Bag Balm: Problem-salving for all – Especially our Feet

January 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products 

If you have been a runner for long, odds are you have heard of Bag Balm. I used Bag Balm in my first ultras, after tiring of the greasy, stickiness of Vaseline. Bag Balm worked on my feet.

Lyndonville, Vermont is a long way from almost everything. Tucked in the northern corner of Vermont, is a one-room “plant” by the family owned Dairy Association Co., Inc. – six employees, two officers and no sales force – operating in a cluster of converted railroad buildings in this small (pop. 1,215) town.

The familiar Bag Balm containerPetrolatum is shoveled from 50-gallon drums into a large vat and blended with lanolin from Uruguay, then heated to 95 degrees. A machine quickly squirts the goop into metal cans that are cooled, capped and packaged. The familiar green can.

The Associated Press ran a story about Bag Balm. They wrote: The phones are ringing at Bag Balm headquarters. Everyone wants a new tub of the gooey, yellow-green ointment.  And all have a story about its problem-salving – they use it on squeaky bed springs, psoriasis, dry facial skin, cracked fingers, burns, zits, diaper rash, saddle sores, sunburn, pruned trees, rifles, shell casings, bed sores and radiation burns. Everything, it seems, except for cows.

Developed in 1899 to soothe the irritated udders of milking cows, the substance with the mild medicinal odor has evolved into a medicine chest must-have, with as many uses as Elmer’s glue.

Athletes have used Bag Balm everywhere. Literally. On feet as a lubricant, on underarms and inner thighs for chafing, under shorts for chafing from front to back, for chapped lips, under waist or shoulder straps of fanny and back packs – anywhere there is rubbing and chafing.

As usual, the a bit of common sense is encouraged. Clean off any old lube before applying a new coating. Be watchful of sand or grit picked up in the lube.

Sold off pet care shelves and at farm stores for $8.99 per 10-oz. green tub (with cow’s head on the lid), it’s made of petrolatum, lanolin and an antiseptic, 8-hydroxyquinoline sulfate – substantially the same formula used since John L. Norris bought it from a Wells River druggist before the turn of the century.

Distributed by wholesalers and sold retail in farm stores, national drugstore chains and general stores, its popularity has grown largely with word-of-mouth advertising as converts becomes users and then devotees.

For all its myriad uses, there’s one place its makers say never to use it. “Never put Bag Balm in your hair, because you will not get it out.”

Never used it? Pick up a small tin to keep in your field bag. You’ll be glad you did. You can typically find it in your local drug store or feed and tack shop.

Blisters and Gaiters

January 26, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products 

Lisa de Speville, an adventure racer and ultrarunner from Johannesburg, South Africa, and a friend, sends me updates every so often.  I value her input because she is good at thinking through problems. I received this in an email in December and decided to share it with you because it is a great example of how to critically think through the cause of your blisters. Lisa wrote:

Pinky toe blister

Pinky toe blister

Here’s a delicious picture of a common blister. Nice and big and hadn’t popped yet 😉 – on my teammate’s little toe. We teased him about growing a new toe 😉 This developed during the desert trekking stage at the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge.

I’m sad to say I got blisters on my little toes and their friend next door – haven’t had these for ages! – during the desert trekking, and they developed early on. My feet have been brilliant for a long time so I wasn’t impressed with these blisters. Essentially the result of ‘triangle toes’ yet, as you know, I’m especially cautious about this and I make sure that I keep my toes smooth with no triangle possibility pre-race. As a result, I have various theories – there has to be an explanation…

First… socks. I was wearing my Asics Gel Trabuco, the same pair I wore during the TransRockies Run in August, where I had no blisters at all. The shoes were relatively new then with not too much more distance in them post TransRockies. The socks I was wearing were my favorites – a local brand, Falke. They make excellent socks and the style is their ‘Adventure sock’, which was discontinued a few years ago. I managed to buy a bunch of pairs directly from them and I’ve been slowly working through them. This pair was a bit older – you know when the fabric gets more coarse? This is my primary explanation – I think these socks had one too many outings and that the coarseness is the reason behind the blisters.

Now I’m sure you’re wondering about sand in my shoes too? I refined my gaiters for this year’s race and they actually did really well. BUT, I did get a bit of sand in my shoes. That stuff in the desert really is powder fine. I generally shook it all out, plus socks, at every checkpoint, which we reached every 4-5 hours. Nothing serious. But, I don’t think sand was to blame; I’ve had worse.

