18 Effective Ways To Protect Your Toes When Hiking Downhill

18 Effective Ways To Protect Your Toes When Hiking Downhill

Hiking is a great way to get some exercise and fresh air. However, you could end up with painful toes if you’re not careful. This is why I put together a guide that goes over 18 different ways to protect your toes when hiking downhill!

  1. Check your toenails before and after hiking
  2. Get the right hiking boots.
  3. Cut your toenails straight
  4. Take advantage of a hiking pole
  5. Make sure your boots are shock resistant and have arch support
  6. Get a quality insole to keep your foot in place
  7. Learn Proper Lacing Technique
  8. Get some quality socks
  9. Let your feet get some fresh air once in a while
  10. Make sure your backpack is lightweight
  11. Take advantage of some foot powder
  12. Walk down in a zigzag pattern to avoid toe injury
  13. Have breaks in between
  14. Keep your feet clean and dry

Below I will go over each of these 18 ways to protect your toes when hiking downhill in more detail!

18 Best Ways To Protect Your Toes When Hiking Downhill – Avoid Toe Injury

1. Check your toenails before and after hiking

If you just go for the occasional hike here or there, then there is no need to pay much attention to your toenails.

However, if you are serious about hiking you need to check them every time you go hiking and after you have hiked.

You can get away with having longer toenails if you are just walking in on the road but, when you are hiking you need to make sure your toenails are short. This becomes more important when hiking downhill.

As you go downhill, your toes will be near to the front of the boot this can cause your nail to hit the inside of your shoe every step-down.

This can cause swelling if it’s a long trekking or hiking session. The toenail might press up against the soft skin of the toe next to it which can lead to blisters or a hot spot.

You also need to check your toes after you get off that hike as well to make sure no injuries are present.

2. Get the right hiking boots

Get the right hiking boots

When it comes to hiking, having the right boots is extremely important.

You are going to be putting a lot of pressure on your feet especially since your going downhill hiking so you need quality footwear that will protect them from all types of terrain.

You don’t want to choose shoes that are too stiff or rigid since they won’t be able to flex and mould around your foot when you walk. You also need sturdy boots with good grip so you can stay steady on the trail when it’s wet, slippery, or steep.

Look for these things when getting selecting proper hiking boots:

  • Make sure you buy boots that are bigger than your standard size to reduce friction and give your toes more wiggle room.
  • Make sure they are not TOO tight because it will cut off your circulation
  • The boots should bend and flex when you walk, along with being able to withstand weather conditions without a problem.
  • Make sure your hiking boots are not for casual hiking so that they can support the extra weight and have solid arch support.
  • Make sure the arch support is in the right position to keep you from having problems with plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis.

I personally alternate between this and this while I go hiking.

3. Break Your Hiking Boots In

If you decide to buy brand new hiking boots, you want to break them in so that your foot gets used to them.

You can do this simply by:

  1. Start by wearing them either in the house or around the park.
  2. Walk till it starts to hurt a bit.
  3. As soon as your feet start to hurt, remove them and rest.
  4. Keep doing this until you no longer feel any pain!

You need to make sure the boots feel good on your feet when you are hiking since it’s not just about breaking them in.

It is also important that they fit well and don’t rub or cause blisters while wearing them during a hike.

4. Cut your toenails straight

Make sure your toenails are properly trimmed beforehand so there aren’t any issues while hiking back downhill!

Your toenails should be cut straight across, not too short and never rounded. This is because it increases the risk of ingrown nails which can lead to infections.

Also, the toenails are much more likely to break or crack if they end up getting caught on something. This is because when you cut your nails at an angle it makes them thinner which can lead to injuries in some cases.

Having straight across toenails will also help prevent blisters especially with all of the downhill hiking you’ll be doing.

One thing you want to make sure of when it comes to having straight across nails is that you file them in one direction only and not back and forth like they do at most nail salons. This can cause your nails to split apart, which will rip the skin around your toe the next time you take a step down with force on your feet.

This type of splitting is usually what leads people who hike downhill regularly to develop black toenails.

Quick Tips For Cutting Toenails For Hiking:

  • Cut it straight and don’t round them off.
  • Make sure they are not too long
  • Make sure they are not too short

If you are going to be hiking downhill often, I highly recommend getting a high-quality clipper designed specifically for toenails as they tend to cut straighter.

I personally use this podiatrist toenail clipper.

I made a guide on how to cut toenails for hiking here that you can check out!

5. Next Time You Go Hiking Make Sure To Pack Nail Clipper In Your Bag

If you are going to be doing a lot of hiking then I would highly recommend taking a nail clipper with you while hiking.

Just in case you accidentally damage your toenails, it is always good to have a small nail clipper with you in case of emergencies.

6. Take advantage of a hiking pole

Many hikers take the approach of using a hiking pole to help them with their balance while going downhill. This can be very helpful when it comes to avoiding injuries on your toes in particular!

If you’re going downhill, try to have at least one hiking pole.

Make sure the poles are within reach so that you can use them if needed!

This will help prevent injuries from happening as well as helping with balance issues when going downhill on a trail.

The other benefit of using a hiking pole is it will take some pressure off your knees.

You can also use it when crossing steep streams or other obstacles on the trail so you don’t need to put pressure on one foot for too long!

Some hikers do prefer to have two poles, but this is more of a personal preference than anything else. Even if you decide not to bring any hiking poles with you, you can always ask someone for a spare in case your poles break.

I use this Montem Strong trekking pole but, you can use any brand you like.

7. Make sure your boots are shock resistant and have arch support

If you’re going to be doing a lot of downhill hiking then I would recommend getting some boots that are shock resistant and have arch support.

