Maceration is a Huge Problem

February 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Health, Sports 

Maceration is not limited to runners, adventure racers, and hikers. The other day Deb shared a link on an online forum, which featured some awful looking feet. Actually, truth be told, she called them “fun feet photos.”

Badly macerated feet

Badly macerated feet

I’ve seen feet like these many times over, at many races. Most recently, last October, most of the runners in the Jungle Marathon Amazon had feet like these.

You can read my post about the Amazon race here.

In the link shared by Deb, there are 14 photos of cyclist’s feet – featuring the bottoms of their feet, along with their face. The images were taken immediately after the race ended. The Norwegian photographer Espen Rasmussen says in the piece, “You start in Trondheim in the north, then you go up the mountains and you meet snow, rain, heavy wind, and then you finish in Oslo in the south.” He’s talking about the bicycle race in Norway, which is 336 miles long.

Rasmussen wanted to capture the pain and the hardness these people went through.

Macerated feet with tape

Macerated feet with tape

As you look at each of the 14 pairs of feet, you’ll see maceration is the common thread. Maybe one or two pair has blisters – but these are simply feet that have been wet for hours and hours, encased in wet socks and shoes.

I have captured two of the images on this page and hope you will check out the full story in the link below. It is worth looking at these images and realizing that the same thing can happen to you. You’ll also see the faces behind the feet. It’s a great visual story.

So the question is what could have been done to prevent or minimize the effects of the moisture. For this type of event, it’s hard to say how often the riders stopped, how often they changed their shoes and socks, or what they might have done to their feet. Unlike runners, who know their feet take a beating, cyclists may not realize the outcome of moisture on their feet and therefore may not take proper precautions.

In the past months, I have reviewed several products that could have helped, and in a week or so will review another new product. Here are the two links to the blog posts:

For a longer informative piece on maceration, check out my blog post in June 2011 called Maceration.

CNN World writer Kyle Almond wrote the story. To read the full story and photos click on this link, Extreme Races, These Feet Don’t Lie.

I also plan to write a blog post about many of these lubricants and how to chose the ones right for your feet. I’d look for that in late March.

 

Foot Kinetics New Blister Prevention Creams

February 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Health, Sports 
Foot Kinetics

Foot Kinetics

Foot Kinetics recently introduced several new products designed to reduce blister formation. Carl and Rick, founders of Foot Kinetics, developed HikeGoo, RunGoo, WalkGoo, and SilkStep foot creams for preventing blisters and providing moisturization. The products help avoid foot problems by forming a friction-free layer between the skin and sock. This protective layer reduces rubbing and friction, working on a variety of foot problems including blisters, callus formation, soft tissue bruising, and sore feet. Each formulation is different and contains a balance of hard wax, lanolin, and natural vegetable waxes to moisturize and protect feet from abrasion and foot fatigue.

The protective foot creams are formulated for specific activities and footwear. The relative percentage of hard versus soft waxes in each product’s formulation enables it to perform optimally for that activity. The more hard wax in the formulation, the longer the product stays on the skin’s surface and the slower it absorbs. HikeGoo has the hardest wax and will last in the harsh environment of a boot on an all-day climb. RunGoo has the hard wax persistence of HikeGoo but also some added soft wax moisturization. The higher percentage of soft waxes in the foot cream, the greater the absorption and dry skin moisturization. SilkStep has the softest waxes and is optimized for moisturization.

Rather than repelling moisture or attempting to block sweat, the unique formulations actually absorb sweat and moisture to become even more effective in reducing friction between the skin and sock. This is why Foot Kinetics say they are highly effective in both dry and wet conditions to protect feet from blisters, callus formation, and skin damage.

Why it works

How the Goo Works

How the Goo Works

According to the folks at Foot Kinetics,“Our barrier creams stick around much longer than any other blister prevention or anti-chafe product on the market. They contain a high percentage of specialty hard waxes that are blended into the emulsion and make it persistent…. make it stick around all day to provide a protective layer that reduces rubbing, friction, calluses and blisters. Most other anti-chafe and blister prevention products are dimethicone-based. They are OK for thighs and chest but are too thin to stand up in the harsh environment of a shoe and you can’t apply enough to last all day.” Click on the image above for a larger view.

RunGoo

RunGoo

Foot Kinetics put a high concentration of hard wax in the HikeGoo, RunGoo, and WalkGoo emulsions and then figured out how to adjust the ‘rheology’ (deformation and flow) of the product so that it can flow out of a tube. They point out no one else has been able to do this.

They point out the other key to the success of their Goo products is their ability to last over an entire day because of the balance of lanolin alcohol in the emulsion. The balance allows it to absorb water or excess sweat and makes the emulsion ‘slipperier’. Moisture, usually present between the skin and sock, contributes to blister formation, and the lanolin alcohol balance make the skin slipperier to help keep blisters from forming.

