Fact or Fable #6: Never take off your shoes?

Fact or Fable #6: Never take off your shoes?

It is a frequently heard rule: during a break, never take off your walking shoes to prevent your feet from swelling. But is this really the case? In Fact or Fable, we find out.

It is thanks to one of our readers that the above thorny issue came high on the agenda. He wrote: “We often hear that during a rest break you should keep your walking shoes on to avoid swelling of your feet. We always take them off. We like it very much, especially in warm weather. We think it’s a fable. “

Of course, we dove into it, but this time the answer is not so simple. That feet can swell is in any case, not a myth. This can have various causes. Medical (varicose veins, cardiovascular problems, and diabetes), obesity, use of medication, shoes that are too small… It is also certain that your veins, including those in your feet, will swell more with heat than with cold. But at the same time, it is also the case that one person is more bothered by it than another. Cautious conclusion: it seems primarily a personal matter whether you have to take off your shoes during a break.

We ask the experts

We called a Podiatrist. She confirms our findings: “It is difficult to give an unambiguous answer to this because practice shows that everyone experiences something else as pleasant. Feet indeed swell more in one walker than in another. If you have little trouble with swelling, you will also experience less discomfort. If your feet swell up a lot, putting on your shoes after a break will also be more difficult. In that case, you better keep your shoes on. “

How does that actually work, swelling feet? The podiatrist explains. “In hot weather, your body also gets warmer. Your body wants to get rid of that heat and it does so by widening your veins. Also the veins in the lower body. As a result, more blood is supplied to your feet, ankles, and legs. However, that blood must also return to your heart. If the blood vessels in your legs don’t work properly, you are at risk of edema, also known as fluid retention or dropsy. Due to gravity, the excess moisture sinks down and mainly accumulates in your lower body. The result: swollen feet, ankles, and sometimes swollen legs. “

Tips against swelling feet

Summary: some walkers suffer more from swollen feet than others. Some probably belong to the lucky ones whose feet do not or hardly expand. For him, a break without shoes feels like a massage on a golden yellow bounty beach in the Maldives. Or he never walks in hot weather, which is of course also possible. For hikers who do suffer a lot from expanding feet, a break can be real torture when they have to put their shoes back on. Do you belong to the latter category? Then the tips below may make walking a bit more bearable:

  • Buy your shoes a size larger if you suffer from swelling feet
  • Wear shoes a lot, often and for a long time
  • Wear thin socks (possibly with Coolmax) so that your feet do not get too hot
  • Consider using compression socks to prevent swelling
  • Air your feet regularly or cool them in a stream
  • Sit with your feet up during a break
  • Do not walk in too high temperatures
  • If the weather is warm, drink a lot
  • Massage your feet during a break
  • Use a good foot cream such as Gehwol
  • Try a low (trail running) shoe
  • Do not sit still for too long during a break (movement provides blood supply)
  • Do not use too much salt (salt provides extra moisture retention)


Fact and Fable. It is true that your feet can swell while walking. But to what extent is different for every walker. Whether you need to take off your shoes is primarily a personal matter. Some walkers feel “shoeless” as reborn, others find it a nuisance and prefer to keep their shoes on. There is no “right” or “wrong”….

take of walking shoes

Submit your own Fact or Fable

In Fact or Fabel, we investigate rumors and stories from the travel world and outdoor sports that no one knows whether or not they are actually true. If you have a Fact or Fable yourself, let us know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.