Stuffitts Shoe Savers – a Great Idea for Your Shoes

September 25, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footwear, Footwear Products 

You know the problem. Your shoes are soaked after your run. Your boots have been wet much of your backpacking trip. Your shoes stink and you have to keep them in the garage or outside. If you wear shoes without socks, you know how quickly your shoes start to smell like something the cat dragged inside.

You may have tried stuffing the shoes with newspapers, letting them dry in the sun (when it shines), or putting them by a heater in the house. Maybe you have tried Lysol or powder to absorb moisture and odor. Now there’s something better.

Stuffitts Shoe Savers

Stuffitts Shoe Savers

The answer is Stuffitts Shoe Savers. The idea came from triathlete Mike Huebner from Georgia. These are inserts that slip inside your shoes to absorb moisture and control odor. The inserts are made with a washable outer cover and are stuffed with aromatic eastern red cedar in their own sack. The two inserts are joined with a 30-inch nylon strap. In a great design feature, the inserts are sewn at the forward end to resemble toes. This makes it easy to slip the inserts into the right and left shoes to match their shape.

Putting Stuffitts Shoe Savers in wet shoes will help them dry eight times faster than air-drying alone. Over 60% of the moisture is removed within one hour. They can be used in shoes and boots. I love the smell of the Stuffitts Mike sent me. Red cedar has a very pleasant aromatic smell.

Mike is very straightforward, “Moisture is your shoes’ worst enemy – making them wet and smelly. Simply place these soft, foot-shaped forms in your shoes after work or work-outs to eliminate wetness. The pure cedar filling starts absorbing moisture in minutes and renews your shoes. Use them every day to keep your shoes in work-read, race-ready, every day life-ready condition!”

Stuffitts Shoe Savers in a shoe

Stuffitts Shoe Savers in a shoe

Stuffitts come in four sizes. Colors are blue, light blue, red and black. For maximum effectiveness, change the aromatic eastern red cedar inserts every six months. Stuffitts run $24.95 a pair. Consider them an investment in your shoes – they’ll last longer because they dry faster and don’t get a stinky. Replacement cedar inserts are $9.95.

Try a pair and see how much better your shoes smell. They come with a one-year unconditional money back guarantee. Get a pair or two of Stuffitts Shoe Savers for yourself and order an extra set for a Christmas gift. Your feet will thank you.

The Two Tape Blister Test

September 21, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care 

As promised, this is a continuation of the post about Foot Care Desperation – the struggle of finding a solution to problem heel blisters. Click on the link above to reread that post.

Over the years I have patched a lot of feet and see a lot of feet patched by others. When I first started, duct tape was the most commonly used tape. Along the way there has been Leukotape, Micropore, Elastikon, and finally, Kinesio-Tex. Sure, there have been others, but they have not stood the test of time.

The favorites for a long time have been duct tape and Elastikon. Duct tape is still used by some athletes. I don’t use it because it is does not shape to the contours of the foot and toes – and so can cause problems with ridges and folds of the tape. Elastikon is still favored by many. It sticks well and can be shaped to the foot. It is seen on the feet of many runners.

But as much as I have liked Elastikon in the past, I now almost exclusively use Kinesio-Tex. Let me explain what the two-tape test done by Jakob has taught me.

First, a few comparisons. Elastikon is thicker than Kinesio-Tex and its surface is rougher. When properly applied, both stick equally well. Elastikon leaves a tape residue when removed where as Kinesio-Tex comes off with no residue left on the skin. Elastikon has some stretch and conforms well but Kinesio-Tex does it better. When properly applied, both do well in wet conditions. Both come in multiple widths. Kinesio-Tex has a paper backing to remove. Elastikon does not.

I have seen several instances where runners have had Elastikon tape on their feet and have had problems. Let me share what I suspected:

  • Elastikon is thicker and coarser.
  • The coarser surface of the tape tends to hold the sock against the tape.
  • The skin of the foot, held by the tape, is also held against the sock.
  • This increases tension on the tissue under the tape.
  • This leads to sore and painful tissue on the bottom of the feet.

At the past two Badwaters I attended to runners whose feet were patched with Elastikon. In each case, their complaint was sore and painful feet – to the point where they wanted to quit. In each case I removed the Elastikon, cleaned the foot, and then taped with Kinesio-Tex. In both cases, the runner went on to complete the race.