RunGoo Protective Foot Cream prevents blisters by providing a friction barrier between the skin and sock. RunGoo contains lanolin and a balance of both soft and hard waxes to create a foot care cream that protects feet from skin damage. It is effective in eliminating blisters and calluses in traditional, barefoot style running shoes, and hiking boots. RunGoo is available in 5.5 and 3-ounce tubes.

HikeGoo

HikeGoo

HikeGoo Protective Foot Cream is very similar to RunGoo and provides a friction barrier between the skin and sock that protects feet from blisters, nerve abrasion and foot fatigue all day. High melting point waxes slow its skin absorption to create a protective layer that stays on the skin’s surface and is highly effective in helping prevent blisters. HikeGoo absorbs completely by days end and socks easily wash clean. HikeGoo is available in 5.5 and 3-ounce tubes.

WalkGoo Protective Foot Cream is a thinner compound and is good for feet because it protects and moisturizes during sport walks or while on the job. WalkGoo’s friction-free formulation reduces rubbing by including Jojoba, Mimosa, and Sunflower waxes which stay on the skins surface longer to help prevent blisters, calluses and nerve abrasion while softening and smoothing cracked heels and rejuvenating dry feet. A single application lasts all day and absorbs cleanly. WalkGoo is available in 8 and 3-ounce tubes.

SilkStep Protective Foot Cream has the highest percentage of Jojoba, Mimosa and Sunflower waxes of all their protective foot creams. It absorbs slowly providing a protective layer on the skin.

You can find all their products at the Foot Kinetics website.

The Goo products all have the same basic compound, but the amount of hard and soft waxes as well as hydration varies in each formula. Some are thicker than others and will stay on the foot for longer periods of time.

The Foot Kinetics Goo products are advertised as lasting, “…for the entire race, workout, run or game.” You need to determine if that works for your event. There’s a big difference between a 12-mile hike, a marathon, a 100-mile run and a 24-hour run. Try the Goo to see how it holds up on your skin during your events, reapplying it if necessary. If using it in events with sand and grit, cleaning the foot and then reapplication will probably be necessary.

Applying the Goo

To apply, with one or both hands, squeeze the tube firmly to get the cream started out the hole. You may have to squeeze hard, especially if in cold weather. After this initial squeeze the cream will come out more easily. Continue squeezing the tube while rubbing the applicator over your foot taking care to thickly cover problem areas such as heels, bunions, toes and the soles of your feet. Don’t worry if the coverage is uneven or lumpy. This is normal. Starting at your toes with your sock mostly inside-out, roll or pull your sock on and up over your heel. Don’t drag your sock on as this could wipe away some cream leaving exposed areas. If you are going to be engaged in your activity for a long time (i.e. hours), a thicker layer provides optimum protection.

Foot Kinetics protective foot creams are to be used only on closed healthy skin and not open wounds.

The Foot Kinetics website has a testimonials page describing how athletes have used the their products.

I used HikeGoo on several occasions. The compound is thick. Getting the initial squeeze out of the tube is challenging, as they describe. The design of the applicator gives you a generous amount of the Goo to spread on your feet. That’s how the Goo is meant to be used. If you are used to rubbing a small smear of BodyGlide or other lubricant on your skin, You’ll have to get used to the Goo. The hard waxes keep it thick and that’s how you should use it. Many lubricants go on and you have a hard time knowing they are there. When applied properly, you’ll feel the Goo, and know it’s working.

The Goo reminds me of Desitin Ointment – the stuff used on baby bottoms. The consistency in thickness is almost the same. It’s white so you see exactly where you have applied it and how much is on your skin. I like that aspect of the Goo.

I also like the two sizes of tubes; making it easy to carry a small tube in a pack, while keeping the larger tube in your foot care kit.

There’s always room on the shelves for more lubricants. This is one you’ll want to try. When I try products, I often use one on one foot and another (or nothing) on the other foot. I feel that gives me the best opportunity to fairly test the products. I’ve done that with shoes and socks too.

Give RunGoo or HikeGoo a test. See how the formula works for you. Use your regular lubricant on one foot and the Goo on the other. Then do a long run or hike, and see which your feet like the best. They can be ordered from the Foot Kinetics website and from Amazon.

Disclosure: I was supplied several samples of the Goo products to test. RunGoo, HikeGoo, WalkGoo and SilkStep are trademarked names of Foot Kinetics.

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.

