The Year’s Best Blister Horror Story

You may have seen the news articles either in your newspaper, or on Facebook, or on TV. Let me paint you a word picture of some of the headlines and quotes:

  • Blister sparked tears
  • “I got a really bad blister.”
  • “My mind was ‘blocked with pain’ of a blister.”
  • Pain and tears
  • Blister caused meltdown

Marin Cilic let the tears come midway through the second set after calling for medical attention for a nasty blister on his left foot. The former US Tennis Open champion had tried to play through the pain, but couldn’t stop Federer from winning the tournament. Cilic said, “I got a bad blister in the semi-final against Sam Querrey. Fluid just came down under my callous in the foot.” The medical staff helped him over a period of 30 hours and did as much as they could. He said, “I still felt the pain. Every time I had to do a reaction fast, fast change of movement, I was unable to do that.” Cilic was challenged emotionally because of everything he had gone through in the months before Wimbledon. “It was very, very difficult to deal with it. It didn’t hurt so much that it was putting me in tears. It was just that feeling that I wasn’t able to give the best.” Here’s the full story.

Wimbledon 2017: Devastated Marin Cilic Reveals Blister Sparked Tears

What did this cost Cilic? It cost him the championship at Wimbledon and the fame and fortune that goes with it. Putting it into language that athletes would understand, If this had been you, it could have cost you a completion of a hundred mile race, an adventure race win, a marathon win, a through hike, and more.

So here’s what happened. We know that Cilic had a callus on the ball of his left foot. A blister developed under the callus, and then popped. A fluid filled blister hurts and when it’s on a pressure point area of the foot, it hurts even more. Then with the fluid removed, the blister’s roof moves against the inner layer of raw skin, causing even more pain. Movement, especially when doing sudden pivots and push-offs, as required in tennis, becomes impossible. That’s it. One blister. But a blister in a vital spot – at the head of the metatarsal at the base of the large toe on the left foot can ruin your day – or your chance for the 2017 Wimbledon trophy.

In the picture you can see white stuff on the bottom of Cilic’s foot. That’s tape residue from the layers of tape they put on his foot. The residue builds up into a sticky mess and can become an irritant. Look closely and you’ll see a callus or blister just under the ball of his big toe. That’s a typical callus area too and I’d bet he had a thick callus there. Cilic mentioned fluid that came out from under the callus. Try as they could, the doctors and medics were unable to patch his foot so he could play the way he needed to play. Since his play was compromised, he ended up losing.

So what’s the lesson here?

  1. Callus buildup is bad. It’s one of my main things I talk about. Calluses. Spend the time it takes to reduce your calluses. If Cilic did not have a callus, he might not have developed a blister.
  2. Treat it right from the start. We can only speculate what treatment Cilic received. How did they lance the blister? Did they get all the fluid out? Did it refill? What did they put over the callus and blister? Did the blister extend beyond the callus? What kind of tape did they use? What did he do to his foot during the 30 hours? How many times did they try to tape it. Why didn’t they remove the tape residue?
  3. Was this a recurrence? In other words, had he had a blister in the same place before?
  4. What was the surface of his insoles like? Coarse and rough? Smooth? Did they change insoles?
  5. What kind socks was he wearing? Did he change to a different pair as the injury progressed?

What would I have done? My treatment is based on what I read through the news stories and saw in the pictures.

  1. I would have checked his insoles and if they had a rough surface, I would have replaced then with a pair that had a smoother surface.
  2. I would have put a large ENGO Blister Prevention Patch on the insole under the callus and ball of the foot. This would have reduced the friction dramatically.
  3. If the callus over the blister is rough and coarse skin, I’d file it down to remove some of the coarseness and bulk.
  4. I would have made sure there were at least three lanced holes in the blister, in spots were pressure through the foot strike would have forced fluid out. And made sure all the fluid was out.
  5. I’d put a small dab of antibiotic ointment over the blister and apply a strip of kinesiology tape over the whole ball of the book, making sure the skin was clean, with a tincture of benzoin base and an added strip of benzoin to the tapes edges.
  6. I’d then add two figure 8s from Hypafix or Coverall tape between the toes to anchor the forward edge of the kinesiology tape at the base of the toes.
  7. Finally, roll the socks on the foot to avoid pulling any edges of the tape loose.
  8. Optionally #1, If the pain was almost unbearable, I would have applied cushioned adhesive felt over the ball of the foot and then the kinesiology tape over that.
  9. Optionally #2, I would have the athlete wear a double layer sock or two light weight socks to allow for movement between the two socks layers and reduce pressure on the ball of the foot.

