Patching Heel Counter Wear in Shoes

Holes in Heel Counter

Holes in Heel Counter

Occasionally I see runner’s shoes that have wear holes in the material in the heel counter. This picture from Dan shows his shoes with holes to the outside of center on both heels. I emailed the following suggestion.

ENGO Back of the Heel Patch

ENGO Back of the Heel Patch

I’d try an ENGO Back of Heel Patch. They are made to shape to the curve of the back of the heel counter. Put them in when the shoe is dry. Rub them a bit in a curving motion to help them form to the shape of the shoe. Then peel off the paper backing and apply from the center outwards to the sides. Rub well so they adhere to the shoe’s material. You could also try the large ovals if the hole is small. The blue ENGO patches are very slick and can take a lot of wear. Once the blue wears down to expose white, replace the patch. Sometimes the holes are on the sides of the heel.

Heel Patch in Shoe

Heel Patch in Shoe

Heel Bump

Heel Bump

Last summer at Western States, I had a runner whose shoe was rubbing her heel raw. You can see from the image that she has a prominent heel bump. This, of course, contributed to her problem. This is the kind of problem one needs to plan for before it becomes a major issue – especially at the event the magnitude of Western States.

Cut Shoe Heel

Cut Shoe Heel

We decided to cut a notch out of the outside of her shoe’s heel. This allowed the back of the shoe to spread apart for her large heel bump. Then I applied an ENGO Back of the Heel Patch to the inside of the shoe’s heel counter. This provided some protection to her heel bump.

The large ENGO ovals can also be used when there is a small area to be covered.

I have been a fan of ENGO Blister Prevention Patches since I first discovered them years ago. The ovals are perfect for the common areas at the side of the heel where blisters form at the junction of insole and heel counter. The large rectangles are great to put on insoles underneath the ball of the foot, another common problem area.

Check out the ENGO website for more information. ENGO products are available through Zombierunner. If you are in Australia or New Zealand, ENGO products are available through Rebecca Rushton’s Blister Prevention website.

Disclosure: Tamarack Habilitation Technologies supplies me with ENGO Patches as I need them for races.

Fixing Your Feet Saves the Day

Fixing Your Feet - 5th edition

Fixing Your Feet – 5th edition

I love reading the unsolicited email and testimonials from athletes who have discovered Fixing Your Feet. They help motivate me to keep going. Here are two. The first is a simple sentence. The second is a personal story I received last week. Thanks everyone who has passed along their story.

I’m pretty sure Fixing Your Feet has saved most of us at one point. ~ an email from Deb Bosilevac.

Then Billy Pearce (husband, father of 3 boys, nurse and ultrarunner) shared his story:

My many years of ultrarunning with a three shoe size difference in feet caused by a traumatic injury as a child has always been a challenge with shoes and blisters. So I choose ultrarunning as my passion! I have had two DNF’s in the Australian classic Coast to Kosci 240km beach to Australia’s highest peak. So this year my attempt to get a finish was one of real attention to where things had gone wrong before.

This year I had my podiatrist and friend on my crew, (Brad White, from Footcare Woden, Canberra ACT Australia). I attend his clinic monthly as routine and we have planned all year for this race. Brad is also a gifted runner.

Best footcare ever. In over 42 hours 26 minutes of running I needed two stops to attend to feet – totaling less than 15 minutes for both stops! I gave him a copy of Fixing Your Feet and I think we have created a new passion for him. 

I found your work after a 48 hour race when my feet become so bad I was reduced to painful shuffle for last 24 hours then weeks of healing. I am now able to race 24 hours on a track without a scratch and as we say, “If you do not have a plan for your feet, you do not have a race plan.” Thanks heaps for the help and advice you give so freely.

Do you have the 5th edition of Fixing Your Feet? Last summer while working on feet at the Michigan Bluff aid station of Western States, a runner’s crew member came up to ask me if I’d sign his copy of Fixing Your Feet. While I signed it, I told him he had a very outdated book the 2nd edition! Every edition has gotten better and larger with a lot of new and updated information. Maybe I am biased, but the 5th edition is the best ever.

If you have older editions, you owe it to yourself to invest in the 5th edition. You can purchase it through my website, Zombierunner, and most online bookstores. At Amazon, it’s available in either print or Kindle formats.