Athletes Need Sportique Skin Care Products

December 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Health, Sports, Travel 
Sportique Brands

Sportique Brands

Several months ago I received an offer to test several products made by Sportique Brands.  It took only a little investigation to learn that Sportique is a high-quality company that carries a wide array of athletic and multisport endurance products made from botanicals and all natural ingredients. Their tag line is “Body Care for Active Bodies.”

Over a few months I used the Hard Day’s Night Foot Cream, the Century Riding Cream, the Foot Gel, and the Foot Spray. I like that these products contain no petroleum or harsh chemicals. As I have used the products and researched their complete product line as well as the ingredients and commitment to all natural product, I have the highest regard for Sportique. Their products are all vegetarian and most are vegan.

Sportique’s product line covers foot care, skin care, joint and muscle care, lip care, active care, massage, and shaving and personal care.

It’s important to understand that the substances we put on our skin is absorbed into our system. While using products with less than stellar ingredients once or twice a month may seem innocent, athletes who use them on a consistent basis, or do ultra or multi-day events should be concerned. Ingredients like petrochemicals, sulfate based detergents, and even petroleums disrupt the oils your skin needs. Toxins are absorbed into the liver and can affect our metabolism. In fact, whatever you put on your skin hits your liver in about four hours.

As I set out to write this review of Sportique products, the list kept growing. As an added benefit, the combination of botanicals and oils make these products smell good too! You can click on each product name to go directly to the product page, or click here to see all product and kits on one page.

Hard Day's Night Foot Cream

Hard Day’s Night Foot Cream

Hard Day’s Night Foot Cream – A formulation of botanical and oils that smoothes roughness and calluses. Also works to deodorize and revitalize your feet. Comes in a 6 oz. tube. The cream worked great on the rough skin and calluses on my heels. I used the cream after showering and after using a callus file. Over a period of a month, I noticed a definite reduction in the callus and smoother skin. The thing to remember on callus for most athletes; it’s a continuing job to control the rough skin.

Foot Gel – A cooling gel to apply to tired feet. Its botanical ingredients are antimicrobial, antifungal, and it limits the development of perspiration. Comes in a 6 oz. tube. Just like the Foot Spray, it leaves the skin feeling refreshed.

Foot Spray – A refreshing and cooling foot spray to eliminate odor and absorb moisture. It also has antimicrobial, antifungal botanical ingredients. Comes in a 4 oz. container. The spray really does have a refreshing feeling. It felt good on my toes and bottoms of my feet.

Century Riding Cream

Century Riding Cream

Century Riding Cream – A collection of botanical ingredients to help repair skin after chafing and damage from friction. Contains important plant based occlusive silicones for a long-lasting friction free barrier. Also includes antifungal, antimicrobial, and skin conditioning botanicals. This cream can be used on all friction points with all running, riding, kayak, scuba, surf gear, and to prevent chafing and blisters. Available in 3.5 and 6 oz. tubes. It can be used on toes, feet, seat, armpits, chest, and groin, under sports bras – anywhere you chafe. I tried this on my feet and in my bike shorts and was impressed. I can see this being my lube of choice.

I have several more products on my list to try. They include:

Elements Cream – This is a cream to use for protection from wet, cold, heat and dry weather.  The combination of botanicals and oils works to keep four face and exposed skin from chapping and chafing. Elements Cream is infused with a substance, which prevents seaweed from freezing in the ocean – it has been tested to -40 degrees! It was used in November by the winner of the Antarctic Iceman Marathon who beat his competition by some five hours. It prevents windburn and chapping for runners, cyclists, skiers – anyone out in the Elements.Available in a 6 0z. tube. The recommended use is to apply a light layer of cream and then after a few moments, apply a second slightly heavier layer.

Get Going Cream and the Warming Up Cream for pre-and post-race muscle treatment – both work to loosen up, expand capillaries, bring blood to muscle to avoid injury and improve comfort in the cold. Your skin’s sensitivity level will dictate your results of each.

Joint & Muscle Gel – For relief of achy and stiff muscles; helping strained joints and improves flexibility. It’s ingredients work to maximize relaxation, reduce muscle tightening, and calms nerves. Packaged in a 6 oz. tube.

Foot Powder with Lavender – A deodorizing and antifungal powder combined with lavender. Its botanical ingredients help absorbs perspiration, control inflammation, and keep skin cool and dry. Comes in a 3.4 oz. shaker.

I’d suggest putting your choice of Sportique products into smaller container as necessary to carry them in a pack or to carry in your cycling jersey. Many outdoor stores and drug stores offer smaller containers that could hold enough for a day’s event or a multi-day event in a lighter weight package.

