A Survey About Feet From The 2012 Amazon Jungle Marathon

Vicky Kypta is the Medical Team Manager for the Jungle Marathon, which starts October 6 in the Amazon in Brazil. Last year she did an informal survey of the participants and the results are interesting. The race lasts seven days and goes through the jungle on pre-existing paths, trails, and tracks with natural obstacles to pass including streams and shallow rivers. This leads to feet that are constantly wet.

Jungle Marathon foot care

Jungle Marathon foot care

This is the race that I will be at in a few days.

Vicky shared the results of the questionnaire and commented it was quite interesting, although the sample group was quite small. There were about 30 participants.

Here are some of the findings:

  • 77% of the respondents wore Injinji socks
  • 100% of those NOT wearing Injinji sock got blisters
  • 46% of those wearing Injinji sock got blisters: out of those 50% were on the balls of the foot and 50% were on the toes. Those who had blisters on their toes all wore shoes in their normal size.

Out of those with no blisters:

  • 100% wore Injinji socks
  • 100% wore shoes one size larger
  • 75% applied some form of anti-friction compound to their feet; i.e. Body Glide, 2nd Skin or Zinc Oxide cream
  • 75% pre-taped problem areas or hotspots

I find this interesting and wonder what we will find with the 78 participants next week. The Jungle Marathons are well run and the staff tells runners to train with wet feet. They have found this results in less foot problems.

The results are striking in several areas (remember this is a seven day stage race):

  1. All the runners who did not get blisters wore Injinji socks and shoes a full size larger than their normal shoes
  2. All the runners who did not wear Injinji socks got blisters
  3. Runners wearing their normal size shoes all got toe blisters
  4. The majority of blisters were on the forefoot and toes

Over the past 17 years, I have worked a lot of ultramarathons and multi-day stage races. I can honestly say that overall, feet have improved. More runners are prepared and know how to manage their feet.

When I return, I will share what we found at this year’s Amazon Jungle Marathon.

High Quality Feet Pre-Taping

August 1, 2013 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Footcare 

Over my years of taping feet, I have seen techniques improve to where pre-taping is more helpful then ever before.

Often times, in the middle of a race, one cannot take the time necessary to do a high-quality tape job. Things may be rushed. The runner may be in a huge hurry to make a cut-off. The feet and skin may be wet. Conditions may be less than ideal – lightening, set-up, workable access/angle to the feet, supplies, etc.

Bad Tape Job

Bad Tape Job

However, before a race, a hike, or run, there is more time to do a high quality pre-tape job. It’s also the time to practice your skills and learn how to do a really good tape job. The first photo here shows a pretty poor tape job on toes. In this photo, the tape will probably peel off from sock changes and general wear. If any one of the pieces comes off, the now untapped toe will be subject to the roughness of the tape on the neighboring toe. It looks like Leukotape, which sticks well, but does not conform to the curves of toes and other places on the foot. It is possible to do a great tape job on toes with Leukotape – but it take time and practice. I must admit I like Leukotape for certain conditions and tape jobs.

Bogies taped right foot after 157 miles

Bogies taped right foot after 157 miles


A good, high-quality pre-tape job should hold up well, for several days if necessary, and cared for. In this next photo, you can see the right foot of Bogie Dumitrescu after finishing a solo, self-supported crossing of Death Valley followed by up and down to Mt Whitney. You can see how the tape has held for 157 miles in the extremes of Death Valley. It’s hot on the valley floor, but there are two long uphill’s climbs followed by long downhill’s over two passes. An 11-mile trail hike follows that up to and another 11 back down Whitney. The tape job held for 157 miles! In fact it looks perfect.

The tape is Kenesio-Tex on the heels, balls of the feet and big toes. Hypafix tape is used in a figure eight cut to anchor the tape at the forward edge of the ball of the foot, between the toes, and anchored again on top of the foot. This prevents the forward edge of the tape from rolling.

Bogie's feet after 157 miles!

Bogie’s feet after 157 miles!

The next photo shows Bogie’s two feet after the tape was removed. No blisters. One of the reasons the tape held is that Bogie managed his feet well. He kept them as dry as possible. This is important in Death Valley where often Badwater runners get their feet wet when they are sprayed or doused with water in an effort to cool them.