 

 

Your Event Homework for Foot Care

Several months ago I had the good fortune to work on the medical team at the Jungle Marathon Amazon. My specific role was foot care of the 78 runners and to work with the others on the medical team to teach them good foot care techniques. I learned some things that I am calling, Your Event Homework…” By that I mean, your homework is to consider these five things that, if you learn them, can help you be more successful in the event.

Over seven days, I got to know most of the runners. The race offered a one-day, four-day, or seven-day event, and runners were required to carry all their gear and food in a backpack. Hammocks were mandatory and everyone had to carry a mandatory kit of emergency supplies. Because of all the gear and food, some runners limited their medical supplies to the most basic (read: as small as possible). Others had large plastic bins or bags of their mandatory gear. Most had planned well.

An Insole with an ENGO Patch

An Insole with an ENGO Patch

As runners came through the pre-race check-in to have the mandatory gear inspected, I talked to a lot of them about their shoes, socks, and – their feet. While doing this, I applied ENGO Blister Prevention Patches into many shoes. While I had a good supply of the patches, this would be the only time to get them into runner’s shoes. Once the race started, their shoes would be wet and the patches would not stick. I noticed that there was a good mix of shoes even though the runners were from around the world.

Then the race started.

Three miles into the race, there was a stream crossing. After that, their feet were almost always wet or full of sand or grit. Here are the five main things I saw.

  1. At the end of day one, one runner asked for help with his insoles. The sand and grit had worn holes in both heels. I could tell, however, that they were well worn even before he started. We dried out the insoles and I cut away any rough edges. Fortunately, the sun had dried the insoles enough to apply ENGO patches over the holes.
  2. Some runners had chosen shoes that were minimalist in design, and some did not hold up well in the rough trails in the jungle, where rocks, roots, and plants tore at the shoes’ uppers. Two runners’ shoes were shredded at their sides. The handiwork of one of the runners saved the shoes as he sewed the uppers back together with dental floss.
  3. Several runners had made bad choices in socks. All cotton socks have no place in any athletic event, much less anything over a 5km race. One runner in particular had low-rise cotton socks suitable for walking in the park, but not a seven-day race in the jungle. Another runner had only two pairs of socks, and the first pair had holes in both heels at the end of the first day.
  4. Some runners experienced problems with toenails that affected their race. Long nails, untrimmed nails, and nails with rough edges cause problems, which can lead to toe blisters, and black toenails.
  5. While some of the runners managed their feet by themselves, many came to the medical team day after day. While we were there to help, time and supplies were limited – especially time. Runners that can patch their own feet are ahead of the game. Some had the right supplies, while many others with small mandatory gear kits, did not have the necessary equipment. The medical team worked hard to patch feet as we could. Whenever we could, we made sure the runners saw what we were doing so they learned how to do it themselves. By the end of the race, I saw more that a few runners that were working on their feet and helping others.

Lessons to Learn:

  1. Make sure your insoles are in good shape. Many runners fail to remove their insoles and inspect they – to see if they need replacing. Most standard insoles are flimsy and should be replaced after several hundred miles. For a $25-$30 investment of new insoles, you’ll gain support and comfort. Investing in a marathon, ultramarathon, multi-day race, can be costly. Yes, there’s the money side, but there’s also the gear required, time spent in training, and travel. This is not the time to skimp on footwear. Chose good, high-quality shoes – preferably a design you have worn before and know works on your feet. And whatever you do, don’t wear old shoes that have seen better days.
  2. Invest in good, high-quality socks – new socks – not some dug out of your socks drawer that are threadbare. Find the right socks for your feet. Try Injinji socks if you have toe blister problems. Try a thin liner with a bit heavier outer sock. Try several types of socks to find the right amount of cushion and support.
  3. Learn how to care for your toenails. That means how to trim them and file them smooth so they don’t catch on socks or hit on the top or front of the shoe’s toe box.
  4. Runners can help themselves by learning how to manage their feet and treat any blisters that might develop. While some events have medical personnel and staff experienced in foot care, many don’t. Or they don’t have the best choices in supplies. Better to be prepared and know what your feet need – and how to manage your own feet. Then if there are people providing foot care, you can use them, and tell them if you need or want certain things done.

In the same way you train for an event, and invest in clothes and packs, and food, you must invest in your feet.

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.

