So, I just went hiking, testing out a pretty new pair of shoes. The test trail was about 6 miles round trip. I started to notice on the way back that the back of my heel was a bit uncomfortable, like it had been rubbing for a while. Is there anything I can do short of getting a new pair of shoes to help with this problem?
What you describe sounds like the early symptoms of blisters, a few things you could try are:
- Are your shoes laced too tightly? If they are too tight over the instep, movement in your foot as you walk will increase friction at the heal.
- Are your shoes laced too loosely? They should be tight enough so your feet do not slip up and cause friction as you walk (but not too tight per point 1).
- Wear two pairs of socks. A light pair of inner socks may alleviate the problem so the friction occurs between the layers of socks rather than on your skin.
- Avoid cotton socks. Cotton tends to stay damp once it is wet (either due to the weather or persperation) and wet socks will exacerbate any friction.
- Wear good quality socks designed for hiking. They will be made from material that dries easily and wicks away moisture. They should also be designed to minimise friction.
As well as the other answers, I notice you said they were new shoes you were hiking in - it isn't uncommon for these to be more likely to rub and potentially cause blisters until they're properly broken in. Follow the other advice (especially about socks) with blisters because that can hugely help - but in addition to this you may also want to try wearing them for shorter hikes / walks, little and often, until they're broken in a bit more. You might be surprised at how much this can help!