Ankle Sprains

October 30, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports 

It is easy to sprain an ankle by stepping off a curb wrong or turning it on a root or rock. A sprain is a Images2stretching or tearing injury to the ligaments that stabilize bones together at a joint. You may experience sudden pain or hear a pop. If you cannot walk after a few minutes of rest or if you heard a pop, you can be fairly certain you have a sprain. After a sprain, the fibrous joint capsule swells and becomes inflamed, discolored, and painful. An x-ray is in order. Delayed treatments for sprains increases the risk of swelling and further injury. One ankle sprain typically makes you more susceptible to repeated sprains.
     The treatment goal is to return the ankle to normal motion and weight bearing as soon as possible. Early treatment within the first 24-hours decreases swelling and lessens the risk of additional injury. The initial treatment for a sprain includes the classic RICE treatment:
•    Rest – Initial rest of the foot is important.
•    Ice – Ice your injury within 30-minutes if possible. Apply ice for 20 minutes at a time at least four times daily.
•    Compression – A wrap will provide compression to help keep swelling down while providing support. Apply the wrap from the forefoot towards the ankle. Do not wear the wrap to bed.
•    Elevation – The injured area should be elevated above the level of the heart as much as possible during the first 48 hours. This keeps blood away from the injured area and reduces pain and swelling. In bed at night, elevate the foot on a pillow.
Linksphoto     The combination of rest, icing, compression, and elevation, especially in the first few days, will help the healing process and decrease the pain and swelling. The use of anti-inflammatory medications is usually warranted. It may take six to eight weeks for an ankle to fully heal. Consult your physician if pain persists.
     Ace wraps are readily available in drug stores and can be used if you’re careful not to apply them too tight. A better wrap is the Cho-Pat Ankle Support, a figure eight wrap that offers more support.
     Our next post will share foot and ankle strengthening exercises that can save the day—and your event or trip.

Ten Easy Steps to Happy Hiking Feet

October 28, 2005 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Just because fall is here and winter is around the corner, our outdoor time doesn’t have to end. Trails are a great experience as colors change and the temperatures are cooler. Many hikers lace up their boots and go for miles without foot problems. Others can put on the same type of socks and boots, and have all kinds of problems. No two hikers’ feet are the same and how they react to the stresses of hiking will vary. You’ll enjoy hiking more and have more success when you make smart choices in footwear and educate yourself in foot care techniques. Here are my top 10 foot care tips for a fun hiking experience.

1.  Condition Your Feet

It is important to train the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of your ankles and feet for hiking with a pack. The undertrained are more prone to ankle sprains and overuse injuries. Start with short hikes and a light pack and work your way up.

2.  Get Good Footwear

Fit is the most important element to keeping your feet happy. Your boots should feel “right” wearing the same socks you use for hiking. Your toes need plenty of room to wiggle and breath with at least one finger width between your longest toe and the front inside of the boot. Your heels should fit securely in the heel cups, moving no more than ¼ inch upward when you walk. You should not feel stitching or seams. Be sure your feet don’t slide around in the boot as you move up or down an incline.

3.  Custom Fit Your Footwear to Your Feet

If there are tight spots that rub, you have two options. Take the boots to a shoe repair shop or pedorthist to have the leather stretched at the bothersome spot. Alternatively, use a dab of oil-based leather treatment on the problem area, then stretch the leather by rubbing a hard object, like a rounded stick, against the leather. This rubbing should stretch a small pocket to relive pressure.

4.  Break in Your Boots

Wear your boots around the house for a few days to be sure they feel OK. Then venture outside while shopping and on walks and short hikes so they mold to your feet. Leather boots are usually stiff until broken in.

5.  Wear Good Socks

Avoid moisture-retaining cotton—instead wear moisture-wicking wool or synthetic socks. Try a few types of socks and decide whether a single sock, a thin liner with an outer sock, or double layer socks are best for your feet. Remember if wearing two pair, more space is required inside your shoes so be sure your shoes are sized big enough. Change socks daily and dry washed socks on your pack.

6.  Manage Your Toenails

Socks will catch on nails that are too long or that have rough edges, putting 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. 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, use a nail file to smooth the top of the nail down toward the front of the toe to remove any rough edges.

7.  Manage Your Skin

Many hikers think tough callused skin helps prevent blisters. Blisters deep under calluses are difficult to drain and treat. Use a callus file and an over-the-counter cream to soften these problem areas or at least reduce the thickness. These creams can also help heal fissures, cracks in the skin that are typically found on heels. Left untreated, fissures can split open and expose underlying tissue to infection.

8.  Rest Your Feet

Take your boots and socks off when resting and eating lunch, elevating your feet to reduce swelling. In camp wear sandals or flip-flops. Your feet need the air and will appreciate the sunlight.