Zederna Insoles

Zederna Insoles eliminate unpleasant foot smell, athlete’s foot and nail fungus effectively and simply. Its antibacterial works where foot odor and athlete’s foot develop.Put the thin (1/16 inch) and flexible high-quality cedarwood Zederna Insoles into your shoes. Foot odor disappears immediately and a very pleasant smell of fresh softwood remains. The new formation of athlete’s foot and nail fungus is prevented. Existing athlete’s foot fades away after a few days.

Generally foot odor and athlete’s foot do not come from sweat, which surrounds your feet. It comes from bacteria on the skin, which is decomposed by the sweat. The waste product of this decomposition leaves a very unpleasant smell and is an ideal breeding climate for athlete’s foot and nail fungus.

Zederna Insoles

Zederna Insoles

The Zederna Insole is a 100% natural product from thin cedarwood. The back consists of a stabilizing cotton layer. The sole is flexible and adapts to your foot form after a few steps. It gives you a very comfortable feeling (even if you carry orthopedic inserts). Your feet can take a deep breath nearly as liberating as walking barefoot.

Here’s how Zederna Insoles work:

  • The natural suction force of Zederna cedarwood absorbs the sweat effectively
  • The Zederna Insole and its antibacterial effect work where foot odor and athlete’s foot develop
  • Smell and fungus creating bacteria are eliminated
The Zederna Effect

The Zederna Effect

Here’s my take on the insoles. I wore a pair in my work shoes for months. My old insoles were a regular stock style and I used them because they were already in the shoes. I immediately liked the Zederna Insoles. I felt my feet were cooler and more comfortable. I liked the wood feel – my feet were not stuck to a fabric synthetic insole, but could move around on the cedarwood. Between my commute and work, I had my shoes on for 12 hours straight. The insoles were pleasant. They are perfect to use in your shoes after training.

Because they are thin, I think they could easily be used in running shoes or boots. I would wear them in training, and then, depending on the feel, I’d make the decision to wear then in a race or not.

Zederna Insole Advantages:

  • Foot odor disappears immediately!
  • Athlete’s foot disappears after a few days.
  • The new formation of athlete’s foot is permanently prevented.
  • The treatment of existing nail fungus with conventional methods is accelerated by more than 50%, because of the dry and antibacterial foot climate.
  • The new formation of toenail fungus is permanently prevented.
  • Plug & play: Just insert the insole in your shoes and start. Annoying treatments with gels and powder belongs to the past.
  • Naturopathic treatment: The effect is purely based on natural power. No chemistry.
  • As a result of the polished surface and the flexibility of the Zederna Insole, pleasant feeling arises also when wearing without socks.
  • The Zederna inserts provide a pleasant and dry climate in your shoes. Comparable to walking in a forest: in summer it is relatively cool and in winter it is always warmer.
  • Long durability of the Zederna Insoles.
  • Reliable quality – Made in Germany.
  • Comfortable subscription available.
  • Fast delivery within a few days.
  • More than 9.500 satisfied customers.
  • Money back guarantee, if you are not satisfied with our product.

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Zederna Insoles to try. Beyond that, I have no financial investment in Zederna.

Lace Anchors 2.0

February 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footwear, Footwear Products, Sports 

Some of you may have heard of Kickstarter.com. Kickstarter is a crowd funding website where people pitch ideas and others pledge to fund them. I follow the ideas and have pledged on a number of ideas. Yesterday I found Lace Anchors 2.0.

Lace Anchors are a plastic strip that goes onto your shoelaces and secures them so you don’t have to tie them. No bows means no laces coming untied.

Here is some of the text from their Kickstarter project.

Are you tired of your shoelaces? It seems as if it’s a never-ending cycle of tie and untie.  How about those of us that double knot, that makes for some fun challenges sometimes doesn’t it? Usually it’s my kid’s shoes. Shoelaces also have a mind of their own, coming undone at some of the most inconvenient times possible. It’s fun to know that you can cheat the system of tying your shoes and never have them come undone again. You may be thinking I can just tie a knot and slip my foot in and out without untying my shoes every time, while this is true, you won’t have the same consistent solid fitting shoe day after day that Lace Anchors 2.0 provides!

It seems to never fail. Just when you get warmed up and your going strong, it happens, your shoe comes untied! I may have put on a few pounds over the winter so far, but I’m a fairly frequent runner. I have put over 250 miles on a pair of my running shoes with Lace Anchors installed and the results are flawless. Your shoes always have the same consistent fit and your laces never come undone!

