A New Kind of Foot Coating

September 25, 2011 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Footcare 

Several weeks ago I provided foot care at the Gold Rush Adventure Race. Last week I wrote of a tape job I observed, and whether is would work of not. Today I’ll share an observation on one racer’s choice of a lube.

A good foot cleaning

A good foot cleaning

The images show two stages of the process. The first image shows our racer cleaning his feet with a wet-wipe. You can see the creases (folds) on the bottom of his feet. These are typical when the feet have been wet for extended periods. Over time, these creases can become painful and if the skin stays wet, can lead to skin separation and splitting.

In this race, the athletes started with a short run, followed with a bike, and then a swim/paddle across a lake. After that, the teams embarked on a long trek fire roads and trails. The problem, as I was told, was the trek started with a river crossing that was also very muddy. This got everyone’s feet wet to start with.

So, fast-forward to the first major checkpoint. The teams came in and transitioned from feet to bike. At this transition area, each racer changes clothes and footwear for the new discipline.

So cleaning one’s feet between disciplines is necessary and always wise. The more you can remove dirt and grit off the feet, and keep them healthy, the better your chances of long term success. Wet wipes are great for this type of cleaning. Tops, bottoms, sides and toes are all important. With clean feet, we are ready for the next step.

In this case, the racer applied a generous coating of Hipoglos. According to Google, this is a Portuguese product has been in Brazil for 70 years. Its common use is for baby’s bottoms to prevent chafing.

Applying a coating of Hiopglos

Applying a coating of Hiopglos

The second photo shows its application on the racer’s feet. Squeeze some on and rub it all over. He made sure it gets between the toes and coats every crease in the bottom of the feet. Nothing gets wiped off. Socks go on right over the Hipoglos.

I saw the racer at the next transition area, almost 18 hours later and his feet looked good. He repeated the process again before heading out on the next leg of the race.

Hipoglos is similar to zinc oxide and Desitin Maximum Strength Diaper Rash Paste. In events where there is extended exposure to water, and when one’s shoes and socks cannot be changed, these are good choices. They are great at controlling moisture. They are equally good at controlling maceration. And of course, better to do good foot care early, as was done by this racer, then to try and catch-up after problems have developed.

Zinc oxide is what I use over blisters to control moisture and dry the skin. I have even injected it into blisters to do the same. Lube is good, but many do not protect the skin from excess moisture as well as products designed for diaper rash.

Give it a try.

Is This Tape Job Bad?

September 14, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care 

Anyone who has seen my taping knows that I put a premium on a good tape job. When I patch feet during a race, my aim is to apply tape in a way that the athlete can continue his or her run.

What this means to me is the tape must become a part of the foot – a second skin. The tape must not interfere with the fit of the foot, inside a sock, inside a shoe. That means a smooth and thin tape job. On certain occasions, I may apply a double layer of tape, it the condition of the foot warrants it. Sometimes that means an overlapping section of tape from one side of the foot to the other. It can also mean small sections of tape overlapping when one piece of tape goes on a toe side to side, and another piece bottom to top.

Hurriedly patched feet

Hurriedly patched feet

But too often tape is applied in a hurry, usually by an athlete in a hurry. He or she thinks that they don’t have time to do a good tape job – or they don’t know how. In some cases, they are by themselves in a race, other times; they may have a crew that knows little or nothing about patching feet. What they end up with is extra tape, folds in the tape, skin pinched in the tape, tape that doesn’t stick, tape where you don’t need tape, and more.

The images in the post are from the Gold Rush Adventure Race this past weekend. I will not name the team nor show faces. The racer whose feet are pictured seemed happy with his patch job. I have to assume how the tape felt was a different story. The folds in the tape must irritate the skin. The tape used was white athletic tape – and I know it doesn’t stick well. I watched the athlete wrap the tape in a hurry, tearing it off in sections.

His crewmember told me he offered to tape the athlete’s foot, but the offer was refused. He then told me he was going to buy each of the four team members a copy of Fixing Your Feet.

