My husband sprained his ankle while following a narrow footpath along the Cliffs of Moher the other day. He sprained it and then kept walking on it for another several hours before climbing back aboard our bus for a long ride home. Exiting the bus, he was faced with a hot, swollen, painful joint.
So much of traveling has to do with managing these sorts of bumps and bruises, sprains and blisters, splinters and hangnails (which never bother you at home, only when you’ve left your clippers behind to avoid setting off metal detectors).
Why are we more likely to get hurt when we’re traveling? Well, because we move a great deal more. We increase the risk of injury by increasing our exosure to friction, potholes, uneven footpaths. And putting softened, flabby American bodies up against that kind of wear and tear is bound to cause problems. I’m not picking on hubby here. He’s actually in fine shape from incessant gardening and snow shoveling and the like. His ankle rolled in a rather deep pothole while his attention was focused on the sea. At least I think it was the sea.
But I’m reminded of my many foot and ankle problems from past travels. All this deliberate exercise of the past couple of years has helped me avoid the usual injury and illness of traveling to another country. But in the old days, when I rarely walked more than a block or two at a time at home, I would get on a plane to head for several weeks in another country and wind up on the sidelines, soaking my swollen feet and ankles in the bidets, and trying to hunt down as much ice as I could find.
It simply never occurred to me to “train” for travel. But consider it. Why not train to be on your feet and walking over cliffs and through cathedrals the way you would train for any other endurance sport? Had I considered working up to walking for an hour or two at a time before my previous trips, I’m sure I would have managed better, recovered more quickly, seen more. It breaks my heart to think how much I missed while I waited on benches for my travel companions to collect me at museums, at the base of hiking paths, outside of parks.
Got travel plans ahead?
Plan a training program beginning 4-6 weeks before your trip. Using the shoes you will wear on your trip, begin with 15 minute walks three to four times the first week, and then working your way up by adding 15 minutes or so each week until you can comfortably walk for two hours at a go. In any touring situation, you ought to be able to sit a spell after two hours’ time, but know you’re likely to be on your feet as much as 8 hours in the day.
Heading off on your trip, bring along many pairs of soft socks and bandaids. And case out the ice situation before heading off on a long walk-about. If you can’t find ice, running cold water over your feet and ankles for several minutes helps a lot.
Do pack along ankle braces and elastic bandages if you know you’re prone to weak ankles, plantars fascitis, or other foot, ankle, or knee ailments that are relieved by a compression bandage.
Peppermint foot lotion from the Body Shop, does wonders for foot comfort at the end of the day.
And it never hurts to travel with a companion who’s skilled at foot massage!
But nothing works as well as training your tootsies,
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