Over the years, I have found most doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and even podiatrists, do not know how to patch blisters on athlete’s feet in order to get them back into the race or event.

I know I was not courtside, and don’t know what Cilic’s medical people saw. But the above treatment plan is still what I would do regardless of other things. You are welcome to weigh in on what you think.

Bad Toenails at Western States

July 7, 2017 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Footcare, General, Health, Sports, toenails 

I’m taking another opportunity to share a few pictures from the Western States 100 two weeks ago. The pictures were taken at the finish line. They are important because it’s very hard to get runners to learn how to manage their toenails. Maybe the two pictures will help.

The tops of bad toenailsThe first picture is taken looking down at the tops of the runner’s two great toes. Notice the apparent forward rough edge of the toenails. See the blood at the back of the nail, at the base of the nails? In this instance, the toenails were pushed backwards into the nailbed and into the cuticle of the nail and the nail folds that support the nail at the rear and sides.

The constant trauma to the toes with the toenails being pushed backwards, caused blood to form at the base of the nail. The blood then spreads to the inside of the toe and under the nail. In the second picture, you can see blood all along the inside of the toe and moving under the toe and forward over the tip of the toe.

The front of bad toenailsThe downhills, or a shoe too short in either length or height of the toe box were all contributing factors. But the real cause, in my opinion, was the toenails that are too long and not trimmed short enough and then filed smooth.

In August 2005, I wrote a blog post about Trimming Toenails – It’s Not That Hard. Here is what I wrote:

How hard can it be to trim your toenails? I guess for a lot of folks, it’s a huge deal and something they never do. In all the years I have been patching feet, I have observed that untrimmed toenails are the number one cause of problems leading to toe blisters and black nails. Socks will catch on nails that are too long or that have rough edges. This puts pressure on the nail bed. Nails that are too long are also prone to pressure from a toe box that is too short or too low.

So what are some tips to keeping your toenails under control? Toenails should be trimmed straight across the nail—never rounded at the corners. Leave an extra bit of nail on the outside corner of the big toe to avoid an ingrown toenail. After trimming toenails, use a nail file to smooth the top of the nail down toward the front of the toe and remove any rough edges. If you draw your finger from the skin in front of the toe up across the nail and can feel a rough edge, the nail can be filed smoother or trimmed a bit shorter.

Use a regular nail file from your drug store, you know, those cheap “use it a few times and toss it” file. Better yet, invest a few bucks in a nice metal file that will last a long time and serve you well. If you need clippers, there are regular large clippers and for thick nails there are nippers and scissors made exclusively for toenails. If your local drug store or pharmacy doesn’t have them, check out FootSmart for a great selection.

A little bit of care in toenail trimming goes a long ways in making your socks last, and in preventing toe blisters and black toenails.

In the case of the runner at Western States, good toenail care could have prevented his blood blisters.

I have repeatedly written about toenails and how to take care of them. It’s one of the things I stress with runners. It’s so easy to do and only takes a few minutes. At our aid stations and the finish line, we saw many runners with bad toenails.

Tonya Olson, a physical therapist who does amazing foot care too, has helped at Western States for many years. She’s worked Michigan Bluff, Foresthill, and then we work the finish line together. When we see runners with toenail blisters or untrimmed toenails, we look at each other to decide which one of us will give the runner “the toenail talk.” You don’t want to be on the receiving end of the “toenail talk” because we make you feel guilty about your lack of quality toenail care. Again, it’s so simple and can save your race.

