ENGO’s New Blister Prevention Products

November 30, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Health 

I have been a fan of ENGO blister prevention products since I first learned about them, more than two years ago. Their Blister Prevention Patches work on insoles, over the edges of insoles to the inside of the shoe, in the heel counter – anywhere there is friction. By reducing friction, they reduce pain associated rubbing that causes hot spots and blisters.

Until now, they only offered Blister Prevention Patches in small and large ovals and rectangles. I am glad that ENGO has several new valuable products. These come just in time to be used as stocking stuffers for Christmas. Both products receive a five start rating because of their value to athletes. Each fills a unique need for active outdoor athletes – whatever your sport.

five-stars4 Blister Relief Kit

ENGO's Basic Blister Relief Kit

ENGO's Basic Blister Relief Kit

ENGO is introducing two new Blister Relief Kits. I have given my endorsement to these kits. They are ideal for hiking, climbing, running, walking, team sports and other adventure activities. A durable cloth zipper bag (3.75 x 4.75 inches) protects the 2-ounce kit’s contents against dirt & moisture. Most of the kit’s components come in their own plastic baggies – and the two extra baggies can easily accommodate the remaining components. This kit was designed by ENGO, with input from yours truly. It features several products that I wholeheartedly recommend: Kinesio-Tex tape and ENGO Blister Prevention Patches. Athletes can use both products together to treat a hot spot or blister, or in different locations on the foot. The 18-inch strip of two-inch wide Kinesio-Tex tape is enough to treat multiple blisters. The tape can be cut in one-inch strips for toes. The two ENGO Blister Prevention Patches can be used anywhere in your shoes. The Blister Repair Instruction Booklet tells how to use ENGO patches and my instructions on how to treat a blister. The components of the kit include:

  • ENGO Large Oval Patches (2)
  • Kinesio Tape (18″)
  • Benzoin Tincture (2)
  • Alcohol Prep Pads (4)
  • 5″ x 8″ Hand Towelettes (2)
  • Triple Antibiotic Ointment (2)
  • Sterile Lancets (2)
  • Empty Bags (2)
  • Blister Repair Instruction Booklet
  • Nylon Zipper Bag

ENGO is offering two kits. The Basic Blister Relief Kit contains everything listed above and retails for $11.00. The Complete Blister Relief Kit has the same components plus a stainless steel folding scissor and retails for $14.00. If you don’t have a small folding scissors in your foot care kit, get the Complete kit. They are considering whether to offer a refill pack. Until then, all the components in the Basic kit would be used in typical blister patching scenarios and so ordering a new Basic kit is a no brainer.

Discount Ordering Bonus: Jason, from ENGO, just emailed me and said they are offering a $2 discount on these kits through the end of the year when customers use coupon code “blistergift” during checkout on their site.

Additional patches can be ordered from ENGO as needed. I like the patches and personally would add a couple of small ovals and a large rectangle. You are then covered for all foot parts. If you have other blister patching favorites, they can easily be added to the kit.

five-stars3 Back of Heel Patches

Back of Heel Patch

Back of Heel Patch

If you suffer from back of the heel hot spots or blisters, or Achilles tendon rubbing, ENGO’s new Back of the Heel Patches are made for you. These unique heel-shaped patches are curved to wrap around the top of your shoe’s inner heel. They will give you weeks of uninterrupted protection from painful rubbing, blisters and calluses. Alternatives to these patches include cutting a notch in your shoe’s heel coulter to relieve pressure or applying tape and/or some sort of blister patch on your skin. The first cuts your footwear and the second is often works well for a while and then if not applied correctly, peels off. These new Back of the Heel Patches, if applied to a dry shoe, will last for weeks regardless of what socks you wear and road/trail conditions.

ENGO’s convenient, ultra-thin patches easily store in fanny packs or your foot care kit to be available whenever a hot spot or blister may occur. Or attach one to your race bib pin so you’ll have it handy if a hot spot occurs during a race. The price is $8.00 for a packet of two patches. A cushioned Heel Wrap has been trialed and will be offered soon.

Remember, ENGO patches are applied directly onto your footwear, not your skin. I like the page at their website that describes creative uses of ENGO patches: rake handles, watch bands, bike seats, helmets, furniture, squeaky shoes, backpack straps, and more.

Disclosure: I receive samples from ENGO, which I use at the races where I provide foot care services and I also give samples to athletes. I have endorsed the blister kits and for providing consulting on the kits, I will receive a small royalty.

Heel Smoother Pro

November 22, 2009 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Health 

five-stars2This past spring I discovered the Heel Smoother Pro made by Artemis Woman. I called the company and talked to one of the owners about the product. They make several versions of the Heel Smoother and after learning about each; I ordered the Heel Smoother Pro and a spare set of their DuraCrystal tips.