Lisa's home-made gaiters

Lisa's home-made gaiters

My second theory could be around the attachment of the gaiters themselves. We stitched our gaiters on to the front of the shoe. The fabric (lycra) is pulled snug. Could this change the dynamic of the upper? Mmmm… it is a possibility. I’ve had an even better idea for the gaiters – will be making version 3 over the next few months 😉 This is the version of the gaiters we used in the race. This is our team blog site – lots of photos from the race 😉

As an aside… gaiters as much as the shoe itself helps in keeping sand out. Two of my teammates were wearing their Hi-Tec Trail Eruption shoes; I was in Asics and the other was in Salomons (maybe XA Pro… not sure). The Hi-Tec guys, who had sewn their gaiters on exactly the same, got little to no sand in their shoes. Both me and the Salomon one got sand in. Interesting.

Anyway, I wasn’t impressed with the blisters. I’m of the ‘keep ’em drained’ school and so I drained the blisters at each checkpoint and over the course of the stage managed to mostly ‘reverse the process’, keeping the roof on and the fluid out. I did powder my toes with each treatment.

While sewing gaiters for Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge, I finally got around to posting instructions on my blog for my regular mini gaiters, which I wear every time I am orienteering or running on trails. Keeps trail debris out and prolongs the life of your socks. Pricky socks is my pet hate because no matter how often you wash them you can still feel prickies.

Lisa’s blog can be found at AdventureLisa.blogspot. Check it out. She’s good.

Book Give Away #4 & 5 – Portland/Vancouver and Death Valley

January 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Books 

Afoot & Afield Portland/Vancouver and Hiking Death Valley are my fourth and fifth give-aways of a Wilderness Press book – to get you and your feet into new adventures.

For your chance to win this book, there are two steps: by end of day January 24th, 1) Send me an email with your best 50-word reason why you want the book, and 2) include the names of three people to whom you are sending an email encouraging them to subscribe to my Fixing Your Feet blog. Remember to keep it to 50 words only. No more.

Afoot & Afield Portland/Vancouver

Afoot & Afield Portland/Vancouver

Afoot & Afield Portland/Vancouver

In nearly 200 trips Afoot & Afield Portland/Vancouver covers every hike within a one-hour drive of this metropolitan area. Hit the trail through dense old-growth forests, walk beside waterfalls, climb to viewpoints above massive glaciers, or wander through the quiet forests of a 5000-acre park in metro Portland itself. The hikes range from simple strolls through urban preserves to rugged climbs in the Columbia River Gorge and on glacier-clad Mt. Hood. Hikes that are great in cloudy weather are labeled, and each hike is shown on an up-to-date map. Each hike includes at-a-glance essential information – distance, time, elevation change, and difficulty rating.

  • Author: Douglas Lorain
  • Value: $19.95
  • Pages: 456
  • Pub Date: 2008

About the Author

This is our man in the Pacific Northwest. Douglas Lorain’s family moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1969,and he has been obsessively hitting the trails of his home region ever since. Over the years he calculates that he has logged well over 30,000 trail miles in this corner of the continent, and despite a history that includes being bitten by a rattlesnake, shot at by a hunter, charged by a grizzly bear, and donating countless gallons of blood to “invertebrate vampires,” he happily sees no end in sight.

Lorain is a photographer and recipient of the National Outdoor Book Award. His books cover only the best trips from the thousands of hikes and backpacking trips he has taken throughout Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. His photographs have been featured in numerous magazines, calendars, and books. He is described by the Seattle Times as the “next great Northwest trail guide author.”

I have included a link to the Wilderness Press and Amazon web pages for the book in case you don’t win the book. Check it out at either site.

Hiking Death Valley

Hiking Death Valley

Hiking Death Valley

Experience Death Valley National Park with this guide to 280 hiking and driving destinations. With hundreds of miles of trails, countless canyons and springs, and some of North America’s most beautiful desert scenery, Death Valley is a year-round hiker’s paradise. Trips range from easy dayhikes to multi-day treks, and include elevation profiles and detailed topographic maps. Learn about the area’s human history with details on historic mines, ghost towns, camps, and rock art left behind by Native American residents, as well as the geology, flora, and fauna of Death Valley’s diverse terrain. Includes hiking tables and dozens of photos, illustrations, and diagrams. Considered the most thorough guidebook to hiking and exploring Death Valley.

