Foot Care at Western States

June 27, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Foot Care 

Yesterday I work medical at the mid-point Michigan Bluff aid station at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. We had a team of about 12 people: doctors, RNs, LVNs, a chiropractor, a physical therapist, and paramedic. What happens when I work medical is that I spend my whole time working on feet. Of course, that’s what is expected of me. If there was a major medical that stretched the “pure’ medical folks, I would step over to that side of the aid station. So, what happened?

Runners kept us busy the whole day – from about 3:00 pm until we closed at 9:00 pm. We did not keep count. I had a good time because of Tonya, a physical therapist, who wanted to learn foot care. She was a quick learner.

In short, the day can be summed up with three words: maceration and toes. The snow in the high country had created a wet day for runner’s feet. Snowmelt ran down the trail and made for slushy conditions. Runners’ footwear ranged from regular trail shoes to lightweight minimalist shoes like the New Balance MT100s and Inov-8 models. I didn’t see anyone running in Five Fingers. Virtually everyone had wet shoes. And that, of course, led to macerated feet.

Michigan Bluff medical aid station

Michigan Bluff medical aid station

I set up with a pop-up and tarp and two reclining chaise lounge chairs. Tonya and I often worked side by side. She watched me for the first batch of runners and then, after a while, she took on feet alone. Her skills were good. Importantly, she asked questions.

How should blisters be lanced and when and why? What’s the best way to tape toes? How about heels? How about between toes? Wow, what’s that? What can we do for those toenails? How can you drain fluid from under a toenail? How can we modify footwear? What are the best supplies? What tools do you use?

Over the coming weeks I will address these questions.

Problems with Mesh in Running Shoes

June 20, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Footwear Products 

Footwear made with mesh is lightweight and many trail shoes use it liberally. Your shoes may be lighter and cooler, but the mesh allows junk to get inside the shoe. It then can increase friction.

Whether or not you wear gaiters, if you are running trails a lot, try to use shoes that don’t have too much mesh. The mesh allows trail dust, grit, sand and other debris to get inside your shoes where it gets under your insoles, into your socks, and onto your feet. This “trail junk,” along with the movement of your feet inside the shoes, can tear up the shoes’ inner material, causing even more irritations to your feet.

To a certain extent, gaiters can help control what gets in your shoes. Typically, gaiters cover the top of the shoes and a bit up the leg. While this helps control debris and grit from entering at the top of the shoes, they often don’t help in controlling it from entering in other areas. When you have a lot of mesh over the toes and instep, you’ll find these mesh areas allow fine grit inside your shoes.

Racing the Planet's 4 Desert Gaiter

Racing the Planet's 4 Desert Gaiter

I know some runners who will apply duct tape over the mesh. Others will make gaiters that attach to the soles of your shoes. One pair of gaiters made for this are the 4 Desert Gaiters from Racing the Planet are made from nylon and spandex and are ankle high. Their uniqueness is the design, which attaches to the shoe’s sole to provide sand protection. They suggest having a cobbler sew the Velcro onto the sole for strength. Make sure the stitching can’t be felt inside the shoe –

If you use lubricant on your feet, make sure you clean your feet when changing socks and reapply another coating of lube.

You may like lightweight mesh running shoes. I do too. But it helps to recognize one of the potential problems with mesh and deal with it. Next weekend I will be at Western States 100, patching feet at Michigan Bluff. I know I will see lots of runners without gaiters – and many will suffer because of skipping this simple choice.

Disclosure: I have no financial interest in Racing the Planet. It is just a good product.

Fake Vibram FiveFingers!

June 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footwear 

The Vibram FiveFingers are so popular they I guess it had to happen. Fake ones are being sold. Here is an email I received from

Vibram KSO FiveFingers“If you were considering buying Vibram FiveFinger shoes and haven’t yet done so we just wanted to let you know that quite a few copycat/counterfeit FiveFinger shoe manufacturer’s have popped up selling their own versions of the popular line of barefoot shoes.  While these fake versions might be cheaper often they are not made with the same materials and hence the quality is not as good (meaning they’ll probably fall apart soon after you purchase and use them).  The other risk when buying these FakeFinger shoes is that you might end up giving your credit card information to less upstanding citizens.”

Here’s the link to learn more about their recent blog post about Fake Vibram FiveFinger Shoes. On the site, I read the following, “Not only are other companies copying their trademarked style, but many of these companies (which happen to be Chinese in origin) are just outright pretending to be the Vibram! They are making their own fake versions; putting Vibram’s logos on them, using the same shoe names, and flooding the market with their Vibram FakeFinger shoes.” They even list 25 websites where the fakes are sold.

If you decide to buy a pair of shoes online, shop carefully. offers regular emails on a variety of minimalist shoes including reviews, how to make modifications, tops, and more. Check them out.

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