Footwear Failure!

I recently hit upon the idea of briskly walking a hilly, forested nine-mile “loop” several times a week along a US Forest Service dirt road known as the Gale River Road. There are several advantages to using this road for long walks (including it’s limited traffic). This will be of use not only in my physical training but in also maintaining many other aspects of being prepared for come what may.

Last week I walked this road a couple times using my cross-trainers as footwear for a total of two walks of 9-miles each. It should have been simple exercise since all I carried in my pack were an extra fleece sweatshirt, a space blanket, two quarts of water, and insect repellent.

A unexpected and very serious problem arose, having worn these very same sneakers for the last couple years nearly daily in town and around the home: the Achilles heal area on my right foot developed worn patches where the shoe had broken through the outer skin.

I didn’t realize how bad the injury was until the next day when I put on these same sneakers for another walk. The rubbing continued with every step and continued to wear ever more deeply into my flesh.

footwear malfunction injury
Broken skin on my Achilles heal caused by malfunctioning footwear.

This is where common everyday gear can bite you in the buttocks when not tested to extremes. Around home and in town on errands, the shoes showed no sign of injuring me. But worn further per day – nine miles instead of two miles – my footwear became virtually unusable and in fact caused injury.

Imagine someone relying upon such footwear for an unexpected long-distance multi-day Bug-Out or perhaps a vehicle breakdown where he has to walk twenty or thirty or fifty miles. What if this were the only footwear he had come large scale disruption! Having thought his footwear was well-broken in and reliable, only to painfully discover this most essential of gear has not only failed him but caused serious injury.

Upon closer inspection of the sneakers I discovered the cloth and padding on back portion that covers the Achilles heal has begun to wear away. This exposes a cup shaped plastic piece that is used to give rigidity to the shoe. However the plastic has sharp edges, which did little damage to my skin on short walks but on longer walks rubbed enough with each of thousands of steps to break skin.

Over time this injury can lead to immobilization and even infection.

A quick fix was in order. I used several strips of heavy duty Gorilla brand tape to cover the Achilles heal area of each sneaker. Starting from inside the sneaker on the bottom I wrapped the tap up and over the outside of the shoe as far as where the rubber-like sole portion meets the leather.

Fixing the shoe problem using Gorilla tape
Fixing the shoe problem using Gorilla tape

It looks like this tape should do the trick. However the area of broken skin on my Achilles heal is stiff and still healing.

A lesson learned when there is no emergency is like Gold.

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