  • Author: Michel Digonnet
  • Value: $19.95
  • Pages: 542
  • Pub Date: 2004

About the Author

Michel Digonnet is a physicist at Stanford University, where he teaches and carries out research on various aspects of light. Born and raised in Paris, France, he has explored many of the world’s deserts, from eastern Africa to the Sahara and Baja California. He has hiked and backpacked extensively throughout the American West for nearly 30 years, especially on the Colorado Plateau and in the Mojave Desert.

I have included a link to the Wilderness Press and Amazon web pages for the book in case you don’t win the book. Check it out at either site.

Do You Know How to Put Your Socks On?

January 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Footwear, Health 

The question is very basic: Do you know how to put your socks on?

John Wooden, considered America’s “winningest coach” recalls a simple, but decisive routine that he used with each new season’s players during his 27 years of coaching UCLA’s legendary basketball team to unprecedented victory.

John Wooden knew it all began with the socks. On the first day of practice, Wooden would tell his recruits, “Gentleman, today we’re going to figure out how to put our shoes and socks on.” Some players would blanch. Wooden would calmly explain that most players are benched for blisters, and the easiest way to avoid them is to pay attention to the basics. He would meticulously show them how to roll up their socks and tighten their laces. “I wanted it done consciously, not quickly or casually,” he said. “Otherwise we would not be doing everything possible to prepare in the best way.”

So, again, do you know how to put your socks on?

This may seem too basic. However, a crease or fold in your socks can lead to a hot spot and eventually a blister. Putting on your socks is very basic. Run your hands over your feet to wipe away any lint, then roll your socks from the top down to the toes. Slip the socks over your toes and gently pull them up over your heels until they are unrolled.

If you have not checked out Fixing Your Feet, it has a whole chapter on socks. It is found on Amazon, Zombierunner and my website.

John Wooden has several books. This story comes from his book, From the Socks Up:
The Extraordinary Coaching
Life of John Wooden, by Mitch Horowitz.

Tincture of Benzoin

January 15, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products 

When it comes to patching feet and applying tape, most athletes use a tape adherent – and the most common is Tincture of Benzoin (ToB). I recently received an email from Dr. Murray, an MD pointing out that for fans of ToB, clarification was needed.

Dr.Murray points out that I have ofter referred to “tincture of benzoin” and can confuse people. Here’s what he said:

  • Tincture of Benzoin (ToB) is a respiratory inhalant and has no adherent properties.
  • Compound Tincture of Benzoin (CToB), is a skin protectant and tape adherent.
Compound Tincture of Benzoin

Compound Tincture of Benzoin

This is what your bottle, swabs, or ampules should say, “Compound Tincture of Benzoin (CToB).” I have included a photo off a box of swabs that I use. I think most of you are all right. If you have a bottle, check it out though because sometimes drug stores will sell ToB.

Give Away #3: Afoot &Afield: Denver/ Boulder & Colorado’s Front Range

January 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Books 

If you live in or around Denver, you should be interested in this book. Afoot & Afield: Denver/ Boulder & Colorado’s Front Range is the third give away book I am offering my readers. Thanks again to Wilderness Press for donating the books.

For your chance to win this book, there are two steps: by end of day January 14st, 1) Send me an email with your best 50-word reason why you want the book, and 2) include the names of three people to whom you are sending an email encouraging them to subscribe to my Fixing Your Feet blog. Remember to keep it to 50 words only. No more.

Description

Afoot & Afield: Denver/Boulder & Colorado's Front Range

Afoot & Afield: Denver/Boulder & Colorado's Front Range

The newest addition to the successful Afoot & Afield series takes hikers throughout the majestic Colorado Rocky Mountains and their foothills, rivers, and plains. Featuring more than 200 trips, from trails near the state’s Wyoming border to Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs, author Alan Apt maps out hikes both long and short, exploring trails accessible from Denver, Boulder, and other Front Range communities.

Highlights summarize the best features of each trip, which range from convenient dayhikes to weekend excursions. Easy-to-read maps, plus complete trip descriptions and hiking directions make sure that hikers find their way. More than 200 hikes ranging from short dayhikes to long weekend treks, each featured on a trail map. Each trip includes at-a-glance essential information-distance, time, elevation change, and difficulty rating. Additional trail use information such as which trails are suitable for children, dogs, horseback riding, and mountain bikes is included.

