We self-reliant types spend our days working on our weapons, food, bug-out bags, and my personal favorite, medical supplies. Granted, these are very important, but having all of these in place will do little good if you ignore two things: Your feet.
Foot health is not just for the local bunion chiseler; it’s a priority for a shot at survival for the long term. The military has known this for a long time, and they take foot care seriously. Think about it this way: You may be required to do some major running at very short notice in a survival situation. Do you really want to do that running with those hiking boots you’ve never broken in?
The Importance of Foot Care
If you don’t take of your feet, your feet won’t take care of you. Unless you are Cody Lundin or Fred Flintstone, some major thought should be given to how to keep your dogs from howling in times of trouble. Therefore, it pays to take a class called Foot Care 101. If you pay attention, it’s an easy A.
Your first lesson is taken from the book “Common Sense for Dummies”: Make sure your boots fit well. Many foot problems originate in poorly-fitting shoes. There are lots of different brands of boots out there, and there is no time limit at the store for trying them on. This is probably the most important article of clothing that you’ll own in a collapse situation, so spend the time to get the best fit.
Foot Care: Must Know Items Before You Buy
Some things to know:
Shoe size changes as you get older, or after a pregnancy, or even during a particular day!
Go to the store after a day of walking, when your feet are a little larger than other times.
Most of us have one foot that’s larger than the other. Make sure your boots fit both feet (especially the larger one).
Each part of your foot should be comfortable in your new boots. The ball of your foot should fit the widest part of the shoe without issue. There should be about 1/2 inch or so from the end of your toes to the end of your shoe. The upper part of the shoe should be flexible enough to not cause discomfort on your instep. Your heel should not slip up and down when you walk. Soles should be thick Vibram or other sturdy material. Highcut boots will help prevent ankle sprains by giving more support and will protect against the occasional snake bite.
Don’t buy shoes that are too tight and expect them to stretch. They might, but you’ll go through a lot of discomfort to get them there. You might be used to buying shoes online , but you really should walk in a shoe first before making any purchase decisions. Your feet are shaped differently than the next guy’s, so one brand of boot might be better for you and another might be better for him.
Heavier boots, like steel-toed, are great if you’re chopping wood (you get to keep all ten of your toes) but are heavy. Remember that an extra pound of weight in your boot is like 5 extra pounds of weight on your back. Getting soft, flexible uppers will help. In wet climates, waterproof materials like Gore-Tex are your friends.
A special note: Unless you can count “shoemaker” as one of your survival skills, buy a spare pair or two now while they’re still available. Break them in.
Another factor in keeping your feet healthy is your socks. Most people hike in the same pair of socks all day, even in the heat of summer. This is as damaging to your feet as it is to your nose (phew!). Sweaty feet are unhappy feet; Wetness increases friction and gives you blisters. Change your socks often and have replacement pairs as a standard item in your backpack. Consider the use of a lighter, second pair of socks (sock liners) under the thicker hiking socks you use for additional protection.
Use foot powders, like Gold Bond, or even corn starch to keep your feet dryer. Think about getting some insoles. Who wouldn’t want more support and comfort? Dr. Scholl is a nice guy and he just wants to help.
Blisters are perhaps the most common foot ailment. Excessive friction to an area on your foot, will cause a blister to form. Usually, this is from failing Foot Care 101; in other words, choosing poorly fitting shoes, not having enough socks, and allowing your feet to become sweaty and wet.
I know that our readership is comprised of rugged individualists: “No pain, no gain” and all that. “It’s just a blister”, you might tell me. Well, blisters need time to heal and continued friction on the area will only continue to do damage and increase the risk of infection. An infected blister is a major issue, and will become more swollen, painful and red over the course of time. You might even develop pus in it and have it become an “ulcer” (essentially, a pressure sore).
So, what should you do? First, clean the area thoroughly with an antiseptic like Betadine. The cleaner you start off, the less likelihood of infection. Should you lance the blister? If it’s small the answer is no. If it’s big, put a needle under the fire until it’s red hot; then, pierce the side of the blister and allow the fluid to drain. The skin overlying the blister will serve as a protective covering for the raw skin underneath.
Cover the area with padding, leaving an opening in the middle for the healing area. Moleskin is a good thing to have on hand (even if you’re not a mole). The less friction to the area, the faster it will heal. A little antibiotic cream to the area might be useful to prevent infection. Rest if you can. If you can’t, change the bandage frequently.
An old saying goes: A 1000 mile journey begins with the first step. In uncertain times, put your best foot forward!
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