If you missed last week’s blog post about the condition of feet at Western States, here the link to the post: Feet at Western States.

Next week I’ll be in Death Valley for the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon. We’ll see what feet are like there.

Bad Toenails at Western States

July 7, 2017 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Footcare, General, Health, Sports, toenails 

I’m taking another opportunity to share a few pictures from the Western States 100 two weeks ago. The pictures were taken at the finish line. They are important because it’s very hard to get runners to learn how to manage their toenails. Maybe the two pictures will help.

The tops of bad toenailsThe first picture is taken looking down at the tops of the runner’s two great toes. Notice the apparent forward rough edge of the toenails. See the blood at the back of the nail, at the base of the nails? In this instance, the toenails were pushed backwards into the nailbed and into the cuticle of the nail and the nail folds that support the nail at the rear and sides.

The constant trauma to the toes with the toenails being pushed backwards, caused blood to form at the base of the nail. The blood then spreads to the inside of the toe and under the nail. In the second picture, you can see blood all along the inside of the toe and moving under the toe and forward over the tip of the toe.

The front of bad toenailsThe downhills, or a shoe too short in either length or height of the toe box were all contributing factors. But the real cause, in my opinion, was the toenails that are too long and not trimmed short enough and then filed smooth.

In August 2005, I wrote a blog post about Trimming Toenails – It’s Not That Hard. Here is what I wrote:

How hard can it be to trim your toenails? I guess for a lot of folks, it’s a huge deal and something they never do. In all the years I have been patching feet, I have observed that untrimmed toenails are the number one cause of problems leading to toe blisters and black nails. Socks will catch on nails that are too long or that have rough edges. This puts pressure on the nail bed. Nails that are too long are also prone to pressure from a toe box that is too short or too low.

So what are some tips to keeping your toenails under control? Toenails should be trimmed straight across the nail—never rounded at the corners. Leave an extra bit of nail on the outside corner of the big toe to avoid an ingrown toenail. After trimming toenails, use a nail file to smooth the top of the nail down toward the front of the toe and remove any rough edges. If you draw your finger from the skin in front of the toe up across the nail and can feel a rough edge, the nail can be filed smoother or trimmed a bit shorter.

Use a regular nail file from your drug store, you know, those cheap “use it a few times and toss it” file. Better yet, invest a few bucks in a nice metal file that will last a long time and serve you well. If you need clippers, there are regular large clippers and for thick nails there are nippers and scissors made exclusively for toenails. If your local drug store or pharmacy doesn’t have them, check out FootSmart for a great selection.

A little bit of care in toenail trimming goes a long ways in making your socks last, and in preventing toe blisters and black toenails.

In the case of the runner at Western States, good toenail care could have prevented his blood blisters.

I have repeatedly written about toenails and how to take care of them. It’s one of the things I stress with runners. It’s so easy to do and only takes a few minutes. At our aid stations and the finish line, we saw many runners with bad toenails.

Tonya Olson, a physical therapist who does amazing foot care too, has helped at Western States for many years. She’s worked Michigan Bluff, Foresthill, and then we work the finish line together. When we see runners with toenail blisters or untrimmed toenails, we look at each other to decide which one of us will give the runner “the toenail talk.” You don’t want to be on the receiving end of the “toenail talk” because we make you feel guilty about your lack of quality toenail care. Again, it’s so simple and can save your race.

If you missed last week’s blog post about the condition of feet at Western States, here the link to the post: Feet at Western States.

Feet at Western States

July 2, 2017 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Footcare, General, Health 

On June 12 I wrote a blog post Running a Wet 100 Mile Trail Run.

On June 24, I found out many runners ignored my advice, to their detriment. Maybe they didn’t read it, or didn’t see it, or simply read it and ignored it.

A typical year at WS has our foot care team at Michigan Bluff lancing and patching a goodly number of blisters. On toes, heels, ball of the foot, arches, and more. Maybe 50 to 75 blisters. Maybe more. We really don’t count.

