Foot Care Video Ideas

January 29, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Foot Care Products 

Making a Foot Care Clinic video is one of my major objectives for 2012. I had the whole project laid out and wanted to know what others wanted to learn. Of course, I have my own ideas of what to teach, but I value the input of others. So a while back, I asked for suggestions. Here a summary of what I received.

Three Topics – I can think of 3 video topics that I would like to see covered. I’m always referring runners to your book. My experience at aid stations and answering runners’ questions tells me there are many runners that neglect basic foot care. While many runners are expert at caring for their feet, there are also many that are getting by but with the grace of God. I think a video as basic as demonstrating foot washing might be needed.
1. The Daily Routine: What the ultra runner should be doing every day to keep feet healthy and race ready.
2. The Race Routine: Preparing feet race morning or the evening before.
3. Race Emergencies: The emergency race supplies to be carried or stored in drop bags that allow the participant to be independent and successful with race foot care. Include special weather conditions. ~ Todd Baum

Blister Care – Definitely blister care, small ones to the nasty, start to finish when athlete rolls in, hows its done, tools, tricks, when to leave them alone, when to advise them to consider oh no stopping. ~ Wayne Kehr

Toe Blisters – I’d like to see a picture of toe blisters and how to tape them. The tape always seems to fall off from the toe, especially if it is the little toe. ~ Kris Martinovich

Taping – Taping would be #1–preventative. Various shoe lacing techniques to reduce pressure on tender top of the foot (skipping holes, etc.) would be helpful for hikers. ~ Susan Alcorn

Blister Popping – I’d like to see the correct way to pop a blister. ~ Patricia Carroll

Callus Care – I would very much like to know the proper treatment for reducing calluses on  the ends of my toes and the balls of the feet. I’ve tried scraping, cutting, and the Ped Egg, no luck, they keep coming back, and they hurt. ~ Margie Withrow

Hydration – A section explaining why managing hydration and electrolytes can help avoid issues in the feet! ~ George Miller

Toenail Care – How about proper nail trimming and filing of the nail tip “forward” so there is no ridging to catch sock? ~ Rocky Shon

Taping, Blister Care, Toenails and Calluses – I really love the idea of a Foot Care Video. Obviously, as you mentioned, various taping techniques are a “must” when it comes to the content. I would also like to see proper treatment of blisters both on the trail and after the run at home. Another topic could be best preparation of toenails as well as calluses for ultra events. I am sure that you had those topics already on your list, but I just wanted to make sure that they are indeed covered. ~ Harald Vaessin

Specific Taping Techniques – I’d opt for some demonstration of how to properly tape one’s feet with Leukotape. I taped some sore areas early on the John Muir Trail last August, found I couldn’t remove the tape a couple days later and ended up tearing, cutting holes in my toes to get the damn tape off!  I successfully completed the trail in 17 days but did suffer because of my apparent taping errors. ~ John Cusick

Plantar Fasciitis – Information on how to deal with plantar fasciitis. ~ Ed Werner

Honestly, a few of the ideas were ones that were not on my list. I envision this as a tool to teach athletes stuff that is hard to describe in print. Taping is a prime example. It’s hard to fully grasp the concept of taping toes without a series of pictures. That’s where a video will shine.

As this project evolves, my readers will receive updates and will have more opportunities for input. If you have not sent me you idea and want to be heard, please comment below.

AFX – Ankle Foot maXimizer – Part I

January 12, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Health, Sports 

Message from John: This guest blog post is the first of several parts about the AFX, the Ankle Foot maXimizer. This is a new strengthening system that enables you to strengthen the muscles and tendons of the entire foot and ankle complex.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

By Matt Ferguson, MA, Medical Technology Development Professional

I hate to be the bearer of bad news however, I have to tell you that despite the fact that you run / hike / adventure race / walk, chances are that you have very weak feet.

