Engelske David, der selv tidligere har gået pilgrimsvandring, har igen i sommer lavet "felthospital" på Caminoen: Kvindelige pilgrimme har flere problemer med fødder og rygsække end mænd.
Engelske David, som læsere af denne side har hørt om tidligere, har de seneste år konverteret sin lille Citroen Berlingo til campingvogn og skadestue, taget turen til Camino Frances for at tage sig af pilgrimme med problemer. I år har han slået sig ned i området omkring Rabanal mellem Astorga og Ponferrade, og i sin "rapport" om sommerens hændelser skriver han bl.a., at pilgrimmene generelt har færre problemer med helbredet på denne del af Camino Frances set i forhold til sommeren 2015, hvor hans lille felthospital holdt til omkring Pyrenæerne, hvor rigtig mange pilgrimme starter og lægger lidt for hård ud fra Saint Jean Pied de Port, og for en dels vedkommende får problemer med ben og fødder.
En ting undrer han sig over i sin rappoet, nemlig at det er hans erfaring, at kvindelige pilgrimme får flere vabler og flere problemer med fødderne end mandlige pilgrimme. Denne forskel tilskriver han forfængelighed, idet en del kvindelige pilgrimme vælger vandrerstøvler efter farve, og ikke efter om de passer godt til foden. Han konstatere ligeledes, at mange pilgrimme bærer rygsækkene forkert, og at de simpelthen ikke ved, hvordan den spændes så ryggen har det bedst. Her mener han ligeledes, at flere kvinder end mænd bærer rygsækken forkert. Undertegnede har ikke mulighed for at konstatere om der er noget om snakken, men I kan selv læse rapporten nedenfor om Davids behandling af diverse vabler.
I did my usual thing - clean, empty, iodone, cover, cushion, and hand over a few spares so that they could replace on the way to a pharmacist to buy more. I also relaced a number of boots so that they were opened at the front, giving wiggle room for the toes.
And this is the thing - why do they keep walking? Right at the beginning, when there is a hot spot, that burning feeling, why don’t they stop, take their boots off, and stick a plaster over the rubbing point? Why do they ignore it?
As for blisters - and multi-blisters - why don’t they treat themselves? Why do they just let their feet get worse and worse and do almost nothing about it? I just don’t understand.
Also, so many novice pilgrims lace their boots up really tight in the morning and don’t take them off or relace them until they finish in the afternoon, completely ignoring their swelling feet and the pain they are feeling ... such a good idea to take the boots and socks off every hour and a half or so and let those pinkies feel the air.
This ignoring blisters thing ...
Is it because they think that getting blisters is ‘normal’ so they put up with them?
Is it because they think that treating them will hurt more?
Is it because they think that pain is ‘normal’ on pilgrimage?
You tell me!
Most of the multiples of blisters were at the front and front sides of the foot and most were caused by footwear that were too narrow and/or too short, and most were worn by females. I met just one male whose boots were too narrow and too short - A German lad in complete denial who disagreed with me, even when I held the sole of one boot up to his foot and clearly showed that his foot was bigger than the boots that were crushing his feet .. he still refused to believe me, so nothing I could do there really.
But this thing with females and trekking footwear, shoes or boots ... this isn’t sexist nor anti-feminist, this is from observation ...
Some females have almost parallel feet, narrow feet, and they can wear “female” boots with no problems but most have feet that are wider at the toe roots and they need footwear that are the same shape. In shops assistants, unless they are properly trained and look at the feet first, always offer from the female range and these are always narrower than from the male range .. so the unexperienced female will trust the seller, buy those, and then suffer.
Also, the female range tend to be in “female colours”, pinks and lavender and so on .. and I have this suspicion that some females go for the colour rather than the fit.
Also, time and again I have met women whose footwear are just too small, really small. What happens here? Do they put on the right size and then discard them because they look too big in the mirror?
I took an Austrian girl to Astorga to buy new footwear as hers were ridiculously tiny for her and her feet were terribly damaged. The owner of the shop was extremely experienced in trekking footwear and pilgrims with problems and offered various styles. She gave her foot size, the owner and I both looked at each other, and then he produced some that were two and three sizes larger, and these fit her. Even then it came down to a choice of two. A truly comfortable and perfect fit male style and a pink female style that although they fit weren’t as good as the men’s ones. Which did she choose? The pink ones.
So - I would say to all female pilgrims out there, and I am only speaking to the inexperienced and the unconverted here!! ... forget the image, forget looking in the mirror, forget going for “ladies” footwear .. ignore untrained assistants .. and go for footwear that fits and fits well, footwear that is comfortable in all areas, then put on really thick socks and buy the size that fits comfortable with those socks on. (for those who don’t yet know, your feet will expand by about one size or more after a few days walking with a pack).
It really is terribly unfair how this “female” thing is carried out and carried on - I mean, this is 2016!
So - it is like this - if you go into a trekking shop and there isn’t a foot measuring device on display be cautious .. ask for one and if they don’t have one then you are in the wrong shop, go elsewhere.
If possible - sorry guys - and there is a choice, have a female assistant who is trained and actually walks for pleasure. If not - look, you are the customer - ask the assistant if they trek on their holidays or are just doing a job ... you want someone with practical experience, your feet are important.
Go for footwear that is the same shape as your feet, ignore any gender labelling, ignore “feminine” colours (they are all ghastly colours anyway).
And whatever you do, do not look into those low mirrors that allow you to see what they look like on you; it isn’t to do with how they look, it is to do with how they feel.
In the trekking shop I go to (Cotswolds Outdoors) all their staff are trained and all of them are outdoors people with lots of experience. They fit footwear, measuring, comparing, and just won’t let you buy what is wrong for you (they are really strict!) and with backpacks they do the same, measuring back length, explaining and demonstrating how to wear it and they will load it so you can feel it on your back properly; a good shop.
I wonder if a post on “female” rucksacks is worth doing ... and on how to wear a rucksack. I saw a few pilgrims (all female again) having a terrible time with their packs cinched tightly around their ribs rather than resting on their hip bones - and I blame, specifically blame, those untrained and uncaring shop assistants.