Lace Anchors 2.0

Lace Anchors 2.0

Installation is so easy!  Our packets will include step-by-step instructions with pictures on the back, or to make it even EASIER just watch the video below! Make sure to install the Lace Anchors 2.0 with your foot in your shoe as shown in the video, that will allow you to find the perfect fit that your looking for. This is the type of product that you will use not even realizing how simple and comfortable they make everyday life with your shoes, until you go without them.  Once you use them in one pair of shoes, you’ll be hooked!

Two questions in their FAQ section are important. First, can I run with Lace Anchors 2.0 installed? Absolutely, I ran 2-4 miles everyday for 2 months straight with my Lace Anchors 2.0 installed. For those of you that have struggled with heel slippage problems throughout your life, watch the “another option” video in the above section.

Second, are Lace Anchors 2.0 adjustable? Yes, they allow you to find the sweet spot when installing.  This means you will be able to find the fit you desire and how tight or loose you decide to make your slip-ons.  For my regular everyday use, I like my shoes to slip on and off extremely easy, for my running shoes I prefer a snug fit.

Whether for you or your children, check out this Lace Anchor Kickstarter project.

IceSpikes for your Footwear

February 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footwear, Footwear Products, Sports 

I spotted a small ad in one of my magazines that looked interesting. The product was IceSpike. They are a system of patented composite-material, cold-rolled tool quality steel, heat hardened ice spikes, which provide superior grip and long lasting durability. Their tagline is, “The ultimate non-slip shoe system, for all outdoor activities.” Of course, since it relates to footwear, I had to check it out.

IceSpike

IceSpike

IceSpikes are rated to last 10 times longer than commonly used sheet metal screws. Average runners will get 500 miles out of a set of IceSpikes. The terrain and conditions will affect the life of the spikes. Unlike other traction products, these are low profile under the shoe. The thread design is fine and sharp. The design has a wider and deeper slot to promote self-cleaning of ice and debris. Extra wide washers offer better stability on the sole of the shoe and their locking serrations that firmly anchor them to the rubber of the sole to prevent loosening of the spikes. They will not break or crack with intense cold or use.

The suggested installation is three on each side of the heel and three on the inside ball of the foot side of the shoe or boot. A tool is available to make installation easy or use a ¼ inch hex bit in your drill.

An IceSpike

An IceSpike

A package includes 32-patented IceSpikes. The deluxe package includes the installation tool. With each shoe getting 12 spikes, you’ll have eight extra spikes for replacements. Heel spikes tend to wear faster.

You’ll find that IceSpikes are a semi-permanent traction system that can be mounted on any running or walking shoe, hiking or work boot.

In case you are wondering why not just use sheet metal screws, think about this. Sheet metal screws are made of a softer material and will wear out many times faster and decrease their traction ability. The slots in sheet metal screws fill with ice and debris faster and are not self-cleaning, which affects traction. Sheet metal screws have a rough thread design.

IceSpikes received an Outside Magazine 2010 Gear of the Year award.

This is the kind of product that makes me want to find snow and ice for a run. Unfortunately, California’s central valley gets neither. If you live in a region where they make sense, I encourage you to give them a try.

One Shoe for You?

December 22, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Footwear, Footwear Products, Health 

Whether you are a runner, ultrarunner, adventure racer, thru-hiker, casual walker, or something in-between, you are probably always on the lookout for the right shoe. Maybe one of the magazines you subscribe to has a shoe issue, or occasional shoe reviews. Or maybe you scour the Internet reading reviews or pay close attention to what is written in email forums to which you subscribe. It’s the elusive search for the perfect shoe.

Wall of Shoes

Wall of Shoes

Can there be more than one shoe that is right for your feet? Are there perfect shoes? Christopher Willett went through four pairs of shoes on his 2003 Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike (2600+ miles) and bought them as he went. Wearing size 15 running shoes, he didn’t really have the option of buying from an outfitter along the trail. He would call or use the Internet from various towns along the way and have new shoes and socks sent up trail. He started in Brooks Adrenaline GTS and liked them in the hot 563-mile Southern California section. He wished the next shoe, the Asics Eagle Trail, had a more protective sole but liked the tread. While the New Balance 806s were structurally good, he felt they had a poor tread design and they are the only shoe that he would not wear again. He finished the last 670 miles in the Asics Gel Trabuco V and liked their durability and tread. Would one of the shoes have worked for his whole thru-hike? If they had been the NB 806s, the answer would be no. Probably any of the other three would have worked the whole way, but Chris might have had problems sticking with one shoe given the varying weather and terrain of the trail. Even the most perfect shoe can have small issues: breathability, tread design, cushioning, sole protection, and so on. Each of these issues can make them perfect for one set of conditions and wrong for another.

