care of yourself
There is an old saying that holds the essence of
how to take care of yourself: Keep it simple, take
your time, and enjoy. These basic rules can be translated
into the two areas of importance: physical body
and material carried.
Your feet are your 'babies' — they will carry you
and your weight through it all. Care for them, listen
to their complaints and tend to them imediately
as you would to a newborn child.
Your body is the 'machine' — it will support your
wish to walk the Camino. Respect it by feeding and
watering it well. Water is the 'gasoline' that will
keep it running; it is the 'oil' to the joints,
it helps prevent blisters and muscles from 'drying
out', becoming stiff and painful.
Below is a list of how to care for your physical
Before embarking on the walk, find the right boots/trekking
shoes and trekking sandals. This is done by going
to your local store trying out a thousand pairs
(if necessary) until you find the ones that feel
just right when trying them on the first time. Try
on and buy one size larger than your usual fit,
for the toes will need the space on the downhill
tracks. The trekking sandals should be a perfect
fit, for they will let you continue walking comfortably
while airing out sore/swollen or blistered feet.
A blister is a small pocket of fluid within the
upper layers of the skin, typically caused by friction,
burning, freezing or infection. Most blisters are
filled with a clear fluid called serum, or pus if
they have become infected. Blood in blisters appears
when subdermal tissue and blood vessels are damaged.
If you do find a pocket of fluid (blister well under
way), take a sterlized needle with thread and puncture
the pocket close to the base, pulling the thread
through it to drain the fluid, or simply push out
the fluid form the blister. (Do not cut into the
blister or peel off the skin, this will only expose
the underlying layer to infections.) Disinfect the
area by rubbing in whatever antiseptic you chose
to carry (tea tree oil, iodine, alcohol, chlorhexidine
etc.). Again, air it and let it dry before putting
your socks and shoes/boots back on to continue walking.
In the morning the blistered area must
be plastered by a flexible bandaid to avoid more
friction. Attention, care and regular inspection
is advised the following days.
Keep therefore your feet clean and dry. To avoid
friction as much as possible, wear special, touring
the 2 layer sock system. A thinner sock layer to
act as a friction barrier to the skin, and an outer
trekk sock to absorb the humidity (sweat) created.
(Talcum can be applied to the feet before putting
on the socks, to absorb the humidity and keep the
As mentioned above, listen to what your feet are
telling you! If you start feeling a sore point,
this is probably a blister in its early stage (do
not try to puncture it if there is no fluid; leave
to air out and dry). Sit down, take off your boots/shoes
and socks. Dry your feet and let them breathe. Inspect
them. Apply foot cream and massage them if you feel
they deserved it.
a day's walk
Treat your feet to a foot bath (water, salt, and
add a little vinegar too). This will soften and
disinfect the skin, ready for another day in the
enclosed quarters of your boots/shoes.
back, hips, ankles
As with the feet after a days walk, you might experience
sore shoulders, ankles, knees etc. These body parts
should be treated with the same care and appreciation
that you give to your feet.
Treat the affected area to a massage, using your
cream of personal preference. Tiger balm is great
in treating inflammations and sore joints. It relaxes
and strengthens muscles, and can alleviate headaches.
Even in small quantities it stretches far, perfect
for keeping the pack weight at a minimum.
Always try to keep your water bottle full and remember
to drink. Protect your head from the blistering
sun with a broad rimmed hat and use suncream on
In winter and colder seasons the same simple rules
should be followed, yet there are a few points to
Your body extremities, i.e. head, hands and feet
should be kept as warm as possible. A cold wind
can do a lot of damage to the skin, even on a sunny
day. Use suncream, a fat cream or vaseline on exposed
skin, i.e. ears, nose and face. For the lips a sunscreaning
lip balm can be advised.
Breathing cold air directly into the lungs can bring
on inflammation to the respiratory organs, a painful
and uncomfortable cold to carry on your walk. It
is therefore advisable to breath as much as possible
through your nose.
You will find seasonal directions for what clothing
and materials are advised to wear/carry here.
In addition to the general 112 emergency number,
the following telephone numbers might be useful
Guardia Civil (Civil Guard): 062
à Q.Pratique route