This Little Piggy

October 29, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Health 
Lisa's This Little Piggy photo

Lisa's This Little Piggy photo

Lisa de Speville, a journalist and adventure racer from Johannesburg, South Africa signs her emails, “It’s not just about sport. It’s about passion.”  I met Lisa at the Primal Quest Expedition Adventure Race in Washington state years ago and we have kept in touch since. This past summer she ran the Trans Rockies Race, a multi-day race through the Colorado Rockies. One day on her blog she shared this picture. There was some sort of contest and this was her photo entry. Yes, it’s her foot. So for today, here is a photo that should make you smile. Thanks for the photo Lisa. I love it.

Lisa has a website at She has sent me more than a few bad feet photos. Her blog is at

I’ll be back in a few days with the promised piece on 2nd Skin, I apologize for the delay. Busy life and busy at work.

Moleskin Galore

October 17, 2009 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Foot Care, Foot Care Products 

I am not a moleskin fan. Two weeks ago I was inundated with rolls and rolls of the stuff. I worked medical at the San Francisco Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk. There were over 1400 walkers and more than 280 volunteers. The walkers walked 60 miles over three days – in an effort to raise money for breast cancer research. The experience was great.

I always go to these events with my foot care box, a yellow toolbox loaded with all my ‘tools.’ The rest of the medical team loved that I had extra tools that they didn’t have: files, tweezers, HypaFix tape, Kinesio Tex tape, and more. And I used these – a lot. I even had pink Kinesio Tex tape in honor of the breast cancer pink ribbon color. But they had something I didn’t have – moleskin!

In Fixing Your Feet (FYF) I talk about moleskin because it has been around for so long. For years it was the standard hot spot and blister patching tool. In the next edition of FYF, I will make reference to moleskin as a product, which has seen better days. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Moleskin doesn’t stick
  2. Moleskin doesn’t conform to the curves of the foot
  3. Moleskin is too thick
Moleskin on the heel

Moleskin on the heel

First, moleskin doesn’t stick. Regardless of where you buy it, or who makes it, it simply does not have the stickiness necessary to hold it on the foot during a running, walking, or hiking experience. Which means it migrates or moves from one area to another. This presents a whole separate batch of problems.

Secondly, moleskin doesn’t conform to the curves of the foot. When I see a hunk applied to someone’s heel, I cringe because the moleskin sticks out, puckers, or wants to fold where it cannot conform to the shape of the foot. This inability to conform makes it less likely to stick. You can see this in the picture above.

Note the thickness of moleskin

Note the thickness of moleskin

Thirdly, moleskin is too thick. By thick, I also mean bulky. Some may think thick means cushioning, and maybe it does. But thick also tends to change the way the foot feels inside the shoe, often changing one’s gait. In the second photo, you can see the bulk that is added to the foot.

I subscribe to the less is better philosophy. If I can drain a blister, apply a dab of ointment to the blister’s roof, and then apply a piece of tape over the top, I have added a minimal amount of material to the foot. The fit of the foot inside the shoe will not be changed. The gait will not be changed, at least not by the patch.

You will never find moleskin on my foot care box. Sorry, guys, I don’t believe in the stuff.

Products to use instead of moleskin include: Spenco Sports Blister Pads, Spenco Skin Knit, one of a variety of tapes, Engo Blister Prevention Patches, or any of the other blister pads. Notice I did not say Spenco 2nd Skin and Band-Aids. We’ll talk about those two items next time.

Self Service Foot Care

October 8, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care 

This past weekend I worked medical at the San Francisco Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk. There were over 1400 walkers and more than 280 volunteers. The walkers walked 60 miles over three days – in an effort to raise money for breast cancer research. The volunteers supported them in any way possible. The experience was great. I had fun.

Every day we set up our ‘Pit stop’ for the walkers to eat lunch and sit. Each of the five to six pit stops, and the camp medical area, were set up the same way. There was a medical tent, a sports medicine tent, and area for several medical folks to help with blister patching, and a self-service area.

Self Help Foot Care

Self Help Foot Care

The self-service foot care area amazed me. While I worked on someone’s feet, many others were doing self-care. Tables held basins of precut moleskin, containers of Skin-on-Skin (similar to Spenco’s 2nd Skin), tincture of benzoin spray, scissors, and an assortment of Band-Aids. Anyone needing blisters lanced had to find one of the medical team.

It was great to see so many women, and more than a few men, work at managing their feet. I only heard one person complain.

The tables were very organized. Walkers could take what they wanted and find a chair to make their repairs. Occasionally, they would ask for help, but they usually worked by themselves or with their partner walker. Over three hours, we processed hundreds of walkers through the medical area. They applied Skin-on-Skin, tincture of benzoin, and finished it with Band-Aids or moleskin.

