The Best of Fixing Your Feet’s Blog 2016

Over the course of a year, a lot has been written and reviewed in this blog. Some of the articles stick out as better than others, and I’m sure you’ll agree that’s true. So to end 2016, I want to pull out what I consider the best Fixing Your Feet blog posts of the year. We’ll start with January and work through the months. grab a cup of coffee or a beer and give them a read.

January

Making Overlapping Toe Separators – Part 1. This problem is more common than you think.

Making Overlapping Toe Separators – Part 2. After you read Part 1, read this part 2.

February

Terri Schneider’s Interview about Foot Care, from her book Dirty Inspirations. Great advice from an amazing athlete.

March

The Science of Ultra Interviews me About Foot Care. This was a fun and informative interview.

April

Providing Foot Care for Athletes. A new sustainable method of providing foot care for athletes.

May

A Pep Talk on the 6P’s of Foot Care. A good approach that athletes need to understand. It builds on the Providing Foot Care for Athletes above.

A Thru-Hikers Story About Bad Feet. An interesting story we can all learn from.

June

12 Foot Care Tips for Success at 100’s. This is relevant year-round.

July

Thru-Hikers Feet – an Update to May’s Thru-Hikers Story About Bad Feet article above.

Fixing Your Feet 6th Edition Available. The new edition is fully loaded and updated.

September

Gator Tip Toes for Cold Toes. Important for this time of the year.

October

Moxie Gear Shin Gaiters. Good gaiters and shin gaiters for trail runners.

November

Green Goo Salve for Feet. A great product for your feet.

December

Ellsworth V Channel Socks. The best socks I’ve seen in years.

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So after all that – 2017 looms ahead. Get ready. Train hard and smart, and above all, learn how to give your feet the care they deserve. Thank you for your support and encouragement throughout the years.

Ellsworth V Channel Socks

This past May, I wrote a blog post that talked about several new sock designs that had caught my attention. One of the new designs was from Ellsworth. Don Dahlgren, of Ellsworth & Company, read my post and reached out with an offer to try a pair of his socks.

Don says about his V Channel socks, “I designed the V Channel construction specifically to deal with moisture buildup inside of the shoe or boot. For years, all sock companies have tried to deal with moisture by using different fibers or yarns.  I simply didn’t feel that method went far enough. Moisture will always follow the path of least resistance to escape, thus, I created three dimensional channel construction with two elevations. One for cushioning and the other flat knit for least resistance to allow moisture to escape. Much like a rain tire disburses water from the underneath of a tire.

Ellsworth Sock Construction

Ellsworth Sock Construction

Ellsworth also says that, “The V Channels create a passageway or a “path of least resistance” for sweat to escape from under the foot. With every step, air carrying sweat vapor is forced though the V-Channels keeping the foot drier, which in turn reduces blisters and enhances performance.

Yes, that caught my eye too. Anything that potentially reduces blister formation is good – and drier is good.

I was sent a pair of the Light Hiker Quarter height socks. I use the socks running and cycling and am impressed with their performance. I like the softness and thickness of the socks and when removing the socks, notice my feet are drier to the touch. The V Channels have not compressed over time or with repeated washings. They are still doing their job of creating a channel or path to move moisture away from the skin. I wear them instead of my Smartwool socks and have found them to be warm in the cold, yet when wearing them in the summer and fall heat, my feet felt fine.

Taking their advice, I turned my pair inside out and could see the differences of thicknesses in the V Channel areas of the sock. The V Channels are actually visible from both the inside and outside. The toe is seamless, another great point,

Ellsworth V Channel socks

Ellsworth V Channel socks

and the inside is free of extra bits of yarn that can cause problems. I also like the non-slip top, or cuff, of the socks. An added bonus is the nice arch support woven into the sock with mesh instep areas on top of the foot.

My daughter also tried a pair of the same socks. She reports they fit really well and did not bunch up, and were very comfortable and soft. With other socks she noticed her feet were damp when removing the socks, but with Ellsworth, they wicked well and her feet did not feel damp.

Using fibers like wool or synthetics to move moisture away from the skin is what most socks claim to do. Ellsworth is the first sock company I am aware of that uses sock design to further enhance the work of the fibers.

On the Ellsworth website, there’s several videos worth watching. One is a dye test that shows their socks had roughly 50% more wool that remained dry then competitor socks. The other is a thermal imaging test that showed the V Channels moved moisture faster and more efficiently that others socks while also cooling faster.

Ellsworth makes the V Channel socks with merino wool, nylon and spandex – and they are made in the U.S. The socks are currently available in a Hiker, Light Hiker Crew, Light Hiker Quarter height, and Light Hiker Double Tab low cut. Prices currently range from $15 to $22 per pair. The socks come with a lifetime guarantee.

