We Asked Podiatrists How To Make Walking A Little More Comfortable

Turns out things like Vaseline and Epsom salts can make a big difference — no insoles or toe separators required.
Seamless socks, Vaseline and a bag of Epsoak.
Seamless socks, Vaseline and a bag of Epsoak.

It’s not always easy to get your daily steps in — and of course, the motivation to go for a walk wanes even more if you’re dealing with foot pain.

If you have foot pain or are interested in making walking more comfortable, you may be tempted to try insoles or other over-the-counter foot gadgets from the drugstore. But Dr. Patrick McEneaney, a podiatrist and owner/CEO of Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists, said you should chat with your doctor before buying.

“With so many things on the market, just buying an insert or buying something over the counter, it might not be the type you need,” McEneaney told HuffPost.

In addition, McEneaney said, “[I commonly see] people will wear shoes that are wrong for their foot types. Having an appropriate shoe for the activity, also having the appropriate shoe for your foot is almost even more important. It’s a good idea to get evaluated and see if there are any problems.”

However, McEneaney and other podiatrists said there are some unlikely non-medical items that can make walking feel better for your feet.

So, once you’ve met with a specialist and have talked about the best walking shoes for your foot, consult this list of products that we compiled based on our experts’ suggestions. They may help further alleviate any pain you’re having.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change. The experts we consulted for this story do not necessarily endorse the products ahead unless otherwise noted.

Seamless wool, nylon or polyester socks
When it comes to foot care, you want to think about socks almost as much as you think about shoes. "Socks are very important as well," said New York City-based podiatrist Dr. Gary Evans. "Can your foot benefit from a thicker, more cushioned sock? A thinner sock for better shoe fit?"

If you're overwhelmed with sock options (believe me, there are many), Evans suggests trying a moisture-wicking sock, which can help prevent blisters, and "socks that are seamless, which means less pressure into and around the toes," he said.

Dr. Michelle Castiello, a podiatrist at Scarsdale Medical Group, an affiliate of White Plains Hospital, said that for walking or exercising, you want to stay away from cotton. "Choose moisture-wicking socks made from fabrics like merino wool, nylon and polyester," she said via email. "Cotton socks can trap moisture against your skin."

These unisex seamless polyester blend athletic socks have a 4.4 rating on Amazon from 3,379 reviews. They come in 12 colors in packs of three, and have a pull-on tab for accessibility as well as a padded instep and cushion in the heel. They're lightweight and moisture-wicking and run from S-XL. Consult the size chart to ensure the best fit.
A heavy-duty emollient
You may be used to putting lotion on your feet after a shower or before bed, but Castiello recommends giving your piggies a little product before hitting the streets.

"Moisturize your feet before a long walk," she said. "Apply creams or ointments to areas that are at risk for blisters, such as bunions and hammertoes."

Per Castiello, having moisturized feet can help prevent blisters, cracking, corns and calluses while you work out.

One possible option is O'Keeffe's Healthy Feet foot cream, an unscented and non-greasy lotion intended to keep your feet from cracking or drying out.

Castiello recommends putting a thin layer of Vaseline on the back of your heels to prevent blisters or discomfort.
A toenail clipper
Before you go on a long walk, Castiello recommends giving your nails a little clip. "Trim your toenails straight across the top of the nail, following the natural curve of your tie," she said. "Toenails that are too long can rub against the front of your sneaker, causing pain, bleeding under the nail and even permanent damage to the toenail."

This Wanmat nail clipper uses leverage handles to make trimming your toenails a little bit easier. It has a 4.6 Amazon rating from 17,124 reviews.
A soap or foot wash to ward off fungus
When you come in from a walk, you may automatically head to the shower to get the sweat off. But even if you don't fully bathe, Castiello recommends giving your feet a foot scrub after every walk.

"After exercise, take off your socks and shoes as soon as possible, [and] wash and dry your feet well, especially between the toes, to avoid fungus," she said.

This Daily Defense foot wash contains tea tree oil and Epsom salts to help clean and deodorize your feet.
Something to stretch on
Though you may do some stretching before you go for a walk, Castiello suggests doing it after as well. "After walking, stretch your feet to improve flexibility, circulation, and prevent/relieve pain," she said.

One thing that might make this easier is a yoga mat. This option measures 74 inches by 24 inches and is half an inch thick. It comes in six colors with a carrying strap.
Pure Epsom salts
If you're dealing with foot pain, McEneaney recommends doing regular foot soaks. "I like Epson salts, so when people have muscle joint aches, some warm and salt soaks can be soothing and can help them feel better," he said. "[You want to] avoid products with any perfumes or dyes."

McEneaney pointed out that some foot pain may be caused by overuse. If you're just starting to go on walks or are trying to go on longer walks, resting and soaking your feet is an important part of getting (and staying) in shape.

"People’s feet are used to taking a certain amount of pressure over time, and that's something that can build up over time," he said. "But if you start walking more than usual or you are doing different types of activities — [such as] walking more inclines — [that] can lead to overuse-type injuries."

This five-pound bag of pure Epsom salt is made in the USA. It has a 4.8-star Amazon rating from 7,250 reviews.

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