Bogie was fortunate to have his feet taped by Denise Jones, the Badwater Blister Queen. Denise is a master at taping feet and does a precision tape job. This is not a 30-minute tape job. It takes as long as it takes to do it right. Denise and I tape almost identically. If we apply a piece of tape and it looks or feels wrong, we remove it and retape. Our aim is to get the runners on the course and able to finish with good feet.

Danny's Feet Taped Before Badwater

Danny’s Feet Taped Before Badwater

The point of this blog post is to show a good tape job that can hold up over multiple days. The final photo shows Danny Westergaard’s feet that Denise taped for Badwater three weeks ago. Danny’s feet are taped perfectly. You can see the small strip of Hypafix that Denise wrapped around Danny’s big toes to further secure the tape edges.

I commend Bogie and Danny for their runs. Bogie completed his solo self-supported Badwater crossing the week before the official Badwater ultramarathon. Danny completed his 7th Badwater, went to the summit of Whitney and then reversed direction and went back to the start for his 7th Badwater Double.

And I commend Denise Jones for her care of runner’s feet.  She’s a class act. Thanks Denise.

Kinesio, Leukotape and Hypafix tapes, as well as Compound Tincture of Benzoin and other foot care supplies are available at Zombierunner.com.

Disclosure: When you purchase through this link, I make an affiliate small amount of each sale.

Feet from the Barkley Marathon

April 19, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Sports 

The Barkley Marathon is considered one of the toughest 100-mile races in the world. It has 59,100 feet of climb (and 59,100 feet of descent), more than any other 100-mile race. Since the race began in 1986, only 13 runners out of about 900 have finished within the 60-hour cutoff.

The Barkley consists of 5 20-mile loops with no aid except for water at two points. The cutoffs for the 100 mile race are 12 hours per loop. The 60 mile “fun run” has a cutoff of 40 hours, or 13:20 per loop. To prove you completed each loop, you must find 9 to 11 books (varies) at various points along the course and return a page from each book.

I read a few of the reports of this year’s race held on March 31 and I looked through hundreds of race photos taken by Geoff Baker. Geoff was kind enough to send me a few photos of feet – and legs from Barkleys. Here is Geoff’s contact information. Geoffrey Baker Photography. and a page from his website showing the competitors - ‘Out There’ at the Barkley: Portraits From the Edge of Endurance.

Thanks Geoff. And now, here are a few photos.

Forced To Quit

Forced To Quit

Barkley Feet

Barkley Feet









Three Lap Legs

Three Lap Legs













The legs tell a story

The legs tell a story



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.

Vibram FiveFinger Injuries

October 24, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health 

I received a comment on a recent blog post about runners wearing Vibram FiveFingers. Debra Martin, MSPT, CLT, sent me a link to an article on “Injury Report from the Sump Jump.”

“It was thrilling to see almost 800 people run off from the starting line at this year’s Stump Jump 50Km event. Overall the injuries were few, considering the number of people out there. But there were a few patterns that were noteworthy, so here is a summary for you to learn from in preparing for your next trail race!

We actually had a line waiting for wound care after the 11 mile race due to the scraped up knees, with a few palm and finger cuts for good measure – just a matter of going fast on a technical trail here. I was very pleased that there were few twisted ankles throughout the day! I hope that was the result of trail runners working on their balance and ankle strength over the past few months and not just plain luck.

The toe injuries I saw came from people wearing – can you guess? Vibram FiveFingers shoes during the race. One person jammed their toe against a rock, twice, and has a possible fracture at the base of his toe. The other either dislocated or fractured his little toe when it split on the other side of a bush/tree.

You can find my notes on barefoot running/wearing Vibrams on the wall of this Facebook page. Yes, wearing these shoes can build strength in your ankle and foot.  However, racing in them on technical trails… well, these injuries can happen. The bad part is that you will need to keep moving with a toe swelling up in it’s little compartment, and it will be used to help you push off and “grab” the terrain for the rest of the race. Just something to keep in mind when choosing footwear for your next race!”

