The Changing Footwear Market

November 30, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footwear 

In the not too distant past, footwear was easy to buy. There were running shoes, mainly for the road, and a few with tougher outersoles for trails. And there were hiking boots. There were a handful of major players and then another handful of minor companies. You made your choice based on cost, quality or both—pretty much the same as today. That’s about the only thing that has not changed.

     Today, however, the playing field has changed. The old favorites are still here. Companies that once did running shoes are now doing lightweight trail shoes. Companies that once did boots are now doing lightweight trail shoes and in some cases, road running shoes. Then add in new companies, many from Europe, that have entered the footwear market. If you’re in the market for trail shoes, the market is very competitive.

     What’s happened? The popularity of adventure racing in all its shapes for formats, the increased numbers of trail runners, and the increase in hikers tired of wearing heavy hiking boots has exploded the market—and everyone wants a piece of the action.

     Inov-8 is an example of one such shoe company. Headquartered in England, the company makes lightweight trail running shoes that also work well for hikers. The shoes have a lower heel, Flyroc are very breathable and drain well, and have an aggressive outersole. Their shoes have received great reviews from athletes around the world and have been featured in many magazines doing footwear reviews. In all fairness, I have two pair of Inov-8 shoes that the company sent me to review. I had just ordered a pair of trail shoes from another well-known company—and used them on trails. While they were good shoes, the heel plastic counter rubbed on my foot and I knew if I used the shoes in a long run, I’d develop blisters. Then I got the Inov-8 Flyroc 310 and Terroc 330 shoes. What a difference. Light, airy, fantastic traction, and without a doubt, the most comfortable trails shoes I’ve ever worn.

     The changes in footwear are a positive move for today’s athletes. Companies are stretching their boundaries as they try to make shoes with better features than their competitors. Shoes and boots are made better with more features. Consumers have more choices than ever before. While the trail runners/lightweight hikers shoe segment of the market has seen the most growth, road shoes and boots have also benefited. In the long run, we all gain. My feet are happy. I hope yours are too.

How Important is Your Footwear Choice?

November 27, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

In today’s marketplace, we are in a shoe buyer’s heaven. Everywhere we turn, there’s a shoe store and in almost every magazine, there are ads galore for new shoes and boots. But are all things equal? Here is where I chime in with a big resounding, NO.
     First off, we are faced with the typical mall store, usually a chain shoe store that employs people without any degree of knowledge of how to fit shoes. Many times, they also sell shoes that one would never find elsewhere. For example, New Balance, a great shoe company, sells shoes to theses stores that are not found in running stores and running magazines. They are different, not as well made, yet are perfect for the typical mall shopper.
     Specialty outdoor stores such as running stores, backpacking and camping stores, carry shoes that are well made and well known. This is important since we can find reviews of these shoes online and in sport specific magazines. This allows us to shop with a high degree of knowledge that the shoes we buy are made for our sports and will perform well. These stores also have salespeople who can fit shoes and help you choose between several pair.
     There are running shoes (and this means road shoes and trail shoes), walking shoes cross trainers, and other sport specific shoes. I can walk in running shoes but would not run in walking shoes. I can run and walk in most cross trainers, but would be wise to not use walking and running shoes for a serious game of basketball or other court sport. I can run on trails in most road shoes, although I may sacrifice traction and support. While I can also run on roads in trails shoes, they are often clunky, heavier, and not as flexible.
     My preference is to use shoes for what they are intended for. I have road and trails shoes and I use them for their intended purpose. Your choice in footwear is important. When shopping for shoes, look for those made for your sport. When participating in sports, use shoes designed for that specific sport. Your feet will thank you.

The Importance of Walking

November 24, 2005 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

Does staying healthy interest you? It should. A moderate level of physical activity, such as walking 30 minutes a day, lengthened life by 1.3 years and added 1.1 more years without cardiovascular disease, compared with those with low activity levels. Those who chose a high physical activity level gained 3.7 years of life and added 3.3 more years without cardiovascular disease. A study in the November 14, 2005 "Archives of Internal Medicine" showed that exercise levels directly related to years lived without cardiovascular disease. Click here to read the summary by Wendy Bumgardner, the guide at Walking.About.com
Walking.About.com is a great web site. Bookmark the page and come back weekly to check it out. Click on the “Stay Up To Date” button to subscribe to one of her free newsletters about walking. Then share the information with a friend. When you’re there, stick around a while and explore Wendy’s articles and resources. Here’s a sampling of what you’ll find:
•    Walking Off Weight
•    Pedometers & Step Counting Beginners
•    How To Walk
•    Fitness Walking & Workouts
•    Clubs, Buddies & Programs
•    Events, Trails & Tours
•    Blisters and Heel Pain
•    Health & Injuries
•    Nutrition and Water
•    Gear and Clothing
•    Walking Shoes
•    Marathon and Long Distance
•    Racewalking & Powerwalking
•    Treadmills

     Wendy is an avid walker who, in her own words, “…keeps abreast of information on walking for fitness, recreation, and as a sport.” With a Bachelors of Science in Medical Technology she has attended racewalking workshops and is a certified marathon coach. Her experiences include training to walk for speed, personally recovering from injuries, overcoming disability, weight management, and stress management. Wendy’s credibility comes from a vast array of experience: eight years on the board of the largest organization of walking clubs in the USA, the American Volkssport Association; walking over 1100 10-kilometer events; finishing five marathons; 2 Breast Cancer 3-Day Walks; 1 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer; trailmaster for dozens of walking events; organizing a large walking convention; and serving on the Vancouver Discovery Walk committee. Impressed? I am.
     This Thanksgiving, give thanks for health and make a decision to stay healthy through exercise. Walking.About.com is a good way to stay on the right path.

