Fixing Your Feet E-zine – Foot Care, Preventing Injury, Tips and more..

December 28, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 


Volume 8, Issue 12, December 2008 ~
John Vonhof, Footwork Publications ~
Copyright, December 2008, All rights reserved


This issue has an editorial on An Analogy – Weight Training and Foot Care, an article on Stretching after Exercise Prevents Injury, three foot care tips, and a new bad feet photo.


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.


[first shared in my August 2002 newsletter – and still true today.]

There comes a point in time where we all reflect. It’s a natural part of learning. For instance, after working out at the gym, I have come to realize that no matter how hard some people workout with weights; they will never have the muscles they are trying to achieve. Their biceps will never look like the arms of steel they want. Others will work out with the same weights and have arms to die for. It is somewhat the same way with feet.

Before you call me crazy for making the analogy, hear me out. In weight training, in order to gain muscle, one must follow a routine with the weights (to add muscle), of diet (to feed the muscles and the body with the right types of food), and throw in some cardio (to work the heart and burn fat). Do all of these together and you have a reasonable chance of showing gains in definition and size. Omit one, or skimp on one, and the benefits of all the others will be lessened. Yet, you and I could be working out next to each other, doing the same weight routines, eating the same foods, and doing the same cardio, and we could be much different in appearance. Our body types could be as different as night and day – and subsequently affect our final outcome.

In foot care, you can take two athletes, and have them manage their feet the same way, and have two different outcomes. Give the two the same shoes, socks, lube, and ask them to do the same 50-mile run (for example), and you will have two completely different sets of outcomes. Why? What makes the difference? I have thought about this a lot recently as I have mended feet at Western States and the Primal Quest Adventure Race. Why are there so many racers who struggle to end an event with healthy feet? Why are the feet of some racers so much worse than others? What are the unknown factors? Then one day at the gym I began to see the analogy. It was, however, what I didn’t see that that struck me most.

What I didn’t see was what the people at the gym did when they were outside of the gym. I suspect many cheated on their diet, what I didn’t know was by how much. That was the unknown. When we do our weight routines correctly, with the right amounts of weight, and add in the necessary amount of cardio, we should see results–if our diet is right. That’s a big IF. But it’s the IF that makes the difference.

In foot care, the big IF is what you have neglected. When I read stories of your foot care problems or see you and patch your feet, I only see you at that moment, with those shoes and socks, and with whatever form of lube or powder or pre-taping you may have done beforehand.

What I don’t see is what you may have neglected:

  • The history of hot spots that you usually have-and haven’t bothered to pre-tape,
  • The shoes that don’t fit well-even through fit is the number one key to healthy feet,
  • The too tight fit of your toes inside your too small toe box on your shoes that has given you black toenails,
  • Or the standard issue insoles that came with your shoes that have flattened out and are now worthless.

Or even still, I may see what you neglected:

  • The toenails that you didn’t trim and have caught on your socks and given you toe blisters,
  • The dirt and trail grit that is inside your shoes – that might have been prevented with gaiters,
  • The bunions or Morton’s foot that you have – that might have been prevented with a bigger toe box,
  • The macerated skin on the bottom of your feet caused by your not changing socks when your feet got wet and stayed wet for long periods,
  • Or the calluses on your feet that you didn’t get rid of and have now blistered under, and which are hard to drain or patch over.

As I said earlier, if you omit one, or skimp on one, and the benefits of all the others will be lessened. In the list that follows, pick one and take it out of the equation and you open yourself up to problems. The list that we each have to consider is: Are we:

  1. Wearing the right wicking socks?
  2. Wearing shoes that fit?
  3. Pre-taping for hot spots?
  4. Pre-taping known blister problem areas?
  5. Using a good lube to prevent friction?
  6. Using a good powder to control moisture?
  7. Wearing gaiters?
  8. Tying our laces correctly to avoid instep pressure?
  9. Using a good insole?
  10. Wearing the right shoes for the conditions?
  11. Have put the necessary miles on your feet in training?
  12. Have gotten rid of calluses, or in some cases – have toughened the skin of our feet?
  13. Wearing shoes with room in the toe box?
  14. Wearing shoes that grip our heels?
  15. Have trimmed our toenails correctly? Aad the list goes on.

Omit one. Any one. It may be the one that makes the difference between healthy and unhealthy feet on that particular day. Both in weight training and in foot care there are ways we hurt our chances of success. Cheating takes many forms and it is easy to cheat our feet by not doing what has been proven. You can argue that each day is different and you never had blisters before – but you have them now. You can argue that you have done everything under your power to keep your feet healthy and yet still had problems. And to a certain degree, you may be right. But the odds are, you omitted one thing, or maybe more than one, or changed one thing – and that made all the difference in the world.

