destinyÖ or if we're all floating around accidental like.. on a breeze. But, I thinkÖ maybe itís bothÖ maybe both are happening at the same time.Ē ĖForrest Gump.

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    Senior Member BIGEarl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColdRiverRun View Post
    Morton's Neuroma

    On descents your foot goes through more compression; from impact and sliding. Anything causing pressure to that area will agitate it. You feel it less on your climbs up because they are more controlled and your foot spreads out.
    From the research I've done, the two conditions that have similar symptoms in-line with the symptoms I'm experiencing are Morton's Neuroma and Metatarsalgia. Both can be similarly irritated. And, both can be relieved with similar solutions.

    Unfortunately, there are a number of pain medications available that might also relieve the discomfort but for me they are off-limits.

  4. #4
    Senior Member ColdRiverRun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BIGEarl View Post
    From the research I've done, the two conditions that have similar symptoms in-line with the symptoms I'm experiencing are Morton's Neuroma and Metatarsalgia. Both can be similarly irritated. And, both can be relieved with similar solutions.

    Unfortunately, there are a number of pain medications available that might also relieve the discomfort but for me they are off-limits.
    Here is one of the more straight foward articles I know of explaining the two and the symptoms. Just realize that "Morton's Neuroma" is referring to a more specified problem while "Metatarsaglia" is a more general term covering multiple symptoms referring to forefoot pain.
    Cory D
    ďI donít know if momma was right or if itís Lieutenant Dan. I donít know if we each have a destinyÖ or if we're all floating around accidental like.. on a breeze. But, I thinkÖ maybe itís bothÖ maybe both are happening at the same time.Ē ĖForrest Gump.

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    Senior Member BIGEarl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColdRiverRun View Post
    Interesting reading. And helpful.

    Thanks for the link.

  6. #6
    Senior Member BIGEarl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColdRiverRun View Post
    Here is one of the more straight foward articles I know of explaining the two and the symptoms. Just realize that "Morton's Neuroma" is referring to a more specified problem while "Metatarsaglia" is a more general term covering multiple symptoms referring to forefoot pain.
    On the Mayo Clinic website, Metatarsalgia as descussed here seems to describe a condition and symptoms in-line with mine.

    Their discussion on Morton's Neuroma also describes a condition and symptoms in-line with mine.

    I believe one is mainly mechanical and the other nerve related. It looks like a doctor and testing would be needed to determine which the actual problem is. Fortunately, (I think) both can be addressed with similar techniques for relief.

    For now, I intend to continue with the metatarsal pads and will also experiment with arch supports.

    For relief from my hiking foot pain, I think I'm finally headed down the right path (no pun intended).


  7. #7
    Senior Member erugs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BIGEarl View Post
    From the research I've done, the two conditions that have similar symptoms in-line with the symptoms I'm experiencing are Morton's Neuroma and Metatarsalgia. Both can be similarly irritated. And, both can be relieved with similar solutions.

    Unfortunately, there are a number of pain medications available that might also relieve the discomfort but for me they are off-limits.
    I've felt the same pain. Switching to a wider toe-box boot helped so much! I felt a very similar pain this winter when I laced my boots too tightly. Pain meds never did anything for my pain. It got to the point where I wondered about having the alcohol treatments but because I also have Lyme disease I know that pains can come and go. Good wishes, Earl!
    Ellen

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    Senior Member jniehof's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by erugs View Post
    I've felt the same pain. Switching to a wider toe-box boot helped so much!
    I doubt this will be a solution for all types of toe pain, but I have similarly found that a combination of loose at the toes and tight by the ankle works well. I lace up a few passes from the bottom, adjust that to taste, and tie a square knot. Then the upper portion can be much tighter, finished off with a heel lock. My toes take little of the banging.

  9. #9
    Senior Member erugs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jniehof View Post
    I doubt this will be a solution for all types of toe pain, but I have similarly found that a combination of loose at the toes and tight by the ankle works well. I lace up a few passes from the bottom, adjust that to taste, and tie a square knot. Then the upper portion can be much tighter, finished off with a heel lock. My toes take little of the banging.
    How do you untie the square knot for unlacing?
    Ellen

    Volunteer Maintainer: East Pond Trail

    "Through winter-time we call on spring/And through the spring on summer call/And when abounding hedges ring/Declare that winter's best of all/And after that there's nothing good/Because the spring-time has not come... William Butler Yeats

  10. #10
    Senior Member BIGEarl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by erugs View Post
    I've felt the same pain. Switching to a wider toe-box boot helped so much! I felt a very similar pain this winter when I laced my boots too tightly. Pain meds never did anything for my pain. It got to the point where I wondered about having the alcohol treatments but because I also have Lyme disease I know that pains can come and go. Good wishes, Earl!
    Thanks Ellen,

    I'm very encouraged with the results from this first test of the metatarsal pads. The instructions warned to only use them for a short period if it was a first-time use. I'm a guy and knew better - so I used them all day. A back-up set of footbeds was in my pack, just in case. I'm looking forward to the next time out and hope for more positive results.




