Napoleon Bonaparte once said “An Army marches on it’s stomach.” Without sufficient nourishment, a soldier cannot replenish the energy he has expended. He gets grumpy, loses focus, and is less likely to fulfill his duties.
What rings true for a soldier doesn’t necessary hold for someone in a survival situation. If you remember the Rule of Three you know that food is one of the last things they newfound survivor must worry about. Air, shelter, and water all come before food in a survival situation. An army may march on it’s stomach, but there are more important body parts for the survivor: your feet.
The Importance of Mobility
When in survival mode, few things are more important than your feet. Without your feet, you’re not mobile and that makes everything else more difficult or even impossible. If you cannot move effectively, the every day tasks required to survive are out of reach. If you cannot move, you cannot
- gather firewood for warmth, for light, for signaling, for cooking, and for purifying water
- seek sources of water
- collect supplies to build a shelter that protects you from the elements
- relocate to an area better suited for survival
- evade predators or animals
- attract attention of would-be rescuers
All of these things are important for the survivor. So, how can you protect your feet?
Protecting Your Feet
The adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” is true when it comes to your feet. Rather than trying to recover from a foot injury, it’s best to keep your feet healthy. How?
Wear Good Hiking Boots
Tennis shoes and cross training shoes are good for exercise and running, but they were not designed for the rough terrain a survivor may face. Sharp rocks, partially buried tree roots, and other obstacles on the ground’s surface will take a toll on your feet. At the end of a day of walking, your feet will feet bruised and achy.
Hiking boots or shoes have thicker soles and will protect your feet from the constant pounding they’ll endure when you’re surviving. They also tend to have better tread on the bottom, giving you better traction. Make sure your boots fit well and have the proper support for your feet.
Break in Your Boots
Have you ever gotten blisters from a new pair of shoes? That can be painful and annoying in day -to-day life, but it can be debilitating in a survival situation, especially if the blisters become infected.
When going into a situation where survival may become necessary, don’t wear brand new shoes. Break them in first. You can buy oils and lotions to help break them in. I’ve also heard that for waterproof leather boots, you can soak them in water for 30 minutes to soften the leather and then wear them for the rest of the day. They’ll conform to your feet in no time. I haven’t tried this myself so I don’t know if it really works. Anybody have experience with this?
When you’re traveling in business or dress shoes, keep a pair of good shoes in the car with you. You never know when you’ll have to walk a long distance.
Treat Hot Spots Early
When you’re walking and you feel a hotspot on your foot beginning to develop, that’s the time to treat it. Stop walking and take care of your feet.
If you’ve got some moleskin, use it to protect the area. Cut a small piece into a donut shape and place it over the hotspot. If you don’t have moleskin, duct tape works well as a substitute. Just apply a dab of ointment to the hotspot and cover the area with duct tape. It’ll reduce the rubbing and friction that causes blisters.
Keep Your Feet Dry
Another common ailment that can afflict your feet when trying to survive is Trench Foot. Getting is name from the soldiers who spent days at a time in the trenches of World War I, trench foot has a number of symptoms including numbness, erythrosis (turning red) or cyanosis (turning blue), blisters, open sores, and infection.
The cause of Trench Foot is prolonged exposure to cold and damp environments. The problem is exasperated when your foot is in a confined area such as a wet boot.
Air drying your socks and shoes and giving your feet time to dry at the end of each day dramatically helps prevent Trench Foot. Dry your socks and shoes near a fire if needed.