This year I lanced and patched one blister. Yes, that’s right – ONE.

But this was not a typical year at WS. Instead of dry conditions, there were miles of snow, and mud, combined with heat so runners soaked themselves in streams and poured water over their hears and down into their shoes.

Maceration WS100I predicted the outcome. Maceration.

Runners came in to see us complaining of blisters and were surprised when we told them there were none. Just macerated feet.

So we powdered their feet, asked them if they had dry socks. And hopefully, dry shoes. We fixed and changed what we could and sent them on their way – wishing them well.

Were this year’s conditions not known in advance? I don’t think so. Runners and crews knew of the record snowpack. They should have expected water and wet conditions. For whatever reason, many ignored the warnings.

It’s unfortunate that so many runners jeopardized their opportunity for a buckle and a successful race on something that was manageable.

I’d love to hear from runners about what they thought. Send me an email.

In the meantime, click the link and read Running a Wet 100 Mile Trail Run.

Father’s Day Spartan Challenge

June 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General, Sports 

I love today’s world where we can each pick races and events that we like. Some people run trails, others run roads, while some do both. Many athletes ride, or hike, or adventure race. Whatever your interest, there’s a race or event to challenge you.

But how often do you try something new?

Every so often I have the opportunity to try and entice you to try a Spartan Race.

Please read to the end of this blog post because I have an opportunity for one person to win a free entry into a Spartan Race.

Have you done a Spartan Race? These very popular races are obstacles course races of short to endurance length distances. Each race involves water and mud, and their signature obstacles that will test your physical, mental, tactical and team-based skills. Spartan Races are held throughout the country. If these races interest you for 2017, check out the Spartan website as well as the two books Spartan Up! and Spartan Fit! Do a Spartan Race and you’ll come out as more than a runner.

I know. Some of you are saying. They aren’t the same as a marathon, 50-mile, or 100-mile race. Ultrarunners are tough and our events are hard. Spartan Races are much shorter.

You are right of course. But. And it’s a huge “but”, Spartan Races have obstacles that I’d bet most ultrarunners could not complete. Carrying a 60-pound sandbag up and down a long grassy hill, the barbed wire roll, rope climbs, the log carry, carrying a five-gallon bucket filled with rocks up and down a hill, tire pull, water obstacles, and more.

You have to be in the best physical shape of your life for these events. So do your feet. Between the grassy hills, slick with water and mud, the muddy trails and roads, the uphills and downhills over rocky trails and roads, jumping onto and over walls, down cargo nets, and other challenges, your ankles and feet take a beating. You get junk in your shoes, and while no one in the shows complained of blisters, I am certain many of the racers had them. Just watching the shows I could see there would be sprained ankles along with other injuries.

If you can’t complete an obstacle, you have to do 30 burpees. And that’s after you failed at the obstacle. Your heart is racing and breathing is labored, and you are exhausted.

Check out the website and see if this type of race interests you. Their Spartan Race Father’s Day promotion with code SPARTANDAD will get you 50% off gear, $69 Sprint races, and two free digital books with any race purchase (Spartan Up! & Spartan Fit!). Here’s the link for more information: Spartan Race Father’s Day promotion.

That’s a pretty good deal.

This Father’s Day deal from Spartan expires June 18, Sunday night at 11:59 pm, Eastern time zone.

So here’s another deal. Spartan is giving me one free race code to give away. If you are interested, send me an email and tell me why you’d like to do a Spartan Sprint race and why you think it would challenge you. I’ll randomly select one person for the free race code. The only thing I ask is that after your race, I want you to write a short report on how these compare to a marathon or an ultramarathon.

Send me your email by midnight Saturday. June 17th and I’ll pick the winner Sunday morning. That way, even if you don’t win, you’ll have time to go to their Father’s Day promotion and use the SPARTANDAD coupon and save some cash.

You can also use the SPARTANDAD coupon as a gift for you husband or friend or significant other. Just make sure you use it before the deadline.

