Getting the right footwear and taking care of your feet are surely the first steps to take on the Camino.
Finding a vegetarian pair of boots can take some shopping. I practiced with 3 different pairs of boots before I found the comfortable, blister-less, waterproof pair I really like – North Face Ultra Fastpack Mid GTX.
Light weight (for boots) at 885 grams per pair (EU size 44)
Vibram rubber sole
100% synthetic – no animal parts
Make sure you buy boots one size up from your shoe size because feet swell when walking day after day and wear them in before you leave for the Camino.
I wore these boots trekking through clouds and horizontal rain up Mount Snowdon in Wales and had dry feet when I got back to the bottom of the mountain. What a great day that was!
This boot has a ladies and a gentleman’s range.
I would say practice with your boots and make sure you know them like an old friend.
A change is as good as a rest
Having a change of footwear once the days walking is done or just having an alternative walking shoe to give your feet a change is worth considering.
Crocs are light and can been worn in the shower. These weigh 330 grams (mens EU 42) and 220 grams (ladies EU 43).
I also came across these great xero shoes if you like sandals. They come in at 420 grams.
Practicing some longer walks for a few days in a row can help find where the aches, pains and blisters may appear.
For shin splints, tendinitis, or plantar fasciitis a visit to the podiatrist can be beneficial. They may give you orthotics or some stretches to practice. Be kind and give yourself time.
Update Aug 2016: My plantar fasciitis has gone after visiting the foot alignment clinic in Sydney – see Straight Walk
Blister prevention strategies I have found effective are using Injinji toesock liners or using hikers wool from New Zealand. Wearing socks designed for hiking help to prevent your foot slipping in your boots and keeping your feet dry.
I also tried covering my feet in Vicks vapour rub but stopped this after learning lubricants like vicks and vaseline actually increase friction after about 1 1/2 hours. They also inhibit moisture escaping so it builds up in your skin, weakening it.
I have decided to use Engo patches should blisters start.
Practicing long before leaving for the Camino means you have time to sort these things out. I have found it and continue to find it a most enjoyable and elucidating experience.