With foot problems, ask, “What Changed?”

September 30, 2005 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports 

Remember Charlie? I mentioned him two days ago when the subject was Don’t Give Up on Footwear. I wrote. “He asked for advice after working hard to rid his feet of calluses. It worked for a long time and then, one day, his feet got trashed during an ultra.”
     I get that a lot—people asking for advice.  The first thing I do is ask the question, “What changed?”
     The answer sometimes is simple and easy. Other times, it’s complex. People tell me they never blistered before today, or they blister in a new area, or had problems with their toes, or something else. Or they tell me they worked hard to rid their feet of calluses and now something happened and their feet are trashed. Some tell of bad blisters deep underneath calluses. Or bad toe blisters.
     Never mind the problem. The question is always the same, “What changed?” What I mean is what did you change from the previous times? Could it be different socks (thicker, thinner, multiple pairs), insoles, shoes (new versus worn down), laces, etc.? Or a different
running or walking surface, a canted

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Don’t Give Up on Footwear

September 28, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports 

Maggie was having tremendous problems getting a good fit with her footwear. She wrote, “This is by far the most frustrating thing I have experienced in my quest to find my personal ‘very best way.’ Occasionally I have come up with a combination that has had very acceptable results, only to have the same strategy fail miserably on the next outing.”
     Charlie was another. He asked for advice after working hard to rid his feet of calluses. It worked for a long time and then, one day, his feet got trashed during an ultramarathon.
     There are many more. Some have never had problems while others have had lots. I like to hear from those who never have foot problems. They may be doing everything right, be genetically blessed with good feet, and likely, have put lots of miles on their feet in order to have the right conditioning. Others, like Maggie, have tried every idea under the sun—without success. These are the ones I love to talk to. They are dedicated to finding what works and will give up at nothing.
     Maggie, Charlie, and others are on a quest to find the best fit, and shoe and sock combination possible. They love their sport. They love being outdoors, running hiking, walking. It is a part of who they are. But they want to do it with happy feet.
     Maggie described her feet to an online hiking forum and told us what she had tried, and what worked (not much) and what didn’t work (lots). Many fellow hikers responded with their idea. Many were very good. In the end, I printed out about 10 pages of back and forth emails, read them to grasp what had been suggested and tried, and made my own recommendations. What a learning experience.
     You may be frustrated like Maggie. My advice? Don’t give up. There is a solution. There are shoes out there that will fit. With the search you’ll learn about fit, socks, insoles, orthotics, lacing techniques, heel counters, forefoot width, pronation, supination, shoe lasts, narrow feet, wide feet, Morton’s toe, bunions, and much more. Read shoe reviews in magazines. Do Google searches on different shoes with the word ‘reviews’ in the search box. Quiz your shoe store salesperson. Ask questions. Try different pairs by different manufacturers. Do not leave the store with a shoe that doesn’t feel ‘right.’ Don’t settle for 2nd best. Your feet deserve the best.
     Next time we will talk about what changed. It’s the important question.

Options in Patching Feet

September 26, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports 

If there is one thing I have come to know, it’s this; “You need to understand that the very best way to prevent blisters today may fail tomorrow.” 
     I wrote the above in a response to a hiker who said he knew the secret to preventing blisters. He wrote, “The very best way to prevent blisters is to wear sock liners under your socks. Nothing works better to prevent blisters.”
     I wrote back to him, “There is not one “very best way” for everyone to prevent blisters. I’ve patched thousands of feet over the past eight years and have seen it all and heard it all. I hold there is a very best way for each of us. It may mean using powder, lubricant, liners socks, double layer socks, toe socks, pre-taping, toughening your skin, keeping your skin as soft as a baby’s bottom, and a host of other ideas. It may also be a combination of ways. Just as long as you understand that the very best way today may fail tomorrow. It’s important to know your options.
     There are many others who have learned this the hard way. They love their calluses only to get deep blisters underneath. They wear the wrong socks. They fail to get the best fit possible. They don’t trim toenails and blister on the tips of their toes. They find yesterday’s solution is now today’s blister. It can happen to anyone—and it usually does.
     I appreciate the solutions that people find. I’ve found them too. I’ve heard the comments, “Wow. My blisters are gone. I found the best socks.” That’s fine. I’m happy. But be careful. Take a bit of time and learn your options. Socks are good but learn how to tape. Learn about insoles, about fit, lacing options, etc.
     You know your own feet better than anyone else so you have to experiment to find what works best for you. That’s why one of the chapters in my book is 159 Way to Prevent Blisters. I never said keeping your feet happy was easy!