For my October trip to the Amazon, Kathleen, the CEO at Sportique Brands suggested, “… for an alternative to DEET in the Amazon use our Foot Spray and/or Deodorant to repel leeches if you are doing any hiking in the jungle. The leeches have a unique way of ending up in your socks and can be a nuisance. Each morning spray your legs before putting your socks on and you should be good to go. I did some extensive trekking in India, Nepal and Tibet in the 80’s during monsoon season. Leeches are the thing to watch for in a wet jungle setting. DEET is usually the recommendation but it is tough on your body…we offer chemical free alternatives.”

Customer reviews are a good indicator of what people think about products. Sportique has a page dedicated to customer reviews. Look them over and you’ll see positive reviews from happy customers.

Packaged Kits

Strictly Feet Kit

Strictly Feet Kit

Sportique offers kits of products packaged for athletes: the Strictly Feet Kit, Runner’s Basic Kit, Runner’s Advanced Kit, Cycler’s Basic Kit, Cycling Road Kit, a Full Tri Kit, and others.

Product Information

Sportique products are free of petroleum, animal byproducts, synthetic colors & preservatives, petrochemicals like PEGs, polyethylene and polypropylene glycol, parabens, carbomers, diethanolamine (DEA), and synthetic fragrances – and none of the ingredients and final products are tested on animals. Their products are all vegetarian and most are vegan.

Save 10% on Your Order

My readers can get 10% off your total order when you use the coupon code “FixingYourFeet’” at checkout. Put the code in the box just before hitting the orange check out button. Sportique can ship anywhere in the U.S., Canada, Asia, Europe, Australia, and South America. On international orders the buyer will be charged duties and taxes in the sales checkout process. Sales to Brazil and Columbia are discouraged because products often disappear before getting to the buyer. Sales cannot be made to Africa.

Sportique Brands is the exclusive wholesale distributor of Sportique products in the Unites States and sells through their website retail outlet to those not within reach of a store selling Sportique Brand products.

Disclaimer: I was provided products to test and have no financial involvement in Sportique.

Infections from Blisters – A Serious Condition

December 3, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Health, Sports 

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips is a monthly email newsletter from her website at Backpack45.com. Susan and her husband Ralph have done hikes on the Pacific Crest Trail, the John Muir Trail, the Camino de Santiago, and more. Every month I review her newsletter for tips and information that I can share with my readers. I encourage you to check out her website and subscribe to her newsletter.

Only once before in the 15 plus years of publishing an email newsletter and this blog have I shared information that has the potential to save a life. Please read on and take this information to heart.

In the December newsletter, Susan shared a story they experienced while hiking the John Muir Trail. They met a hiker with a sobering tale he shared with them. He and his wife had reached Palisades Lake when she was suddenly hit with nausea, fever, and weakness. Initially he thought it was exhaustion, but the next morning his wife was worse so they did a layover day. She was even worse the following day so they decided to exit at Bishop.

His wife became so weak that she could no longer walk – even without her pack and with help. She collapsed on the attempt to descend the Golden Staircase. Her vitals were a temperature of 105, blood pressure of 90/50, a resting pulse 135 – and she was unaware of her surroundings. He and two others tried to carry her out, but found it impossible because of the narrow trail. A helicopter was brought in and she was airlifted out in a basket to Deer Meadow, where she was put inside the helicopter and taken to the hospital.

The Alcorn’s met the husband as they were leaving the John Muir Trail over Bishop Pass. He was going out on the east side and then going to find a way over to the hospital in Fresno. We wondered for days how this had played out and were happy when they heard a subsequent report. After four days in the hospital on antibiotics, the lady was ready to be flown home – not entirely well, but no longer in danger. The hospital did not do tests to determine the cause, but only treated symptoms, so the cause of the problem was up for speculation. Her husband thought that an infection had probably entered her blood through blisters in her feet – most likely the source was open blisters and their soak in hot springs.

Susan says, This is a reminder of the importance of avoiding infection in any open sore – especially under trail conditions.

Cari's Blister Infected Foot

Cari’s Blister Infected Foot

I agree. In 2007 I wrote an article about another hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail who had to be evacuated out and spend a long time recuperating from a serious infection. Her infection was also caused by an infection through an open blister. This first photo shows her infected foot after she reached the hospital.

Bacteria causing the infection can come from your skin, from the environment, or from anything that gets inside the blister. The web spaces between the toes have more skin bacteria and open blisters here present an increased risk of infection. The second photo shows the redness common to an infection.

An Infected Blister

An Infected Blister

The take-away here is that we need to understand how to properly clean and care for blisters, have the right materials to patch them, and know the signs of infection.

All open blisters should be watched for redness, streaks up the leg, pus, heat to the touch, pain and/or swelling around the area, and fever. When any of these are present, prompt medical care should be obtained.