Running a Wet 100 Mile Trail Run

In less than two weeks is the running of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. I will be at the 55.7-mile Michigan Bluff aid station, along with Tonya Olson and others on the medical team. Our aim is to make sure you are healthy to continue on towards Placer High School and a good finish.

For the past six years, the mountains have been dry and the trails dusty. Feet get caked with dirt. Blisters are caused by the dust and dirt as an irritant inside shoes and socks.

2011 was the last snow year. I have looked a bit online and am unclear on snow conditions this year. But this much I am certain, there will be snow and feet will be wet. How much snow remains to be seen.

I am 100% certain that runners will have long sections of wet trail, either from the snow, snow run off, water on the trail, and stream crossings. That equals miles of running with wet feet. I’m also 100% certain that we’ll have lots of wet feet, blisters, and maceration. In fact maceration could easily be a bigger problem than blisters. Don’t forget to avoid pouring water over your head where it will run down your legs into your shoes, contributing to maceration. Lean forward rather then standing straight up.

A blister can be lanced and taped, and runners can continue without to many issues. Maceration is a different story. Once your feet are macerated – the skin shriveled like a prune, there is no quick fix.

With prolonged exposure, the skin on your feet goes through four stages as the maceration progresses to severe cracks and tears in the skin—that can be race ending. As the skin on your feet moves through the four stages, the skin folds over on itself and can crack or tear. This can be painful. Many runners come into aid stations complaining of bad blisters only to be told they don’t have any – it’s severe maceration.

I expanded the section on maceration in the 6th edition of Fixing Your Feet. Starting on page 188, are 12 pages with sections about Cold and Wet, Maceration, Trench Foot and Chilblains, Frostbite, and Snow and Ice. Included are tips and products to help with those conditions. If you have a copy, read the sections – and have you crew read them also. On page 101 is a section on High-Technology Oversocks like SealSkinz and Hanz, Serius, and eZeefit waterproof type socks. Another sock worth mentioning is ArmaSkin socks, which is used as a sock liner and fits tightly against your feet. They would be my choice for a wet race. I’d also wear gaiters to keep snow, dirt, and grit out of my shoes.

As far as skin preparation, here’s what I would do – expecting wet feet. My drop bags would have clean socks, small containers or baggies with powder to help dry wet skin, and container or tubes of any of the following: RunGoo, Trail Toes, Desitin Maximum Strength Original Paste, Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, or a strong zinc oxide paste. I’d also carry some in my hydration pack. I would apply a liberal coating of one of these from toes to up the heels and then roll my socks on. Rolling socks on will help prevent smearing and thinning the paste on areas of the feet.

Since proactive care is better than reactive, I’d check my feet at most aid stations, adding paste as necessary. If my feet were feeling bad at an aid station, I’d apply some powder to help dry the skin, and have some food while letting the powder do its job. Then apply more paste and clean socks. If your feet are badly macerated, it will take drying them, coating them with powder, and rubbing it in and letting it sit for a while, then stripping off the powder and adding more of your choice of paste. That may easily mean 15 minutes or more. If you don’t take care of macerated feet, they’ll get worse over time, requiring more care and longer time – and there may come a point when it’s irreversible in the time you have.

The time you take in aid stations does add up and it can quickly erase any time cushion you may have to finish within an allotted time. But skip quality care, rush too fast, ship hydration or eating, and you’ll pay the cost.

Remember your first line of defense should be your crew. They should know what you want for foot care and how to do it correctly. There aren’t enough medical people to take care of everyone’s feet and we may be busy with others, adding more time to your aid station visit.

Yes, as I said earlier, I will be at Michigan Bluff and Tonya and I will do our best to help you. But heed my warning. We cannot work miracles when you have failed to take care of your feet from the start. In the same way we cannot take away the pain and problems with black toenails and toe blisters caused by your not trimming your toenails, we cannot repair badly macerated feet when you have not tried steps to control the maceration.

I ran Western States in the late 80s and one thing I learned is the outcome of the race in your hands. Whether is your training, conditioning, choice of footwear, choices of food, what’s in your head, your choice of crew – lots of things affect your race. I encourage you to take the time necessary to care for your feet.

