Foot Care Self-Education

June 29, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

Rob Conenello, a podiatrist who managed feet at the seven-day Sahara Race in Egypt, told me, “I would go daily to the athletes’ tents to help them prevent injury. The key is to educate the participants on how to tape themselves and care for small problems.”
     Self-education takes many forms. It’s getting your feet in the best shape and condition possible for the events you do. It’s getting inside your footwear. Literally. Buy a pair of shoes or boots and you’ll get the stock, standard insole. Depending on the manufacturer, it may be good, or it may be a basic, non-supporting piece of heavy cardboard. Take it out and see if it is worth keeping. Fortunately, footwear makers are learning that their buyers want overall quality—and that includes insoles. It’s checking for bad seams and stitching in the shoe. It’s knowing your foot type and researching reviews to find the best shoes. It’s knowing what makes for a well-fitting shoe.
     It’s finding what works best for your feet as Gordon Wright, Media Director, Primal Quest said, “I don’t have anything to add from my seven years of adventure racing but for one word: Injinji socks. I was always prone to blisters between my toes, and literally have not had one—in many, many miles—since I started wearing them.”
     It’s learning how your skin reacts to powders and lubricants to reduce friction. It’s learning how to tape your feet and patch a blister—in five different ways with different products. It’s learning how to trim your toenails. It’s learning how to strengthen your feet and ankles. It’s learning what words like proprioception and onychocryptosis mean and how they affect your feet.
     It’s continually learning about your feet and what they need to be happy and healthy.

Foot Care – Still Learning

June 25, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

What often disturbs me is the athletes who seem to give little thought to their feet. The athletes with the most foot problems share some of the following characteristics:
•    They shove feet into shoes without straightening their socks
•    They wear the wrong socks and do not look inside their socks for seams that cause toe blisters
•    They have sacrificed fit and buy a shoe because a friend recommended it and not because it was the best shoe for their feet
•    They try to fix blisters with Band-Aids
•    They fail to change their socks often enough when their feet are wet
•    They fail to trim their toenails and wonder why they get black toenails and toe blisters
•    They fail to put the miles on their feet that their feet need to be toughened for the rigors of racing
•    They speed through checkpoints feeding their faces but not tending to their feet
     As Billy Trolan, MD, said in the Foreword for the first edition of Fixing Your Feet, “The one factor that continues to amaze me is that individuals and teams will spend vast amounts of money, time, and thought on training, equipment, and travel, but little or no preparation on their feet. Too often the result has been that within a few hours to a few days all that work has been ruined. Ruined because the primary mode of transportation has broken down with blisters.” That was written in 1997 and is still true today.
     The lesson is that we all need to keep learning and take a few extra minutes to learn how to manage our feet – otherwise they will manage us.

Adventures in Foot Care

June 21, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

Most athletes love adventure – and it takes many forms. It might be a marathon, a trail marathon, an ultra, a fastpack, a triathlon, a long walk, a multi-event, or an adventure race.
     A few days ago, about 50 adventure seeking runners and walkers started the Gobi Desert, a seven-day foot race in the Gobi Desert in China. The event is put on by Racing the Planet, a great company that puts on a series of these seven-day races in places like the Sahara desert, the Atacama desert in Chile, and Antarctica.
     While many of us cannot do this kind of event, we can savor the experience through the Internet. Go to the Gobi Desert website and click on Race Coverage. Pick a day and see what the race involves. The race staff updates the race coverage daily. See the gallery of photos, read about the racers, the country, and the support team. The race started on June 17 and ends on June 23.
     While you are reading this, I am in Prince Rupert, BC Canada. I am there to work on the medical team and provide foot care for the 24 four person teams racing in the Raid the North Extreme Adventure Race. The race starts on Sunday, June 24 and ends on Saturday June 30. The snow pack and its melt have changed the course due to flooding, but we will have a challenge and lots of fun. Here is the Raid the North Extreme website to read more.
    Also, Saturday June 23 is the running of the Western States Endurance Race, a 100 mile trail run in the california High Sierra. The race is one of the most popular 100 mile races around. Here is the website for race day coverage. Enjoy the race whereever you are.
     Each of these adventures will test runners’ and walkers’ feet, and their preparation to do their own foot care. When I return, I will post some of my experiences at Raid the North Extreme.

FIXING YOUR FEET E-zine – Tune-up for Summer, Blisters, Gaiters, and a Tip

June 19, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 


Volume 7, Issue 6, June 2007
John Vonhof, Footwork Publications
Copyright, June 2007, All rights reserved


This issue has an in-depth editorial on Tune-Up Your Feet and Shoes for
Summer, an article on blisters, a foot care tip, and a new gaiter.


The Fixing Your Feet E-zine is published monthly 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

Foot Fetish – Its All About Your Feet

June 17, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Ultrarunner Lisa Butler wrote this short prose about feet. I have been honored that Lisa has allowd me to use the poem in the opening pages of Fixing Your Feet. We all need to be reminded of how much our feet do for us.

Foot Fetish
My feet are runner’s feet;
a little rough around the edges,
with black nails on the toes where I have nails at all
Lovingly decorated with bright colors.
My toes are warriors, of a sort.
They carry the entire continent of my body on adventures
and rise to challenges that could crush them.
Some days they are worn and calloused,
but they are strong and fierce adversaries for the
rocks they overtake.
My arches are the springboard of my soul.
They give me lift with every step I take
and cushion all my landings.
They are always ready
when I want to jump for joy.
My heels respond when the shepherd
of my spirit nips at them to run.
They strike again and again,
to thwart frustration,
to redeem the day.
Clean_feetMy feet are runner’s feet;
a little rough around the edges,
but they are strong
and they are willing
and oh, I love them.
—Lisa Butler, Ultrarunner

With Footwear, Try Then Adjust

June 12, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

A triathlete said after running a marathon: “My left instep is still quite bruised—it took a pounding from the stretchy triathlon shoelaces that I used and whoops!—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.
     Here are three “don’ts”:
1.  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.
2.   Wearing new socks in an event without first trying them inside your shoes—the socks may be thicker or thinner than your previous socks, making the fit different.
3.   Replacing insoles without checking if they are thinner or thicker than the old ones, which can change the space for your feet inside your shoes.

A Simple Blister Tip

June 5, 2007 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

The other evening I was asked by my wife to look at her heel. She had worn sandals while we were working in the yard and had pain at the outside of her left heel.
     After cleaning the eel with an alcohol wipe, I was able to see a small blister, maybe one half inch in length and one-fourth inch in height. It was painful to the touch and was bothering her in ordinary shoes. In short, she wanted it fixed.
     I told her that heel blisters were some of the hardest to fix because of the toughened skin. With the help of a light, I was able to see the fluid and on the third stick, with one of my #11 scalpels made a slit in the forward top part of the blister. A small amount of fluid was expelled. I put a dab of zinc oxide over the skin and slit in the blister, and a Band-Aid over the top.
     Here’s the tip. Two days later she asked me to check the heel again. The blister had healed nicely – but there were several small rough pieces of skin sticking up from the blister. These could easily irritate the area and catch on socks. I had her use a callus file to file down the rough skin. This simple step can help smooth the skin as a blister heals. If the skin edges are large, use a scissors to cut close to the skin and then use the file. The aim is to remove the rough edges.

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