9. Learn How to Prevent Blisters

Experiment with different blister patching products and different taping techniques. Find what works for your feet and then perfect the method. On the trail you can save your feet with a few simple steps. If you feel a hot spot, stop and fix the problem. A small bit of duct tape can protect a hot spot and can also be used over an offending seam in your boot. Check your boots for dirt and grit that can rub the skin, and straighten and smooth your socks before putting your boots back on.

10.  Carry a Small Foot Care Kit

A small foot care kit carried in a small Zip-lock bag weighs only a few ounces. It should contain your choice of lubricant or powder, a few alcohol wipes to clean lubricant off the skin, a few tincture of benzoin wipes to help the patch stick to your skin, several blister patches of your choice, a least a yard of duct tape wrapped around a small pencil, and a safety pin to drain blisters.

Massaging Your Feet – They’ll Love it

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

Massage is great for the feet. It helps increase circulation to injured areas and the increased blood supply helps speed recovery while reducing swelling. Inflexibility associated with tightness can hinder efficient training and performance. When muscles are relaxed and receiving better circulation, they are stronger and tolerate higher levels of training with less pain and breakdown. Tight muscles can lead to strains and soft-tissue injury. This is where massage can help.

Self-Massaging Your Feet
Tafecomptherapy_1To do a self-massage of your feet, start by warming your feet in a bath or with warm, moist towels. Cross one leg over the other with the sole facing you. Use both thumbs to massage your feet in a deep, circular motion, working small areas at a time. Work from your toes toward your heel, and then to your ankle. Use various movements and pressure to find what feels best. Generally, all movement and pressure should be toward the heart—moving the old “stagnated” blood back to your heart. The use of massage oil or creams can help with the kneading of the skin and can soften dry heels and calluses. Self-foot massage is easier if you’re limber. If you find it difficult, have a partner massage your feet. Try a few of these foot massage techniques:
•    Bottoms of your feet – Place your thumbs on the heel of one foot. Apply pressure to the underside of the foot starting at the bottom and slowly move towards the toes.
•    Heels – Massage the bottom and sides of your heels using your thumbs.
•    Toes – Stroke the toes and between the toes upward towards the ankle.
•    Top of the foot – Using your fingers, massage the top of the foot focusing on the soft points between the bones of the forefoot upward towards the ankle.
•    Stroking the foot – Using both hands, place your fingers on the top of the foot and the thumbs underneath. One hand at a time, stroke by sliding your hands upward towards the heart.

Related Massage Products
The Stick is a tool that can be used on any major muscle groups through clothing or directly on the skin. Provides instant myofascial release that promotes healthy and relaxed muscle fibers and good circulation. It comes in four sizes and can be used before and after exercise to aid strength, flexibility, and endurance.
Hand & Foot Massage – This book by Mary Atkinson also covers pedicures. 128 pages.
Natural Foot Care: Herbal Treatments, Massage, and Exercises for Healthy Feet – This book by Stephanie Tourles presents a holistic approach to caring for feet, introducing alternative and natural treatments for good foot health. 192 pages.

Happy Feet! – Available Soon

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

It has been close to two years since I started a project called Happy Feet! Since then a lot has transpired. Fixing Your Feet has been released in a 3rd edition. My Fixing Your Feet e-zine has grown from a few hundred subscribers to over 1700. It has recently moved from once a month text based newsletter to a bimonthly web based format. Then I started this Happy Feet blog.
     During all this, my Happy Feet! project has been on the back burner. Until now. Tonight I finished the project and tomorrow it will be sent to the printer. So what is this project you ask?
     Happy Feet! Foot Care Advice for Walkers and Travelers is a 36 page booklet that
Is written for people who walk. A convenient size, 3.75 x 8.5, the booklet will fit in a pocket or in a travel bag. It is an easy read and inexpensive. Contents will include information on fit, socks, insoles, skin care, toenail and lacing tips, blisters, sprains, and more.
     Fixing Your Feet is for athletes and is very detailed. Happy Feet! is for walkers and is a condensed version of the most important information for walkers to keep their feet happy.
     Stay tuned here for information on its release in mid-November.

With Footwear, Try then Adjust

October 21, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Uncategorized 

A few posts ago, I talked about lacing options. Several of these were stretchy laces that are used instead of regular shoelaces.

     Then a few days ago I read a report from a triathlete who said after a marathon: “My left instep is still quite bruised – it took a pounding from the stretchy triathlon shoelaces that I used and whooops! – never adjusted quite properly. Lesson learned: too loose is better than too snug.”

