How To Avoid Blisters

… and minimize pain.

“… pain is unavoidable, suffering is optional …”
A truism very much in evidence on the Camino. I managed to avoid blisters completely while walking the Camino, and I’ve picked up a few lessons on minimizing the pain that worked for me.

  • keep backpack weight to a minimum

Trust me, you really don’t need all of stuff you initially thought of bringing along. If your thought process starts with  “it would be nice to …” leave it home. If it proves really necessary you can always get it in Spain.

  • comfortable and well worn shoes/boots

In my opinion THE most important part of your Camino gear. I also wore hiking socks by same manufacturer (Salewa) and the boots/socks came with “100% blister free guarantee” … I was highly sceptical but it worked. Although I do think my success had more to do with other measures listed here.

  • start slow and let your body adapt

Camino is not a race, and Brierly (or any other guidebook) daily stages are not mandatory minimums.

  • frequent breaks and letting the feet breathe

Every-time you see a bench or a convenient rock, sit down, take of your shoes and socks and let your feet breathe, some foot massage is advised as well.

Works better than vaseline because it isn’t greasy. Helps prevent skin friction that causes blisters.

  • Rowo Gel feet treatment after walking

For pain relief and that wonderful sense of coolness.

  • cold water treatment

Your feet get warm and swollen during a long walk. Start your shower with a cold water blast at your feet and soak your feet in cold water after walking.

  • elevation to reduce swelling

If your knee or ankle gets swollen, ice pack or Rowo ice spray will help. But to reduce the swelling you need to elevate your feet so that they are a higher level than your heart. Translated … lie down (don’t sit) and put your feet up, in case of major swelling keep your feet in that position overnight.

  • daily dose of aspirin and magnesium

I was advised to take a daily dose of aspirin and magnesium to prevent muscle cramps. It worked like a charm. Last few days on the Camino, I skipped a few days and had major problems.

For a detailed overview of different ailments that might be experienced on the Camino and how to treat them I recommend the Camino First Aid 2014 pdf.