Staying Visible While Running

June 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General, Health 

Today’s article is written as a guest post by Bryan Mac Murray, an Outreach Specialist with Personal Injury Help. I believe staying safe whether running or walking, or cycling is important and something we often forget about.

Staying Visible While Running

You are a member of the growing group of people who enjoy running to stay healthy. As a runner, you understand that making sure you are noticed by drivers is important. Visibility is essential is safety while running regardless of where you go – areas that are less traveled or busy streets. To ensure your safety, you must be proactive and make sure you stand out in the crowd so drivers will notice you and be much less likely to hit you. Here are few ways you can make yourself stand out when you are out for a run.

Fluorescent Clothing

You want to make sure you dress in bright colors so you will be noticed. Fluorescent clothing, such as hot pink, lime green, neon yellow, and orange will get attention. Traditional colors such as green, blue, black, brown, or gray just blend into the surroundings and camouflage you. You want to wear a jacket, vest, or shirt that will make you stand out from both the front and the back.

Visible After Dark

If you are out running when it is dark, such as before dawn or after dusk, you need to make sure you are visible to drivers. When there is no daylight your brightly colored attire isn’t noticed. Wear a safety vest that has reflective piping or put reflective tape on the front and back of your clothing. Reflective bands on the wrists and ankles also help. Add some reflective tape on your shoes as well. For added protection carry a flashlight in front pointed downward. Flashing LED lights can be worn on your clothing on both front and back to help you get noticed. It may be a good idea to make sure that any running clothes that you buy have visibility components, such as jackets with reflective panels, high-visibility colors or both.

Don’t Run Alone

If you can, run with a buddy. Two people running together are more visible than one. Both of you dressed to be visible and running side by side will definitely make you stand out. Having someone along in case of an emergency is also beneficial. This is especially true if you’re running in less-trafficked areas, such as a fire road or nature trail. Because there are less people around, it may take longer for someone to respond if you’re in trouble.

Follow the Traffic Laws

You need to know the traffic laws and adhere to them, just like motorists. This means that you don’t just zip through a stop sign or ignore a traffic light. If it says “don’t walk” you don’t just run on through. Approach the signal or sign, stop, and obey the traffic laws. You don’t want to run into the path of a vehicle where you weren’t seen until the last minute. While they may seem more avoidable, bicycles can also be a hazard in this way, and if they’re not being attentive cyclists, they can easily collide with a runner, especially when the bicyclist is turning at an intersection while a runner crosses it.

Run in Well-Lit Areas

You want to run in areas where you can see where you are going. If you head off down a dark street, you could trip over obstacles or debris or end up running into a criminal who is up to no good. Never go down a street that looks dark, abandoned, or just gives you a creepy feeling. Follow your instincts and stay safe when you are out and about. Remember, you need to see where you are going and you also want people to see you so you aren’t hit by a car or the victim of a criminal act. It’s also a good idea to do without earphones if you’re running in a dangerous area as well- being able to hear an approaching car or a would-be assaulter could mean the difference between a close call and a tragic incident.

Watch for Cars

If at all possible, run on the sidewalk. You keep a more significant distance between you and the cars by staying on the sidewalk. This distance can serve as a safety barrier of sorts. Always stay alert so you can get out of the way if you need to move fast. Don’t run around or between cars because you are setting yourself up to be hit because drivers cannot see you when you are in their blind spot. Watch for people opening car doors. Don’t run too close to parked cars or you might end up getting doored.

Staying Safe While Running

Running helps you stay healthy and provides great fun. Making sure drivers will notice you is a great way to improve safety and decrease your chances of being hit by a car. Make sure you know how to stand out and also be ready to jump to safety if the need arises. For additional protection, carry cell phone along with your name and emergency contact information taped on the back in case of an emergency. Let someone know when you are leaving, your route and when you plan to be back.