In reality, there is more than one shoe that is right for your feet. What’s important, regardless of which shoe you choose, is that the shoe fits.

Note: The photo shows part of the display of shoes at Zombierunner, Palo Alto. They have a great store.

13 Christmas Gifts for Your Feet

December 6, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Footwear Products 

What better time of the year to pamper your feet than Christmas. Our feet are encased in heavy socks and footwear. We take them for granted. Here’s a look at my favorite things for your feet this year. My suggestion is to check out these items at Zombierunner.com. Don and Gillian support athletes with great service. You can click on their link and at their website, click on Foot Care or any other items. Zombierunner has everyone of these items, except a callus file.

Engo Footwear Patches – these slick patches go in your shoes to reduce friction. A must for any foot care first aid kit.

Drymax Socks – my favorite socks that hate moisture. Their micro-fiber technology is a sweat removal system to keep your feet dry.

Injinji Socks – the original toesocks that are perfect for many sports, and a must for those who are prone to toe blisters.

Sportslick Lubricant - Prevents blisters, chafing and skin rash during sporting activities. This skin care product also cures jock itch, athlete’s foot, and other skin conditions.

Stuffitts Portable Drying Solutions – for shoes, gloves, helmets to defeat wet and stinky gear. Their soft, lightweight forms combat moisture and kills odor in personal wearable gear.

BlisterShield Powder – a great powder, especially for those who prefer powder over a lubricant.

Kinesio Tex Tape – a great tape that breathes and conforms to the shape of any part of your feet. 1, 2, and 3 inch widths.

Leukotape – one of the stickiest tapes available. 1 ½ inches wide.

Superfeet Insoles – one of the best insoles for support. They are available in a number of options.

Toenail Clippers – everyone needs a good clipper to tame their toenails.

Callus File – a callus build-up can lead to problems that can result in blisters underneath this hard layer of skin.

Natural Running – this is a great book that teaches you to run the way nature intended, mimicking the healthy, efficient barefoot style you were born with, while keeping feet safe from rough modern surfaces.

Fixing Your Feet, 5th edition – my best-selling book that covers all aspects of footwear and foot care.
Here’s the Amazon link for the Fixing Your Feet print edition.
Here’s the Amazon link for a Fixing Your Feet Kindle edition.

I hope you’ll consider one or more of these as gifts either to yourself or a friend.

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate of Zombierunner and make a few pennies when you buy through my link.

Fit and Inserts

November 4, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footwear, Footwear Products, Sports 

In choosing footwear, fit is everything. You may buy a new pair of shoes, not get a good fit, and use them for short runs or races without much problem. But the longer you’ll be wearing them at a time, the more important the fit.

Here’s a trick to help get ensure a good fit.

Rich Schick, a physician’s assistant and ultrarunner, shared that he believes the key to getting the proper size shoe is the insert – often called insoles. “If the foot does not fit the insert, then the shoe will have to stretch to accommodate the difference or there may be excessive room in the shoe, which can lead to blisters and other foot problems.” He thinks there is too much confusion about straight lasts, curved lasts, semicurved lasts, and so on.

Rick suggests, and I agree, that you don’t need to know any of this if you use the insert to fit your shoes. The same holds true for the proper width of shoe. Simply remove the insert from the shoe and place your heel in the depression made for the heel (in the insert). There should be an inch to an inch and a half from the tip of your longest toe to the tip of the insert. None of your toes or any part of the foot should lap over the sides of the insert. If they do, is it because the insert is too narrow or is it because of a curved foot and straight insert or vice versa? The foot should not be more than about a quarter inch from the edges of the insert either. This includes the area around the heel, or the shoe may be too loose. Check to see if the arch of the insert fits in the arch of your foot. Finally, if all the above criteria are met, then try on the shoe. The only remaining pitfalls are tight toeboxes and seams or uppers that rub.

Remember to take into a account the type and thickness of socks you’ll be wearing. If you are going to replace the stock inserts that come with the shoes, make sure to follow this tip.

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