Lubricant or Foot Powder?

September 24, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports 

Many athletes have been raised on the common belief that one of the best ways to prevent blisters is to use a lubricant. The use of a lubricant has been proven to reduce friction which causes hot spots, blisters, and after prolonged friction, calluses.
     Vaseline has been used for years but is no longer the best choice. It’s greasy, can cake up on socks, and tends to attract grit particles that can become an irritant and themselves cause blisters. Better choices are newer products like BodyGlide, Bag Balm, Blistershield Roll-on, and SportsSlick. Many of these are petroleum-free, waterproof, non-sticky, and hypoallergenic.
     For athletes in conditions where their feet are exposed to extended periods of moisture, there are several lubricants that are better than any others. Hydropel and Friction Zone are advanced skin protectants. These are water and sweat-resistant.
     Use a lubricant where you need it—between the toes, on the balls of the feet, or on the heels. If you have a history of blisters, you’ll know where it should be applied.
     Some people, however, use a lubricant and still have problems. If this is you, a good idea is to try using a powder. Lubricants will soften the skin and for some, this makes the feet more sensitive to the stresses of walking, running, hiking, etc. In some cases, you might even feel the weave of the socks as an irritant. The softened skin can lead to painful feet, and in some cases, even blisters.
     There are some great powders to try. Zeasorb and Odor-Eater’s Foot Powder are both great super-absorbent and will not cake up. Gold Bond is also a high-quality powder. A unique powder is Blistershield’s Miracle Powder. Its super slick compound reduces friction better than any other powder while repelling moisture.
     There are several tricks to using either a lubricant or powder. They need to be reapplied if your event lasts more then several hours, or if you go through a lot of water or a lot of dirt or sand. Clean off the old coating before applying the new one. Shake the powder into your socks and then shake the socks to distribute the powder. If you are prone to athlete’s foot, use an anti-fungal powder or lubricant.
     Lubricants and powders are valuable tools in the war against blisters. Try one and if problems persist, try the other. They’ll keep your feet happy.

Investigating Foot Care Treatments

September 22, 2005 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Footcare 

As the author of Fixing Your Feet, I received emails on a regular basis. Most present a foot care or footwear problem and ask for help. One today caught my attention. Russ asked, “I have been running for about 2 ½ years and for about 1 ½ years have been putting up with this pain located just below the 2nd and 3rd toes on the balls of both feet. I just got x-rays and an MRI. The MD said it was Morton’s Neuroma and the first step is alcohol injections. What do you think and what do you recommend?”

     The beauty of today’s world is the Internet. In my book Fixing Your Feet I have a section on Morton’s Neuroma so I know the most common recommendations: shoes with a wide forefoot, metatarsal pads, and varying lacing techniques. Cortisone injections are often tried. Surgery is sometimes an option.

    A Google search on “Morton’s Neuroma treatments” lists a number of websites that verify what I have written. Nowhere can I find reference to alcohol injections. It may be that the MD meant a medication like Cortisone. It may be I am unaware of a different or a new treatment option. The point is, the Internet can provide additional information that can help Russ, and any one of us, become better informed.

     In Russ’ case, I recommended he get a second opinion. Plus that he use Google, Dogpile, Alexa, or Altavista, all great search engines, to read about treatment options. Being informed and educated about foot care is important.

     In a second email, Russ indicated the MD mentioned “sclerosing therapy.” Going back to Google, and searching on those keywords, gives additional information for an informed decision. Whether you are reading my book or another book on foot care, if you have foot care issues or foot pain, its worth investigating your treatment options. If I had Russ’ Morton’s Neuroma, I might make the choice to get the injections. But only after I made a series of investigative searches—and got a second opinion.

Want More Information on Feet?

September 20, 2005 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Footcare 

Before I tackle the question above, please note the new subscription box at the top right corner of this page. Put in your email and you’ll receive a notices from Feedblitz about new posting.

     For the past four years, I have published my Fixing Your Feet Ezine, a free monthly newsletter geared for those wanting in-depth information about foot care. I’ve watched the subscriber base grow to 1700 readers. We’ve tackled easy and hard issues, and simple and complex issues. Each ezine typically contains an editorial, a feature article, tips and hints, product reviews and information, a bad feet contest, non-feet good stuff, and reader feedback. Some issues might also include a quote and/or a reader question related to foot care.

