The walker's dread, having sore feet! While hiking, you may experience toe pains, nail discomfort, or feel pain in the sole of your foot...

Many troubles that one would prefer to avoid, in order to fully enjoy the pleasures of hiking. Here are our tips to prevent toe and foot pain in general.

Basic recommendations to prevent toe pain while hiking:

Your pair of shoes: The right size

A pair of shoes with a perfect fit size is essential to prevent foot pain while hiking. To avoid any mistakes, visit a specialized store to get advice from a specialist, and avoid online purchases!

Optimal lacing

A good lacing of your shoes is even more important as it allows your foot to be effectively held in the shoe. It should not be too tight or too loose: it is important to stabilize the entire foot to reduce shocks and friction... without impeding blood circulation.

Be attentive to your sensations throughout the day: readjust the lacing when needed and according to the terrain you are walking on.

For example, when going downhill, you can slightly tighten the laces to prevent your toes from touching the front of the shoe. On flat terrain, the tightening can be more moderate.

Avoid new shoes

Before embarking on a multi-day hike, wear your shoes several times on short walks to break them in. Indeed, this type of shoe is rigid. These short walks will allow them to adapt to the shape of your foot and your way of walking. It will also be an opportunity to identify any potential friction problems and address them before a more ambitious hike.

It is said that shoes need to reach half of their lifespan to be perfectly adapted to your practice, your morphology, and your feet.

Your pair of socks:

Socks are the direct interface between your feet and your shoes. That's why they are one of the best ways to prevent pain during your hiking sessions. Choose them as carefully as your shoes, focusing on quality, and especially on the following two criteria:


They provide a welcoming comfort and protect your skin from discomfort caused by contact with the shoe. While walking, the foot can rub on the heel, ankles, or even the toes. Good quality socks have cushioning reinforcements at these same spots. Coincidence?

Thermal regulation:

Depending on the materials they are made of, socks will help you evacuate moisture and heat in the summer, or keep your feet warm in cold seasons.

This helps to prevent swelling and friction. To combine these two criteria, the characteristics of the socks to consider are as follows:

  • the material (synthetic or natural, compressive, anti-friction...),
  • the thickness,
  • the seams,
  • ventilated and/or reinforced areas,
  • the heel shape,
  • support bands (specifically their ability to keep the sock on the foot without compressing it),
  • the size (every two sizes and no more),
  • specific designs (double-layer).

To learn in detail how to choose your hiking socks, read our complete article on this topic.

Proper preparation, acclimating your body and feet to walking:

Just as you need to "prepare" your shoes before a hike, you need to prepare your body! Before the big departure, organize some training sessions planning to do small, more or less technical routes, with ascents and descents, rocky paths, and slopes.

By doing this, you strengthen your feet and ankles to prevent injuries. It's also the perfect time to test and break in your new shoes.

Checking your feet:

A few weeks before the big day, it is important to conduct a thorough examination of your feet to prepare them properly: check the condition of your nails, skin, any injuries... everything must be reviewed to ensure you start off in good condition. You also need to make sure your skin is toughened up without drying it out using creams specially designed for foot preparation.

Listening to your body:

At the first signs of injury (heating, irritation, pain...), it is important to treat yourself immediately. Do not delay treatment, as it could jeopardize your entire hike!

To effectively treat yourself in the field, prepare a small first aid kit to carry in your bag!

An essential item for your first aid kit, "second skin" bandages:

This type of bandage, in the form of a cushion, helps cushion pressure and reduce friction. Apply it as soon as you feel the first symptoms!

Blisters are not inevitable. A pair of quality socks will greatly increase your comfort. Expect to pay between 15€ and 30€ to find the right pair. And opt for French-made socks. If your blisters persist, the issue may be the interface between your foot and shoe: one doesn't agree with the other. We recommend consulting a podiatrist first, and then visiting a specialized store to benefit from professional advice.

Limiting the load you carry:

Every step taken creates shocks and pressure on our main hiking allies, our feet! They bear our weight, as well as that of our backpack. It is therefore essential to ensure that we carry only the essentials to avoid exacerbating this and risking pain and injury. Keep only what is necessary!

Tips for dealing with toenail problems while hiking:

Pain in the toenails while hiking can have two origins: the shoes, or the nails themselves.

The shoes:

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is essential to wear shoes that fit properly. Pain in the toenails while hiking is often related to wearing shoes that are not the right size for your foot. When we talk about size, we mean not only length but also width.

Shoes that are too big:

If your shoes are too big, even slightly, your foot "moves around" inside the shoe as you walk, and your toes hit the front of the shoe. Over time, this inevitably causes pain in the toenails because they are the first to experience these micro-shocks.

Shoes that are too small:

Conversely, shoes that are too small will compress your toes at the front of the shoe, leading to the same undesirable effects.

Shoes that are too narrow:

The widest part of the foot is the forefoot region. Therefore, if your shoes are too narrow, the most painful area will be the toes. The toenails at the tips of your feet will suffer because they are pressed against the outer walls of the shoe.

To remedy this, if the shoe model you have chosen does not offer the perfect size for your foot and is slightly too big, you can add a specially adapted insole for hiking to reduce the shoe volume while adding softness and cushioning. You can also adjust the thickness of your socks.

In case of shoes that are too small or too narrow, unfortunately, the only option left is to change to a different pair of shoes... However, there is hope if you have just bought your shoes, as your training sessions before the big hike may help break them in!


Any growth or protrusion increases pressure and friction. Therefore, nails should be cut short, without sharp points. You can use nail clippers or scissors, then a file to smooth the cut. If you feel it's necessary, don't hesitate to make an appointment with a pedicurist.

Tips for preventing foot arch pain while hiking:

The foot arch, also known as the plantar aponeurosis or plantar fascia, is a thick elastic tissue that acts as a cushion for the sole of the foot and contributes to its arched shape. It fans out from the heel towards the toes. Pain in the foot arch has a name: plantar aponeurosis.

What causes this pain?

It is an acute or chronic inflammation of this elastic tissue, which occurs during prolonged walking activities such as hiking, as well as during sports activities involving jumping or running. Flat feet and high-arched feet are more prone to experiencing foot arch pain while hiking. Sometimes, this pain is associated with a heel spur (a pointed bony outgrowth at the heel bone).

How to treat it?

The best technique to relieve foot arch pain is deep massage: massage the foot arch transversely several times a day, during breaks, for example when you are hiking. You can perform these massages using a natural anti-inflammatory like tiger balm.

In the evening, apply ice after the massage. At home, roll the foot 3 to 5 times a day on a frozen water bottle or on a tennis ball, applying pressure on the foot arch.

Regularly consulting an osteopath, especially before the start of your hiking trip, also yields very good results. Finally, wearing hiking shoes that fit well and are in good condition will help reduce the risk of developing this pain.

However, if this pain is associated with the presence of a heel spur, it is advisable to also consult a podiatrist who will design custom orthopedic insoles for you, molded directly to your feet after an assessment. These insoles, containing corrective elements, will help absorb shocks and distribute pressure evenly across the entire foot.

That's all! You can set off on your next hike with light feet!