An Observation on Taping Feet

May 29, 2010 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products 

I have made an observation when taping feet and seeing athletes’ injured feet – and this affects the way I tape.

I like smooth. It reduces friction. Some tapes are smoother than others. Duct tape is smooth but does not breathe or conform to the curves of the foot. Elastikon is coarse as well as thick. Kinesio Tex, Leukotape and Endurotape are smooth.

Allow me to paint you a picture of why tape smoothness matters.

Picture the following: your skin’s outer layer typically moves against the inner layers. Then you apply a non-smooth tape to the skin, pull on a sock, and finally put your foot inside a shoe. The tape sticks to the skin. As you run, the foot naturally moves a bit inside your shoes. However, the sock cannot move freely against the coarseness of the tape. This forces the tape to move with the sock, which stresses the outer later of skin against the inner layers. The result is very sore feet. Others may not agree, but I have seen too many runners with sore feet, many at the point of not being able to run any more, and the common denominator has been non-smooth tape.

A story will illustrate this.

Ball of the foot taped with anchor figure eights

Ball of the foot taped with anchor figure eights

One year at Badwater I removed tape from the bottoms of a runner’s feet and repatched them. He had run 90 miles and had another 40 to go. Over and over he told me, “My feet hurt. I can’t run. I can’t walk.” The balls of each foot were hurting him so badly that he wanted to quit. As I carefully removed the Elastikon tape I discovered he had a small hard-cored callus on the ball of each foot. I put a small Spenco gel patch over the hard core of each callus and used two 2-inch strips of Kinesio Tex tape across the ball of the foot – from the toe crease to mid-foot. He went on to buckle. The smooth Kinesio Tex tape worked where the Elastikon did not. That said, I still think Elastikon is a good tape for some runners’ feet. I just happen to like Kinesio Tex more. For the record, I also carry Leukotape.

The above image is not of that runner’s foot. However it shows a strip of Kinesio Tex tape on the ball of a foot and two anchor strips of Hypafix between the toes. These anchor the forward edge of the ball of the foot tape which prevents it from rolling.

This same theory can be applied to insoles. We’ll talk about that later. In the meantime, if you need tapes, check out They carry all the popular tapes.

Book Give-Away # 7 – Afoot & Afield Atlanta

May 24, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Books 
Afoot & Afield Atlanta

Afoot & Afield Atlanta

Afoot & Afield Atlanta is my seventh give-away of a Wilderness Press book – to get you and your feet into new adventures. The book is a current 2009 edition, 376 pages.

For your chance to win this book, there are two steps: by end of day May 29, send me an email with your best 50-word reason why you want the book. Remember to keep it to 50 words only. No more.

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.

Afoot & Afield Atlanta covers the abundance of natural areas within a two-hour drive of the city in 100 hikes, from challenging backcountry treks in the north Georgia mountains to easy dayhikes along the Chattahoochee River. The diverse trails pass through parks where families can observe wildlife, historical sites and old battlefields, and one of the largest wilderness areas in the Southeast. Highlights summarize each trip’s best features, and at-a-glance essential information-distance, time, elevation change, and difficulty rating-makes it easy to choose the right outing. Maps with GPS waypoints indicate notable spots on the trail such as junctions, scenic overlooks, wildlife observation platforms, and backcountry campsites.

A writer for outdoor publications such as Outside and Backpacker magazines for more than a decade, Marcus Woolf is a senior editor for Gear Trends, the leading trade publication for the outdoor recreation industry.

Here is the book’s Wilderness Press page and the Amazon page.

Book Give-Away – Lightweight Backpacking and Camping

May 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Books 

Here is another give-away of a book donated by Wilderness Press. Send me an email telling me in 100 words why you need this book. I will select one entry to receive a free copy. I need your entry by May 20.

Lightweight Backpacking and Camping

Lightweight Backpacking and Camping

Lightweight Backpacking and Camping offers new insight into gear selection and techniques that can be used to reduce pack weight and decrease the margin of risk that occurs by taking less weight in the backcountry. This book is an ideal primer for the lightweight backpacking student who desires to build a solid foundation of knowledge about equipment and skills. The book is 434 pages.