     I used Yahoo Groups to manage the subscribers and distribute the ezine. In today’s Spam crazy email world, I was never sure how many readers actually saw and read the ezine. Therefore, I made the decision to convert the ezine to a web-based blog format.

     If you like this Happy Feet blog, you’ll like the new Fixing Your Feet Ezine even more. Whereas this blog has short posts on foot care, the ezine will have more in-depth content. The content will be split between the two issues. I’ll post new content the first of the month and then again mid-month.

     A benefit to the new format is its web-based availability. There will be no issues with Spam. Equally important, it can contain images and photos, different fonts and colors, and hyperlinks to other sites. The site also has its own subscription box.

     I invite you to check it out at Fixing Your Feet Ezine. Look it over, subscribe, and then give me your feedback.

How is Your Gait?

September 17, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports 

As long as you have good form, whether walking, running, hiking—or any activity where you are using your feet for movement, you stand a better than average chance of not injuring yourself due to a biomechanical problem. But have a pack that rides wrong on your back so you lean to the side, weak abs that make you lean forward, tired arms causing your shoulders to drop, or spent quads cramping up, and your body is tossed out of alignment. This will ultimately work its way down to your feet. As they compensate for your biomechanical problems, your gait and stride change, and your feet develop their own problems. So what is “gait?” We’ll take our definitions from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Its definition is, “Gait is the way locomotion is achieved using human limbs.”
     “Walking is the most common human gait. It involves one foot placed forward with the second placed the same distance beyond the first. It can provide good move speeds with relatively little energy input and low (typically minimal) strain on the body.”
     “Running is nearly identical to walk except that the person is actually airborne once each beat. This is the chief high-speed gait of humans. The beats happen faster and the distance-traveled per-beat is also much higher. This requires a lot more energy than walking. Jogging is a sub-gait of run where the pace is much less and the legs nearly never go out of the body’s centerline.”
     In an article, Gait Biomechanics
 by Stephen M. Pribut, DPM, he describes, “The gait cycle of each leg is divided into the stance phase and the swing phase. The stance phase is the period of time during which the foot is in contact with the ground. The swing phase is the period of time in which the foot is off the ground and swinging forward. In walking, the stance phase comprises approximately 60% of the gait cycle and the swing phase about 40%. The proportion of swing to stance phase changes as the speed of walking or running increases.”
     Again from Dr. Pribut, “In the gait examination, we will observe for symmetry. We will look for clues regarding leg length inequality. Arm swing asymmetry, uneven head bounce, unilateral pelvic drop, uneven stride length are all indicators that there is a leg length inequality. Other factors to note are: the heel contact point, an apparent bouncy gait, excessive pronation of the foot, early heel off and the angle of gait.”
     If you have problems or pain that won’t go away, a gait analysis may be in order. Look for a podiatrist, preferably one who treats athletes and inquire about a gait analysis. It could be money well spent and will help keep your feet happy.
     For more in-depth information on gait, read Dr. Pribut’s article Gait Biomechanics
.

FYF Ezine: Pedicures, Teko Socks & Bad Feet

September 17, 2005 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Foot Care, Footwear, Health, Sports 

FIXING YOUR FEET Ezine

Volume 5, Issue 9a, September 2005
John Vonhof, Footwork Publications
Copyright, September 2005, All rights reserved

PURPOSE
The Fixing Your Feet Ezine is published twice a month to inform and educate athletes and non-athletes about proper foot care skills and techniques, provide tips on foot care, review foot care products, and highlight problems people have with their feet.

THE NEW FORMAT
This is an exciting change. After fours years of sending out a text ezine every month, I am changing the format. At issue was how many readers actually received each issue. In today’s world of Spam, many readers have blocking software on their computers. However hard I try to eliminate the risky words, there are still words left that might send it to your junk file.
     So the decision was made to covert the text ezine to a blog based newsletter. The immediate benefits are many. First, there will be two issues each month. I will divide the material in half. The 1st of the month issues will include the Editorial, Tips and Hints, and Non-feet Good Stuff. The mid-month issue will include the Feature Article, Featured Foot Care Products, the Bad Feet Contest, and Reader Feedback. Over time, it will hopefully evolve into a fixed format. Secondly, each issue can contain photos and images, color and style that were impossible in the text based ezine. And third, it can contain sidebars of related stuff: a calendar that shows all posts, the 10 most recent posts, photos, etc.

