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how to prevent hiking and climbing injuries in seattleOnce Spring arrives in Seattle, many of my patients hit the trails to take in the beauty of the Northwest. Whether you’re a day hiker, backpacker, mountain, or rock climber you’ve likely experienced foot and ankle pain at some point.

With such a short season for outdoor recreation, my job as your podiatrist is to maximize your time doing what you love. That means helping you heal as quickly as possible from foot and ankle injuries and educating you about how to prevent those problems in the future.

Here are some of the most common foot conditions we see in hikers and climbers.

Ball of Foot Pain

Ball of foot pain is very common in hikers due to the way the foot hits the ground when going up and coming down a mountain. When hiking on a flatter surface hikers will typically heel strike first, but when going up and down the ball of the foot is what gets used the most. Some ball of foot conditions that are most likely to develop or be exacerbated due to hiking are:


If you develop this condition, you'll feel pain under one or more of the five bones in the ball of the foot. Learn more about how this condition is treated and prevented here!

Morton’s Neuroma

In this condition, you'll will feel pain between the 3rd and 4th toe in the ball of the foot. It’s caused by a benign growth of nerves in that area of the foot. Added pressure from hiking will make this condition worse. Learn more about how it’s treated and prevented here!


Two pea-shaped bones in the ball of the foot called sesamoids can become inflamed from hiking. Learn about how it’s treated and prevented here!

Heel Pain

Two types of heel pain are common in hikers—plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. Hiking long distances and carrying a heavy backpack will increase the likelihood of developing these conditions. And so do poor foot mechanics. Doing a lot of hill running to train for hiking is a risk factor for Achilles tendonitis.

Learn how Plantar Fasciitis in Hikers is Prevented and Treated.

Learn how Achilles Tendonitis in Hikers is Prevented and Treated.

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Toenail Problems

While both hikers and climbers can experience toenail problems, we see these problems more often in climbers. The types of conditions we see are:

To learn more about toenail problems in hikers and how they’re prevented click here. If you’re a rock climber, read our blog called “How to Prevent and Treat the Most Common Rock Climbing Foot and Ankle Injuries”.

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how to buy hiking boots to prevent foot painBuying The Right Hiking Boots to Prevent Foot Pain

A large part of preventing foot pain while hiking or climbing is buying the right shoes or boots and ensuring you get the proper fit. I've written an eBook called "How to Buying Hiking Boots to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis". This book is also valuable for avoiding other foot problems in hikers and climbers as well. Click on the photo to download your free copy.


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