I guarantee you will injure yourself on this trip. Whether it’s one tiny blister (lucky you), a lingering tendonitis, or two twisted ankles, there really is no way to avoid a little pain on a 750km hike. I ended up needing emergency surgery on my first Camino due to poor planning and stubbornness.

Get travel insurance

I can’t stress this enough. If there’s one thing you should take away from this site, it’s this! You’ll be tempted to ignore your injuries, especially when everyone around you has similar problems. Do yourself a favour and get travel insurance, and don’t think twice about seeing a doctor. I spent CAD$270 for two months of travel insurance. I ended up claiming over €1,380 in medical bills.


Some people get none, some people get them non-stop. The right combination of shoes, socks, blister covers, and midday breaks will go a long way. Always treat your blisters in the evening, not the morning, when your walk is over and they can dry overnight.

Swap out your socks

My blisters in 2016 were caused by sweat. My shoes were waterproof (terrible choice!), and my sweaty feet would soften and blister more easily. I solved this problem in 2019 by stopping once a day to put on a fresh pair of socks and air out my shoes over lunch.

Should you use blister covers?

The brand you’ll see most often in France and Spain is Compeed. About €7 per pack of six. These work well if you notice and cover the problem area quickly. If you wait for a blister bubble to form, the Compeed won’t do much. I found blister covers always came unstuck during the day unless I diligently aired out my feet every few hours. 

To drain or not to drain

A favourite debate topic among pilgrims. I’m not a doctor, but here’s my (probably controversial) advice: don’t drain a stiff blister and never cut off the protective layer of bubbled skin, even after it’s drained. The raw skin below is easily infected. If you can help it, wait for the stiff bubble to relax slightly (like a sad, old balloon) and then drain it in two spots with a disinfected needle. Do this before bed so it can dry out overnight.

Some pilgrims ‘thread’ their blisters with string to keep the drains open. I tried this but found it painful, and keeping the wound open seemed like an invitation for infection. Still, many swear by this method– to each their own!


Tendonitis is the second most common injury I heard about on the Camino. Hiking with extra weight over uneven ground for 6-8 hours a day puts a lot of repetitive stress on your legs and feet, no matter how fit you are. The tiny abrasions on your tendons will be debilitating if you don’t deal with them quickly. Check this page for more medical information.

An anti-inflammatory patch held in place by my foot wrap. Can’t say it did much. (Moissac, 2016)

I developed tendonitis (plantar fasciitis and peroneal tendonitis) fairly early on and struggled with it in both feet until Santiago. Here’s a list of avoidable causes and solutions:

1- Your bag is too heavy

Your bag shouldn’t weigh more than 10% of your body weight. Get it fitted in a store before you leave so that it’s balanced properly. Heavy stuff in the center!

2- Cushion your soles

Use insoles, even if your shoes are broken in. Consider that each step is a small whack at your tendons.

3- Stretch in the morning and on breaks

Stiff muscles will cramp and change your natural gait, magnifying posture problems.

4- Drink more water

Always true, but especially important for avoiding tendonitis. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. You should be sipping away all day.

5- Reduce inflammation

The prescription anti-inflammatory patches I got along the way didn’t do much to reduce the pain I was in, but ibuprofen in the morning/afternoon and ice packs at night helped a lot.

6- See a doctor, take a break

They’ll tell you to stop walking, and you should. At least for a couple of days. Tendonitis can linger for a long time if you ignore it, and you don’t want to bring it home with you. 

I accumulated a lot of medical supplies in the first month of my Camino. Glad I packed light! (Moissac, 2016)


Your shoes will either be your biggest asset or your biggest liability. If this is your first multi-week hike, here’s some general advice that applies to everyone:

1- Buy shoes half a size too big

Bare minimum! Hiking all day will make your feet swell and your normal shoes will be uncomfortable. My feet went up an entire size by the end of my Camino, and it cost me a lot to replace my shoes on the go.

2- Break your shoes in before you leave

Especially if you’re wearing new hiking boots with stiff ankle support. Try to take them for a few rough-terrain hikes before you go.

3- Do your shoes need to be waterproof?

This depends a lot on what season you’re walking in and how sweaty your feet tend to get. I bought waterproof boots in 2016 thinking of the cold, wet weather, but they kept my feet from drying out and I had more blisters as a result. Ventilated, quick-drying shoes were a much better choice for me the second time.

4- Bring comfy sandals

It’s worth the extra weight to have open-toed shoes at the end of the day (heavenly). Air out your feet with ones you’ve already broken in.

Yes to walking poles

Don’t laugh! Walking pole pilgrims are doing it right. The extra weight is worth the support they give your knees on harsh descents and the attractive new arm muscles you’ll walk away with.

My foot surgery: a cautionary tale

This is a bit graphic, but you’d better get used to it now; foot stuff is 80% of what pilgrims talk about.

In 2016, I bought shoes that were slightly too small and completely waterproof, which led to crushed toes and endless blisters. By my second week, both of my big toenails had died. They didn’t fall off right away, and the added friction led to infected blisters trapped underneath. 

I ignored the pain for weeks until, finally, an extremely generous local woman saw how much danger I was in and drove me to the hospital. My ignorance and stubbornness led to surgery and a 2-week hiatus from my Camino. Had I ignored the infections any longer, they would have spread to my bones and I would have lost my toes.

It was an expensive, time-consuming, and painful error… Don’t make my mistakes!

The x-rays were pretty cool though. (Aire sur l’Adour, 2016)