Injury Report from the Sump Jump


I suspect this is a foretelling of injuries to come. Sure, runners get injured all the time. But when one changes their footwear to Vibrams, they need to be aware of the trail even more than other runners wearing shoes.

Barefoot and Minimalist Footwear Advice

Take the time to learn how to “read” the trail. Learn how to react to rocks and roots and other common obstacles. Learn how to change your stride mid-stride to avoid turning an ankle. Learn to be patient and don’t do too much too soon.

When venturing barefoot onto trails or even on pavement, you should take a few precautions. Start slowly with short barefoot excursions to give your feet time to adjust. Your feet are used to the support and cushioning of shoes, and going without will make a sudden change. Be attentive to the conditions of the path underfoot. Your feet can be cut or punctured by debris on the road or trail. If you want to run barefoot, start by walking.

Walking and running barefoot can be an excellent way to condition your feet in order to prevent blisters when you do wear boots or shoes. Your skin will be tougher and you may develop calluses. Yet, be forewarned: this is no guarantee that you will not get blisters. Remember that when it is raining, the moisture will soften the skin on your feet. That’s a good time to switch to one of the minimalist shoes.

Aside from the possibility of cutting your feet on glass or metal, if you have any cuts or open skin on your feet you run the risk of picking up an infection. Another concern is skin that calluses over. These calluses can split into fissures, or cracks in the skin. This opens the inner layers of skin to a greater risk of infection. If you step on something sharp and get a puncture wound, seek medical care. Puncture wounds typically close up and this seals any debris, germs, or contaminants inside the wound. If you choose to go barefoot it’s smart to take care of your feet. There is no point in getting an infection through carelessness.

After reading about all the possible injuries from going barefoot, you may be worried. Going barefoot may be the goal of many athletes, but in reality, wearing minimalist shoes will provide protection and enhance the “barefoot” experience. Tellman Knudson likes FiveFingers, especially for people who:

  • Don’t want to deal with the pain of running barefoot
  • Want to minimize the risk of stepping on something that could hurt them
  • Run on hot surfaces where their feet would roast without protection
  • Are in the process of transitioning from running in “normal shoes” to running barefoot

Remember that switching to barefoot running or minimalist footwear does not mean you can’t ever run in shoes again. Many athletes employ a combination of barefoot or minimalist and shoes. Running minimalist helps focus on good form, and for many, will reduce injuries. If you want or need something more substantial than FiveFingers, consider using one of the minimalist shoes such as Inov-8, Nike Free, Newton, New Balance 800, or Terra Plana. These replicate the free and natural flexible motions of your feet better than the usual running shoe.

The above advice is part of the new chapter on barefoot running in the January release of the fifth edition of Fixing Your Feet.

Duct Tape Bandages – Perfect for Quick Patches

February 22, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Footcare 

Many athletes have used Duct tape on their feet. Newer and better tapes have become my favorite, but I know many still patch their feet with or pretape with Duct tape. Now 3M has come out with a Nexcare 3M Duct Tape Bandages made of real duct tape with a medical grade adhesive. The heavy duty durability of duct tape is a plus. These are a bit longer length for large fingers (or toes). The bandages are latex free, sized at 1 in. x 3.60 in. – 20 to a pack. Retail price is $4.99.


3M's Duct Tape Bandage

3M's Duct Tape Bandage

I could see these as a temporary patch over a hot spot or blister. My only concern, common to all Band-aids, is that the area of the gauze is the weak point with such a small bit of tape on the outside edges. I will get a box and try them. In the meantime, I see these as a good choice to put in a baggie to carry in a fanny pack on the trail, or pin one or two your bib number in a race – just in case you need a quick blister patch. You can easily find these with a Google search.

Blog Update

Some of you may have noticed that I have been making the same post on my Happy Feet blog and my Fixing Your Feet Ezine hosted at TypePad – and on my new FixingYour Feet Blog here. I am trying to move away from the two TypePad hosted sites into one. There have been some problems uploading everyone’s emails. Please bear with me and I will keep you posted on the process.

A Small Irritant Under Your Foot

January 29, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Sports 


One grain of sand!