I know, I know, your first reaction is: ‘what? That is impossible! I have logged thousands of miles over all kinds of terrain, been blistered, battered and bruised, ripped more rubber off the bottom of shoes than most NASCAR drivers do off tires, and YOU are telling me my feet are weak?’

Yes, I am. And yes, they are.

You see, during the process of attaining those impressive achievements, you likely wore well-supported shoes that had a firm sole, and competed in one direction: forwards. Even if you have transitioned to minimalist / barefoot and you have a stronger ‘base’, logging all of those miles in a forward direction still means that you are likely relatively weak in toe flexion, lateral (side to side) and dorsiflexion (toes towards shin) movements.

Therefore, to stay injury-free and get the most out of your favorite sport, you need to be actively strengthening and stretching your feet and lower leg muscles. If not, you could be in for a world of hurt. That is, if you aren’t hurting already…. c’mon, how is that plantar fascia? Shin splits doing okay? Achilles flaring-up? And how about further up the kinetic chain with knees, hips and back?

The fact is that with over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments, your feet and ankles can be an incredible source of strength, stability, balance, agility, and power. But they need to be strong and mobile.

Do We Really Have Weak Feet and Ankles?

Ankle plantarflexion: not engaging the toe flexors and intrinsic muscles of the foot. Strong toe flexors and other intrinsic foot muscles are vital for foot stability. Research is indicating that the toe flexors play a significant role in supporting the plantar fascia.

So why am I so confident that you have weak feet? In addition to the scientific research, we see proof of weakness and limited range of motion every time we have a booth at a marathon or similar running event. We do hundreds of demos and the response from runners is always the same: they confidently strap on the AFX – Ankle Foot maXimizer and with smug pride easily perform ankle plantarflexion.

Plantarflexion with toe flexion: by flexing the toes and arching the foot, you not only engage the intrinsic muscles of the foot but you will feel the resistance in your Achilles tendon and your calf muscle.





I smile, acknowledge they are “strong like bull” and then say (also smugly), ‘okay, for this rep I want you to curl your toes and arch your foot so that you engage the intrinsic muscles’. The first thing that we see is what the AFX team refers to affectionately as ‘that face’: the scrunched-up ‘OMG I forgot I had muscles there’ face.







Eversion: helps with ankle stability and the prevention of lateral (or inversion) ankle sprains, which are the most common type of ankle sprain.



Repeat this same process with scrunched-up face for lateral movements (inversion & eversion).









Dorsiflexion: strengthens the shins, critical in the prevention of shin splints.



Then repeat it for dorsiflexion and toe extension.


Tongue-in-cheek commentary aside, the unfortunate fact is that most athletes have significant deficits in their foot and ankle strength, and range of motion. These weaknesses and limited range can cause a host of problems including the aforementioned (and dreaded) plantar fasciitis, shin splints, Achilles issues, ankle sprains, and the list goes on.




What to Do?

So what do you do? I gave you the bad news at the beginning of the article, so here is the good news: by adding some foot and ankle strengthening to your training and seeking a little bit of education, you have a much greater chance of staying injury free, and improving your performance.

Prior to the development of AFX, if you wanted to strengthen your feet and ankles you were resigned to using makeshift equipment and conducting modified movements on exercises equipment. Rubber banding that slid down the arch or flew off the foot, scrunching a towel with your toes, picking up marbles, etc. The end result was programs that were too complex, confusing and not effective.

The AFX was developed to not only address all these issues, but to also enable more advanced training such as eccentric loading and fast concentrics – all from one comfortable seated position!

Foot and Ankle Strengthening

We know that you want to be outside doing what you love vs. being inside doing a strengthening program, so we’ve made the AFX effective and as easy-to-use; 8 to10 minutes a foot three times a week… and it is even portable so you can strap it on to your hydration pack and do your reps on a mountain top! Add to your workout some simple barefoot exercises like 1-leg deadlift, side-to-side ankle hops, and balance exercises on a Bosu.