     In other words, she put the laces in her shoes and ran in them without adjusting them to fit her feet. This is an easily made and common mistake. When you make changes to our footwear, learn to try… and then adjust as necessary. You can apply this same failure to other parts of your footwear.

·        Wearing new shoes for a walk, race or hike without trying them first – it’s easy to miss a bad fit, a rough inside seam, or a wrong fitting arch. Walk around the house in them for a few hours.

·        Wearing new socks in an event without first trying them inside your shoes – the socks may be thicker or thinner then your previous socks, making the fit different.

·        Changing to a new lubricant without knowing how it will hold up over the long run.

·        Slapping a Band-Aid over a hot spot or blister without knowing there are better patches that will last longer and provide better protection.

Gaiters for Shoes

October 19, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports 

Whether you are an adventure racer, a simple short-distance trail runner, a hiker, or an ultrarunner, you owe it to yourselves to cover all your bases, and figuratively speaking, to cover your socks and shoes with gaiters.

Homemade Gaiters
Homemade Gaiters can be easily made for running shoes or boots out of a pair of regular white crew socks. Pull the socks on your feet and with a scissors, cut the socks around the foot at the top of the shoe line. Toss out the foot portions. Fold the top of the sock down on itself so the folded down top covers the top of the shoe. Make a small hole in this folded down top at the back of the shoe and just to the rear of each upper shoe lace eyelet. Make similar holes in the shoe. Through the shoe hole place a plastic twist tie from a loaf of bread or similar package. By twisting the ties through these matching holes you have effectively covered the top of the shoes. Undo the twist ties to change shoes or socks while leaving the sock gaiter on your leg.
     You can also use the arms off an old nylon jacket with elastic sleeves. Cut the sleeves off about 6 inches up the sleeve from the cuff. Simply pull the arms, elastic end first, onto your legs over your socks. The loose nylon covers the top of the shoes and it keeps 100% of the usual trail debris from entering the shoe. With this type of gaiter, there are no straps, so changing your shoes and socks is a breeze. Look for old nylon jackets at your local thrift store. Improvising can work wonders.

Professionally Made Gaiters
Dirty Girl Gaiters are made in great colors and designs. These lightweight gaiters are found on the shoes of both men and women. They keep the debris out of your shoes with style and sass. This soft, comfortable four-way stretch spandex unisex gaiter hooks under the front shoe lace and secures to the back of the shoe with a self-adhesive Velcro strip. They are available in many sizes including for youth and children. There is an an everchanging variety of groovy colors and patterns.
JoeTrailMan Gaiters are made without the usual strap under the shoe. They attach to the front most Imgp0081243x168shoelaces via a hook and to the rear with a Velcro tab. The tension of the four-way stretch material holds the gaiter in place. Joe’s gaiters are offered in small and regular to fit all types of shoes. This style slips on your foot before putting on your shoes, which also makes it easy to changes shoes or socks.
North Face Gaiters come in several designs. Their styles offer form-fitting pull-on with hook attachment and a single-handed drawstring closure system. Although their gaiters are made to fit several North Face shoes, they can be adapted to other shoes.
Outdoor Research makes several gaiter styles appropriate for running and hiking. All gaiters open in the front with Velcro, have an eyelet on either side for a lace that goes under the shoe’s arch, and a metal hook that fastens to a shoelace.
RaceReady Trail Gaitors are made for running shoes and low-top hiking boots. Made in a Trailgaters_9800_05_smcombination of colors from quick drying and breathable Supplex nylon, these gaiters have a “space-age tough” cord that goes under the shoe’s arch. They fasten with the usual Velcro closure on the outside of the shoe.
REI makes several designs of gaiters. 

FIXING YOUR FEET E-zine – Friction & Blisters, Socks, Bad Feet

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

Volume 5, Issue 10b, October 2005
John Vonhof, Footwork Publications
Copyright, October 2005, All rights reserved

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 feature article is “What’s Your Low-friction Insurance Policy?” Darn Tough Vermont Socks are the featured product and the Bad Feet Contest teaches us to be thankful for our good feet.

Read more….

Read more

Keeping Stuff Our of Your Shoes

October 16, 2005 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports 

If you have ever walked a trail, hiked with a backpack, or run on a trail, you have probably had stuff get in your shoes. You know the “stuff,” small rocks, sand, grit, leaves, small twigs, thistles and stickers, cattails—that kind of stuff.
     What usually happens is you feel the offending stuff—and make a choice. Stop and remove it or continue on. Sometimes we stand on one foot and kick the shoe against a rock to try and move the rock around inside the shoe. Other times we stop and take off the shoe and remove the offending stuff. The sooner we remove the bad stuff, the better the chance there will be no negative consequences.
     It’s when we ignore the stuff that we get into trouble. Small rocks, sand, and grit can cause a hot spot, which can develop into a blister. Other stuff can cause skin irritations and require an antibiotic ointment.
     There is an easy way to keep junk out of your shoes. Gaiters. These can be homemade or store bought. In short, gaiters go around the top of your shoe and lower leg. They may zip, secure with Velcro, or pull on over your feet. They fit snugly at the top and keep stuff from getting inside your shoe. Styles fasten to the shoes differently. Some have a strap that goes under the shoe’s arch while others fasten to the front and back of the shoe.
     In the next post, we’ll look at some of the popular gaiters and how we can also make out own.

