Safety and Healthcare
Is it safe on the Camino?
Safety and healthcare are everyone’s concern while walking the Camino. Whether walking alone or with others. Many people choose to walk the Camino alone but unless you want to be away from others, you will find yourself with people from all over the world very quickly. Having said that, everywhere in the world has its issues, but the Camino is fairly safe.
The Camino Frances has had very few cases of theft and violence, but one should follow safe practices as one would when traveling anywhere in the world.
Don’t be alone in the dark, have a phone, a list of emergency contact numbers, health information, keep your valuables close by (put them in a small fabric stuff sack and put them in the bottom of your sleeping bag at night), never leave your backpack unattended, don’t take rides from strangers and safety in numbers.
Healthcare on the Camino is personal with some basic practices to follow. Take your medication and vitamins, listen to your body and walk at your own pace. Don’t walk more kilometers than you can handle, get lots of rest and sleep. Eat a well-balanced diet and drink lots of water and some electrolytes if you sweat a lot.
There are doctors in most cities along the Camino, these little towns care about your safety and healthcare as much as you do. The Farmacias are plentiful and the staff is always very helpful and familiar to pilgrims’ ailments.
Be cautious on the up and downhills as you could slip or get shin splints. On any steep incline or decline, you should try walking in a zig-zag formation. That cuts down the angle and is easier on the body. Extend your hiking poles for downhill walking and use them to absorb some of your body weight and help stabilize you.
Tighten your laces on your hiking boots around your ankles before your downhills. Why? because this will keep your feet back in your boots and prevent your toes from rubbing at the top of your boots. Why? because if your toes rub too much your toenails will get bruised and fall off. So adjust your boots well. This is another reason why we talk about getting good fitting boots. This is all part of Camino safety and healthcare.
Prevention is part of safety and healthcare
Healthcare and prevention
Ailing health can put a damper on your Camino. Think safety and heathcare! Whether it’s blisters, infections, a cold, sore muscles, or broken bones most of these things can affect the enjoyment of your journey, or in some cases end it prematurely. There are Doctors and clinics in most cities, as well as doctors in smaller towns along the Camino Frances that are used to treating pilgrims’ ailments and are there to help you.
Foot problems and fatigue are high on the list of why people might quit the Camino. Give yourself plenty of time if reaching Santiago is your goal. Take days where you rest, walk some shorter days, eat lots of good food and take naps. Don’t worry about the calories – many lose weight while walking the Camino.
At Camino Bound, we are concerned about your safety and healthcare. While we can’t ensure you won’t get sick but we suggest you take daily preventive measures to help your journey be a more memorable one.
Daily routine to help you keep healthy:
- Take vitamin c and zinc daily (if not allergic. They come in small convenient tube-shaped bottles of 10 available at the Farmacia).
- Drink lots of water. If you think you are sweating too much there are packets of electrolytes available at the Farmacia which you can add to your water.
- Eat a banana a day for the potassium.
- Eat a balanced diet (carbs, proteins, fruits, and vegetables) full of nutrients.
- Eat enough food to give you fuel for the energy you are burning by walking every day.
- Wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitizer.
- Walk a reasonable number of kilometers that won’t exhaust you.
- Do some stretching throughout the day and at the end of the day. This will keep your muscles from getting too tight and painful.
- If you do get a cold or flu, stay in a private room so you don’t spread it to other pilgrims. Take some rest days to recover and see a doctor or go to the Farmacia for some medication to help with the symptoms.
- Follow your normal daily hygiene routine by showering daily, dental hygiene, and checking your feet (keep them super clean and keep your toenails short to prevent losing your toenails).
- Rest in the afternoon once you arrive at your accommodation.
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Travel light. Don’t carry too much weight. 10% of your body weight is perfect.
Camino safety and healthcare continues with the prevention of blisters. Blisters are something pilgrims get at various stages of the Camino. Some get them at the beginning, some when they are walking on hot pavement for a long time, some because their boots are too small, and some when their feet get wet.
Camino Bound understands that blisters can be prevented if you have the proper fitting boots and keep your feet dry and take care to follow preventive measures every day. We have a tried and true method that has worked for all of our clients when they follow it daily, and we are offering it to you too.
- Wear good moisture-wicking socks that have some padding on the heels and balls of your foot. There are many on the market.
- Socks should be seamless at the toes.
- Keep your feet clean and toenails clipped.
- On clean dry feet. Apply paper or flocked white Omnifix (our favourite because you can cut it to your desired size and it’s softer) surgical tape from the top of your foot (bunion area) all the way along the bottom of your foot (across the ball of your foot) to up on the other side of your foot (just below your baby toe). Get the 2″ width.
- Apply the same tape across your heels. If the tape is too thin use two rows and overlap them slightly.
- Pay attention to your toes. If your toes overlap one another or rub very close to one another apply some tape around those too.
- Purchase a tube of Vaseline.
- Squeeze out about 2inches on the palm of your left hand (if you’re right-handed).
- Take 1/2 of the Vaseline and apply it between your toes. Avoid the taped areas.
- Now take the other 1/2 and apply it to the remainder of your foot.
- Roll up your sock as you would a pantyhose and put it on immediately. Trying to keep the tape and Vaseline in place.
- Put on your hiking shoes/boot.
- Do the same for the other foot.
- Remove your boots and socks to allow them to dry. Air out your feet and check for any hot/red spots. Keep the tape on your feet.
- Add tape to any new hot/red spots after removing the Vaseline from the affected area.
- If your socks are not dry before you head out, put on a dry pair.
- Be respectful and do NOT do this in a restaurant where people are eating.
AT THE ALBERGUE:
- In the shower let cool water run over your feet for a few minutes. This will relieve them and take down the swelling.
- Shower as normal, then remove the tape from your feet, and wash your feet well with soap and water. Remember between your toes.
- Dry your feet well and wear your open sandals for the remainder of the evening to allow your feet to breathe.
- If the opportunity arises, put your feet up and give them a little massage.
- Check again for any hot/red spots and if you find any apply the tape there along with the above-listed places the next morning.
- Follow this practice every day and you should be blister-free.
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