In my 2007 Fixing Your Feet newsletter I wrote, I think this is the most serious and important issue yet. It has in-depth focus on infections as a result of blisters. First read my editorial, Blisters Can Lead to Serious Infection, and then the feature article, My Infected Blister – Almost My Life! where Cari Tucker “Sandals” tells her story. I think you’ll agree with Denise Jones, the Badwater Blister Queen, who told me, ‘This is indeed sobering and shocking (literally). I think people need to see this because I do not think they take blisters very seriously!’ I urge you to fully digest the articles, then read the articles on Blood Blisters and Infections, Staph Facts and Cellulitis Facts.

Here’s the link to the July 2007 Fixing Your Feet newsletter with the articles.

 

Kinesiology StrengthTape in the Amazon

November 13, 2013 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Sports 
Taping in the Amazon

Taping in the Amazon

Last month I provided foot care at the Jungle Marathon Amazon. In preparation for the trip, I searched for new tapes. One of my searches turned up Theratape.com, a web-based store that specializes in kinesiology tapes and supplies. The website is a wealth of information on kinesiology tapes and kinesiology in general.

I emailed the owner, and received answers to all my questions regarding different brands of kinesiology tape. They carry many to choose from: Kinesio Tape, Nasara, PerformTex, RockTape, SpiderTech, and StrengthTape. Another brand is KT Tape. That’s seven brands to choose from.

Because I was going to the Amazon, where I knew feet would be wet, tape adherence was a major factor. The Theratape staff told me that the two best adhering tapes for wet condition were RockTape H20 and StrengthTape.

StrengthTape

StrengthTape

Three weeks before the Amazon, I tried a roll of each tape. On one foot I used a strip of StrengthTape, and another of Kinesio Tex Tape (my old standard). On the other foot I used a strip of RockTape H20 and another of LevoTape (a brand from the U.K.). I had one strip on the mid-foot, side-to-side, and another strip on the forefoot behind the toes. I did not use Compound Tincture of Benzoin as a tape adherent. The LevoTape came off on day four and the Kinesio Tex on day five. Finally on day six I removed the Rocktape H20 and the StrengthTape. Of the final two, the StrengthTape still had some stickiness left. It became my first choice of the kinesiology tapes. I promptly ordered one of the bulk rolls. Service from Theratape.com was great.

StrengthTape on Toes

StrengthTape on Toes

Here is the StrengthTape description from the theratape website: StrengthTape by LifeStrength begins with all the features of a high quality kinesiology tape, but is then “supercharged” with the addition of advanced ionic technology. Seven different minerals and gemstones are crushed into microscopic particles and infused into the tape. The natural properties of these substances create a negatively charged material that emits anions or negative ions. When applied to the skin, these negatively charged particles are readily absorbed into the body, enhancing the pain relieving and healing properties of the tape. Its 10% greater elasticity provides additional support for injuries and snap-back for performance enhancement. The proprietary AllSport extra-strong adhesive provides superior sticking power in all conditions, including water when properly applied, most applications will provide pain relief, comfort and support for 3-7 days. Uncut rolls are16’ in length and two inches in width, while each 16′ pre-cut roll contains twenty 10″ strips.

For those familiar with RockTape, I did try the RockTape H20. On the website, RockTape H2O is described as, the ultimate kinesiology tape for water sports. With an adhesive twice as strong as regular RockTape, H2O has undergone rigorous testing in the wild waters of the Pacific. H2O is a great tape for swimmers, triathletes, and other water sports participants. RockTape H20′s other features include a tighter weave and greater elasticity than other kinesiology tapes. It stays on longer and provides enhanced support, even under the toughest conditions.

In the Amazon, I used Leukotape, RockTape H20, StrengthTape, and Hypafix for between the toes. To start with, I used the StrengthTape and Rocktape equally, sometimes both on one runner. I wanted the feedback.

We had the advantage of applying the tapes in the late afternoon and evening, which allows the tape’s adhesive time to bond with the skin. After applying the tape a short 20-30 second rub was done to warm the adhesive and activate the adhesive.

Problem toes taped with StrengthTape

Problem toes taped with StrengthTape

Several things are important when using kinesiology tapes. Lay the tape on the skin and if you have to stretch the tape around a heel or toe, only apply a slight stretch. The more stretch you apply, the more likely the tape is to come loose, especially in wet conditions. Secondly, whenever possible, apply the tape the night before it is needed. At Badwater we try and tape the night before the race to give it good bonding time. At a minimum, try to apply it an hour before activity for the tape to set.

