couple hiking on show with backpacksKeeping our feet warm and dry in the winter is a constant problem for many of us in the Northwest. It can be most problematic for older adults with poor circulation and for those who like to run, hike or ski in all kinds of weather. Wet conditions, freezing temperatures, and the wrong socks can lead to cold, damp, and blistered feet.

Winter can also be painful for those of us with bunions and hammertoes when wearing closed-toed shoes are necessary.

What can we do to keep our feet warm, dry and pain-free?

  • Wear proper socks. Socks that contain wool and wick away moisture from your feet are best to keep them dry and prevent blistering. I recommend SmartWool Trekking Heavy Crew Socks to my patients who hike, ski or have circulatory problems. For runners, I suggest Feetures Merino 10 Running Socks
  • Avoid tight footwear. It can inhibit circulation of the blood vessels in the lower extremities and cause cold feet.
  • Use two pairs of socks if needed. In very cold temperatures, I suggest two pairs of socks. Wear one thin layer next to your skin made of a wicking material like polypropylene and a thicker layer made of a combination of wool and other synthetic materials. If you plan to use two pairs of socks you might need to buy shoes a half size larger.
  • Use foot warmers. Bio-World Foot Warmers will keep your feet warm for eight hours and are not expensive.
  • Purchase shoes for bunions and hammertoes.  Shoes with a larger and deeper toe box and softer leather are key for preventing or reducing pain. Kirsten Borrink of Barking Dog Shoes recommends these shoes for bunions and these shoes for hammertoes and/or bunions.
  • Check your shoes or boots and purchase for your particular sport. Always wear footwear designed for the sport you love. e.g. day hiking boots vs. backpacking hiking boots.  Also, before you go out hiking, check your boots for wear. If your shoes no longer provide proper support or are the soles have worn out unevenly you're much more likely to sprain an ankle, trip and fall, particularly in snowy or wet weather. Waterproof trail shoes may be your best bet if you know that you plan to run on snowy or wet trails.

Now that you know how to keep your feet warm, dry, and pain-free enjoy all the winter sports you can. If you're experiencing foot or ankle pain, call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online

Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.
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