Care for your feet and your boots
We have personally witnessed the destruction of applicants feet, thereby rendering them ineffective to complete a course, selection or even recruit school.
Here are some tips on preparing your boots and feet for military service.
Preparing to join the Australian Defence Force can be nerve wracking – even more so for a special forces selection.
When it comes to performance the applicant or serving member must cover all bases – from physical preparation to mindset, from hydration to nutrition.
But, equally important is his or her equipment – and boots a top of our list of most important equipment.
First off what are you using the boots for? Comfort, performance or both?
Once you are clear on what they are going to be used for, then go ahead and match your needs to a brand type and make up.
Once you’ve bought or been issued with new boots, it’s important to ‘break them in’ properly.
To break those puppies in, these methods have been used for decades with great success:
- Wear them in a hot shower. This allows the materials to soften and mould to your unique feet shape.
- Find a clear wax to semi waterproof the boots. This also helps protect the outer shoe from wear and tear and prevent water ingress.
- Lastly nothing beats just putting the time and distance in with the boots – get stomping. This allows us to work out any ‘hot spots’ and minor adjustments. Allows your feet, stride and hips to adjust and become comfortable with eventually adding a load for pack marching.
- Tying a knot in the shoe laces above the last eyelet stops the lace from always slipping out and saves you some valuable seconds when someone is telling you to hurry the f@#k up!
- Having our name clearly visible (not on the outside, you’ll look like a dick) and some type of key ID feature is also helpful when one is under the pump.
Feet preparation and care
This can be a game changer! – just as important as being strong and fit. If your mode of transport breaks down then nothing else matters.
Here are some basic methods for keeping you in the game:
- ‘Hot spots’ are what we call rub points when walking in boots. If not fixed or prevented they will cause blisters and further problems. Take notice of your rubbing points and tape your feet accordingly before movement.
- Boot-free time is a great way to toughen up your feet. Walking around on rough surfaces (use common sense) can harden the skin. We have also seen this can strengthen the ankles, stabilising muscles and tendons – great for injury prevention – and increases ones overall durability.
- Use decent socks. In particular, for long pack marches I wear a pair of cotton sports socks underneath the issued pair. This reduces friction on rub points.
- Potassium Permanganate – aka Condy’s Crystals – are used to dry out the skin of the feet, leaving them hardened. This can reduce blisters and allow you to cover more kilometers during the week if working up for a selection or deployment.
When it comes to achieving our goals, attention to detail is crucial.
Having the right bit of kit for the task can be the deciding factor between pass or fail.
Investing in quality equipment or just taking the time to properly prepare your body, mind and kit is a necessary discipline.
FILE PHOTO: Dusty boots in Iraq. By Brian Hartigan.