The Anatomy of Footwear

November 22, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Uncategorized 

By understanding the parts of a shoe or boot, people can make informed choices about which walking shoe, running shoe, crosstrainer, or boot is best for their activity—and for their feet. The parts of a shoe are fairly common, regardless of what kind of shoe you are looking for.

·        The shoe’s counter is the part that wraps around the heel of the foot.

·        The heel is the back bottom of the shoe.

·        The insole is the inner insert on which your foot rests. These are typically interchangeable.

·        The outersole is the shoe’s bottom layer.

·        The shoe’s shank is the part of the sole between the heel and the ball of the foot.

·        The toebox is the tip of the shoe that shapes and protects the toes.

·        The upper is the top of the shoe that surrounds the foot.

In the days ahead, we’ll look at footwear, how the shoe market changing and what that means for us. Stay tuned.

FIXING YOUR FEET E-zine – C-Peds

November 18, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Footwear, Health, Sports 

Volume 5, Issue 11b, November 2005
John Vonhof, Footwork Publications
Copyright, November 2005, All rights reserved


THIS ISSUE IN SUMMARY

The feature article is about Certified Pedorthists. Products offered by
Zombie Runner are the featured products, and the Bad Feet Contest shows
what can happen in a seven day race across the Sahara Desert. I apologize for the late issue. I was waiting for additional material which never came in.


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.

Read more

Knock Your Socks Off

November 18, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Health, Sports 

It is important to check your feet and give them the same care that you give the rest of your body. Remember that when you have your next physical or see your doctor.
     November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and the Podiatric Medical Association is promoting a “Knock Your Socks Off” campaign. The intent is to get people to think of their feet when seeing a doctor. Statistics report thirteen million people suffer with diabetes with another 5.2 million undiagnosed cases.
     A simple foot check by your doctor can help catch problems before they become medical emergencies. Ask your doctor what you should watch for. Typically it’s sores that don’t heal, ingrown toenails, swelling, cold feet, numbness, a burning or tingling feeling, or unresolved or abnormal pain. It takes only a few seconds to run your hands over your feet each morning to check for areas of irritation, inflammation, or other skin changes.
     Problems with your feet can develop into long-term health issues, which can rob us of our mobility and independence. Some people and cultures refer to the foot as a mirror of health. Take the time and be sure your feet are healthy.

Cold and Heat Therapy Products

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

There are many cold and heat packs available. The list below includes options proven to work well for athletes. Along with cold and heat packs are the many topical creams and gels. Products like BIOFREEZE, ICYHOT, and Flex-Power Sports Cream can be used for localized muscle pain. Check out your local sports store, drug store, or pharmacy for more options.

ActiveWraps provides heat and cold compression therapy to specific areas of the foot and ankle. It is specifically designed and patented for the unique curvatures of these areas. Each ActiveWrap system includes a comfortable medical plush compression wrap and three hot/cold packs that can be assembled in any position within the wrap. The pack wraps around the foot and stays soft and flexible when cold so they mold comfortably in place. .

The Cold FlexWrap is an all-purpose cold therapy wrap that contours to the foot and ankle as well and Uses_ankle_imgother parts of the body: knee, hamstring, neck, shoulder, lower back, etc. This unique wrap uses a non-toxic gel formulation that never freezes solid so it stays soft and flexible while cold, retaining its therapeutic temperatures for 30 to 40 minutes. It has a soft, velvety fabric covering that eliminates the need to use a towel between the pack and the skin and protects against ice burn. Elastic straps with Velcro are used to hold the wrap snuggly in place over the desired body part.

Cryo-Max Reusable Cold Packs contain Cryo-Max fluid filled modules that remain cold for eight hours. The packs can be found in your local drug stores or pharmacies.

Homemade Ice Packs can be made with three parts water and one part rubbing alcohol. Mix in a heavy-duty Zip-Lock bag and keep one or two in the freezer. The result is a hard slush. If the mix is too hard, let it melt and add a little more alcohol. If it is too liquid, add a little more water. The right consistency will allow the bag to be formed around your foot, ankle, or other body part. Use a towel between the ice bag and your skin. Care must be taken not to get an ice burn from these packs since the alcohol can make them colder than over the counter packs.

