Why Do You Get Sore Toes when Hiking?




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Toe injury

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When hiking out in the wilderness why do you get sore toes when hiking? How to avoid these problems? Even on a local hike, you must be prepared.

Knowing how to protect your feet and toes when hiking is extremely important. If you don’t take care, this could lead to severe pain and even toenail loss.

Why do you get sore toes when hiking? If you have a toe problem this can sideline all your amazing hiking plans. Friction, heat, pressure, and gravity can all take their toll on your toes and feet.

When hiking you encounter long and steep descents, and there is a lot of pressure on your toes. Every step even when trying to zig-zag your toe hits your shoe and with thousand of steps that your take it damages the sensory nerves in your toes.

This will take away sensation and cause problems in that area. Lots of things can contribute to a problem such as ill-fitting hiking boots, wrong socks, etc,

Why Do You Get Sore Toes when Hiking?
Why Do You Get Sore Toes when Hiking?

Why Do You Get Sore Toes when Hiking?

Over the years when hiking, I and also fellow hikers do sometimes have numb or swollen toes.  Below are some tips and ideas that may be causing the problem.

  • Allow your feet to get some fresh air once in a while
  • Wear the right boots that are ½ a size larger
  • Break in your new shoes
  • Lace your boots properly
  • Learn the right lacing technique
  • Re-tie your laces periodically
  • Have good arch support at all times
  • Make sure your boots have good arch support
  • Get a high-quality insole that keeps your foot in place
  • Always pack extra insoles
  • Wear the right socks
  • Pack extra pairs of socks
  • Cut your toenails so that they are straight
  • Pack a toenail clipper in your bag
  • Use hiking/trekking pole
  • Use foot powder
  • Try to walk down in a zig-zag pattern
  • Take break
  • Pack fewer items in your backpack 
  • Wrap toes for hiking if needed

How to Prevent Sore Toes when Hiking?

Ask yourself these questions to find out if something is different on this hike vs the last hike. Such as?

  • Was more pressure placed on that toe from a new boot that doesn’t fit quite right?
  • Did an old boot get wet on your last hike, and dry out in a new configuration to create an unexpected pressure point?
  • Could it be that your hiking sock layers got bunched up? Did they create extra pressure, heat and friction there?
  • If one of the middle little toes are swollen or bruised? It’s possible that a lacing problem pressed on it.
  • Is there something embedded under the toenail? or in the skin?

Why Do NumbToes Occur?

It may be because of the following:

  • swelling
  • hot spots
  • blisters
  • nasty nails
  • calluses
  • Odors
  • Wrong sized boots
  • Wrong socks
  • Inadequate sole fitting
  • Lacing your boots incorrectly 

*None of this is medical advice. Use your own good judgment and visit your health care professional for good foot care.

How Do You Prevent Toenails from Bruising when Hiking?

As always a lot of this is common sense. Correct fitting shoes. Keep your shoes laced snug, but not too tight, and make sure the toe box is large enough to keep pressure off of your nails, even after extended periods of hiking and walking where your feet have swelled up a bit.

Give Your Toes a Little TLC

Keeping your toenails trimmed short and square (not curved) will also help evenly distribute stress on your toe.

If you’ve already got a blackened and bruised toenail, you can leave it alone if it isn’t bothering your hiking.

If it is, you can try soaking in warm water to relieve some of the irritation.

Should You Pop a Blood Blister?

Draining the fluid under the nail—either by puncturing the nail itself with a hot needle or draining it from the front, underneath the toenail, is somewhat controversial.

Generally, it is best to leave the toenail as is and not try to release the pressure.

The pain should subside in a few days on its own, and attempting to pop the blood blister could result in infection.

We recommend visiting a doctor to be safe if you cannot handle the pain or pressure. 

Do Toe Caps Work?

Luckily, toe caps can prevent or alleviate the discomfort of blisters, corns, hammertoe, ingrown nails, and other conditions. Take a look at our guide to the best toe caps, and protect yourself from injury.

How Do You Tape Your Toes when Hiking?

Wrap a small strip of tape, sticky side down, from the base of the toenail over the tip of your toe and then underneath it. Wrap a second strip around the circumference of the toe, covering the ends of the first strip. Cut the ends of the second strip as close to each other as possible without overlapping them.

How Do You Wear Shoes with Hammer Toes?

Wear Hammer Toe Shoes with a Wide Toe-Box. The area at the front of the shoe needs to be spacious in order to accommodate those difficult joints and bent toes. Look for shoes with plenty of volume at the front of the shoe. This will prevent your hammertoes from cramping, which can exacerbate the problem.

Why Do My Toes Hurt While Hiking?

Firstly, on treks where there are long, steep descents, there’s a lot of pressure on your toes. With every step, your toe hits your shoe, and with the thousands of steps that you take, it damages the sensory nerves in your toes. When sensory nerves are damaged, they take away sensation from that area

Why do my toes go numb in hiking boots?

Tarsal tunnel syndrome, or posterior tibial neuralgia, can be caused by footwear that compresses the area behind the medial malleolus (known perhaps unsurprisingly as the tarsal tunnel). This usually causes numbness or pain of the sole but can include the toes.

Why Do My Toes Burn when I Hike?

The most common of these is athlete’s foot, an infection of the skin caused by fungus. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) also commonly causes burning feet. The poor circulation of blood to the feet may frequently cause pain, tingling, and burning feet, especially while hiking or walking.

Why Do I Lose Toenails when Hiking?

The pounding your toes take while running or hiking can be largely prevented. The continual banging of your toe forward against the inside of your shoes or boots is what leads to a blackened toenail. To avoid this: Make sure your Walking shoes or hiking boots fit properly.


I hope this blog post answers the question, Why do you get sore toes when hiking? Also hope it helped you with tips and ideas on how to keep your feet healthy while hiking. Another great website I follow which has great articles is REI. Check out this one on how to choose insoles for your hiking boots.

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