To be fair, there are some athletes who never have foot problems. They are out there, and they usually pass us by as we are stopped fixing our feet.

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


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


Airing Your Feet – Remember when stopping to rest, eat, or change gear, take off your shoes and socks and let your feet air out. Elevating them above the level of your heart will help swollen feet. So will letting them soak a bit in a cold stream or lake.

Cold or Heat – For injuries, of your feet and ankles, or anywhere on your body, the question many ask is, “Do I use heat or cold on the injury?” After a soft tissue injury or suspected bone injury, swelling occurs when blood accumulates in the injured area. Ice the area for 20 minutes every half hour for the first four to six hours. Continue every two to four hours after that as long as there is swelling. Use heat once the swelling has subsided and healing has begun—usually four to six days after the injury has occurred. Sprained ankles are one of the most common lower extremity injuries and this cold and heat treatment will help speed your recovery.

Measuring Your Feet – Every time you buy new shoes, make sure both feet are measured. Not just one foot, but both feet. A large number of people wear shoes that are too short. Also, do your shoe shopping in the late afternoon or evening. And yes, you feet do change over time.


If you still don’t have your personal copy of the 4th edition of Fixing Your Feet, it can be ordered through my website web site,, or The retail price is $18.95 but these days no one pays full price! So, whichever of the sites below you choose, the price is comparable.

By Dr. Pamela Adams

Each of us is unique and requires an unique program. It takes quite a bit of detective work to uncover what’s missing or what should be changed. I find that the more lower body stretches I do, the better my feet feel in all respects. Instep, achilles, gastroc, tibialis, quad, hamstring, TFL and hip flexor stretches should be done after every run, after every hike, after every long walk, after every work-out.

Recent studies have shown that stretching before exercising does nothing to improve performance and may actually be injurious. I agree. As a chiropractor and yoga instructor, I have found that stretching muscles that have not warmed up sufficiently can cause micro-tears, inflammation, and ultimately pain and dysfunction.

However, stretching immediately after exercising is, in my experience, the single best way to prevent injury and prolong your level of activity well past middle age.

Musculo-skeletal health is based in large part on good joint alignment and good muscle balance. Degenerative conditions and repetitive injuries over the years happen not because of what we do, but how badly we do what we do.

When a muscle is being used, it contracts or shortens. Take your biceps for example. At one end, the biceps inserts on the bone of your forearm; the other end attaches to the top of your shoulder bone. The biceps’ job is to raise your forearm at the elbow bending your arm. When it contracts or shortens, it actually pulls on the bone of the forearm and lifts it up. At the same time the triceps on the back of your arm is lengthening. To straighten your elbow, the biceps relaxes and the triceps shortens.

What happens when you continuously call upon a muscle to contract as in pumping iron, or running long distances, it fails to lengthen completely. Then each time you use it, you start from an ever-shortened position. A hard, bulging muscle is not a flexible, healthy muscle. Eventually, this shortened muscle will change the healthy range of movement of the joint, which, over time, means trouble.

A chronically shortened Achilles displaces the heel bone back and up causing, or at least contributing to, painful heel spurs and plantar fasciitis. Chronically shortened calves, hamstrings and/or quads misalign the knee joint and have led to the rash of surgeries so common to runners.

Immediately after every run, every hike, every climb, every activity, stretch the muscles you’ve used. There are many books out there showing specific stretches for specific muscles. Start with the Achilles and move up. Stretch slowly, holding the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds. Learn to tell the difference between good pain and bad pain. A very tight muscle may hurt when you stretch it. Stretch calves, hamstrings, quads, inner thighs, outer thighs, hip flexors, and glutes.

Stretching promotes flexibility and flexibility is just as important as strength and endurance for runners. Correct running posture is also vitally important. Picture Michael Johnson, the Olympic gold medal winner. His body is aligned perfectly over his feet. His footfall is perfect–heel, midfoot, toe-off. His feet carry him across the finish line with the least amount of stress possible.

The athletes I’ve worked with who take stretching seriously are aging gracefully and don’t plan to cut down on their activity level any time soon. When they do, it will be because they want to, not because they have to.

Dr. Pamela Adams D.C., is a Holistic Health Mentor who practices in San Francisco, CA.