Over the past months, my wife and I have used it to control calluses and keep our feet smooth. I also took it to Badwater this past summer and used it on several runners’ feet. The DuraCrystal tips do a fantastic job of reducing hard callus. I have shown the Pro at the clinics and promote it whenever possible. In my opinion, it works better and faster than a file or pumice stone and with the two different shaped tips, works well on any part of the foot, including toes. Is it for everyone? If you have calluses, especially stubborn hard-to remove thick calluses, or dry, cracked skin, then “Yes” – it’s for you. It gets my first five star rating.

Heel Smoother Pro

Heel Smoother Pro

The Heel Smoother Pro ($29.99) is a two-speed battery-operated callus remover and a revolutionary pedicure appliance that smoothes calluses and removes dry skin on heels and toes in seconds, without the use of harsh chemicals or dangerous blades. The Heel Smoother is the only pedicure device that stops when too much pressure is placed on the foot. This built-in safety feature prevents over-exfoliating which can damage the foot. It comes with a free full 1 oz jar of the exclusive Healing Gems’ Topaz Foot Butter, with rich, nourishing shea butter, purifying aromatherapy essential oils, and uplifting Topaz crystals to soften and revitalize feet and revitalize the spirit! Includes:

  • The battery operated Heel Smoother Pro (2AA batteries required, not included)
  • Two Duracrystal Power tips (large rounded tip for heels, small thin tip for toes
  • One jar of Topaz Foot Butter – 1 oz

Glossy Pink, a blog, did a review and said, “While ultimately the same smooth effect can be achieved with traditional foot files, this product saves the user a lot of elbow grease, and has some other tricks up its sleeve as well. Here, I’m referring to this product’s ability to more easily maneuver around the contours of the foot (especially the baby toes). Plus this tool smoothes feet in one step (versus traditional rough callus removers which leaves jagged pieces of skin that must then be filed down). And besides, with a standard tool, you’re just filing, but with this baby, you’re power sanding.”

The DuraCrystal Power Tips are made with the same crystals (aluminum oxide) used in professional microdermabrasion treatments, to safely, quickly and effectively remove dry dead skin from the heels and feet.

Here’s a short video from Tampa Bay Channel 10 where they review the Heel Smoother Pro.

The basic Heel Smoother, unlike the Pro model, is not waterproof and does not come with their Topaz Foot Butter. Its price is $14.99 and it comes with two tips.

The rechargeable Heel Smoother Optimum is available for $39.99 and comes with four tips.

Replacement tips are available. A set of three pairs of DuraCrystal Power Tips (large rounded tip for heels, small thin tip for toes) for a total of six tips is $5.99. Other replacement tips combination are offer on the website.

Artemis Woman’s Topaz Foot Butter is made with finely ground Topaz gemstone crystals, combining the ancient healing art of Gem Therapy with the invigorating aromatherapy blend of bergamot, tea tree, and lemon essential oils. Blended together with rich moisturizing shea butter, Artemis Woman Foot Butter will not only soothe and nourish your hard-working feet. $7.99 for a 1 oz jar.

The Heel Smoother is the only pedicure appliance of its kind to receive the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance. Artemis Woman also makes products for hands, skin and eyes. As far as the name, Artemis Woman, this product is great for anyone, not just women.

The Heel Smoother Pro deserves a place in your foot care bag. It gets five stars as the best callus tool I have seen. Get it for yourself and buy one for a friend for Christmas.

But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s an email from Anthony C. “Woofie” Humpage, one of the volunteers on the Badwater medical team. He posted this to one of the ultra lists.

“When I was at Badwater this year, working on the medical team, I had the opportunity to chat with John Vonhof about foot care issues and specifically, getting rid of calluses.

I have two problems with calluses, one on my heels, where, if I wear sandals without socks, my heels crack. That can be quite troublesome as it is sore. But from a treatment point of view the calluses that form on the tip of my #1 toe – I have Morton’s Foot – are the hardest to deal with from a maintenance point of view. Things are made worse because I also have the habit of clenching my toes during non-running exertion – cycling hard up a hill for example, and I quickly build up thick layers of hard skin on the tips of my toes, under which blisters will form. The tips of these toes are just hard to work effectively with a foot file or emery board. As a consequence I am not as diligent as perhaps I should be in dealing with them. According to John, and I believe him, getting rid of calluses is one of the best things you can do as part of a blister prevention problem.

As I was mumbling my excuses about how hard getting after the toe calluses is, John said: “Let me show you this!”. He pulled out a Heel Smoother Pro. I ordered one as soon as I got home and it is the business! I think of it as a $30 Dremel tool for feet. The Heel Smoother comes with two tips – a larger one that is meant for working bigger areas like heels, and a smaller one that looks like a small Christmas tree. The tips are mildly abrasive and quickly grind away hard skin. The smaller tip is great for toes. It’s as painless a procedure as filing, but much quicker. You can also be more precise with the small tip. So far, I have not had to replace the batteries in mine.