Foot and ankle health is also about biomechanics, and not just the biomechanics below the knee, but the pelvis and core play a huge roll. Spend some time with a qualified running specialist to see how you can improve your overall posture. This will not only help you stay injury free, but will also improve your efficiency which is critical for endurance sports.

So the next time you are about to lace-up those new fancy $100 – $200 shoes or boots, think about the feet you are sliding in to them. Are they strong? Are they mobile? In your quest for conquering new challenges and achieving PB’s, are you taking care of the two things that are going to carry you to glory? When you put AFX to work, you’re harnessing a source of strength you never knew you had.

About Progressive Health Innovations

Progressive Health Innovations develops user-friendly and affordable products for the rehabilitation, sports medicine and fitness markets. The first product line is the AFX, a foot and ankle-strengthening technology for the athletic training, injury prevention and physical rehabilitation markets. Developed over five years in close collaboration with practitioners and researchers across the health and fitness spectrum, the AFX is the brain-child of three inventors: Matt Ferguson, MA, Medical Technology Development Professional; Rick Hall, MSc., Kinesiologist; and Dr. Jordan Myers, Chiropractor.

John’s Disclosure: I have no financial interest in the AFX.

Rough Country Gaiters – a Review

January 6, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Footwear Products 

For years I have been a strong advocate for gaiters if you are doing trails. In fact, it has been one of my “absolutes” – things I believe you must do. This post is a review of the Rough Country Gaiters. Most gaiters follow the same design. They cover the top of the shoe and go up to the top of the ankle. The

Rough Country Gaiters cover the whole shoe

Rough Country Gaiters covering the whole shoe

benefit of Rough Country Gaiters over the typical design is how they cover from the top of the ankle to the bottom of the shoe. The beauty of this design is how they cover the shoe’s upper. With so many shoes’ uppers being made of mesh, this design, when correctly applied to the shoe, will keep all dust, dirt, and sand out of the shoe. Period.

Jay Batchen, of Dream Chaser Events, recently talked about Rough Country gaiters. I had been set a pair to try and decided to ask Jay for his opinion and a few questions about the gaiters.

Jay responded, “Having done the Marathon des Sables (MDS) nine times, and volunteering at two others, I have seen many different brands and configurations of gaiters for the desert environment. Here’s a great recap a friend provided after using the Rough Country model at this year’s MDS; I ran with him for the better part of three days and heard many of the same things from others in our group.

The Rough Country Gaiters have the same basic shape as the Raidlight Gaitors. The material used by the Rough Country gaiters is thicker that some other gaiters and is more resilient to tearing as a result. The Rough Country gaiters have an additional seam around the bottom edge where the Velcro attaches. There is an elastic cord that runs through the seam and exits the gaiter through a metal eyelet on one side of the gaiter. The elastic can be pulled tight and run underneath the shoe and connect to a hook on the other side of the gaiter. If you are running on anything other than deep sand, however, the elastic under the shoe can be cut by sharp terrain (i.e., rocks).”

The Rough Country Gaiters are shipped with strips of Velcro that can be sewn or glued to the shoe’s sole. Jay says, “It’s best to have a shoe cobbler sew the Velcro strip along the perimeter of the shoe’s sole, where the sole meets the upper. The key is to make sure the Velcro is as low as it can be in this area so sand cannot get under the gaiter. Be careful that having the Velcro sewn on doesn’t change the fit of the shoe or pinch an area of the toe box so it chinches the area and causes fit problems.”

Another important key is to apply glue to the Velcro strip before sewing it to the sole. He stresses that sewing the Velcro to the sole is the most important point to making the gaiters work. Using glue alone will not work well, especially in a multi-day race. The constant daily abuse of rocks, shrubs, burrs, and sand puts more pressure on the gaiters than the glue will allow.

Jay is quick to point out that he tells people he knows to not just glue the gaiters on – and every year someone shows up whose has not had the gaiters sewn on. They always have problems as described.