One grain of sand!

Last week we were in Palm Desert and spent a day as spectators at the PGA Bob Hope Golf Classic. How does this relate to foot care? Read on.


Between one of the holes was a patch of sand where we had to walk to get to another green. As we walked across the sand, I must have picked up a few grains of sand. I didn’t notice it at first. We stood around, watching several rounds of golfers come through. Occasionally we moved back and forth between the 16th green to the tee box on the 17th hole – maybe 50 yards.

Then I felt an irritant in my right shoe. It was a small sharp pain under my heel.  Not a big thing, but an irritant nonetheless. I ignored it but it made its presence know every time I walked. Finally I removed the shoe and found one small grain of sand. One grain!

Time after time, we find junk in our shoes and too often we ignore it. Over time, this junk, sand, dirt, a small stone, leaf, or piece of a branch, can cause trouble – for which you’ll pay. A hot spot, a blister, a tear in the sock, or a tear in the insole covering. Or, even worse, we alter our gait – and one thing leads to another – and our knee, hip, or back starts to hurt.

Maybe this seems like a no-brainer, but I have seen athletes suffer because of ignoring this advice. If you feel something in your shoe – stop and remove it. Your feet will be happier.

Safe Feet Equals Safe Body

January 9, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

Winter is here and with it
comes cold, rain, mud, hail, sleet, snow, mud, slush, and ice – all of which
can contribute to unsafe walking and running conditions.

Select the right footwear
for whatever your activity will be. That may seem simple, but it is easy to
forget our footwear choices. Whether you are outside for work, pleasure, or sport,
make sure you are attentive to the conditions of where you walk or run. One
slip can ruin an otherwise good day. None of us wants a sprained ankle, twisted
knee, or even worse, a fall resulting in a broken bone, hip, back, or head
injury. Falls are more common in the winter because of weather conditions and
the shorter hours of daylight.

Wear sensible shoes. Wear
shoes or boots with good tread. Many times shoes made for everyday wear become slippery
in wet conditions.

Take care to choose footwear
that keeps your feet dry and warm. Good socks are also part of the bigger picture.

Take care of your feet with
good choices of “winter-ready” footwear to keep your feet and your body safe
this winter.

Happy New Year From Happy Feet

January 1, 2009 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

2009 has ushered itself in
and with it comes hope for many people. Our world is changing and it is my hope
that 2009 will be a good year for you. And of course, I hope 2009 will be a
good year for your feet too!

I have just completed a
redesign of
FixingYourFeet.com and New Years day is a good day to roll it out
to my readers. Check out the new site. There are new articles, a blister video,
product links and foot links, related books, and more. If you would like to
read an article on a specific topic, please
send me an email.

In the months ahead, I plan
on adding more articles, and based on feedback, even more features. I hope to
one day incorporate this Happy Feet blog with my
Fixing Your Feet E-zine into
one link on

Now, here is my New Year’s foot
care tip. Winter brings drier air to our homes. Make sure you use a moisturizing lotion on your feet to keep the skin soft and supple. Taking a few moments once
or twice a week will go a long ways top having healthy feet when Spring

Once again, happy New Year
from Happy Feet.

Merry Christmas from Happy Feet

December 25, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

I wish all my readers a Merry Christmas. This is the day to spend with family and loved ones. I pray you have been blessed in this past year. Our home is decorated outside with lights and over 40 Precious Moments figures – angels, the nativity, the wise men, and more. It even spreads over into the neighbor's yard. Two angels are on the chimney, and a six-foot star stands 15 feet above. 

Last week a neighbor walked over and asked, "What's the star for?" It was clear he knew nothing of the Christmas story. I gave him the short version. Then when we went over with out usual Christmas cookie basket a few days later, we gave him a children's picture book of the Christmas story. I know their two children, ages 5 and 8, will now know the real reason for the season. I hope you also know and understand the Christmas story. If you have never heard the real story, here is an entertaining retelling of the Christmas story with nicely done images. 

In a few days, I will be back to tell you about the redesign of my FixingYourFeet.com website. Until then, stay safe and enjoy the Christmas and New Year's holidays. 

John Vonhof

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