The Liquid Ice Wrap is made like a bandage, pre-soaked in the proprietary Liquid Ice solution, which turns cold when removed from its foil package and stays cold for up to two hours. It can even be applied and you can continue playing. With the Liquid Ice Recharger and Recovery Pak you can mix your own Liquid Ice to reuse the bandages. Just add water, soak the dry, rerolled bandage in mix, wring out and use again or store in air tight bag.

204_1The McDavid Thermal Ankle Wrap provides the ability to use ice and compression simultaneously. The ice bag is enclosed in an adjustable neoprene wrap.

Solar Polar Hot / Cold Therapy Packs are hot and cold packs with a unique Pkfoot_1cross-linked polymer gel that stays soft and pliable even below freezing. Heat and cold is retained for hours. A contoured Ankle Pack is available that uses elastic and Velcro straps to form a snug fit. Other sizes are offered. It can be stored in the freezer or place it in the microwave to use as a heat pack.

ThermaCare Air-Activated HeatWraps are made of comfortable, wearable cloth-like material that conforms to your body’s shape to provide therapeutic heat. Each wrap contains small discs made of natural ingredients that heat up when exposed to air, providing at least 8 hours of low-level therapeutic heat on the site of pain. Various sizes are available. Look for these wraps in your drug store or pharmacy.

Combination Cold & Heat Therapy

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

We’ll continue our look at cold and heat therapy. A combination of cold and heat therapy can be used 48 to 72 hours after an injury. This can be easily accomplished by alternating the use of cold and heat packs, 10 minutes at a time. An alternative is a contrast bath. Fill two buckets or basins, one with cold water and some ice and the other with tolerable hot water. Alternate your soaking in each for two minutes. The benefits of combination therapy are the cold keeps the swelling down while the heat keeps the blood and its nutrients circulating through the injured area.
    An experienced marathon runner developed a serious case of bilateral tendonitis. A sports medicine doctor recommended a regimen of contrast baths. The runner had success by following the recommendation:

“Once or twice per day I followed a routine of soaking five minutes at a time for thirty minutes per session first in an ice bath, then immediately into a 105 degree hot bath, and back and forth five minutes at a time until you have done 15 minutes in each per session. I used a plastic tub for the cold with ten pounds of crushed ice and water (anything less melts too much before you get to the end of the session). For the hot I filled the bath tub or if at the gym I used the hot tub which is kept at 104 degrees. I bought a thermometer for checking the temperature of the hot bath at home. Also, a stop watch is important to keep you honest about the time. As you might expect, this contrast bath surges blood in and out of the feet with good results. It’s time consuming, but well worth it. Twice a day for 10 days showed remarkable improvement with my very serious case.”

The next post will look at products that can be used in cold and heat therapy.

Heat Therapy

November 10, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Health, Sports 

Heat therapy is used less often than cold therapy. Heat therapy is recommended only after swelling and inflammation have subsided (usually at 48 to 72 hours after an injury). The heat increases blood flow to the injured area. The blood’s nutrients help in the healing process, aids in the removal of waste products from the injured site, and promotes healing. Heat can help reduce muscle spasms and reduce pain. Stiffness decreases as tissue elasticity increases. Heat should not be applied for longer than 15-20 minutes at a time and should not be applied to areas of broken skin.
     Do not use cold or heat therapy on an area where the skin is broken. First treat the wound. Individuals with known or suspected circulatory problems or cold hypersensitivity, paralysis or areas of impaired sensation, or rheumatoid conditions should consult a physician before using cold compression therapy.

Foot and Ankle Strengthening Exercises

November 6, 2005 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports 

On October 30th I wrote about ankle sprains and promised to give readers some strengthening exercises. I wrote the piece and scheduled it to run on November 1st. Then, for some reason, it failed and I didn’t catch the oversight until yesterday. So, I am running it today and will then resume the next promised posts on cold and heat therapy.
     Strengthening exercises for the foot and ankle can help prevent injuries and will help in recovery from an injury. Stop any weight-bearing exercises if you experience pain.
•    Toe exercises help to strengthen and tighten the metatarsal arch and stretch the tendons on top of the toes. Practice picking up marbles with your toes or put a towel on the floor and use your toes to scrunch the towel and pick it up. 
•    Strengthen your ankles by balancing with one foot flat on the ground and the other leg bent back at the knee, as if you were in the normal support phase of a step. Start with 30 seconds at a time and practice until you can hold your balance for several minutes. When you have mastered this step, close your eyes and do the same thing. Without eye feedback, it is harder to maintain your balance. Repeatedly losing your balance and then recovering gradually strengthens the ankles even more.
•    Face a wall with your hands on the wall. Extend one foot behind you about 24 inches, while Images_2bending the other leg at the knee. Keep the heel of the back foot flat on the floor for two minutes and keep the knee straight—you will feel the calf muscle stretch. Repeat with the other foot.
•    Face a wall with one foot flat on the floor and the other foot’s heel on the floor and toes up on the wall 3-4 inches. Gently move your knee slowly towards the wall until you feel slight stretching on the bottom of your foot and the back of your leg. Hold this position for 30 seconds, repeating five times per foot.

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