Kinesio-Tex Tape

Kinesio-Tex Tape

Here is why Kinesio-Tex shines. The less you add to the foot, the less chance of problems. Kinesio-Tex is thin and its surface is smooth. This allows it to be applied to toes without having to tape neighboring toes. It also means less bulk added to the foot. Extra bulk can change one’s foot strike or gait. Kinesio-Tex stretches in its length and after application and is meant to be rubbed for 30-45 seconds to bond help it bond to the skin.

In Jakob’s case, the skin under the Kinesio-Tax taped foot was in better shape and less painful then the Elistikon. I know he will continue to experiment with different methods of figuring out what works for him.

But of course, there may be other causes as well as solutions. Five readers wrote with their ideas. Read on.

Lisa de Speville commented: “There is no mention in this post at all of the type of shoe he is wearing and whether he has alternated brands and models within brands. My experience with heel blisters is that if you’re getting them, your shoes are not right. Heel cup is probably too wide. A different style of lacing can also make a big difference. This could be something to investigate?”

Imelda Fagin wrote: “I love this in depth discussion and can’t wait to hear your ‘diagnosis’. By the way, about Jakob’s original blister picture with cap of skin: the skin looked so thick. It didn’t seem like such a good idea to remove it. It looked like it could have protected the foot and was still living.”

Steve Quinne commented, “I started using Kinesio tex tape on my backpacking trips. I tape all of my toes, the balls of my feet, and my heels. I carefully do this every morning before hiking. I hiked around 50 miles with no blisters. I have peripheral neuropathy in both feet and this regimen with 3 pairs of socks and carefully fitted boots works well. Before this I was plagued by blisters, which were severe enough to put me in the wound care clinic at the hospital. I also stop every 3 or 4 miles and switch socks if they are wet. My biggest problem is sweating. If I am in good shape (like this year) I don’t sweat as much, which helps greatly in preventing blisters. Thanks for all of you help. Because of your methods here you allowed me to continue backpacking, without which I surely would not be doing so any longer. Thanks.”

Cole Hanley added: “I read the article and started wondering if the problem isn’t in the fit of the shoes. It would seem that if he could keep his heel from moving relative to the shoe then the problem could be reduced or eliminated.  Are the heels of the shoes too wide or are the shoes simply too big? I haven’t needed to look at your book in a while but I seem to recall at least a few pages devoted to different lacing techniques and that’s where I’d look next since I certain there’s a lacing style designed to specifically address this issue. Any remaining friction might be reduced by using different socks and some Bodyglide.”

John Roberts-James wrote: “A very interesting set of emails from you and Jacob. May I make a comment? I am an alternative therapist, and have run the Alternative Therapy Clinic in Darlington UK since 1970. Now retired, I qualified as a Charted & State Registered Physiotherapist in 1968, have a DO in Osteopathy, and am trained as a chiropractor. The blisters, which are clearly helped by your local treatment, are in fact indications of an impaired weight distribution problem resulting from a postural (= spinal) problem coming from higher up the spine. Possibly even from the neck or C1 at the base of the skull. But more usually emanating from a mid-thoracic lesion around T3/4. In addition to your helpful local care, he needs to see a competent chiropractor or osteopath (ideally also trained in cranial therapy) to get at the root of the trouble. But tell him to keep away from Physiotherapists, who cannot be expected to know about these things. Hope this helps!”

Thanks to all my readers who contribute their suggestions.

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Health 

I want to take a break from foot care issues and post important information for both my men and women readers.

sept-prostate-cancer-monthSeptember is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Below is information from the Us TOO Prostate Cancer Education & Support website.

Please do not skip over this post. If you are a male reader, 40 or older, you should know your PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) AND be tested regularly. If you are a female reader, make sure your husband, father, or brother knows this information. Please pass this blog post to others.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. One in six men is at a lifetime risk of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American males today

I am a prostate cancer survivor – 3 1/2 years. Yesterday I learned a friend had prostate cancer surgery in July – he’s 49! I know many men, of a wide age range, that have prostate cancer. Early detection is vital.

While the similarities between Prostate Cancer and Breast Cancer are uncanny, the financial support each gets is very dissimilar… 4 to 1 in favor of Breast Cancer.

No one knows the exact cause of prostate cancer. Doctors can seldom explain why one man develops the disease and another does not. Research has shown that men with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop prostate cancer. A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of developing a disease:

  1. Age: This is the strongest risk factor for prostate cancer. The disease is rare in men younger than 45, but the chance of getting it goes up sharply as a man ages.
  2. Family history: A man’s risk of prostate cancer is higher than average if his brother or father had the disease.
  3. Race: Prostate cancer is more common in African American men. It is less common in Asian and American Indian men.