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Introduction to the Fixing Your Feet Ezine

September 16, 2005 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Footwear, Health, Sports 

FIXING YOUR FEET Ezine

Volume 5, Issue 9, September 2005
John Vonhof, Footwork Publications
http://www.vonhof.typepad.com/fixingyourfeet
Copyright, September 2005, All rights reserved

PURPOSE
The Fixing Your Feet E-zine is published twice a month to inform and educate athletes and non-athletes about proper foot care skills and techniques, provide tips on foot care, review foot care products, and highlight problems people have with their feet.

THE NEW FORMAT
This is an exciting change. After fours years of sending out a text ezine every month, I am changing the format. At issue was how many readers actually received each issue. In today’s world of Spam, many readers have Spam blocking software on their computers. However hard I try to eliminate the risky words, there are still words left that might send it to your Spam file.
     So the decision was made to covert the text ezine to a blog based newsletter. The immediate benefits are many. First, there will be two issues each month. I will divide the material in half. The 1st of the month issues will include the Editorial, Tips and Hint, and Non-feet Good Stuff. The mid-month issue will include the Feature Article, Featured Foot Care Products, the Bad Feet Contest, and Reader Feedback. Over time, it will hopefully evolve into a fixed format. Secondly, each issue can contain photos and images, color and style that were impossible in the text based ezine. And third, it can contain sidebars of related stuff: a calendar that shows all posts, the 10 most recent posts, photos, etc.
     You’ll still get an email each time I post a new newsletter. It will contain a link to open the new issue. Click on the link and you will be taken to the FixingYourFeet Blog webpage. It will be simple and uncomplicated. No download, no PDF file, and no more having to read only boring text. And, yes, it will contain the mandatory links to subscribe, unsubscribe, privacy, etc.
     You’d be smart to add this website to your favorites list. That makes it easy to check it out anytime.

Preventing Biomechanical Problems

September 15, 2005 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports 

In Biomechanics and Your Feet, I talked about the intricate makeup and design of the foot. Let’s take it a step further and talk about preventing problems.
     The body lines up over the foot. When the foot goes out of alignment, the ankle, knee, pelvis, and back may all follow. Analyzing the way we stand, walk, and run helps a podiatrist or orthopedist determine whether we have a mechanical misalignment and how it can be corrected. He or she will also want to see your running shoes to analyze the wear patterns on the soles.
     An example of biomechanics is how the foot’s arch works. A low arch, or flat foot, typically occurs when the foot is excessively pronated, turning it inward. A high arch supinates the foot, rolling it outward. Both of these structural variations can cause knee, hip, and back pain. When one arch flattens more than the other arch, that inner ankle moves closer to the ground. That hip then rotates downward and backward causing a shortening of that leg during walking and running. The pelvis and back both tilt lower on the shortened leg side and the back bends sideways. The opposite leg, which is now longer, is moved outward towards the side that puts added stress on its ankle, knee, and hip. The shoulder on that side then drops towards the dropped hip. All of these are compensations as the body adapts. Muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints are stretched to their limit. The body is out of alignment.
     The stresses on our bodies can result in inflammation, often the cause of foot pain. Running on unbalanced and uneven feet may result in fatigue. Fatigue gives way to spasms that may cause a shift in the shape of our feet. Corns, calluses, bunions, spurs, and neuromas may develop when joints are out of alignment.
     Do not fall into the trap of drawing erroneous conclusions about your injuries or the type of shoes or equipment that you need for your running style. A podiatrist or orthopedist should check pain associated with running. Heel pain that we try to resolve with a heel pad may not be caused by a heel problem, but by arch problems. This in turn may throw off the biomechanics of the body’s alignment. If you begin a run and right away experience knee pain, you most likely have a problem with the knee. If the pain comes after running for a while, it is most likely not a knee problem but a biomechanical problem. Likewise, you may think because you are a heavy runner you need a shoe with lots of cushioning. Based on that decision, you buy a cushioned shoe, the most cushioning insoles, and wear thickly cushioned socks. But, in reality, what you may need is a stability control shoe. This is where the help and expertise of medical specialists comes in. They are trained to determine biomechanical problems.
     Remember that most athletes have foot problems or become injured by doing too much, too soon, and too fast. To avoid biomechanical problems, use proper footwear, pace yourself, do strength training, and train in the gear you will use in your event.

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