StrengthTape was the winner. Several days in to the Jungle Marathon, runners were asking for the “blue” tape (my blue StrengthTape). On some runners, the tape did not hold – but in fact no tape held up well when the runners walked around on the sand and dirt in bare feet or skimpy homemade flip-flops. The combination of the wet conditions when they finished the day’s stage followed by dirt and sand constantly worked away at the edges of the tape. That’s why we re-taped most afternoons and evenings.

We taped a lot of toes with StrengthTape, as you can see from these pictures. The runners would come into camp after finishing their stage and tell me how the tape had held up – or not. Sometimes the sand was simply too abrasive and it rubbed against the tape, working it’s way under the edges. I’d apply a light strip of Benzoin along the edge of the tape and the skin to help the edges hold better. This helped a lot.

StrengthTaped toes to fit in FiveFingers

StrengthTaped toes to fit in FiveFingers

In wet conditions, the race medical team from past years found that Injinji socks were better than other socks for blister control. Many runners wore Injinji socks. For these runners, the little toe socks of the Injinji’s was perfect to help hold the StrengthTape in place. One runner completed the race in Vibram FiveFinger Lontras, which also help hold the tape in place. To read my blog post about the survey and what worked, click on the link: A Survey About Feet From The 2012 Amazon Jungle Marathon.

In my tests, I found the RockTape H20 had good adherence, but frayed around the edges. Applying a strip of Benzoin on the edge of the tape and skin can help control the fraying.

I will be using StrengthTape at the races where I provide foot care. My stash of other brands of kinesiology tapes will be used as I learn about using the tape for its intended purpose of kinesiology.

If you are interested in ordering StrengthTape or RockTape H20, I recommend checking Theratape.com. They have generously offered a 15% discount on anyone’s first order of StrengthTape or RockTape – just use the code “fixyourfeet” in the discount code box on the order page. The discount code is good for any of the two tapes, tape size and quantity. The tapes come in a variety of colors. I welcome your feedback when you use the tape.

Disclaimer: Kinesiology is the study of human movement. The benefits of kinesiology tape include relief of pain and swelling, relaxation of overused or tight muscles, activation of weak or poorly-toned muscles, and enhancement of athletic performance. Made from cotton with a hypoallergenic acrylic adhesive, kinesiology tape is designed to be worn for 3-5 days, providing therapeutic benefits 24/7, the entire time it is worn. I apply kinesiology tape to feet because of its ability to stretch and shape to the curves of the foot, in addition to its smooth surface, adhesive, breathability and lack of leaving tape residue on the skin. If you watch the Olympics, you have probably seen kinesiology tape on athletes’ shoulders, arms and legs, and more.

FiveFingers in the Jungle Marathon Amazon

October 29, 2013 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Foot Care, Footwear, Sports 

This blog post is a summary of Stefanie Bacon’s experience with Vibram FiveFinger Lontra’s in the Jungle Marathon Amazon. The first image shows Stefanie in one of the water crossings. She did the four-day 122km race and was the second place female. When I noticed she was running in FiveFingers, I asked if she could write a short review of the shoes. Here’s her report followed by information on the Lontras.

Stefanie in the Jungle Marathon Amazon

Stefanie in the Jungle Marathon Amazon

I have been running in my Vibram FiveFingers for over 2 years now. I am very careful choosing which ones to run in, depending of the terrain. When I decided to run the Jungle Marathon Amazon, I decided to research which ones would be best as I knew I was going to encounter water crossings, soft sandy beaches, mud swamps, forests, creepy crawlies on my ankles etc. So I knew they had to be somewhat more resistant then the ones I use to run on normal roads and sand tracks. I went for the Lontra, which have the thickest sole, and extra protection over the toes, and are higher on the ankles (to avoid sand coming into them so easily).

Stefanie's FiveFinger Lontras

Stefanie’s FiveFinger Lontras

The second photo shows Stefaine’s Lontras.

For a race like Jungle Marathon I really found my FiveFingers Lontra’s to be an advantage, especially at water crossings and soft sand. It was way easier because you can swim in them without feeling any kind of weight on your feet, and when running in soft sand, no sand came into them and my feet felt really light. Like with any other shoes you need to really be careful with cut off trees, to not step on one of them, but I must say the Lontra’s made me feel confident, as they are way more resistant then any other Five Fingers. One thing I did realize, is when I did the water crossings, as the fabric they are made of is meant to be water resistant the water didn’t escape the shoe so quickly like other Vibrams I have which are made of neoprene, but this didn’t make my feet suffer in any way.

Stefanie's Taped Toes

Stefanie’s Taped Toes

The only problem I had (which I only realized on the third day what was causing that problem) were my big toe nail and my pinky toe nail, I felt some pressure on them and couldn’t understand why, after a lot of thinking I realized that it was my socks, when using five fingers you need to make sure that your toes fit perfectly into the sock (I highly recommend to use Injinji, I was wearing the Nike ones and those where not good for my toes). The image here shows her toes taped with StrengthTape Kinesio tape.