This will help add cushioning in your boots when stepping downhill which can help prevent injuries from occurring such as bruising on the toes or feet, etc…

Keep in mind that even with hiking boots that have good arch support and shock resistance, over time they tend to be less effective because they flatten after some time.

You can also replace the insole of your boots since it might be cheaper to do that instead.

8. Get a quality insole to keep your foot in place

Having an insole that has a proper arch specifically designed to avoid injuries can be very helpful.

You want the insole to fit snugly inside your shoe so you don’t have any issues with slipping while walking downhill.

Your foot should not move around which will help prevent blisters and bruising on your toes or feet in general.

I personally use this SoulInsole which has lasted me a long time. I have tried a lot of different insoles and this one seems to have way more cushion and support.

9. Don’t forget to get an extra insole in your bag

You don’t want to be in the middle of nowhere and realize that your arch support has gone flat.

This can cause an injury that’s why I personally have 2 backup insoles in my backpack just in case it’s better to be safe than sorry.

10. Learn Proper Lacing Technique

One of the most common problems with hiking downhill is that your foot will slide forward in your boot when you step down.

Having a good lacing technique can help prevent this from happening which will reduce slippage inside boots, especially when going downhill on trails that are very steep!

Keep in mind though if you have wide feet or wear shoes that are slightly on the large side, this may not help prevent sliding around inside your boots.

Instead, try to tighten up any extra lace loops so there is less movement within the boot itself which will reduce slipping and bruising of toes or feet in general.

Few lace techniques for hiking boots that you can check out:

11. Retie your laces if they get loosened

If your laces come undone, make sure to retie them as soon as possible.

You don’t want the boots to be too loose which could cause you injury if they slip off when hiking downhill! I mean, you can imagine how that could be dangerous.

Also, you want to be careful and learn how to tie lace properly because your boot laces could get entangled in something and cause you to trip over.

12. Get some quality socks

One of the most important pieces for blister prevention is to get some quality socks.

If you’re hiking downhill then I would recommend wearing a moisture wicking sock which helps prevent blisters from occurring or at least makes them less severe if they do occur.

Also, make sure you avoid cotton socks while hiking. Cotton tends to make your feet sweat more which can be very dangerous since you want the sock material to help pull that moisture away from your feet.

These are the socks that I personally wear, however, you can go for any other type of moisture-wicking / hiking socks.

Some people suggest wearing double socks but that can be an extra hassle you have to take in case you want to remove them.

Having 2 socks with an insole then boots on top is overkill and definitely not necessary.

13. Let your feet get some fresh air once in a while

Let your feet get some fresh air once in a while

Some people don’t like to take their boots off and let their feet breathe for a while, but it’s actually really beneficial.

I usually try to take my shoes/boots off around lunchtime so my feet can get some fresh air inside which helps prevent sweaty / moist feet from occurring during the afternoon hike or walk.

It also gives your feet a chance to relax after being in the same position for so long.

Just make sure you have some clean socks with you to change into if your boots start smelling too bad.

This is also one of the reasons why I recommend wearing moisture-wicking socks while hiking since they tend to help pull away any excess sweat and prevent smelly feet from being an issue.

14. Make sure your backpack is lightweight

Another thing you have to take into consideration is the weight of your backpack.

If it’s too heavy then that can cause excess pressure and strain on your feet and toes.

Try to make sure your backpack is lightweight and capable of carrying all the items you need for a hike without overpacking it too much.

That way, there won’t be any pressure building up on your toes or feet which can cause them to become sore after walking downhill with it on!

This Assaultpack is what I use because it’s super lightweight and it has every other thing most hiking backpacks have.

I know there are a ton of different backpacks out there that are WAAAY too heavy because they try to maximize storage and forget about the whole backpack needing to be lightweight.

15. Take advantage of some foot powder

Try to take advantage of some foot powder if you feel like your feet are becoming sweaty.

Use foot powder like Gold bond which is designed specifically to soak up moisture and prevent blisters from occurring.

If you get any generic foot powder that should work, however, you want to be careful with sweating as most of these generic foot powders tend to clump up because of sweat and moisture.

16. Walk down in a zigzag pattern to avoid toe injury

This is a tip I’ve been told by some people and it’s basically to walk down in a zigzag pattern instead of just going straight.

That way, you’re not walking directly into any type of toe injury that might occur from stepping on an obstacle with your toes.

If you have hiking/trekking poles then this will be even easier since you have another set of arms to help balance yourself.

This would take more time but I’d rather be safe than sorry.

17. Have breaks in between walking downhill

Have breaks in between walking downhill

The last but most important tip is to make sure you have some breaks in between walking down a steep hill.

Take your time and don’t rush it because rushing can cause you to slip, fall or even twist an ankle.

Make sure you have plenty of breaks in between walking downhill so that way you won’t feel any pain on the top of your feet near the toes.

If you go too fast then there’s a chance that pressure will build up near the toes which can cause them to become numb after a long time of walking downhill.

This will help prevent any toe injury from occurring.

Another reason for taking breaks is so you can catch your breath and rest a bit before going back to walking down the hill again.

This is especially important if you have any health issues with your feet, ankles or legs as they could become very sore after hiking downhill for too long at once!

18. Keep your feet clean and dry

This is pretty much a given but you should always keep your feet clean and dry when going hiking.

You don’t want to get any infections on your toes so I recommend keeping them clean.

This means washing them if they’re sweaty or dirty and drying them off properly before putting your socks back on.

If you have any open wounds then it’s important to keep those clean too so that way there won’t be any dirt getting in due to the wound being exposed.

Conclusion

Hiking downhill can be a lot of fun but it’s important to make sure you’re protecting your feet and toes when doing so.

If you simply take these 16 tips into consideration, then there shouldn’t be any issues with your toe (hopefully).

Feel free to share this post around to help other hikers and trekkers protect their toes while hiking downhill!

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