Music festivals can be great experiences, but unfortunately they tend to take a heavy toll on your feet, as you spend days at a time traipsing around between distant tents and dancing well into the early hours. Besides the obvious toll this constant activity can take on your feet, the harsh conditions can themselves cause damage -- unsuitable footwear (or no footwear at all) can lead to injuries and skin complaints, and the ever present threat of mud and damp can ruin your whole weekend. Luckily, there are various easy ways to keep your feet in healthy condition at outdoor music festivals.
Choosing the right footwear
At summer festivals in dry areas, you might prefer to go barefoot, while those who risk the muddiest moshpits often go for wellingtons and gumboots. Unfortunately, neither of these choices are suitable for the kind of extended punishment your feet are going through. Wellies lack proper arch and heel support and their generous sizing can lead to nasty corns and blisters with extended use. Going barefoot leaves your feet much more open to accidental injuries in crowds, not to mention broken bottles, syringes, and all the other standard festival detritus.
Instead, you should choose a shoe that gives your sole good support, and has enough rigidity to protect your feet against accidents. A pair of well worn in hiking boots is ideal for most weathers, while a pair of breathable sneakers will suffice for gigs in more arid settings. If the weather turns the ground to sludge, waterproof gaiters are a good alternative to gumboots. Never wear new shoes to a festival, as the occasional blister or scuff that occurs while wearing in new shoes can quickly get infected.
Avoiding the dreaded trench foot
Festivals during the winter months, or after particularly heavy rainfall, can quickly turn into quagmires that make keeping your feet clean and dry very challenging. If your feet are allowed to remain damp and dirty for too long, they can fall victim to a nasty condition known as trench foot, a condition which causes numbness, swelling and eventual tissue death in the victim's feet if left untreated -- it goes without saying that that is something to be avoided.
Keeping your feet trench foot free is largely a case of keeping them as dry as possible. Take as many spare pairs of footwear as you can, as well as as many changes of socks as possible. Liner socks are thin, breathable socks that you wear underneath ordinary socks, and help to wick away sweat and moisture from your feet, as well as reducing friction that causes blisters. Clean your feet at least once a day, making sure to keep a space in your tent at least relatively free of mud to do so, and make sure to take all footwear and socks off before you go to sleep at nights.
Make the most of your downtime
If you're between sets or nursing a hangover, you can make the most of your downtime by giving your feet some much needed rest. A simple tub of warm water to soak your feet in can do a lot to relax muscles and tendons. Check for any scratches or blisters that may require disinfecting, and do some simple foot-stretching exercises before you start pounding the dirt again.
If you have questions about general foot care, contact a podiatrist.