The statistics are important:

  • Every year over 232,090 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, and about 30,350 die. If detected early, prostate cancer is often treatable.
  • A man with one close relative with the disease has double the risk. With two close relatives, his risk is five-fold. With three, the chance is 97%.
  • Two men every five minutes are diagnosed with prostate cancer.
  • African American males have a prostate cancer incidence rate up to 60% higher than while males and double the mortality (death) rate of white males. Every 100 minutes an African American male dies from prostate cancer.
  • Men with a body mass index over 32.5 have about a one-third greater risk of dying from prostate cancer than men who are not obese.
  • Prostate cancer is mainly found in men age 55 or over with an average age of 70 at the time of diagnosis.
  • Majority of deaths from prostate cancer are related to advanced disease with metastases.

Did you know:  At its earliest stages prostate cancer and breast cancer cells are indistinguishable from each other!

An article in the Wall Street Journal talks about how prostate cancer screening at age 40 is beneficial – and that both age and ethnicity are well-established risk factors for prostate cancer.

I’ll be back Sunday with the Two Tape Test.

Foot Care Desperation

September 12, 2009 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Health, Sports 

I get emails every week from athletes with foot care questions. Some are easy. But I love challenges and even more so when the person is dedicated to finding answers. This post is on the long side, but it is important. I hope you will read through to the end. Several months ago I received an email from Jakob Herrmann. Here is what he wrote:

The Desperate Foot Care Question

I don’t like to bug you with this question but I’m getting desperate. I’ve studied your excellent written book and have researched online but never found a true solution for my problem. If you do not want to answer this then I understand and simply delete this email.

My issues are my heels. I always had calluses on the outer-bottom sides of my heels and they became a problem when I started to run ultras 3 years ago. Especially on 100 milers I am getting blisters underneath them despite carefully taping my feet.

About a year ago I started to remove those calluses with pumice and I got them all almost gone. The skin feels very soft; however, I still get those blisters underneath them despite of the skin being much softer.

Left foot with flap of blister showing

Left foot with flap of blister showing

What I then do is to cut off all the death skin on top and remove the blister. This always leaves a deep hole in my heel. During the healing process I use pumice, Footherapy’s Apricot Walnut Foot Scrup and True Blue Spa’s “Heel of Approval” heel treatment cream. Once the skin grows back it’s again soft and nice; however, on my next 100 miler the whole process starts over and I get a blister underneath that area on my heels.

I’ve attached pictures of my last blisters, how I take care of them and how it looks once it’s fixed. The way I fix this problem feels like I’m going around a circle. Any help is great appreciated.

So, I Emailed Jakob.

John: Have you reduced the callus to soft skin?

Jakob: Before I removed my calluses on my heels the skin was hard like a crust on top of the normal skin. After I started to remove it the skin was soft; the hard crust was gone but it wasn’t as soft as the rest of the skin on my feet. I think I’ve made it better but not perfect. And yes, the same thing happens on both heels.

John: Many times with good skin care after a blister, the roof of the blister will reattach to the skin underneath. Have you given this a chance or do you simply cut off the top?

Left foot after tape is removed

Left foot after tape is removed

Jakob: When I fix my blister I cut off the whole piece including the roof. The end result is like what you see on the first picture.

John: I have seen a lot of heel blisters caused, in my opinion, by the edge of the insole where it touches the inner side of the shoe. Do your insoles have a rough or thick edge at the point where the blisters form?

Jakob: I’ve checked my shoes and their edge of the insole, where it touches the inner side of the shoe, is not too bad at all. There is a bit of an edge but nothing major.

Meeting at Badwater

We emailed back and forth several times. I asked questions and he sent photos. He was doing a great taping job. I talked to Jakob when we were both at Badwater this July. I gave him some Kinesio-Tex tape and suggested he use it on one heel, while taping his other heel as usual. What I wanted to determine is whether there would be a difference in the tapes. I had my suspicions, but knew this was a perfect opportunity for a good test.

Jakob’s Two-Tape Test

Left foot with Kinesio-Tex tape on heel

Left foot with Kinesio-Tex tape on heel

Here’s an update what happened with my feet at the Mt. Disappointment 50 mile race.

As discussed I’ve taped one foot the way I always do with the Elastikon tape and the other with your Kinesio-Tex the way you showed me.

