FIXING YOUR FEET E-zine – Talking About Feet and more..

October 31, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 


Volume 8, Issue 10, October 2008 ~
John Vonhof, Footwork Publications ~
Copyright, October 2008, All rights reserved


This issue has an editorial on “Talking About Feet.” It also has an article, “Yes, It’s All About Your Feet,” a foot care tip, a new bad feet photo, and reader feedback.


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.


Last night I did a clinic at a local REI store. These are always fun. They always draw a mix of runners, walkers, and hikers. I have a PowerPoint presentation I have done many time before and I usually update each time before giving it again. It cover the main aspects of foot care.

I ask participants what feet issues they have. The answers range from blisters (the most common), black toenails, flat feet, fit problems, heel pain, and more. Heads nod as people affirm that they too have had the same issues.

Then, as I go through the presentation, we talk about the issues that have raised. I share what I have learned over the years, what products are available to help, and give tips on foot care on the subjects they have mentioned.

Talking is good. We learn from each other. As one shares a problem, or what they have tried, the others hear – and learn. Then heads nod as they recognize a solution. I have copied in the Introduction from the 4th edition of Fixing Your Feet in an article later in this newsletter. It makes the point that it is all about our feet. When we are running, walking, hiking, what our activity is, we need healthy feet.

We need to remember that in order to enjoy our sport, we must have healthy feet. It is not enough that our arms, shoulders, legs, and the rest of the body in well conditioned. All parts work together and all are needed. But, take away your feet because of blisters or other pain/condition, and you don’t get far. So, let’s jump into our sport 100% – feet first.

If you want to comment on this piece, please send me an email.


The 4th edition of Fixing Your Feet can be ordered through my web site,, or If you have any of the older editions, you need this one. It has three new chapters, lots of new sections, and is completely updated. The retail price is $18.95 but most sites, including mine, have it at a reduced rate.


Please take a moment and forward this issue to a friend or two and encourage them to subscribe.


For some athletes, their ankles are their weakest point. Josh Gilbert, a chiropractor, thinks a wobble or rocker board is a good tool. He suggests the following: “First, I would do a very simple activity. Stand on the injured ankle and balance for as long as you can. If you can do this for 30 seconds or longer, start doing the same exercise with your eyes closed. This helps to get your brain neurologically connected again with your ankle and the injured tissue and receptors. Only do this exercise if the ankle can bear your weight without pain (or not too much). Each joint in your body has receptors that tell your brain where it is. You don’t have to look at your leg to know that it is turned in, out, pointed up, or down. The receptors in the joint relay this information to the brain. When the joint is injured, sprained, stretched, these receptors start relaying incorrect information. It they are not retrained properly, you will end up like many people and continue having recurrent ankle sprains.”


As I read the online forums of ultrarunners, tri-athletes, hikers, and adventure racers, I often find a common theme. They are always looking for answers. New training tips, new gear, new conditioning tips – anything to gain an edge to improve in their sport. I like that. Years ago, in preparing for my third Western states 100 Mile Endurance Run, I designed homemade gaiters out of ordinary white socks. They worked. Back in 1987-88, no one I knew wore gaiters. So I made my own. And they helped me in the race.

That story leads into this month’s article. I had problems – grit, stones, and twigs – stuff I now call “trail junk” getting into my shoes. I needed a solution. So I improvised. Fixing Your Feet has been out in four editions since 1997. I have written hundreds of articles in print and online web sites, including those in this newsletter and my Happy Feet blog. But, new people come into the sport all the time, and they, along with others, are still looking for answers. So, this month I am presenting the introduction from the 4th edition of Fixing Your Feet. I have a feeling that many people get the book and turn right to the chapter of the problem that is currently affecting them. They probably do not take the time to read the Introduction. In it, I list the tidbits of wisdom from the four great people who wrote the Forewords. I hope you will continue reading and learn something. It ties in nicely with this month’s editorial.

