The 2018 OXFAM Trailwalker is just over 5 weeks away…If you are reading this because you are doing it… AMAZING, what a great thing to complete all for a very worthy cause!! At this point some of you may be regretting your decision due to injuries or lack of training whilst others will be smoothly increasing your km’s with no issues. Regardless of what category you fall into, now is the time to make sure you have everything in place to make sure you cross that finish line.
As Podiatrists, every year we have walkers book in the day before the event with a list of problems that have plagued them throughout training pleading for assistance. In most instances it is the walkers first attempt and they are oblivious to the importance of good equipment and thorough preparation in the weeks and months leading up to the event.
‘Prevention is better than cure’
We’ve all heard this mantra countless times but it’s relevance to this event can’t be understated. In most cases, the reason people need to withdraw or struggle to finish could be avoided. That’s why we have prepared this checklist of things for you to work on NOW, not in 4 weeks time!!
BEFORE THE WALK: This stage is the most critical where you lay the foundations to avoid being one of the 20% who have to withdraw before or during the event. In the weeks leading up to the event you need to prepare the following:
Footwear: 100 kms works out to roughly 125,000-130,000 steps hence the need to have appropriate footwear. Due to the variation in surfaces and conditions over the walk we recommend having 2 pairs of shoes:
- A running shoe which will be used for the majority of the walk.
- A trail running/walking shoe for the sections that are a bit more uneven or slippery if it has been raining.
It is important you have done at least 6-10 walks in them before the event. This should be of varying distances and ideally on different parts of the circuit so your body can acclimatise. When purchasing these shoes we recommend you be fitted professionally to reduce the risk of any footwear related problems. Some suitable stores are: Active Feet, Sole Motive, The Running Company, The Walking Company and Paddy Pallin.
Socks: Socks are just socks, right? Wrong!! An ill-fitting pair of socks can cause an array of problems from numbness/cramping if too tight to blisters if they bunch up from being too big. Make sure you have a few pairs of socks so you can change them at each Checkpoint or if they get wet and look for socks with moisture ‘wicking’ capabilitie as these will help keep your feet dry and reduce the risk of blisters.
Foot and Body Check: Make sure to get your feet checked by a podiatrist at least 4 weeks before doing the event. They can show you how to cut your nails to avoid any bruising or loss of nails, reduce any callouses or corns, check for any potential ‘hot spots’ and show you how to tape your feet, and make sure your footwear is appropriate for you. If any problems are detected it still gives you time to have them addressed via footwear modifications, padding or self-care before the event. A myotherapy or physiotherapy assessment around the same time is also beneficial particularly if you are noticing any tightness or pain in your lower body or back. They can implement a management plan with stretching, massage and strengthening to make sure your body is ready for the demands of the walk. Finally, the day before the race you may want to see your podiatrist to have your feet taped if you don’t feel confident doing it yourself.
Blister Pack: Despite your best efforts you may still run into trouble with blisters or friction points. Therefore, it is important that each member of your team has an idea of how to manage any issues that may arise and have a pack ready to use at short notice. Your podiatrist can guide you on what you need but you can’t go wrong with having:
- Pre-cut Fixomull strips to tape your feet/toes or replace any preventative tape that has come away
- Foam and film dressings to offload any blisters that form
- Betadine lotion or ointment, saline (and cotton balls/gauze to apply it)
DURING THE WALK: It is important to know your capabilities and make sure to pace yourself and continually check on your teammates physical and mental state. Be aware of you feet-make sure to remove any stones/twigs if you feel them in your shoes and address any rubbing staright away. Take advantage of the checkpoints to stretch and get any problems assessed by the volunteer podiatrists, physiotherapists and myotherapists if you can’t manage it yourself. Finally, ensure you remain well hydrated and eat small amounts at regular intervals even if the conditions are cool and overcast.
AFTER THE WALK: Make sure to continue to rehydrate (a celebratory beer/wine is a good start!!), check the condition of your feet and do some gentle stretching and massage using a foam roller/spikey ball. Having a myotherapy/massage appointment pre-booked within the first 2 days post the event is a great way to speed up your recovery. Finally, make sure to see your podiatrist if you have any concerns regarding the state of your feet.
From all the staff at The Melbourne Sports Medicine Centre we wish you the best of luck and are ready to help you prepare and recover from this great event!!
By: Mark Whiteside