I love self-sufficiency in foot care. I would love to see this arrangement at an ultramarathon. It can take a lot of energy to patch everyone’s feet when there are several hundred runners. When athletes know how to patch their feet, it makes life easier for everyone and they have ownership of the work they do.

Next time we’ll talk about moleskin.

Technique: Monkey See, Monkey Do

October 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Health, Sports 

This post is from Edward Bugarin, a Pose Certified Running Coach, level 3. Edward sent me this a while back and I saved it. I think it is worth sharing.

I read the article “An Analogy – Weight Training And Foot Care“, and the issue to all the problems mentioned seem to come to the same conclusion, lack of good technique. [ The article was posted in my newsletter editorial December 28, 2008.]

Those of us who strive to improve in what ever we do such as running always look at those who seem to be fast. We attempt to copy what they are doing.

We mimic or imitate those motions hopefully improving our performance. What we fail to understand is that there are many underlying factors occurring that we cannot see. For example, one of the obvious things you see when someone is running is their knee movement. Most of us think that the knee is being lifted. But is it? Lifting or raising your knee will require you to lift 18% or so of your body weight, against the pull of gravity. Repeat this with each step and the pounds begin to quickly add up. On the other hand this almost same movement can be accomplished by contracting your hamstring with the intent of trying to keep your foot close to under your hip. This action only requires you to pull 2% of your body weight upward against gravity. Which action would you rather perform to get the same result?

In weight lifting the movements can also be subtle. At age 58 after lifting weights since 1972 I learned a different way to move the weights. This difference in movement is very subtle compared to what I was doing, but it made a significant difference in effort. Now I no longer worry about joint stress/injuries when weight training. I can go on and on with more examples but the point is that though we train together doesn’t mean we’re going to get the same results. It’s all a matter of our individual technique.

I live on Oahu (Honolulu) and ran the Heleakala “Run to the Sun” a 36.2 mile race from sea level to 10,023 feet in March on the island of Maui. Due to winds in excess of 40 mph during the race and with temperatures of 35° near the summit, not to mention rain and very poor visibility at the higher elevations, and the closing of the road near the summit due to safety, the race course was shortened by 2 miles. This of course did not break my heart.

For long races such as this most runners apply some kind of lubrication to certain parts of their anatomy to help prevent rubbing from their running clothing against their skin. This was my practice as well until I invested the money and time to learn good running technique. It’s been a few years since I started learning good running technique and last year in preparation for the 2009 HURT 100 miler, I’ve run distances up to 40 miles without lubing up. I usually run on trails so this would be a good test to see if running this 34.2 miles on road without lube would be successful. I did carry some with me just in case. I was depending on good technique as my lubrication for my vital areas from getting rubbed raw.

So what happened? As always, a stinging sensation during my post race shower has always been a good indicator where I got a rash from my running shorts rubbing against my skin. During the shower I felt no stinging sensations.

My running shoe for this race as for all my road races is a pair of Crocs (the Beach model). Crocs are like a sandal, but much lighter and it doesn’t absorb water when wet. In the past four years I’ve done this race three times, missing 2007 because of contract work in Iraq. In the previous three times, I’ve run this race in Crocs. I don’t normally wear socks when running in my Crocs but because of the cold, I wore a thin pair of socks.

So what foot problems did I have from the “Run to the Sun” from wearing Crocs? The only problem was cold toes due to the wind and temperatures. The Beach Model of Crocs has holes in front allowing the wind to blow directly onto my toes. The bright side was that once I crossed the finish line I had a pair of dry Crocs to wear at the beach during the post race party and no wet shoes to deal with. Oh yeah, I did not bring any other footwear when I flew from Oahu to Maui to do the race. The only footwear I had was my Crocs.

What I’ve learned after my 50 plus years of running is that using good technique cures almost all your foot problems. So do not blame your equipment and think that replacing it with better stuff will fix your problem. Prevention is better than the cure and in the case of running the prevention is good technique.

What’s the first step to learning good technique? It’s good to know how you run so you can identify your errors. Begin by having a video running analysis done by someone who is knowledgeable in running technique. The video analysis will show all your mistakes. You’ll be surprised on all the errors you have when running. Then take a running techniques clinic. Why? Do you go out and look for a place that you’ve never been to before without some kind of instructions or a map? Then what makes you think just running the way you’ve been doing without good instructions will make you a better runner? As self-taught runners this is very hard to swallow especially if you’ve had some success like placing in your age group. Even the best runners work on improving technique. That’s why they are good. You may not have the engine to be an Olympic caliber runner but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve your technique so you can discover your potential.


Edward Bugarin
Pose Certified Running Coach, level 3
Pose Certified Triathlon Techniques Coach, level 1


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