Do you love hiking, but feel plagued by creaking hips after so much walking? If so, it could be that your hiking boots are to blame for neglecting their purpose of supporting your foot. So, what are the best hiking boots to wear when you have bad hips?
The best hiking boots for bad hips are the ones that fit the best. Well-fitting boots are essential to keep the pressure of hiking from building up in the joints because a good boot will absorb the pressure by supporting the foot. Custom orthotics can supplement that when the boot’s sole is lacking.
Let’s look at the ways to find boots that fit you, as well as a couple of different brands to try out, and how using trekking poles can take some of the stress off of your feet and hips.
How to Find Well-Fitting Boots
Every foot is different, so every foot has different needs. In order to find a boot that specifically fits your feet, you have two options: trial and error, or measurements. On the one hand, you’re trying out a bunch of different shoes. On the other, you measure your foot to quickly find the shoe you need.
Trying on multiple pairs of boots from several different brands is the best way to find boots that will work the best for your feet, but in this age of online shopping, a more numerical method of immediately finding and getting what you want may be more to your appeal.
We’ll cover both because, though you may prefer one method over the other, both are good to know: when you order them by the specs, you’ll still have to try them on to make sure they fit, and when you’re trying on a lot of shoes, it’ll be ideal to know what size to jump to so you don’t waste too much time.
Trial and Error
To properly test the fit of the boots, make sure you’re wearing the socks you will typically wear when hiking. Wear these socks for all the tests. You should also perform these tests later in the day, or after you have done a lot of walking. That way, your feet will be a little swollen and closer to the size they’ll be when you’re hiking because walking causes your feet to swell.
First, figure out which of your feet is longer. For most people, it’s the left foot, and the difference isn’t likely to be more than a centimeter. We’ll use that foot to measure the length, heel fit, and width of the boot. The length is the most important part of a boot’s fit, as it can’t be changed, so we’ll start with that.
To check the length of the boot, you’ll need a friend to help you. With the laces on the boot loosened, push your longer foot in until your toes reach the end, then have your friend measure the space between your heel and the back of the boot with their finger. That space should be about the size of a finger. If it’s much bigger or smaller than that, then the boot won’t fit right.
The heel of the boot should fit snugly around the heel of your foot. Your heel shouldn’t slip up or down in the boot, because that would cause blisters on the sides of your heel. It would also take away the cushioning power of the boot from your heel, meaning that your joints absorb all of the shock from every step rather than the boot taking the brunt of it.
To check the heel’s fit, first make sure that the boots are laced properly: the laces play a role in keeping your heel in place, so cinch the part by the ankles tight while keeping the rest loose. Then, walk around and stand on your toes. Your heel should stay firmly in place during the walk, and when you stand on your toes, it shouldn’t slip more than a quarter of an inch.
Finally, check the width. With the boots all laced up, your foot should be comfortably snug. It shouldn’t feel like it’s being squeezed or like it can shift from side to side. You may be able to adjust the width and heel fit by messing with the laces or using an orthotic insole. Overall, your foot should be snug and still have wiggle room for your toes. (Source)
There are several ways to measure your feet, from the Brannock device to the tape measure. The most customizable way, though, is the method where you trace your foot out on paper. This is the method recommended by REI when ordering boots online. (Source)
To trace your foot for measurement for hiking boots, just like in the trial and error method, do it late in the day so that your feet are swollen from walking, and put on your hiking socks. Set up a piece of paper on a hard floor and stand on that piece of paper with your longer foot. Stand normally, with your feet next to each other, then bend over to trace your foot.
You can kneel down to do the actual tracing part, but make sure to put as much weight on the center of your foot as possible. With that traced outline, measure the length (from the longest toe to the back of the heel) and the width (the widest part of the foot). You can use these measurements to find your shoe size and width at an online store.
Measurements should be as specific as possible. Most shoe sizes only take into account length and width, but other factors that influence a shoe’s fit are the arch, volume, and trouble spots.
Poor arch support can increase the foot’s swelling and put stress on the knees and hips as the legs list inwards. Trouble spots are where your feet frequently rub against the shoe and form blisters. When boots cause these sorts of problems, they’ll only be worse for hips.
To handle arch support, you can either measure your arch or get a custom orthotic. Measuring your arch would allow you to buy over-the-counter arch supports.