Afoot & Afield Denver/Boulder & Colorado’s Front Range takes hikers throughout the Colorado Rocky Mountains and their foothills, rivers, and plains. Featuring more than 200 trips, from trails near the state’s Wyoming border to Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs, author Alan Apt maps out hikes both long and short, exploring trails accessible from Denver, Boulder, and other Front Range communities.

Afoot & Afield: Denver/ Boulder & Colorado’s Front Range is my second give away of a Wilderness Press book – to get you and your feet into new adventures.

  • Author: Alan Apt
  • Value: $19.95
  • Pages: 360
  • Pub Date: 2008

About the Author

Alan Apt has been roaming Colorado’s hills and dales for more than 30 years. He is the author of the bestselling guidebook Snowshoe Routes: Colorado’s Front Range. He is a somewhat reformed peak bagger, who has climbed many of the state’s highest summits but also thoroughly enjoys the lakes, vales, and rivers. He is an avid hiker, biker, snowshoer, backcountry skier, kayaker, and backpacker. Alan is a member of the Colorado Mountain Club and a Sierra Club trip leader, as well as a member of Friends of the Poudre. He is a former Ft. Collins city councilmember, who worked to create the city’s Wind Power Program for the Natural Areas and Trails programs and to protect the Poudre River, and is currently on the city’s Natural Resources Advisory Board. He is a Colorado Special Olympics and Eldora Ski Area Special Recreation Program volunteer. He is also a National Ski Patrol member, volunteering with the Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol and Snowy Range Ski Area. Alan is a former Ft. Collins Coloradoan newspaper local columnist. He is a technical book publisher by profession, and resides in Fort Collins.

I have included a link to the Wilderness Press and Amazon web pages for the book in case you don’t win the book. Check it out at either site.

Previous Give Aways

Mike Wood, Steve Quinne, and Joel Gat are each getting a copy of the John Muir Trail.

The book One Best Hike: Mt. Whitney is still up for grabs.

Give Away #2: John Muir Trail Book

January 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Books 

In 1987, Will Uher and I completed a fast pack of the John Muir Trail. We had a fantastic time. That was before fast packing was even a common term. Now, people do it all the time. Even through there are many great trails and areas to fast pack, the John Muir Trail remains a favorite of many athletes.

The John Muir Trail book is my second give away of a Wilderness Press book – to get you and your feet into new adventures. Wilderness Press was kind enough to donate books for my give away.

For your chance to win this book, there are two steps: by end of day January 8th,  1) Send me an email with your best 50-word reason why you want the book, and 2) includethe names of three people to whom you are sending an email encouraging them to subscribe to my Fixing Your Feet blog. Remember to keep it to 50 words only. No more.

Description

John Muir Trail bookRunning from Mount Whitney to Yosemite Valley in the Sierra Nevada, the 212 mile John Muir Trail passes through some of the most dramatic mountain terrain in the United States. Each year, thousands of backpackers traverse some or all of the trail, relying on Wilderness Press’s John Muir Trail. The completely updated edition of this Sierra classic includes significant information found nowhere else. The new John Muir Trail meticulously describes the entire trail and is written for today’s hikers. The book includes GPS coordinates, not only for every junction, but also for every established campsite, bear box, and mountain pass that the trail crosses. The guide has separate descriptions for northbound and southbound hikers; for each direction, a junction chart shows all the trail’s ups and downs.

  • Author: Elizabeth Wenk
  • Value: $17.95
  • Pages: 256
  • Pub Date: 2007

About the Author

From childhood, Lizzy Wenk has hiked and climbed in the Sierra Nevada with her family. After she started college, she found excuses to spend every summer in the Sierra, with its beguiling landscape, abundant flowers, and near-perfect weather. During those summers, she worked as a research assistant for others and completed her own Ph.D. thesis research on the effects of rock type on alpine plant distribution and physiology. But much of the time, she hikes simply for leisure. Wanting to explore every bit of the Sierra, she has hiked thousands of on- and off-trail miles and climbed nearly 500 peaks in the mountain range.

I have included a link to the book at Wilderness Press and Amazon web pages for the book in case you don’t win the book. Check it out at either site.

In case one of your goals is to hike Mt. Whitney, I have the One Best Hike – Mt. Whitney book that I offered in my first give away. First come, first served.

I want to help you find new adventures in 2010.

  • Subscription Form

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Recent Comments

  • Archives

  • Pages

  • Circulation

%d bloggers like this: