Keeping Feet Safe on Winter Hikes


Many people enjoy walks and hikes in nature, even in the winter. Outdoor activities in the cold weather pose particular risks to feet and ankles, and require extra vigilance. Here are some tips from James M. McKee, DPM, FACFAS to ensure that you have a good time without risking damage or injury to the feet and ankles.

  • Be conscientious about footwear. Make sure that boots for winter hiking are well insulated to provide warmth and protection against frostbite.
  • Thick, lug soles are especially important in winter, as they will provide maximum traction on snow and ice.
  • If your hiking boots have been around for more than a couple of years, or if they show obvious signs of wear, it’s time to replace them.
  • Invest in some wool socks, which will offer maximum warmth. New models are available in a variety of weights and thicknesses.
  • Carry extra socks on the trail to prevent fungal infections. Change socks if feet get sweaty, damp, or wet.
  • Winter trails are often cluttered with natural debris. Be on the lookout for sticks, rocks, roots, or other items that could lead to foot and ankle injuries.
  • Be sure to trim toenails before a hike. Too-long nails may bump against the front of your boot, resulting in painful ingrown toenails.
  • After returning home, set boots aside to air out, and elevate your feet and legs for a little while to ensure that they have time to rest and warm up. This is especially important for patients with circulatory issues including peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and diabetes.

If you’re dealing with an issue as the result of a winter hike, or if you have any other concern about the health and well being of your feet, ankles, or lower legs, it’s time to visit the podiatrist. Visit us online or call Podiatry Group of Annapolis, P.A. at 410-224-4448 to schedule a convenient appointment with Dr. James M. McKee in our comfortable, modern appointment on Solomons Island Road. Dr. McKee will thoroughly examine your feet, accurately diagnose any current or potential issues, work with you to create an individualized treatment plan, and provide ongoing aftercare as appropriate.