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


This month I am showing you what happens when shoes are pushed beyond their limits. The Primal Quest Utah 2006 200 copy
photo is from Primal Quest – Utah 2006, a 10-day expedition length adventure race. Paramedic Greg Friese took the photo while he worked on the medical team. You can see how the shoes have come apart. The soles have separated from the uppers. Ever popular duct tape has been used to try and hold the shoe together. There are several possible answers to what happened. The shoes could be old. They could have been exposed to extremes of heat or cold, or to long periods of water. While not that common, it can and does happen. I have seen it in several ultramarathons. The lesson is to make sure when you start a race or event you have trained form and invested a lot of time and money, that your footwear is up to the task.


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. Click here for the Happy Feet blog.


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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Merry Christmas from Happy Feet

December 25, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

I wish all my readers a Merry Christmas. This is the day to spend with family and loved ones. I pray you have been blessed in this past year. Our home is decorated outside with lights and over 40 Precious Moments figures – angels, the nativity, the wise men, and more. It even spreads over into the neighbor's yard. Two angels are on the chimney, and a six-foot star stands 15 feet above. 

Last week a neighbor walked over and asked, "What's the star for?" It was clear he knew nothing of the Christmas story. I gave him the short version. Then when we went over with out usual Christmas cookie basket a few days later, we gave him a children's picture book of the Christmas story. I know their two children, ages 5 and 8, will now know the real reason for the season. I hope you also know and understand the Christmas story. If you have never heard the real story, here is an entertaining retelling of the Christmas story with nicely done images. 

In a few days, I will be back to tell you about the redesign of my website. Until then, stay safe and enjoy the Christmas and New Year's holidays. 

John Vonhof

Drymax Socks Sent for Christmas

December 20, 2008 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

Last week I
posted a piece offering readers a Christmas gift of a pair of Drymax socks in
exchange for their 50-word entry. I said I would give away at least four pair.
There were stories of desire, selfishness :-), cuteness, and just plain “I’d like
to try Drymax socks.” In the end, I sent Drymax socks to all 10 people who entered – 11 pairs total.

Mancini (Missoula, Montana) wrote, “I’m a sock hoarder. To my family’s horror,
as a teen, I sewed socks (running shoes, too). I run, hike, and hit the gym in
socks with holes, socks so thin you can see through them. Post-frost-bitten
toes, I splurge on winter wools, but can’t ditch those old cottons. My size-9
feet are reluctant runners, happy hikers, & happy-when-not-too-cold
cross-country skiers.”

Pam Walter (Phoenix,
Arizona) wrote, “I would love to try these socks because I seem to be forever
searching for socks that won’t shrink after the first washing and will still
fit my size 11 feet. Most I have tried fit fine but after washing seem to be 2
sizes smaller. These also look very comfortable.”

Patch (Pembroke Pine, Florida) submitted the following, “My wonderful wife Mary
should earn a free pair of socks because she needs them!  Since these
socks promise the end of blisters, they would be just what the doctor ordered
for her. The last ultra she ran she had so many blisters, causing her to waddle
funny for days, and that’s not very attractive. In the FL heat and humidity she
could really use something that will not make her feet squish and squeak in sweat
while out running. To make matters worse, most or her Injinji either have holes
or have lost their partners in a sad an unfortunate head-on-collision accident
with the sock-eating washer.”

Chris Mills
(Los Angeles, California) wrote, “I have a few pair of the Drymax socks (after
seeing the recommendation on one of your previous emails), and I love them! So
I am entering my essay below to try to get a pair for my wife Meryl.  We
do long-distance backpacking (I’ve done the Pacific Crest Trail, and we’re doing
the Appalachian Trail together in 2010), and some trail running. Here is
my essay: I decided to take my girlfriend on a backpacking trip. I packed.
At the trailhead I discovered I had her left boot, but the right boot was mine!
She was mad. Somehow, I still convinced her to marry me, and to
thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in 2010. I owe her. “

Beth Claycomb (Colorado Springs, Colorado) sent in the following, “In a word,
I’m just too cheap to buy nice socks.  As a walker I literally walk
through dozens of pairs of Hanes socks every year.  In the past year I
think they’ve changes something about their weaving process because I’m getting
holes in all of my socks at an alarming rate.  It’s gotten so bad my
2-year-old checks the bottom of my feet daily to look for “hole-ies”.
I’ve heard that nice socks would really be worth the money, but I get buyer’s
remorse just putting them in my cart. Help!”

David Chan (Santa Monica, California) wrote, “Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail
I went through countless smelly pairs of socks seeking the perfect fit. Trail
running has become my new passion, and the need to have a good sock/shoe
combination remains critical to success. I would love to see if Drymax is my
holy grail of socks.”