Introduction to the 4th Edition of Fixing Your Feet

Out of problems come solutions. My motivation to write this book arose from my personal foot problems and seeing and hearing the horror stories of athletes who suffer as a result of their foot problems. I have patched thousands of feet. I have repaired blisters for women walking for loved ones at cancer walks. I have cut the socks off a runner’s feet at mile 92 of a 100-mile run and seen the skin fall off the bottoms of both feet. I have helped runners who completed a 100-mile run and could hardly walk because of the terrible condition of their feet. I have seen the macerated skin on the feet of runners who fail to take care of their feet through an ultramarathon, and I have watched the grimacing faces of adventure racers as their teammates tried to repair their horribly blistered and battered feet. I have watched as well-meaning crews and teammates have tried to repair the feet of their fellow athletes and as well-meaning aid-station volunteers have tried their best to fix the feet of athletes in their events. In all of these examples, the athletes, crews, and teammates have tried their best based on their limited knowledge of what to do, and most often have done well. But often there is a better way or other options—and they can be found in the pages of this fourth edition of Fixing Your Feet.

If there is one thing I have learned about footcare in the 10 years since I started to research and write the first edition of Fixing Your Feet, it is that there are lots of foot problems and more than one solution for each problem. I often reflect on what has been written in the first three Forewords to this book.

Dan Barger, the Primal Quest Expedition Adventure Race Founder and Ultrarunning Grand Slam Record Holder 1998–2002 wrote in the Foreword to the third edition:

I ran my first ultramarathon at age 15, and during it I became painfully aware that an athlete’s feet are one of the most important parts of the body. Shortly after that first ultra, I was competing at the World Ride and Tie Championships with Ken “Cowman” Shirk. Before the race, while rinsing his feet, he leaned over and said, “Take good care of your feet and they will take you wherever you want to go.” Over the next 23 years, as I participated in 236 ultramarathons, trail runs, bike events, climbing, and adventure racing, I learned the importance of taking care of my feet. Cowman was right. Many times I have forgotten this advice and have paid the price. Feet will take us to new challenges and adventures, but only if we make the conscious choice to care for them.

David Hannaford, a sports podiatrist and ultramarathoner wrote in the Foreword to the second edition:

As I was limping over the last sand dune on the last day of the seven-day Marathon des Sables in the Moroccan Sahara desert, I thought of John’s advice about foot protection. I was losing a toenail, which could have been avoided had I heeded his advice about larger shoes in extreme heat. I thought I knew better. After all I have two silver buckles from the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, and being an experienced sports podiatrist, I already fit my shoes roomy. But, as I looked around me, my little injury paled in comparison to the hundreds of runners limping to the finish with feet much more damaged than mine. Most of these foot problems could have been avoided with proper care.

Billy Trolan, MD, wrote 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.

Three Forewords and three unique perspectives:

  1. Our feet will take us to new challenges and adventures if we make the conscious choice to care for them.
  2. Most of our foot problems could have been avoided with proper care.
  3. Our feet are our primary mode of transportation and require our attention and preparation.

Then to make sense of those three perspectives, read what Demetri ‘Coup’ Coupounas wrote in the Foreword for the fourth edition:

It’s about your feet. If your feet get there, you get there. If your feet are happy, you’re happy. If your feet are miserable and want to quit, you are miserable and want to quit.

Yes, it’s all about your feet. I love that. After all, we are each an experiment of one. In my humble opinion, taking care of your feet becomes a matter of educating yourself about the best ways to treat them. In Fixing Your Feet, there are many solutions to every problem.

So, there is hope. With the advanced products offered today, athletes need not suffer from problem feet. With the proper education and choices about foot care, most of the limping athletes could come back next year and play well—without problems—or at worst with problems that pale in comparison to their former ones.

If you want to comment on this article, please send me an email.


RASP Feet Pic
This month’s Bad Feet Photo is a repeat. Whenever people see it, they usually gasp is disbelief. Or they cringe. The feet belong to an Army Ranger who was engaging in a time trial like event for an opportunity to make the next grade in rank. It was a forced march with full pack. He was an experienced tri-athlete and knew about socks and shoes, and foot care. Our conclusion as we talked after the event, was that it was a combination of the humidity and heat, gravel road, moisture, and the weight of his pack. He recovered but it took time.


Eric Binder wrote: “I read your article on blisters and thought I’d toss in my 2 cents. Fortunately I have not had huge issues with blisters since I found running shoes that seem to fit my feet well. I think that’s something way too many people overlook – getting a shoe that fits their feet properly.
When I do get some blisters, I drain them and clean the area with alcohol. Then I apply some tincture of benzoin with a Q-Tip on the blister and then where the tape will be applied. If the blister is torn open, this isn’t fun since the tincture is alcohol based. It stings like mad, but it also seems to serve as a protective layer once it’s dried. It also serves as an adhesion layer for the tape to stick. I then apply some of the thin nylon-cloth type tape right over the blister. It sticks well to the tincture of benzoin and doesn’t come off when things get wet from sweating. I’ve run marathons or other long runs with this taping method and it seems to work well for me. Now if I could jut get rid of my plantar fasciitis, I’d be happy.”