I have seen a lot of ho-hum gizmos and gadgets over the years but this isn’t one of them. It will probably pay for itself fairly quickly if you currently visit the nail salon for pedicures – that’s the men, anyway, as I don’t guess they their toenails painted.”

Anthony C. “Woofie” Humpage, CSCS, USAT Triathlon Certified Coach, Masters Athletic Performance, Scottsdale AZ

Foot Care Five Star Rating System Introduced

November 21, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Footwear Products 

After more then ten years of writing about feet, I am implementing a five star rating system for ideas and products related to foot care. Future blog posts will show rating – between 1 and 5 red stars. Over the next month, I will update my website to also show the ratings. Here’s a sample:

five-stars1

Obviously, the rating will be somewhat subjective – from my point of view. But I will take into account what I hear others saying about the products and reviews from other sources. When I write a blog post or put an article on my website, I will rate its value towards foot care in general.

These ratings will be awarded based solely on the products or article’s value. If I have received a product to test or have a monetary stake in the product, I will disclose that too. In no way will I allow that to reflect my review.

The first review under this new system will start tomorrow when I start a series of product reviews of foot care items to add to your Christmas list – or to give as a gift to someone else.

As always, your feedback is welcome.

Band-Aids for Blisters?

November 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care 

It never fails that when I work an aid station providing foot care and I see athletes with Band-Aids on their feet or find them in the official foot care supplies box. While Band-Aids have their place, I don’t care for them as the first line of defense for blisters.

Great Band-Aid colors and designs :-)

Great Band-Aid colors and designs 🙂

Many runners use them or carry them. Band-Aids are cheap to buy, easy to carry, and easy to apply. That’s the positive. And, like this photo I found on the Internet, they come in great colors and designs.

There are three problems with Band-Aids:

  1. Their adhesive is typically not good. The exceptions to this are those that are waterproof and made from a fabric rather than a plastic type material.
  2. Even though there are different sizes of Band-Aids, it is hard to cut them to fit a specific size or shape blister.
  3. The adhesive strip on the outside edge of the pad is typically not big enough to adhere to the skin.

These three negatives make them a poor choice for serious athletes. When I worked foot care at the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk in San Francisco, Band-Aids were everywhere. They were placed on the self-service table and walkers scooped them up by the handful. But just as quickly as they were applied, they came off.

If you want to carry Band-Aids for hot spot or blister control, here are a few tips:

  • Buy those made with a fabric material
  • But those with a non-stick pad
  • Make sure you roll your socks on and off so you don’t disturb the Band-Aid’s application and pull it off
  • Use an alcohol wipe to clean the skin of oils

This post uses the term Band-Aids for any similar type of bandage – whatever the name and brand.

Spenco 2nd Skin for Blisters

November 8, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products 
2nd Skin

2nd Skin

Most athletes today have heard of Spenco 2nd  Skin. It comes in one-inch squares and three-inch circles. Two pieces of thin film cover a soft gel substance – similar to a skin substitute. To use it, peel off the blue film from one side and apply that side over your hot spot or blister. Whether you remove the film from the other side is your choice. For years, 2nd Skin has been the product of choice for patching blisters. Similar competitive products are available – and what I say here applies to all these gel-like blister patches.

Two well-respected foot care experts gave me their thoughts on 2nd Skin:

  • Denise Jones, commented, “As for 2nd Skin – well, I still use it if the area is very sore and there are many miles to go in a race like Badwater where the cut-offs are generous. It all depends on the circumstances of the time I can take and how painful the area is. I have mostly gone to your method of putting zinc oxide over the roof of the blister then taping over it to try to keep the roof of the blister in tact after draining the fluid out and putting antibiotic ointment on it.”
  • Maddalena Acconci, a fellow foot care specialist from Vancouver, Canada, wrote, “I haven’t had a negative experience with 2nd Skin. As a matter of fact, every time a racer has said to me ‘you saved my race’, I had used it.”

In my opinion, 2nd Skin has its place in foot care, IF one is aware of the downside. First, the positive. 2nd Skin provides protection, cushioning, and a cooling effect to the area. Whether over a hot spot or blister, the patch cushions and protects. Spenco 2nd Skin requires a tape covering to hold it in place. That’s not the problem. If the patch will remain in place for only several hours, I have no objection to 2nd Skin.

There is one problem with 2nd Skin. Anything over a few hours and the skin swells from the moisture in the patch, the water component, of 2nd Skin. It makes the skin damp, often cold to the touch, and leads to maceration. On a long event, 12 hours or longer, especially a multi-day event, when the skin is cool and damp skin from the patch, it is very difficult to apply another patch. It is hard to get anything to adhere to the skin where the 2nd Skin was.

I think 2nd Skin is a good product and it deserves a spot in most runners’ foot care kits. I will use it on occasion – especially for short events up to 50 miles. For longer events or multi-day events, I will use other patching methods. Zombierunner.com offers Spenco 2nd Skin and GlacierGel, both good blister products.

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