Tish Murphy (Phoenix, Arizona) wrote, “On search for the “perfect”
sock, looking through my crowded sock drawers hoping that my feet have changed
since the last wearing, browse through sports store bins and always intrigued
by descriptions such as “world’s most comfortable”,
“breathable” or you’ll “never need another pair after you’ve
worn these”. Drymax? Thanks for the chance to win!”

Robert McAllaster wrote, “I am running the
H.U.R.T. 100 in January and would love to test them out in those conditions. I spent one training
day out on the course recently where the water ranged from ankle to thigh deep
on the trails during one downpour.”

Gail Snyder
(Portland, Oregon) wrote: “My husband and I spent the month of September Pasang and Wangda, Chaurikharka Buddha Lodge
trekking in Nepal. Our two porters, Pasang and Wangda, (18 year old cousins)
were a highlight of our trip. After carrying 60lbs for miles every morning
(from their foreheads), they spent the afternoons exploring with us. They were
filled with enthusiasm, tireless, and always happy. They are also poor. Their
shoes were worn and filled with holes, and each had only one pair of socks. I
have been gathering items to send them. Footwear is a high priority, and new
Drymax socks would be a wonderful addition to my care package for them. I have
enclosed photos of Pasang and Wangda. We fell in love them and feel so
fortunate to have met them. They are both still high school students and hope
to attend university in Kathmandu.In the evenings, after trekking all day, they
pulled out their books and studied; without a college education, their options
for the future are very limited. We hope to do more for them in the future,
including raising money toward their college education. It is about $2,000 a
year (each), an exorbitant amount of money for them.”

Lori Jensen (Hillsboro, Oregon) wrote, “I really need a pair of Drymax socks to
give to my husband because I am selfish with mine and won’t give any of them to
him. I feel a little sorry for him that he does not know what he is missing.
Unfortunately, he may never know… “

Drymax for sending me socks I could give away. Who says Santa Claus doesn’t
like socks? If you need last minute Christmas gifts, try Drymax socks. You can get them at

Want Socks for Christmas?

December 13, 2008 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

I want to make Christmas
happen for a few lucky people. Many of you know how much I like Drymax socks.
Here is a chance for those of you who don’t have a pair, to get one for Christmas.

Send me an email and tell me
in 50 words or less, why you should get a free pair of Drymax socks. They could
be for you or for a spouse, significant other, or a friend. Maybe you have a “bad
sock” experience to share or maybe a sock sob story. Be creative. Include your
name and address, shoe size, and what your activity is.

This will run until 6:00 pm Monday,
December 15th, Pacific time. I’m sorry, but I have to limit it to
U.S. residents because of postage charges. I will pick at least two male and
two female winners. There stories will be shared in a future post.

Preventing Infection from Blisters

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

Whether you get a blister
or several blisters, whether you drain them or not, you need to watch them for
signs of infection. If you pop a blister or you have a blister with its roof
torn off, once you have the chance, apply an antibiotic ointment.

Several years ago the news
carried a story about actress Hillary Swank. News sources disclosed that Swank
was nearly KO’d from the filming of
Million Dollar Baby due to a foot infection—from a blister. It appears
she popped the blister on her own and continued with her workouts. When the
pain increased, she found streaks going up her foot. Going to the doctor, she
learned the blister had become infected. Infection
There is a lesson here that we all
need to learn. Just as Swank thought a blister was a simple thing, as they
usually are, they can also become serious health issues. There have been several stories in the
past few months about athletes who have suffered serious illnesses due to
infections – including losing limbs.

For open blisters, using soap and water, and an antibiotic
ointment, Betadine, or hydrogen peroxide is important for avoiding infection.
Though you may not use these on an open blister during a run or in the middle
of the day while backpacking, at the end of the event or day, take the
necessary time to properly treat the open skin. Check your local drugstore for
a broad-spectrum antibiotic ointment like Neosporin or Polysporin that provides
protection against both gram-positive and gram-negative pathogens. Brave
Soldier Wound Healing Ointment is an excellent all-purpose salve to have on
hand for blister care during an event. has offers this under Foot Care, Miscellaneous.

Recheck blisters daily for signs of infection. An infected
blister may be both seen and felt. An infection will be indicated by any of the
following: redness, swelling, red streaks up the limb, pain, fever, and pus.
Treat the blister as a wound. Clean it frequently and apply an antibiotic
ointment. Frequent warm water or Epsom salt soaks can also help the healing
process. Stay off the foot as much as possible and elevate it above the level
of your heart. If the infection does not seem to subside over 24 to 48 hours,
see a doctor.

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