*This Article was written by Personal Injury Help, however this article is not intended to be legal advice nor should it be construed as such. To learn more about Personal Injury Help, you can visit their website at personalinjury-law.com or email them at help@personalinjury-law.org.

Running in Barefoot and Minimalist Shoes

May 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Footwear, Footwear Products, Health, Sports 

Today’s post is from a website called Jen Reviews. The piece below is one part of the entire post, which focuses on running in what the author calls “barefoot shoes” or minimalist shoes. It think this is a relevant subject and of importance because many runners, and even walkers, want to learn more about and try these shoes. The article is 15 Health Benefits of Barefoot Running Shoes, According to Science (+8 Tips for Beginners).

There is a lot of valuable information in the lengthy article and we can all learn something by giving it a read. I’ve extracted a section that talks about transitioning into running in these lightweight shoes. With summer coming on, many think about getting outside more and looking at new shoes. These shoes can be helpful to many runners but many athletes have been injured by doing too much too soon, giving podiatrists extra business. Don’t be one of them. Read the section below and then check out the full article.

Here’s the excerpt, taken from tip # 4 for beginners. To me, that means beginners to either these shoes or running in general.

Gradually Transition into Using Barefoot Running Shoes Regularly

While running barefoot or with barefoot shoes can be beneficial on many levels, just because you have the option to run in barefoot shoes, doesn’t mean that you have to use them all the time (3). That is, while professional athletes use them to recover from injuries, they do not use them while they are training or during a game.

You must choose the right manner in which to use your barefoot running shoes, especially if it is your first time using them. The best way is to ease into the use of them.

Try walking indoors first, then walk outdoors. Proceed to run indoors, then run outdoors. Once running outdoors, transition from running on soft surfaces to harder ones. Doing this will allow your body’s natural shock mechanisms to build up, which will allow you run better with these shoes or barefoot in the future.

It is recommended that when switching running shoes, that you do not add more than 10% of exercise per week to your regular running routine.

For instance, during the first four weeks of using barefoot shoes, walk slowly for 30 minutes, 2 to 3 times per week. In the next 2 weeks, run briefly on a soft surface 2 to 3 times per week. You can do this exercise as a warm-up or cool down for your regular workouts.

After this time, you may then increase your barefoot running exercises on soft surfaces by 10% 2 to 3 times per week. Proceed to do this until you are able to perform 50% of your normal workouts in barefoot shoes.

Bottom Line: Though running with barefoot shoes can be beneficial to your health, you do not have to use them all the time. In fact, for those who have not used barefoot running shoes, it is best if you ease into the use of them by gradually increasing the duration and intensity of your workouts over a matter of weeks.

This is good advice for anyone thinking about these new lightweight shoes. Check out the full article at 15 Health Benefits of Barefoot Running Shoes, According to Science (+8 Tips for Beginners).

Helping Other Runners

April 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Footcare, Health, Sports 

Last week I received an email from a runner’s husband.

“I just had to take a moment to thank-you for your “Fixing Your Feet” book. I am married to a woman, whom in the last three years has transitioned into an ultrarunner. Last year she attempted and completed her first 100 mile ultra, the Farmdale 100 in central Illinois. Leading up to that event, she competed in multiple 30 Milers, 50K’s, and 50 Milers.  

“I became her ‘Support Crew’ for each event and for her 100. We purchased your book in early 2016 and I devoured it like it was a text book. I applied your assessments, treatments, etc., to my wife’s feet. She completed her 100 and come through with great feet (minus one toenail). Thanks to YOU!

“Fast forward to April 2017 and the Potawatomi Trail Runs in Pekin, Illinois. My wife paced two of her friends attempting their first 100 milers. We also crewed two of her friends; one attempting his first 200 miler and the other his first 150 miler. All in all we were crewing and supporting four runners.

“The 200 milers started Thursday, April 6th, the 150 milers started Friday, April 7th, and the 100 milers started the next day. Needless to say, I was dealing with a lot of feet over the long weekend. I applied so much of the knowledge you shared in your book to keep each of their feet as healthy as possible throughout the entire event! All four were finishers! The 200 miler took 3rd overall and the 150 miler took 2nd.