Susan Alcorn wrote: “I THINK I have come up with a winning combination of footwear and footcare that works for me. I’ve just completed two backpacking trips–each 200 miles–and only the tiniest of blisters on one.
I am now wearing the lightest weight Injinji toe socks with a liner sock over them. The Injinji socks provide protection between the toes; the liner sock provides the second layer that reduces friction. If any irritation starts to develop, I use either the Omniflex or (many brands available) some flexible, breathable, cloth tape to nip the problem in the bud. By the way, earlier this year I was getting blisters on the inside of both feet and realized that this was happening where various “seams” of the shoe met. Of course I ended up having to bandage my feet, but then I cut a large piece of good old moleskin and plastered it inside my SHOE since the shoe lining had caused the problem. Voila! no more problems at that point. By husband Ralph can wear most any kind of sock, including just a pair of liner socks, and never gets a blister. Life isn’t fair! Happy trails.”

Susan is the publisher of Shepherd Canyon Books in Oakland, CA. her web site is Publishers of two award-winning books: Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago and We’re in the Mountains Not over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers.

Reader feedback to this E-zine and its articles is welcome and encouraged. Please email any foot care ideas or tips that you have tried and would like to share with others, or ideas for an article for the ezine.


Those of you with the 4th edition of Fixing Your Feet can get a free copy of my booklet, Happy Feet: Foot Care Advice for Walkers and Travelers. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to go to the book’s page—and write a review of the 4th edition. Then send me an email telling me which site the review is on and your snail mail address. I will mail you a free copy of this 36-page booklet. Use it yourself, or give it to someone else. The booklet is described below and has a $5.00 value. Sorry, but because of postage, this offer is good only in the U.S and Canada.


If you like to stay informed about foot care issues and information – on a more regular basis than this monthly newsletter, check out my blog, Happy Feet: Expert Foot Care Advice for People Who Love Their Feet. This is different from this ezine. The Happy Feet blog will have a new short topic every week.


I am always on the look out for stories to share about their adventures with some type of connection to feet. If you have something to share, please send me an email.


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You are welcome to contact me by email about this E-zine or the book Fixing Your Feet.

Buying Socks

October 31, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Buying socks is not a rocket science purchase. However there are a few important tips to remember when looking for socks. Here are my favorite tips:

Buy socks that fit your feet. The heels, toes, and length
should fit snugly without sagging or being stretched too tight. Socks that are
too big will bunch up and cause friction and skin irritation. Socks Images
that are
too small can cause the toes and joints to rub harder against the socks. Turn
the socks inside out and look at the toe seams. Avoid those with bulky seams
because they can rub, causing hot spots and blisters. After buying socks be
sure to try them on with your shoes or boots to be sure they fit together and
are not too tight. Remember also to discard socks when they become threadbare
and too thin to provide their advertised benefits. The heels of your socks are
a good indication of the amount of padding and loft.

The right sock is one that fits your foot and fills the
inside of the shoe. Being too tight or too thick can constrict circulation and
lead to problems, especially in cold weather. Rubbing can lead to hot spots,
which lead to blisters. Changing to thinner socks can cause extra movement of
the foot inside the shoe, leading to friction, hot spots, and you guessed it,

Managing Athlete’s Foot

October 25, 2008 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

Many people have Athlete’s
foot at one time or another. Athlete’s foot, technically called tinea pedis
, is a skin disease caused by a fungus. The hot
weather and foot perspiration that athletes typically encounter can make
athlete’s foot a common problem. The combination of a warm and humid
environment in footwear, excessive foot perspiration, and changes in the
condition of the skin combine to create a setting for the fungi of athlete’s
foot to begin growing. Athlete’s foot usually occurs between the toes or under
the arch of the foot.

     Typical signs and symptoms of athlete’s
foot include itching, dry and cracking skin, inflammation with a burning
sensation, and pain. Blisters and swelling may develop if left untreated. When
these blisters break, small, red areas of raw tissue are exposed. As the
infection spreads, the burning and itching will increase.