I don’t recommend anyone who is starting to use Vibram FiveFingers to do a race like this in them; it is essential to have a lot of experience, and test different styles on different terrains. 

Vibram FiveFinger Lontras

Here are the links to Vibram’s website for the Lontra shoes: Vibram’s FiveFinger Lontras and Women’s Vibram Lontra.

Vibram FiveFinger Lontras

Vibram FiveFinger Lontras

Vibram Men’s Lontras are shown in the next photos. You can see in the first image how high they ride up the ankle and the strapping system. The next photo shows the more aggressive than normal tread.

Here’s Vibram’s website description: The all-new Lontra makes cold weather running in minimalist footwear a breeze. A multi-layer laminate upper with fully taped seams provides insulation and water resistance. The micro-pile fleece liner is soft against the skin while helping wick perspiration away from the foot. Other features include a neoprene heel cuff to keep out snow and debris, and a reinforced hook-and-loop closure for a snug and secure fit. Run safely at night with reflective surfaces for enhanced visibility. The 4mm EVA midsole provides insulation from frozen surfaces, and the TC-1 Dura outsole provides traction, durability and superior plating protection.

The Agressive Lontra Outersole

The Agressive Lontra Outersole

Stefanie made a good choice in the Lontra’s for her Jungle Marathon Amazon race. The shoes hardly showed any wear after her race. I could see these shoes working for similar events and trail runs. Considering the other shoes I saw runner’s wearing at the Jungle marathon, the Lontras performed well, did not fall apart, and did not become waterlogged. For an event where water, sand and mud, and streams or swamps are on the route, these shoes are worth a look.

For the record, the Jungle Marathon Amazon also had a marathon one-day race and the main event, a seven day 254km race.

Shoes at the Jungle Marathon – Amazon

October 22, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Footwear, Sports, Travel 

The Amazon Jungle Marathon had 78 runners. Most of them did not have problems with their shoes – but some did.

Most shoes were trail runners with good tread. I saw a lot of Salomon shoes and a mix of everything else. At least one runner wore Hokas and another wore Vibram Five Fingers. Every day I tried to watch the runners and check with shoes.

There was so much water and sand that their shoes were always wet and covered in sand – with the exception of when we spent the night in the deep jungle camp. Even then, it was dirt that caked the shoes.

The afternoon before the race started, seven of us hiked three miles into the first day’s checkpoint. It gave me a taste of what the runners would start with the next morning. The jungle is unforgiving. Roots, rocks, and vines are everywhere. Leaves and ferns are on the trail and hanging over it. Low hanging branches and tree stumps line the trail. Inattention to the trail will lead to catching your foot on roots and vines, stubbing your toes, or turning an ankle. Inattention to the stuff alongside and up high on the trial will lead one into running into something hanging head height.

When they got to the checkpoint, they had their first water crossing, a deep stream that once they crossed, took them into a swamp. Two other days started on a beach where they had 200 to 300 yard plus river crossings – pulling themselves and their packs along a rope. You get the picture.

Torn Mesh on Shoes

Torn Mesh on Shoes

At the end of the first day several runners had major problems with their shoes. As you can see from the first picture, the shoes were coming apart where the uppers meet the midsole. The mesh in the shoe’s upper was torn. Without repair, the next day the shoes would have fallen apart.

Mesh uppers have become popular in many road and trail shoes. In fact it’s hard to find shoes without mesh. Mesh makes the shoes lighter and cooler. Water typically drains better too. In the Amazon, these mesh shoes were worn by most all the runners. And they were filled with sand and trail junk. With the water, they became much heavier than normal.

In the Amazon, the vines, branches, rocks, and whatever else the jungle threw at the runner’s feet destroyed the shoes’ mesh. On a mountain trail race, the same thing can happen. All it takes is one swipe across a sharp rock or root.

Remember that mesh allows grid, dust, dirt and sand to get inside. The mesh is also susceptible to tearing, especially at the junction of the upper and midsole.

Repaired Shoes

Repaired Shoes

Fortunately, one of the runners was an expert with needle and thread. He expertly and patiently sewed the mesh back into place – more than once. The second picture shows a runner’s shoe that has been repaired. If you look closely, you can see the thread at the bottom edge of the mesh.

Sewing Shoes

Sewing Shoes

The last two pictures show how Roberto Domingues Areiro used dental floss to sew Jean-Paul van der Bas’ shoes back together.