First up, the taping with the Kinesio-Tex is so much easier. It goes on very smoothly whereas with the Elastikon tape I always have to be so careful not to have wrinkles within the tape. I had the Kinesio tape on within 5 min where it took me over 10 minutes for the Elastikon tape. I really liked that.

The Kinesio tape also feels much smoother on the skin and it more comfortable to wear.

During the race both feet felt the same. However, around mile 30 my Elastikon tapped heel started to hurt like it usually does but the Kinesio tapped heel didn’t hurt at all. I was super excited about that.

Right foot after race (taped with Elastikon)

Right foot after race (taped with Elastikon)

On the last few miles eventually both of my heels started to hurt but the Elastikon foot hurt more. Every time I hit a stone on that heel it shoot a pain through my leg whereas the other side I could feel the stone but it didn’t hurt that much at all.

Also removing the Kinesio-Tex tape was super easy. It just came off like that. The Elastikon tape is always more complicated to remove. I have to pull it very slowly not to rip open the blister.

Once both tapes were gone I saw that both heels had blisters again; however, the heel with the Kinesio tape looks so much better.

Left foot after race (taped with Kinesio-Tex)

Left foot after race (taped with Kinesio-Tex)

What this Taught Me

In my next post, I will talk about what Jakob’s two-tape test taught me.

Foot Care Clinic in Stockton, CA 9/15

September 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Health 

Do you wonder how to manage your feet? Do you want to know the most important tips to finishing a race, hike, or walk with healthy feet? Are you puzzled why you keep getting blisters? If you live near Stockton, CA, come join me on Tuesday, September 15th, 7:00 p.m., at Fleet Feet Stockton. I will be conducting a hands-on foot care clinic to give you the opportunity to learn tips to manage your feet. I will talk about toenail care, calluses, socks, gaiters, blisters and blister treatments, and share methods of taping as a preventive measure against blisters and how to patch common blister problems.  Fleet Feet Stockton will have copies of my book that I will be signing.

John at the Runner's Roost store in Lakewood, CO

John at the Runner's Roost store in Lakewood, CO

For those who don’t know my bio, here is a brief list: I am the author of Fixing Your Feet: Prevention and Treatment for Athletes (4th edition).  I’ve patched thousands of feet at the Badwater Ultramarathon, Western States 100, Raid the North Extreme in BC Canada and Primal Quest adventure races, and two stage races – the Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and the Atacama Crossing in Chile.

RSVP is not required but requested to staff@fleetfeetstockton.com or call to reserve your space (209-952-1446). Here is a link to a map showing the store location: Map to Fleet Feet Stockton.

The photo above was taken when I did a clinic at the Runners Roost store in Lakewood, Colorado in August. It was great having my daughter Wendy there to hear me speak. She lives in Denver and does coaching, mediation, and conflict resolution – and she’s good. Even works over the phone. Her website if ConflictGeek.com.

Get Your Crocs on Sale

September 3, 2009 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Footwear 

Last week I received an email newsletter from Crocs. They are having a 2 for 1 sale – with free ground shipping. It can’t get much better.

Crocs 2 for 1 Sale

Crocs 2 for 1 Sale

Last Christmas I received a pair of Crocs clogs and have worn them ever since. This summer, while doing foot care at Death Valley for the Badwater Ultramarathon, I wore them for five straight days. Airy, comfortable, easy to clean – I love them. So when I saw the 2 for 1 sale, my wife and I ordered a pair of their golf clogs. Then my wife went back and ordered a few extra clogs.

If you have not tried Crocs, here’s your chance. If you wear Crocs, here’s an opportunity to pick up a few extra pair. Not all styles are included in the 2 for 1 sale, but many are. And that goes for men, women, girl’s and boy’s styles. Just click on this Crocs link and then select  Men’s, Women’s, Girl’s, or Boy’s and look for the 2 for 1 link.

Don’t wait too long or you’ll lose out! Have fun.

Had Your Toenails Removed?

September 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Health 

You may have read about my interview with the New York Times reporter. One of the things we talked about was athletes who have had their toenails removed. Catherine emailed me after the interview and asked a favor.

If you have had your toenails removed, she’d like to talk to you. Here’s what she asked me to post.

My name is Catherine Saint Louis, and I used to be fitness editor at the New York Times, now I’m a reporter and I’m keen to figure out whether or not ultrarunners, other marathoners, and/or adventure racers are getting rid of their toenails and if so, why. I’d love to talk to folks who have gotten rid of their toenails so have them email me.

In case you missed the article Catherine wrote after the interview, here is the link to my blog post about her article.

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