“Additionally, individuals crewing other runners were seeing us tending to our runners feet and coming to us to help their runners. We kept a lot of runners on the course and were able to be a part of many amazing stories! I know each of them would like to thank-you! 

“All my best, the honeybadger husband of ultrarunner Jenny Matuszewski Grow.”

 

I love the fact that all four of their runners finished. What really energizes me is that he spent time helping other runners as they saw what he was doing. That’s important. Here’s the line again. “… Individuals crewing other runners were seeing us tending to our runners feet and coming to us to help their runners. We kept a lot of runners on the course and were able to be a part of many amazing stories!” That’s rewarding for him.

But step back a moment and pause. Read between the lines. What that means is many of the support teams did not know how to work on their runner’s feet, “…and coming to us to help their runners.”

It is my hope that some of these support people, and their runners, will take the time to learn how to manage their feet. Then I’ll be even happier.

In the meantime, thank you honeybadger – and Jenny. You are very kind.

When you have the opportunity, share Fixing Your Feet with other runners you see at races and fun runs. I appreciate it.

Miles on Your Feet

April 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Footcare, Health, Sports 

I have worked medical and provided foot care at hundreds of ultramarathons, adventure races, walks, and multiday races and have seen the same thing over and over—runners who do not have a good training base.

Of course there is not a set number of miles you need to run to do well at a race. Conditions vary. Some may get by with minimal miles a week, others run over 100 miles or even over 150 miles a week as they ram up for a big event. By and large though, the runners with more miles on their feet do better that those that have fewer miles.

I’ll take this a step further and say that the more miles on your feet, the better your feet will be.

At the Western States 100 Michigan Bluff 55.7-mile aid station, for example, the top 20 to 30 runners come through without needing any type of foot care.

There may be one of two that get some type of foot care from their crew down the road, but if so, is generally pretty minor. Most often, if anything, they just change socks or shoes. As the race progresses and more runners come through, we begin to see runners needing help with foot care. The farther back the runners are, the more foot care they need. Not every runner, but many of them. And many of them have multiple issues. Not just one blister, but quite a few. The more problems they have, the more complex the repair, and the longer it takes to complete the fix. This becomes a huge issue if they are trying to stay ahead of the cutoffs at each aid station. I remember a runner several years ago that we patched up. At the next aid station, she need more care and wanted to get out of the aid station quickly to avoid the cutoff. That meant not doing a quality patch job—and she came back to the aid station after going a bit down the road. She knew her race was over.

So the point here is that you need to put lots of miles on your feet in order to train them for long conditions. You can run 10 miles a day, day after day, and then try and do a 50-miler, and odds are—you’ll have problems. You have 10- to 15-mile feet—not 50-mile feet.

Doing Your Own Foot Care

Doing Your Own Foot Care

This applies to walking, running, adventure racing, hiking, any activity where you use your feet. It all boils down to how many miles you are putting on your feet. It’s about conditioning your skin, muscles, tendons, and finding what shoes and socks are the best, and finding the best fit—everything about your feet. We all can’t be the top runners. Many runners don’t have unlimited time to train. So what can the rest of us do? Make sure you get some long runs, especially closer to your race. Make sure you have the best possible fit in your shoes. Make sure you wear quality socks. Reduce your calluses. Learn proper toenail care.

Every sport has this. In the summer I ride a 24-hour road bike charity event where you ride as far as you can in 24 hours. How far I go hinges on several things. How well my legs are trained, how my stomach holds up, how my back feels. But the most important, for me anyway, is how many miles I have on my butt. That’s right. When I ride over 250 miles in 24 hours, every part of my body has to be conditioned. If you get saddle sores, they can be painful with every pedal stroke.

If you want to finish a race, your feet have to be in the best condition possible. That means knowing what they need for shoes and socks, skin and nail care, and having the right foot care kit—and how to use the stuff in it. It also means putting the miles on your feet. That’s what will carry you to the finish line.

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