Jay’s friend wrote, “The first day of the 2011 MDS was the dune day and I wore the Rough Country Gaiters. The sand would enter the gaiters through the metal eyelets on the sides, and fill the seams. The seams started to balloon out from the sand and it looked like I was running with small hula-hoops on the bottom sides of my shoes. Once the seams ballooned out, the Velcro under the seam of the gaiters started separating from the Velcro sewn on the shoes. This made me carry the extra weight of the sand in the seam through the run and I was constantly adjusting the gaiters through the dunes.”  

Jay said for this reason, he didn’t think the Rough Country design lends itself well to an environment with deep sand. It seems that it would perform better when the majority of the terrain is comprised of rocks and scree.

Rough Country Gaiter eyelet's

Sew a seam to isolate the eyelet's on the bottom side of the gaiters

I have provided foot care at several desert races and like the Rough Country Gaiters for the full-shoe coverage and sand control. So, I would find a way to make them work for these conditions. Here’s my suggestion to control sand going into the seam. The gaiters have a pair of eyelets on each side for the cord going under the arch of the shoe. As you can see in the image here, the eyelets are in the middle of about a 3/8-inch strip, which we will call the seam. My idea is really simple. Have a friend with a sewing machine stitch up and down on the outside of the pair of eyelets. Use quality thread and stitch up and down a number of times. Then run a dab of Super Glue over the threads on both sides of the gaiter. This effectively seals both side of the seam from sand coming in the eyelets.

Eric LaHaie, in a review on the Racing The Planet webpage for Rough Country Gaiters, gives a good suggestion for using the strap, “… when the elastic strap is pulled under the shoe, it tightens the cord that goes around the gaiter and can make the toe of the gaiter peel off the Velcro more easily. Therefore, I recommend using the strap only in emergencies, like if the Velcro starts to come off the inside sole of the shoe. Leaving the strap off leaves the metal eyelets even more exposed.”

I asked Jay about changing socks and whether it’s much of a bother to undo the gaiters on the shoe’s Velcro. He responded, “I don’t think it’s a big deal to work a sock change, but I’m used to the system. I believe it’s worth the effort since the design of the gaiters keeps the sand out.”

On the questions of whether the top could it be loose on someone with a small ankle/calf, Jay had this answer. “It’s possible that it could be too loose (or too tight) on some people. On average folks they should be fine. I’ve seen people add an additional strap if they’re too small.”

They are made of thicker material (80% nylon, 20% Spandex) then other gaiters so they may not breathe as well as lighter weight gaiters. If the temperatures are really hot, the heat buildup inside the gaiter could lead to heat rash on the foot and ankle, and even hot spots. The trade-off is lighter-weight material can tear or torn easier by rocks and branches.

In my opinion, gaiters are a “must” for those doing trails. Rough Country Gaiters would be my pick for an event where one needs protection from sand and dirt that get under most other gaiters. The usual style of gaiters that most runners use go from the ankle over the top of the shoe – but not down to the sole. That style allows sand and dirt, and trail dust, to get into the mesh uppers, which most shoes today are made of. It then gets inside on the socks – and then on the skin. The sand will lead to irritation of the skin as it rubs against the skin. Dirt will lead to the same thing, but not as fast. The best way to keep sand and dirt out of your shoes and socks is to wear a good pair of gaiters. Rough Country Gaiters will do that better than other gaiters.

Racing the Planet sponsors unique, rough country footraces that take place in remote and culturally rich locations around the world. The events consist of the 4 Deserts, an annual series of 250-kilometer footraces in the Atacama Desert of Chile, the Gobi Desert of China, the Sahara Desert of Egypt, and Antarctica, and a 250-kilometer roving footrace that moves to a new location each year. Previous year’s roving races have been held in Vietnam, Australia, Nepal, and Namibia. The 2012 roving race will be in Jordan. In 2004, I worked medical doing foot care at the Atacama Desert event. I know many athletes who have done their events and highly recommend them. Check them out at

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