Feet taped with white athletic tape

Feet taped with white athletic tape

I know that some of my patch jobs don’t work. Whether that is a failure on my part is an unknown. I give each tape job my best. Sometimes the athlete is in a hurry and just wants something tossed on – which most times I try not to do. Other times the feet are in such poor condition that taping is a temporary fix at best. I often see feet that are so bad that patching is very hard. I like to say that I can patch anything – but if the skin has deteriorated with blisters or maceration that does not give good traction for the tape, then that patch may not work well over time.

I know I have some great success stories from athletes whose feet I have taped. Many times though, I don’t get feedback. That makes it hard to know whether the tape job held or how much it helped.

Is his tape job bad? The bottom line is whether it worked for him. I doubt it.

Where I’ve Been – Ecuador

September 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Travel 

Some of you may have been wondering where I have been for the past three weeks. Or maybe not. 🙂 In any case, please allow me to share my story.

Typical feet

Typical feet

Three weeks ago I left on a week long mission trip to Ecuador. I was one of 18 people who made the trip. We flew into Quito where we spent the night before moving the next day to Riobamba, 4 1/2 hours south. Both cities are above 9000 feet. That was our staging point for the next four days. Over the next four days, our team traveled to remote villages in the the high mountains.

In each village we set up in their school building. They were very poor villages and the facilities were rough. Broken windows, warped floors, dirt everywhere, primitive school supplies – but warm people. Our mission was to deliver shoes and socks to children in each village. We set up chairs and worked in teams of two, with an interrupter for each team.

Children waiting

Children waiting

We washed their feet and applied powder before putting on socks and a new pair of tennis shoes. After that we shared the Gospel with each child. At the end of four days, we had seen over 500 children and each received shoes and socks. Some of the adults received shoes too.

The  little girls also received panties. It was hard to imagine that none of the girls have these basic things we take for granted. Likewise, for shoes and socks. Most of the children wore high rubber boots – without socks. Of those that had shoes, most had broken straps, no laces, holes in the tops and bottoms, and holes in the inside bottom. Many were too small for the child. It was obvious that these were handed down from child to child. Pity the youngest.

Children with their new shoes

Children with their new shoes

The parents were happy to see their children getting shoes. They mingled around and it was fascinating to see them with their children. Women were spinning yarn, feeding babies, and helping with the children. Each day we had a team from the Ecuadorian Army who accompanied us and helped with the children. It took teamwork to process the children. I took close to 500 photos.

A young girl with her sister on her back.

A young girl with her sister on her back.

You might ask why I made this trip. For more than 12 years I have worked on feet at runs, adventure races, and walks; taught clinics on foot care and talked to athletes about their feet; and written on all aspects of foot care. This trip provided a challenge of a different nature. These children live in villages from which most will not leave. They have little chance to improve their lives. I had the chance to touch the feet of children and make a difference in the lives of those that have very little. Did I make a difference? I believe so. But, just as important, the children touched me. I will remember their faces for a long time.

I am sharing a few of the images from the trip. I ended up as the compiler of the team’s photos – more than 2500 in all. I have been working to prepare several presentations for the team members, edit some of the images, and sort them. It is a time consuming job, but the memories of the trip are rewarding. I hope you are as touched by the images as I was.

What do you see in her face?

What do you see in her face?

This last image is one that really touched me. Maybe I read too much into her expression, but when I ask people what they see in her face, their answer mirrors mine. Despair. She was about 13 years old.

If you are interested, we went with an organization Happy Feet International, from Alabama. They do eight to ten of these trips a year, mainly to South and Central America. Each trip goes to new villages.

Would I do it again. Yes. Without a doubt. I will always have the opportunity to work on athletes’ feet. And I love doing that. This was different. I touched feet and touched lives. My faith is important to me and as a Christian, I needed to do this trip.

Something else I observed is worth saying too. We saw no beggars or panhandlers. People of all ages worked. Children helped with their younger siblings. They worked in the fields alongside their parents. Their parents worked – in fact even old people worked. Life for people in these villages is very simple. You work to survive. Every child told us they had cows, chickens, pigs and sheep. They go to school and they work after school. They were happy, as most children are, playing with simple toys. In retrospect, if more Americans had the opportunity to visit a third world country, they would appreciate their home and lives even more.

In my next I will return to discussing a new aspect of foot care.

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