Foot and ankle injuries during the Way of Saint James
The Way of Saint James is a spiritual journey that allows the pilgrim to seek the meaning of his life and self-knowledge. However, it is also a test of physical endurance that must be faced well prepared to avoid injuries. They can prevent the completion of the journey to the tomb of the apostle Saint James.
Almost eight hundred kilometres separate Saint Jean Pied de Port from Santiago de Compostela. The pilgrim who walks the entire French Way faces thirty-one hard days. For those who walk a hundred kilometres necessary to obtain La Compostela, the challenge is no less. Therefore, it is essential to train before starting the Pilgrim’s Way and prevent injuries during the Route.
An ankle sprain occurs when a ligament is stretched more than it should be. That can happen because of a severe sprain or because of an old and wrong stride. The altered stride can cause the ligament to stretch further and further, leading to a sprain. Blisters are one of the principal causes of this gait disturbance.
There are different degrees of sprains, the most severe of which require medical attention. To prevent it, the best thing to do is to wear suitable footwear that fits the foot well and supports the ankle. Before walking the Way of Saint James, it is advisable to walk on uneven surfaces to strengthen the muscles.
Plantar fasciitis is another of the worst enemies of the pilgrim. It appears due to the overloading of the whole sole. The plantar fascia is responsible for cushioning part of the weight that the foot receives when walking.
It can be caused using incorrect footwear, by a wrong footprint due to the pain generated by blisters or by our body overweight. To prevent it, the best thing to do is that a podiatrist performs a study of the footprint before starting the Way of Saint James. In this way, you can choose to use an insole that corrects the way you walk.
During the Route, the plantar fascia and calf muscles should be stretched at the end of each day to avoid overloading. Another good way to prevent this is by massaging the area. Physiotherapist Dani Keral shows how to perform a plantar massage.
Once the pain caused by plantar fasciitis appears, you should not continue walking. In that case, it is necessary to visit a traumatologist, podiatrist or physiotherapist so that they can assess the situation and consider whether it is possible to continue walking.
Metatarsalgia is an irritation at the head of the metatarsal bones, the beginning of the toes. During walking, the front part of the sole bears the main weight. This ailment occurs in people who walk long distances. It is best not to carry too much weight to prevent its occurrence during the Way. Therefore, you should carry on a suitable backpack and only the essentials for your trip.