One reason that people stop walking is that their walking programme results in sore feet. This can be from superficial skin changes or can also be due to strain on the muscles and joints within the foot.

Skin changes caused by walking

Two of the most common complaints that people suffer from are blisters and callus, both of which can be extremely painful:

  • A blister is a fluid-filled sack produced by acute friction and pressure
  • A callus or corn is caused by lower grade chronic friction and pressure over a longer period.

They both can be caused by the following:

  • Ill-fitting shoes
  • Stiff areas of the shoe's upper
  • Wrinkled socks or seams in socks against the skin
  • Excessive moisture
  • Foot deformities causing irritation in footwear.

How to prevent skin changes

  • Keep your feet dry
  • Always wear socks as a cushion between your feet and shoes
  • Wear properly fitting shoes
  • Look at specialist sports and walking socks which have either padding or double layers that can help reduce the chance of getting blisters
  • Keep the skin on your feet in good condition and use an emollient when required.

If you get skin changes

In most cases, blisters heal naturally and do not require specialist attention. The body will reabsorb the fluid and the blister will dry and peel off. The skin that forms on top of the blisters provides a natural defence to infection. Ideally, you should not pierce a blister with a needle but allow it to heal naturally. 

You can cover a blister with an adhesive dressing or gauze. If the blister is causing you pain, cover the area with a soft dressing and change the dressing daily. Once the blister bursts refrain from peeling the skin and cover the exposed skin with a dressing. Find out more about blisters.

Callus and corns take a longer period of time to form and do protect underlying tissue to a certain point. If the skin changes cause you pain, you should seek advice from a podiatrist who will be able to help you with the care and management of the skin lesion.

If you have foot pain

Movement and use of the foot can cause overuse injuries associated with the soft tissue and bones. This can be due to the biomechanics of your walking, the way that you move, or may be due to weakness or increased strain. In some cases increased walking can cause damage to tissues in the foot and a more serious problem may arise.

Simple foot exercises can help to keep your foot strong and improve your walking ability, along with general care of your foot. Ill-fitting footwear and poor equipment can be a cause for pain and changing the choices you have made based on the advice in the walking equipment section is a first step to resolving issues.

When to see your podiatrist

If you have pain for more than three weeks, including tingling, numbess, soreness, stiffness and stabbing sensations, and your feet are stopping you from being active, then you should make an appointment to see a podiatrist. This can be done directly through a private practice or through your GP for NHS treatment if you meet the eligibility criteria. Ensure the podiatrist is HCPC registered.
Your podiatrist will examine your foot and ask you some questions to find out: 
  • About the pain and what it feels like
  • When your symptoms started
  • What type of shoes you usually wear
  • About your work, lifestyle and sporting activities.

Podiatrists may also refer you for a scan, such as an ultrasound scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, to get a detailed image of the inside of your foot. A diagnosis and treatment plan for your complaint will be made and often a review appointment to evaluate the outcomes. 

Search our online directory, Find a podiatrist, to find a practitioner in your area.