     Preventive measures include washing your
feet daily with soap and water; drying them thoroughly, especially between the
toes; wearing moisture-wicking socks; regularly changing your shoes and socks
to control moisture; and the use of a good, moisture absorbing, foot powder.
Since athlete’s foot is contagious, if you use a communal shower or bathroom
after an event, or use a gym to train, avoid walking barefoot in these areas.
Use thongs, shower booties, or even your shoes or boots.

     Treatment includes keeping the feet clean
and dry, frequent socks changes, antifungal medications, and foot powders. An
antiperspirant may also help those with excessive foot moisture.

     Check your local drugstore or pharmacy for
a complete line of athlete’s foot antifungal ointments, creams, liquids,
powders, and sprays. See your doctor if your feet do not respond to treatment
with over-the-counter medications. If the fungus returns, alternate medications
since it can sometimes build up a resistance to a particular fungicide. Other
over-the-counter antifungal creams or solutions commonly available in your
local drugstore and pharmacy include Dr. Scholl’s Fungal Nail Revitalizer and
Fungi Solution, Clotrimazole, Lamisi. Lotrimin, Micatin, Swabplus, Tinactin,
and Tolnaftate are all common. Zeasorb-AF is available as a powder and a
lotion/powder combination. 

Just Say No to Detox Foot Patches

October 17, 2008 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

Every so often I see an ad
for detox foot patches. In case you have not seen these, they are white
patches, maybe 3 inches by five inches. You place the patch on the bottom of
each foot at bedtime. In 412ESYX21QL._SL500_AA280_
the morning the patch is removed, revealing the side
of the patch against your foot is now dark with toxins, which have been drawn
out of your body overnight. Inside of the patch, between the two sides, is a
mixture of ingredients that are said to do wonders to your health.

Here is a product
description from one web site. “The primary effect of the Detox Foot Patch is
detoxification. As toxins are extracted from the body, one experiences improved
blood circulation, easing of muscle and joint pains, and a more relaxed and
restful sleep. Use on back, knees, elbows etc. Tourmaline produces Negative
Ions. Negative Ions have been shown to restore balance to the nervous system,
boost immunity improve metabolism and assist the body in healing its self.
Ingredients: Wood Vinegar, Bamboo Vinegar, Chitosan, Loquat Leaf, Vitamin C,
Tourmaline, Dextrin.”

Do they work? A good place
to ask is Wiki Answers. Here is part of their response. “A little research into
how the body detoxifies (the liver) will tell you that the whole idea of
removing “toxins,” “parasites,” and even
“cellulite” from the bottom of the feet is completely false. The
surface of the pad picks up dead skin and dirt, and a chemical on the pad
ensures the color. Repeated use of this pad will clean your feet, but nothing
The popular TV show 20/20 did a piece on these and came to the same conclusion. Don’t trust these opinions? Read the rest of the comment at the page and
you can draw your own conclusions.

As for me, I encourage you
to save your money. I am.

How Far Could Your Go on Two Feet?

October 9, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

ow far could you go on your
two feet? Across America? I would like to introduce you to two men, Charlie
Engle and Marshall Ulrich, who are doing just that. Their adventure is called
“Running America” and the web site is

     Charlie and Marshall are running
separately, each having crews and support vehicles. Check out the web site to
see some great photos, read their blogs, and track their progress. Right now, they
are in 12
Nebraska. They started in San Francisco and will end in New York. Their
goal is to finish on October 27th. That’s 45 days!

     Along the way, local runners and walkers
are turning out to accompany the two runners as they cross America. The photo
shows Charlie in the middle of a pack of runners. What an experience.

     Both runners have experienced foot
problems, something that is expected to some degree when one runs and walks so
many miles in such a short time. I commend Charlie and Marshall for their
efforts. I know them both and am proud of their accomplishments.

     May they run strong and safe.


October 4, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

Erik Roby is with a group of engineers from the
University of Washington working on a new type of intelligent shoe that will be
capable of real-time gait analysis in an attempt to reduce injury and increase Ladyrunner
performance for runners. After competing in the UW Business Plan Competition
last spring they decided to move forward with their project and are currently
developing a prototype. More information can be found at
AMT Wellness. Gait analysis is a technique
that measures joint motion and forces to diagnose movement pathologies,
determine the severity of injury, select treatment options and monitor
progress, and predict prognosis.

The team has created a survey to help direct the
development of the prototype (what features do runners want, how the interface
would work, etc.). Please take a moment to
complete this important survey
related to the development of an intelligent shoe capable of real-time gait
analysis. Your responses are critical to us. This survey should take 10 minutes
or less to complete. Thank you for your help.

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