Roberto sewing Jean-Paul's Shoes

Roberto sewing Jean-Paul’s Shoes

Another runner wore Hokas and loved them. For the first six days they served her well. For the final day, she switched to a lighter pair of regular shoes. The reason was evident. She realized that her Hokas were waterlogged and each weighed two pounds. Hokas are larger than average shoes. Every pound on a foot is equal to five pounds on the back. For the runner, that meant carrying an additional 20 pounds in her pack.

Remember that while your shoes may be fine when they are dry, once they go through water, their weight can increase dramatically. All that weight is added stress on your legs and back.

Remember that where ever your race, consider the terrain and conditions when you pick your shoes. Making sure you have good shoes, as close to new as possible, but broken in to your feet. Don’t chance your race to a pair of old and worn shoes.

The runner who wore Vibram Five Fingers did well. She was used to the unique shoes and had trained with the miles necessary to do 142km in the minimalist shoes. She had minor problems with her big toes and pinky toes that we taped, but she managed to complete the race.

Remember that if you wear minimalist shoes in a race, make sure you put the miles on your feet with the shoes so your feet and legs are used to them.

The Amazon Jungle Marathon is a great event that promised runners an adventure. They got that and more. Their shoes showed the wear and took everything the jungle threw at them.

Feet, Sand and Water

October 15, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Sports 
Jungle Marathon

Jungle Marathon

I am writing this as I am flying home from the seven day Jungle Marathon Amazon stage race. Since 2002, I have helped at races like Death Valley’s Badwater, BC Canada’s Raid the North Extreme, Chile’s Racing the Planet Atacama, California high Sierra’s Western States 100 Mile Endurance Race, Costa Rica’s Coastal Challenge, and the Primal Quest and Gold Rush Adventure Races – and each is unique and difficult in their own way. The Jungle Marathon topped most of them in difficulty.

We had a medical team of 15 doctors and paramedics for the 78 runners. The team manned checkpoints along each day’s stage. Each medic team had a full medical kit, which included provisions for foot care. Depending on the stages, the medic team went out the afternoon before to get to the checkpoint to set up their hammocks and eat before jungle darkness came. For example, Todd and I hiked three miles through the jungle to get to the first checkpoint of stage one. We were accompanied by Rod and Lee to set up the ropes over a water crossing, four locals to clear the camp and manage the fire and water, and an interpreter. Our job was to make sure the runners were in good shape, and provide any medical care if needed.

This checkpoint came only three miles into the first of seven stages. But it set the stage for the whole race. The runners had come through three tough miles of jungle trail with rocks, roots, loose vines to trip feet, low hanging branches – all on terrain that was rarely flat. Toss in the stifling humidity and heat, and you get the picture.

Now comes the heart of the race – water. Our little camp was about 30 feet long and 20 feet wide, on the bank of a stream, carved out of your typical jungle fauna. Once they reached us, the runners had a mandatory 15 wait before continuing. When their time came, they jumped into the chest high stream and used the rope to pull themselves to the other side. Of course, there were no dry trails on the other side. The route was through a swamp. Three miles and 100 feet into the race their feet would be wet most of the time.

But as if water was not enough, there was sand. The trails through were on sandy jungle soil and on sandy beaches.

Combine water and sand and you have a mixture of two elements that are problematic to runner’s feet. We saw it every day. I have written about maceration many times, and generally tell people to avoid getting their feet whenever possible to avoid this painful condition. But in the Jungle Marathon Amazon, water is present everyday – along with sand. Even without the water crossings, the humidity would keep your feet wet. By the time we hiked the three miles to our camp with our overnight packs, my pants and shirt were soaked. And nothing dries overnight.

Without a doubt, I think the Jungle Marathon Amazon has been the toughest event when it comes to the participants’ feet.

The sand gets everywhere. And it sticks. While I did not see the skin abraded from the sand inside socks and shoes, especially at the heels, it’s damaging effects were more visible in the runners’ shoes, socks and insoles. One runner had holes in the toes and heels of one of his socks after day one. Another runner had holes through both heels of his insoles.

You might be asking yourself why people do this race. Good question. It has a great reputation in a very beautiful setting. The jungle is fantastic. This section of the Amazon River has white sand beaches. The race offers three events, the seven days race, a four-day race, and a marathon day. Runners carry all their gear including clothes, hammock, mandatory gear kit, and food for seven days.

Helping at this race was a fantastic opportunity, which I will never forget. Over the next few months, I will be writing about what I observed and learned. My posts will talk about shoes, socks, insoles, skin treatment, “hot shots”, tapes and taping, blister patching, and several products. As you might expect, a common thread through these post will be water and sand.

Even though you may never do the Jungle Marathon Amazon, there is a lot that can be learned from what these runners experienced. I hope you will stay tuned.

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