Practical Information

Practical Information

Preparation

Training before the tour

  • If you are not used to walking long distances, start with short ones and gradually increase the distance you walk. If you can, walk to the mountains to get used to walking up and downhill, until you can cope easily with the distance you will be walking in each stage.
  • As your tour approaches wear your daypack/hydration pack full with what you expect to carry on the tour in order to get accustomed to the weight of it on your back. This will also be a chance to see if it is too heavy.
  • Adjust your daypack/hydration pack to the shape of your back, making sure it is neither too loose nor too tight. The weight must be close to the body when walking.

Clothing

  • Take suitable clothing for the season, bearing in mind that many parts of the route lie at distances above sea level.
  • Use caps or hats to avoid exposing your head directly to the sun. This will prevent you from suffering heat related incidents.
  • Take trekking poles with you. Poles will help you to support yourself, they also relieve excess pressure on your knees and ankles as you walk long distances.

Footwear

  • Hiking boots, which may be waterproof and made with light materials. They should adjust to your feet, allow perspiration, protect your ankles from possible injuries and make it easier for you to walk on varied terrains.
  • Use suitable quick dry, wicking socks, with no seams.
  • In warmer weather, you can also wear trainers or trail runners, with a suitable sole for stony or rocky terrain.
  • Bring slippers, sandals or flip-flops to relax your feet when you have reached your destination for the day.
  • Make sure your boots have already been broken in. Never use them for the first time on a walking adventure.

Backpack

  • Your daypack/hydration pack must be comfortable, adaptable and light. The back must be height-adjustable, and it should have straps for the waist or hips and for the chest.
  • Do not pack too much into the pack as baggage transport is provided.

Walking techniques

  • Before heading out, do some stretching exercises, especially for your calf muscles: Lean with your hands against the wall, standing on your tiptoes, then lower the soles of your feet until you can feel some tightness behind your knees as your body comes down to the floor again. You should also stretch your quad muscles (the front head of the thigh) and the hamstring muscle group (in the back of the thigh).
  • Start walking at a gentle and rhythmic pace, and never hurriedly, until you have warmed up. Once you have, the pace should be moderate and continuous.Take at least ten minutes rest, or more if you need it, every one or two hours.
  • Always walk at a comfortable pace, one that you can keep up and still hold a conversation easily. Walking must come to you as naturally as breathing; that is, you should be able to do it without thinking about it.
  • On level ground, keep on walking as normal, with steps that are neither too long nor too short. When walking uphill, and since there is no rush, take shorter steps and walk slower
  • When walking downhill, and ground level permitting, take longer strides and walk faster. Plant your heels firmly on the ground and tighten the straps of your pack a little more to give the shoulders a rest.
  • By the time you come to the end of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela you will have taken a million steps. Even so, with each one you still have to tread carefully and watch where you walk. One single misplaced step may force you to withdraw from the pilgrimage; therefore, especially when you come to uneven terrain, or ground that has lots of holes in it, or loose stones or pebbles on it, you should mind where you step.
  • If you are with someone who walks faster than you, you should not try to keep up with them. By doing so, your muscles will be exhausted after just a few hours.
  • Give yourself a hand, both when walking up and downhill, by using the trekking poles. They will also make the walk less monotonous.

Hydration

  • It is absolutely essential to hydrate your body well, before, during and after walking
  • A good rule is to drink three glasses of water one or two hours before beginning the next stage; two 15 minutes before starting it; the equivalent of a glass of water approximately every forty minutes throughout all of the stage; in total, drink a minimum of two liters of water per day
  • Drink even before you feel thirsty. This can prevent muscle problems, such as cramps.
  • Do not drink water from streams, springs or sources from which you cannot be sure the water is safe to drink.

During stops/breaks

  • In warm weather, look for a cool place in the shade.
  • Remove your shoes and put your feet up.
  • Make the most of the break to eat and drink something (dried fruits and nuts, chocolate, fruit, energy bars, etc.), if you wish, but do so in small quantities, eating enough to replenish your energy.
  • Do not make stops too long (no more than ten to fifteen minutes).
  • If the days stage is a long distance, remember to replenish your energy with a meal.

Foot care

  • Put some Vaseline or Glide on your feet, especially on and between the toes, heels and soles before starting the days walking. This will help prevent blisters from forming.
  • It is good to refresh your feet by removing your boots when you stop for a break. You can also soak your feet in a fountain or stream. Be careful to dry them well.
  • What to do if you get a blister: pierce the blister with a sterilized needle (piercing the skin in one or two places) and drain all the liquid out of the blister; never cut the skin, since it will protect the injured area. Then place a little antibiotic gel dressing on the now-empty blister, which will relieve the burning sensation and act as a cushion. Put a plaster over the blister after this, taking care to apply it well and, if necessary, trimming it down to the right size. At the end of the day, you should remove the dressing and plaster, and wash and dry your feet well, then repeat the previous process, piercing the blister if it has formed again. The next day, before you start the days travels, put a new plaster and some fresh gel dressing on it. A useful guide to the prevention of blisters is shown in the link below.

Fighting fatigue

  • Rest when you are not too tired in order to recuperate well; if you walk to the point of exhaustion, the recuperation will be much slower and more difficult.
  • Rest can mean either getting enough hours of sleep or letting your mind and body relax for short periods of twenty minutes.
  • Drink plenty of liquids, including an energy drink which replenishes mineral salts [lost through perspiration and urination], to stop your muscles from tiring.
  • Be sure to fuel your body with snacks along the way, nourishment provides energy.

Further information

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