Holey Soles – a Good Choice for Outdoor Comfort

October 14, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports 

These unique comfortable closed cell foam structure shoes have a soft pliable feel, provide Holeysoles cushioning to your heels for all day wear, all the while massaging the bottoms of your feet with their textured footbed to promote circulation. They’re lightweight, warm in winter and cool in summer, with a vented design and anti-bacterial material to reduce foot odors. They’re Holey Soles!

     OK, I’ll admit that some of you may look at the shape and say, “Hey, they’re clogs and they look funny.” You know what? Their benefits outweigh their look! I’d toss these on my pack for use as camp shoes without a second thought. One pair weighs in at 10.5 ounces! And since they are made from one piece of closed cell foam, they won’t come apart or break down. Choose from an open back shoe or one with a heel strap. The colors are as wild or sedate as you want. All this for around $20-$25.00 a pair.

     These great shoes offer foot support with a molded foot-bed for arch, toe and heel support. Their tread is designed to grip and reduce slipping. The inside clings to your feet without toe curl.

     The effects of heel impact when walking or standing can be felt as aches or pain in the ankles, knees, hips, and lower back. The cushioning system of Holey Soles is designed to dramatically reduce, and in many cases eliminate, those aches and pains. The key is the shock absorbent foam that is designed to cushion and protect heel impact through uniform pressure distribution.

     Also, the foot-bed has been designed for toe, arch and heel support while at the same time gently massaging your foot-pad. This massaging action helps promote blood circulation and reduces foot swelling.

     String them up through their holes on to your backpack. They won’t add any extra weight. They’re light and they’re rugged. They’re easy relief after a day of hiking and so very wonderful to have waiting outside your tent to slip on when you venture outdoors.

     In the low tide, Holey Soles grip the sand and the rock while the water moves right through them. After your journey, hose them down or wear them right into the shower. They’re the best water shoe around!

     Wear them when you’re walking your boat into the water. Then throw them into the boat and don’t worry if you miss the boat – they float!

    Take them to the pool and then wear them to shower off. They’re dry in a minute, so you can throw them right into your gym bag.

     Wear them while gardening, picnicking, walking to get the mail—you name it.

     Holey Soles can be worn in the city too. They’ve been tested on cement and proven extremely durable. In the summer they breathe because of their creative ventilation. In the winter, wear contrasting socks.

     I’ve got a pair and I love them. For those who must know – mine are light blue.

     For those who like an alternative, check out the Crocs line. Very similar but a bit more expensive.

Getting Help With Foot Problems

October 12, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports 

If you have persistent foot problems or recurring pain that you cannot resolve, seek medical treatment from a medical specialist. There are pedorthists, physical therapists, athletic trainers, massage therapists, and sports chiropractors that can provide assistance for strengthening, alignment, rehabilitation, and footwear design and fit.

     Listen to your whole body; especially your feet. Be attentive to when the pain begins and what makes it hurt more or less. Then be prepared to tell the specialist about the problem, its history, what you have done to correct it, and whether it worked or got worse. Conditions that could require the services of a specialist include ingrown toenails, burning feet, cold feet, warts, and severe cases of Athlete’s foot.

·            Podiatrists are Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.), specialists who work on the feet up to and including the ankles. The American Podiatric Medical Association and American Association of Podiatric Sports Medicine

·            Orthopedists are orthopedic surgeons, experts of the joints, muscles and bones. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society

·            Pedorthists work with the design, manufacture, fit, and modification of shoes, boots, orthotics, and other footwear. The American Orthotics and Prosthetics Association and Pedorthic Footwear Association

·            Physical therapists are licensed to help with restoring function after illness and/or injury. Most work in close relationship to medical specialists. The American Physical Therapy Association

·            Athletic trainers are licensed to work specifically on sports-related injuries. The National Athletic Trainer’s Association

·            Massage therapists work with athletes in reducing pain and tightness in muscles, tendons, and ligaments—the body’s soft tissues. The American Massage Therapy Association

·            Chiropractors are doctors of chiropractic medicine who specialize in the alignment of the body’s musculoskeletal system. The American Chiropractors Association and International Chiropractic Association

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