Ellsworth has spent the last four years selling their sock exclusively to the U S Military. The results and feedback have been excellent. They have been in the footwear industry for 40 years.

I give Ellsworth’s V Channel socks five stars and a big thumbs up.

I encourage you to check out Ellsworth’s V Channel socks at EllsworthAndCompany.com. I know you’ll find the socks comfortable, well cushioned, and with their unique V Channel design, your feet will be drier and in excellent condition.

I love what Pete Dahlgren, the president of Ellsworth, said in one of their blog posts, “Our passion is socks. Step in and experience that passion, and feel the difference.” The passion made the difference that led to the creation of V Channel socks.

Tread Labs Insoles – A Review

Tread Labs Insoles - deep heel cup

Tread Labs Insoles – deep heel cup

A while back I was sent a pair of Tread Labs insoles to try. Their Stride Orthotic Insoles offer the medical grade support of an orthotic with a strong deep heel cup giving biomechanical support, and a cushioned open cell polyurethane foam top for comfort. The combination arch supports and interchangeable cushioned foam tops combine for a high-quality insole that will last for miles and hold up under repeated uses.

The Stride Insoles have a 4mm cushioned top while the Stride Thin has a cushioned foam top that’s 2mm thick. The Stride Short is a half-length style designed for footwear without removable insoles and has a 2mm top.

Tread Labs cushioned foam tops

Tread Labs cushioned foam tops

The tops fit nicely into the molded hard plastic heel support, adhering to the Velcro in the support. It’s easy to remove the tops, either to substitute a different thickness top or replace a worn pair. The low-friction tops keep your feet cooler and reduce the chance of blisters. In addition, the open cell polyurethane foam lasts 5X longer than the more commonly used EVA foam in other insoles. As an added bonus, the polyester top covers feature PURE antimicrobial technology to kill 99.9% of the bacteria found on our feet. The tops can be purchased independently for when the top covers eventually wear out or you want a different thickness.

Tread Labs heel and arch support

Tread Labs heel and arch support

Going to the Tread-Labs website to look at their product line takes me to a page where I select the type of insole I am interested in: cycling, golf, hiking, running, skiing, tennis, and trail running. Each page describes a bit about why orthotics/insoles are important for that activity. Sizes for both men and women are in similar increments of 1.5-size range (i.e., 10-11.5, etc.). There are four arch heights: low, medium, high and extra high, with explanation of each type. They offer individualized help and will even send two pair – keep the one that fits and return the other.

Finding your fit involves five steps: male or female, foot size, arch height, what kinds of shoes they will be used in, and whether the shoes have a removable insole. You are then shown the best insole for your needs.

Tread Labs’ design gives users the ability to custom choose their arch type and size, and the thickness of the cushioned top.

I like these insoles for many reasons:

Tread Labs rigid deep heel cup

Tread Labs rigid deep heel cup

  1. The deep heel cups hold your heels securely. This, combined with the rigid arch support gives excellent stabilization and shock-absorption.
  2. The ability to replace just the cushioned top will save you money over the long run instead of having to purchase a whole new pair of insoles.
  3. The ability to interchange the 2mm and 4mm cushioned tops is a great benefit for athletes. As an example, in the summer, use the 4mm top with lighter weight socks and in the colder winters, change to the thinner 2mm tops to accommodate thicker warmer socks or two pair of socks. You may also want more cushion later in a long race or hike or different cushion for different running surfaces.
  4. The 2mm and 4mm tops are flat until put into the arch support. This means you could use one of these under the full insole to fill more volume in the shoe, important for multi-day races or hikes where you initially need more volume in the shoes – but later need less as your feet swell or you change to different thicknesses of socks.
  5. The four arch heights will ensure you’ll find the right one for your feet. With their customized support, you can call for help and get their advice, and even two pair to make sure you get the best one (sending the other one back).
  6. Using these insoles and holding them in my hands, I can see and feel the high quality in their design and construction.

Tread Labs orthotic insoles are guaranteed in two ways:

  • 30-day fit guarantee – Try the insoles in any of your shoes for 30 days. If they don’t improve your comfort and alignment, send them back for a full refund. Return shipping included.
  • Sure-footed warranty – Everything they sell has a lifetime warranty against defects in workmanship. Molded arch supports are unconditionally guaranteed. Forever.

These are very unique insoles and I like them a lot. Wearing Tread Labs insoles in my running shoes showed me how comfortable they are and how much support they gave in comparison to the regular flimsy stock insoles found in many of today’s shoes.

Check them out at TreadLabs.com.

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