Table of Contents

Preface, by Glen Van Peski, Founder, Gossamer Gear

Introduction, by Ryan Jordan, Publisher, Backpacking Light Magazine

Part 1: The Art and Science of Walking

  • Chapter 1: Footwear
  • Chapter 2: Backpacks
  • Chapter 3: Pack Weight
  • Chapter 4: Navigation – Lightweight Principles and Equipment

Part 2: Protection from the Elements

  • Chapter 5: Thermoregulation
  • Chapter 6: Clothing
  • Chapter 7: The Sleep System
  • Chapter 8: Shelter

Part 3: Eating, Drinking, and Hygiene

  • Chapter 9: Hydration
  • Chapter 10: Trail Food
  • Chapter 11: Hygiene

Part 4: First Aid and Emergency Preparedness

  • Chapter 12: Risk Management
  • Chapter 13: First Aid

Part 5: Proven Lightweight Solutions – Some of the classic readings from

  • Chapter 14: Advanced Tarp Camping Techniques for Inclement Conditions
  • Chapter 15: Superultralight – Breaking the Five-Pound Barrier
  • Chapter 16: Hiking Efficiency – A Day in the Life of an Ultralight Hiker
  • Chapter 17: Lightweight Backpacking with Young Children
  • Chapter 18: Lightweight Backpacking for Couples
  • Chapter 19: Face-Off – First Aid and Emergency Gear
  • Chapter 20: Especially for Women

Part 5: Appendices

  • A: Gear Lists
  • B: Gear Manufacturers
  • C: Resources – Magazines, Books, and Websites

Lightweight backpacking is about doing more with less. On the surface, doing more with less implies that you can go farther, faster, and longer in more safety and comfort with a light pack than with a heavy pack. However, it’s a lot deeper than that. A light pack isn’t enough.

If you put a light pack full of the latest and greatest lightweight gear on an inexperienced hiker and bid him bon voyage into the wilderness, he may very well enjoy the experience. However, if he does not understand the limitations, utility, and function of lightweight gear, he could come back thoroughly frustrated and never set foot into the wilderness again with a pack that weighs less than forty pounds. Worse, he may never return to backpacking. Even worse yet, he could get injured or even die because of his lack of knowledge and experience using lightweight gear in hostile environmental conditions.

So, lightweight backpacking is about technique as much as it’s about the gear. In fact, proper technique is so important for increasing your safety with a lightweight kit that the two must go hand in hand – solid backcountry skills allow you to take lighter gear. If you are going to go light, you must do so with competency: lightweight gear does not replace a lack of experience or skill.

If this subject intrigues you, check out Ryan Jordan’s website.

This book can also be ordered through Amazon.

My Favorite Ankle Strengthening Exercise

May 14, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Health, Sports 

With summer around the corner, now is the time to start working those ankles. Whether running on trails or streets, strong ankles will help prevent ankle sprains. Here is my favorite exercise for keeping your ankles healthy.

Strengthen your ankles by balancing with one foot flat on the ground and the other leg bent back at the knee, as if you were in the normal support phase of a step. Start with 30 seconds at a time and practice until you can hold your balance for several minutes. When you have mastered this step, close your eyes and do the same thing. Without eye feedback, it is harder to maintain your balance. Repeatedly losing your balance and then recovering gradually strengthens the ankles even more.

Strengthening exercises for the foot and ankle can help prevent injuries and will help in recovery from an injury. Stop any weight-bearing exercises if you experience pain.

Sorbothane Insoles

I often look for products to review. Sometimes I contact a company and get a sample, other times the company sends me a sample. A while back I was sent some new insoles from Sorbothane.

A quote from the website

A quote from the website

I gave one pair to Will, a friend who has been battling plantar fasciitis. He still wears them and likes them. He told me they were, “Soft and cushy with good support. I haven’t seen a nicer insole.” He also said he liked them because they don’t soak up water and sweat.

Another pair went to Denise Jones. She has problems with cushioning on the bottom of her feet and welcomes the insoles to try. She reported back, “The two pair of Sorbothane Insoles you sent me have been the most comfortable inserts I have tried thus far. I wear them every day in my work shoes (after they were trimmed). They are the ‘Sorbolite Comfort Soles’ in my work shoes. I love them. Sadly, they have not cured my feet, but they do make them more comfortable during my long workdays. I finally got rid of the gel soles I used to wear and now wear the Sorbothane. For the record, I have always been impressed with Sorbothane insoles. Ben used them for years in his running shoes.”

I have been wearing a pair of Sorbothane insoles in my golf shoes for months. I can honestly say my feet are more comfortable than before with other insoles.

Sorbothane is a proprietary material, which has superior dampening qualities and has been scientifically proven to have the finest cushioning material available. Its memory allows it to return to its original shape, even after repeated compressions. It is the only insole material that absorbs up to 94.7% of impact shock – month after month. An added benefit is that they are antifungal and they also breathe, making them cooler than many other insoles.

Sorbothane Insoles

Sorbothane Insoles

If you are used to your shoes’ cardboard style insoles and know how light they are, these will feel heavier. Yes, Sorbothane is a heavier material, but most of their insoles have it in the heel and under the forefoot, rather than the whole length. The little bit of added weight is well worth the Sorbothane absorbing properties.

If you have problems with foot pain, a loss of cushioning from the fat pads on the bottom of your feet (common as we age), back pain, or impact related injuries like shin splints and knew pain, give these Sorbothane Insoles a try.

Disclosure: Other than the Sorbothane insoles I was sent by a representative, I have no financial interest and was not compensated for this review.

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