    Quote Originally Posted by jniehof View Post
    I doubt this will be a solution for all types of toe pain, but I have similarly found that a combination of loose at the toes and tight by the ankle works well. I lace up a few passes from the bottom, adjust that to taste, and tie a square knot. Then the upper portion can be much tighter, finished off with a heel lock. My toes take little of the banging.
    I have tried different lacing techniques and found some change in overall foot comfort but this particular problem remained unchanged.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Little Rickie's Avatar
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    From one big guy to another I've found massaging my feet by rolling a lacross ball under my foot has cured all my foot pain. Roll that ball right into the sore spot every day few weeks while watching TV and it goes away.

    I also exercise and walk stairs bare foot for conditioning.
    Peace

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    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Earl, I was wondering what kind of boots you hike in? I know you put in alot of miles as many out here do. To be honest, it amazes me the footwear people hike in and how lightweight it is. I think alot of hikers get away with light boots because thier young. I use heavy boots and have tried to go lightweight but always ended up with sore feet. Just a thought. your feet take alot of abuse hiking, after a few thousand peaks, I think they need to be protected from the smashing and pressure of many miles. just a thought.
    P.S. I wear Makalues (sportiva) heavy as hell, but I can smash my feet all day long and they stay protected, besides I love the ankle support ( another issue for hardcore longtime hikers). good luck earl.

  13. #13
    Senior Member BIGEarl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Rickie View Post
    From one big guy to another I've found massaging my feet by rolling a lacross ball under my foot has cured all my foot pain. Roll that ball right into the sore spot every day few weeks while watching TV and it goes away.

    I also exercise and walk stairs bare foot for conditioning.
    Interesting. I'll give it a try - thanks.



    Quote Originally Posted by sierra View Post
    Earl, I was wondering what kind of boots you hike in? I know you put in alot of miles as many out here do. To be honest, it amazes me the footwear people hike in and how lightweight it is. I think alot of hikers get away with light boots because thier young. I use heavy boots and have tried to go lightweight but always ended up with sore feet. Just a thought. your feet take alot of abuse hiking, after a few thousand peaks, I think they need to be protected from the smashing and pressure of many miles. just a thought.
    P.S. I wear Makalues (sportiva) heavy as hell, but I can smash my feet all day long and they stay protected, besides I love the ankle support ( another issue for hardcore longtime hikers). good luck earl.
    Thanks, sierra,

    The boots I have are Asolo Powermatic 500's. There is nothing lightweight about them.

  14. #14
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    right on earl, one more thing, as you work this out try to keep hiking. many people are advised to stop hiking and heal, me, Ive hiked through alot of ailments. I think the body learns to adapt, it needs help but not sitting at home imo.

  15. #15
    Senior Member BIGEarl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra View Post
    right on earl, one more thing, as you work this out try to keep hiking. many people are advised to stop hiking and heal, me, Ive hiked through alot of ailments. I think the body learns to adapt, it needs help but not sitting at home imo.
    Thanks.

    You and I first met January 1, 2006 on the Liberty Spring Trail. We had an interesting discussion regarding boots at that time. I had recently purchased a new pair of leather boots that were quite a bit heavier than the ones they replaced, which were a pair of Merrells. As I recall, you had a pair of Merrell Wilderness boots and had only good comments to make about them. You werenít wearing them on that day.

    I was already experiencing foot issues at that time. The exact same type of problems Iím experiencing now. They have continued and so have I. The option of extended couch time isnít one that Iím interested in taking. I have learned of ways to deal with the discomfort.

    Recently, I decided to try and learn more about the issue and see if there is a way to mitigate the pain. I believe Iím making progress.

    Iím still not interested in bench time. Iíll keep doing what Iíve been doing but it looks like I may have new tricks to help me out. Hopefully, each time out I learn something new.


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