Here is a brief video explaining how to informally measure your arch. It’s really simple: all you need is a straightedge, a ruler, and a wall for support.
Brands to Try
One popular brand of hiking boots is Asolo. They make boots for men, women, and children. They have alpine boots, backpacking boots, hiking boots, winter hiking boots, and even urban outdoor boots.
Alpine hiking, backpacking, and hiking all have different strains from each other, and these categories of activity even vary within themselves. That’s why Asolo makes boots specialized for each of these activities, mostly with the stiffness of the sole varying based on the weight you’ll be carrying and how long you expect to walk.
You can customize the height and the fit, and even whether it’s waterproof. Their “Find Your Boot” page can help you figure out which model to choose based on the way you like to hike. (Source)
For example, if you usually go on short hikes, a light hiking boot is probably the right choice, but if you’re more into backpacking or long treks, you’ll want a heavier boot with thicker soles.
If you choose this brand, you might end up ordering them online. Don’t be too worried about sticking with it if it doesn’t fit, though. If the fit isn’t right for you, you can return it as long as you do so within 14 days of receiving the product. You’ll have to report the order number, along with other details associated with your order, so keep those on hand.
Keep in mind that the product will need to be in unused condition in order to get your full refund.
You can also get a free size change as long as you take care of shipping the unused product back. (Source)
Another popular hiking boot brand is Oboz. The Oboz site is great for finding the type of shoe when you don’t already know. On their “Shoe Finder” page, you take a survey that takes about 15 seconds to get through, and then it will show you shoes that match your responses. It can even send your results to your email. (Source)
They make shoes both for hiking and backpacking. The outsoles and midsoles vary based on the type of hiking you expect to do, and the insoles are designed to support your arches to keep the friction down and fit well. When you have good arch support and a well-fitting shoe, all of your joints will be happy, including your hips.
The insole is what Oboz is famous for. It’s designed to keep your foot in a “neutral position,” which means that your calf goes straight up from the heel rather than leaning to the right or left, which could cause problems by putting pressure in the wrong places of the sole, not to mention a bad angle in your calf can cause joint problems as well.
They used anatomy to design how their insoles should work, and the result is that every part of the insole, from heel to toe, is intended to do its job to support your foot. The heel cup is deep, the arch is high-density, and the heel and forefoot even have spots for cushioning and support.
Even if the Oboz boots aren’t for you, you can use the insoles in any shoe, so that might be worth a look.
Finding the boot that will serve you the best is key. Every foot is different, even your own. That’s why it’s really important to try around and find the boot that fits you best.
Aside from shoes, trekking poles are a great way to relieve pressure from your hips. Using trekking poles transfers a lot of your upper body weight away from your legs, and thereby your hips. On top of that, using trekking poles can save you a lot of energy over the course of a long hike if you use them properly. (Source)
To use trekking poles to help with bad hips, it’s important to know how to use them properly. This involves knowing how to adjust their height and how to move them while you walk. Once you’ve got the hang of it, using trekking poles can really help get the pressure off of your legs so that your hips don’t have to feel the miles.
First, the height of the pole should be determined by the angle your arm makes when you’re holding it. On flat ground, your poles should be at a length where your elbow makes a right angle. When you’re going uphill, that angle will be more acute, and the angle will be more obtuse when you’re going downhill. Basically, your forearm should be parallel to the ground.
These angles are natural ways to hold your arms while holding trekking poles, and they transfer the weight from your upper body (including some of the weight in your backpack) away from your legs. Pushing that weight into the poles will relieve it from your legs so that there is less pressure on your hips.
Pole Angle and Movement
Another thing to keep in mind is how to move the poles. On flat ground, you should angle the poles straight up and down, but hills are a little different. When you’re on a hill, you always want to lean towards the top, and hiking poles are no different.
While going uphill, they should be angled forward, towards the top of the hill. While going downhill, they should be angled backward, but still towards the top of the hill. This secures your weight downwards while at the same time allowing you to keep your momentum and stay safe doing it. You’re distributing your weight while still getting to where you want to go.
When you’re moving your poles, you always want to go opposite to your feet: the right pole with your left foot, the left pole with your right foot. It might seem complicated, but it’s a really natural way to move.