On the science of the foot
And then came the blisters …
Just because a boot fits, doesn’t always mean it should be worn, according to foot specialists.
There’s more to fitting when it comes to wearing a hiking boot, and local chiropractor Ivo Waerlop wants to keep shoppers informed before they drop a wad of money on their next pair of dirt kickers. He will conduct a free boot-fit clinic at Wilderness Sports in Silverthorne at 7 p.m. tonight.
“Feet are like fingerprints, everyone’s are unique,” said Tom Jones, Jr., owner of Wilderness Sports. “We just wanted to get some more expertise in the store in terms of interpreting people’s feet and matching them up with the proper footwear. This is the most popular couple of months for hiking boot shopping, and people get confused about what they want. If you know a little bit of the science behind it, it helps point people toward the right product.”
There are day hikers taking leisurely trips up local trails and hardcore backpackers carrying 80-pound bags on multiple day expeditions up 14ers. No matter who’s wearing it, Waerlop points out that a boot’s use should be the shopper’s first consideration.
“Most commonly, people buy too much for what they’re going to do,” Waerlop said. “Someone goes out and buys a mountaineering boot and does a day hike in it and it’s way too rigid for them. Something has to give, and it usually ends up being you. It gives you that nice, half-dollar blister right on the heel. Then again, if you’re doing any technical hiking, on rocks, going up Grays and Torreys without something over your ankle, it’s just a bad idea. By the same token, people might need different kinds of hiking shoes depending on other factors. A boot will behave totally differently when you have a load on your back. It requires that the shoe is that much more rigid.”
The boot-fit clinic will likely involve kicking shoes off, as different types of feet can also play a part in selecting a new pair of boots. Evidence of boot needs can be found in high or low arches, existing blisters and corns, or over-pronated ankles. Waerlop also will cover gait and the use of boot components such as leather and Gore-Tex. He points out that, because the average hiker spends three to five years wearing a boot, the boot better do more than just fit.
“I want to catch people before they spend big bucks on boots,” Waerlop said. “It makes a huge significance in longevity. You could have shoes that have perfect comfort in the store, and you go on a trip with them, and can barely walk when you get back.”
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