Taking care of your feet at Officer Candidate School seems like a no-brainer, simple thing to do. However, many candidates forget or neglect the health of their feet and pay serious consequences for it. The first few weeks of OCS, there is an actual shoe schedule set by your Sergeant Instructors to get your feet used to walking and running in combat boots. Many of the first parts of training at Officer Candidate School start with go-fasters (sneakers) and slowly transition into boots, until the point where the only time you use go-fasters is on the PFT.
But if there is a full schedule laid out for your feet to break in your boots, why should you worry? Because people get blisters, regardless of the schedule and the help of the Navy corpsman assigned to your platoon. When candidates get blisters, they make walking extremely painful, causing some to slow down significantly in PT, walk with a silly looking limp, or worse, get an infection. There were multiple candidates in my platoon who neglected to take care of their feet and ended up with NASTY blisters all over their feet, causing infections and some serious illness. Don’t be the candidate who lives in Sick Bay, take care of your feet!
Personally, I wanted my feet to be the last thing to worry about, so I took my foot health seriously. I never got a blister throughout training, broke in my boots quickly and was able to worry about more important things when the going really got tough. So here are a few quick tips to help care for your feet, so you’re not the candidate in your platoon with terrible blisters and a foot infection.
- Buy a good pair of Go-Fasters- When you arrive at OCS, you bring your own pair of go-fasters. Make sure you purchase and break in a good pair of running shoes before arriving at Quantico because once you’re at OCS, your stuck with the running shoes you have. Visit a local running store such as “The Running Company” and tell them that you are attending Officer Candidate School, will be running on trails, etc. They’ll evaluate how you run and recommend a pair of running shoes that will carry you through Quantico and beyond. Some running shoes can be expensive (+$100-150), but I highly recommend spending the money because it’s worth it. Don’t show up with crappy running shoes that are 1-year old and beat to hell, it’s one of the main reasons candidates had early foot trouble.
- Fit your Boots to specifications: When you receive your boots at Quantico, some candidates didn’t listen to the men and women at the Exchange. There were candidates who ignored the advice to wear relatively snug boots, choosing loose fitting boots instead for “comfort”. Well, when you wear loose fitting boots for an extended duration, your feet slide all over the place and chafe, causing blisters. Some people found that out the hard way. Don’t be that candidate with the boots to big for his/her feet, get a properly fitting pair of boots!
- Wear two pairs of socks initially: When you are first breaking in your boots at OCS, they can be extremely uncomfortable. I found that wearing two pairs of socks, usually boot socks followed by a pair of issued Under Armour PT socks, helped provide a more comfortable feel. Yes, wearing two pairs of socks is a tight squeeze, but it’s better than blisters. After a few weeks, when my feet became accustomed to the boots, I began to simply use one pair of socks.
- Use Moleskin!: Moleskin is a life saver at Officer Candidate School. If you don’t know what Moleskin is, it’s essentially an ultra padded band-aid for your feet, manufactured by Doctor Scholls. The great part about Moleskin at OCS is that you can apply it to the pressure points of your feet, where blisters usually occur, for extra padding. Just assign some extra time before wake-up everyday to apply the Moleskin to your feet and you’ll be able to avoid blisters and keep your feet comfortable.
- Purchase Thorlo Combat Boot Socks: Thorlo Socks are specifically designed for wear by military members. Before I went to OCS, I purchased two pairs, which turned out to be an excellent investment. Some candidates showed up with as many as 5-6 pairs of Thorlo’s, which might be a little excessive but it definitely doesn’t hurt. Why purchase Thorlo Combat Boot socks? Because they have extra padding and are more comfortable than the standard issued socks they give you at Quantico. I used my Thorlo’s for every single hump and field exercise, which I highly recommend doing. You can buy Thorlo boot socks at your local outdoor/camping store or online using the previous link.
Foot care at OCS is common sense, but as I mentioned earlier, many candidates neglect it and pay for it substantially. By simply wearing good running shoes, snug boots and combining the use of two pairs of socks and moleskin, you should be able to avoid all blisters and keep your feet ready to go at all times.