After many years of hiking and hiking with other people, I’ve concluded that the shoe industry is fundamentally broken and the cause of untold suffering in the hiking world. There are huge individual differences between people’s feet: people have hammer toes, bunions, calluses, corns, thickened nails,bone spurs, flat feet, one foot bigger than another, etc. These people aren’t the minority, but the majority. They’re us.
The Hiking Engine: a hiker’s guide to the care and maintenance of feet and legs by Stuart Plotkin is a book about preventing and alleviating the foot, ankle, knee, and leg issues that plague hikers and backpackers. Published in 2001, this book is undeniably dated with information about leather boot selection from a bygone era when leather boots were still primarily made by hand
But, this book is not without merit . The second half of the book catalogs every foot ailment you can imagine (see below), along with symptoms, recommended prevention, and treatment suggestions.
- Achilles Tendon pain
- Athletes foot
- Bleeding under toe nails
- Bone spurs
- Broken Sesamoids
- Broken toes
- Dislocated toes
- Hammer toes
- Heel spurs
- Metatarsal fractures
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Thickened toe nails
- Turf Toe
Having suffered from many of these ailments on and off over the years and dealing with a mild case of Hammer Toe today, there’s nothing out of date about the information or recommendations provided by Plotkin when it comes to feet and how to address each of these common foot problems.
If you love to hike, but are plagued by chronic foot pain and discomfort, The Hiking Engine might be able to give you some answers and relief, or at least set you on the right path to getting the help you need.
Disclaimer: Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) received a sample copy of The Hiking Engine from Menasha Ridge Press for this review.
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