A Foot Care Success Story

March 17, 2013 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Health, Sports 

Every so often I hear a foot care story from an athlete that intrigues me. It’s fun to read their story about their issues with their feet and then the steps they took to find answers.

One of the best examples of this is Nathan’s story on page four in the 5th edition of Fixing Your Feet. He told the story of how he studied foot care techniques and learned hot to manage his feet – and successfully finished Racing the Planet’s Australia race.

Then the other day I received an email from Karen. I liked her story and asked if I could share it with my readers. She agreed. Here is what she wrote.

First, I am extremely prone to blisters. Initially I thought it was friction. I tried Hydropel, but its sticky nature attracted dirt but did nothing to calm my problem. At Fruita one year, Lisa and Jay (Smith) Batchen shared their knowledge in a presentation about the three primary causes and the light bulb went off. Hydration is my primary issue – specifically bloating.  The bloating happens because I’m no longer processing fluids.

After working thru formulas and cause and effect for several years on my own, I finally solicited help from Scott Jurek -I knew him from Coyote events. Mutual friends had helped me focus on running nutrition, but I wasn’t making progress on my own. Scott helped me maintain my ability to process fluids and enabled me to delay bloating and blisters.

When I get blisters, they’ll either start as a hot spot on my pads or a painful toenail. I get them under my toenails (which I keep extremely short) or the entire pad of my foot/feet will get it. Over New Years with a very low mileage base, I went to California and ran/hiked 34 miles. Had a hot spot early that I actually taped, and a blister on a toe but that was it – a sign that I was on the right track!

I’ve also become smarter on dealing with my blisters. I still get them, but they aren’t crippling. Once after my first attempt at the Leanhorse 100, they were so bad they caused me to miss the cutoff, and they got dangerously infected. Two years later, I went back and finished – it was my first 100. I still got blisters but they didn’t prevent me from meeting my goals.

Here’s what I do now for my feet other than monkey with hydration:

  • Work on my calluses and keep my toenails trimmed
  • Get my orthotics re-surfaced at least a couple months before event
  • Keep my shoes and socks current too and only use Smartwool socks
  • Train on the exact terrain I expect and work on the plan for my feet – it’s just as important as my physical and nutritional race plans
  • My starting feet recipe is to use BodyGlide on my feet before putting on socks. Then change my socks every 20 miles if I’m running anything over 50K.
  • Carry a foot kit on my back at all times with a couple Engo Pads for hot spots on my orthotics, a couple of alcohol wipes, blister pads and a safety pin, and duct tape for real emergencies on a pencil or on my water bottle
  • A full fledged foot kit for crew or in a later drop bag with new supplies for my carry kit, Desitin if it’s wet conditions, and tape/scissors/tincture for the next defense. An injection devise and zinc oxide and Second Skin/New Skin as final defense. I had to do all three lines of defense to actually finish Leanhorse, but we did it.

Thank you Karen for sharing your foot care plan.

Blister Volunteers Needed

January 4, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: blister care 

For years blister care has been fairly standard. Many athletes use Second Skin over the top of a blister and then apply tape to hold that in place. Some still use Vaseline. Others will drain the blister and cover with a Band-Aid or athletic tape. And some will use zinc oxide under tape.

All can work – but some work better than others. I’ve seen many runners who have tried one of the above with poor success.

Sometimes the lack of blister patching success happens because of a poor tape job. Maybe too little adhesive around the patch and it didn’t stick. Maybe the blister was not lanced correctly and refilled with fluid. Or maybe the Second Skin migrated under the tape and folded on itself or might have been old and too dried out to work as designed. Or the Second Skin made the skin too moist and maceration occurred, causing more problems. Or too little Vaseline or zinc oxide was used and friction reoccurred, leading to an increase in fluid.

So here’s the deal. I am interested in hearing from a few athletes, runners or adventure racers, walkers or hikers – who get serious blisters almost every time they go out. I don’t mean a minor ¼ inch blister, but a blister ½ inch or larger, anywhere on the foot. And especially those where the roof tears off, leaving raw skin underneath. The worst, the better and the bigger the better. This is not a prevention item but would be used as a treatment for formed blisters.

I have a product to test and need four to six testers.

Send me an email and tell me about yourself, what you are doing when you get blisters, and how you have treated them in the past – what you have tried and what worked or didn’t work. If will do my best to respond to all who send me an email. Please sned an email rather than a comment on the blog.

I’ll pick the best of the worst cases and supply you with sample product and suggested ways I want you to use it in the trial. I’ll give you forms to use to record your results and may ask for a photo or two. I will ask for your confidence in the trail until I can judge the results.

I make no guarantees as to whether this will work or not. But I think it’s worth a test. This is not a homegrown product but one made by a medical company.

More on Prevention

November 17, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Health, Sports, toenails 

Last week I wrote about prevention and being proactive. I emphasized that you are the key to prevention. I want to share an email I received from a friend that is a great example of this in action. Lisa told me about her friend and gave me permission to share the story:

My friend ran a 50km x 2 (100km total, over two days) race a few weeks ago. Over the past six months he has put a lot of work into his running training and has been running beautifully.

I was away so when I got back I dropped him a text to see how his race went. He told me what happened and in the conversation said that he would be losing many of his toenails. I ask why and he said he forgot to cut his toenails.

As you can imagine I didn’t reply to this at all because I would have thrown some insulting words his way.

He has been trail running for more than a decade and been doing adventure racing for over a decade. He spent a fairly sizable amount on his race entry and it must be about 900km to travel to the race. He put in six months of training to get stronger and faster. And he forgot to trim his toenails! This is more than elementary and is totally stupid. It’s tough to have sympathy (I have none!) when friends do silly things like this. He knows better.

Lisa de Speville, Johannesburg, South  Africa
Lisa’s Adventure Racing website
FEAT: Fascinating Adventure Racing Talks
Lisa’s Blog

This story speaks for itself. I have often talked about how athletes spend a lot of time and money in preparation for an event but fail to plan for good foot care. More times than I care to remember, I have seen athletes quit a race or be pulled from a race because of feet gone bad. It doesn’t have to be that way.

I’ll say it again, you are the key to prevention.

Spartathlon Feet

October 6, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Health 

Several years ago I met Gregg at Badwater in Death Valley. We were in line to check in at Furnace Creek and I heard the last name. It was the same as an aunt of mine. Turns out we are related.

At Badwater he ran well and finished near the top. Later that year, he and his wife moved to Asia and I had not heard from him – until the other day. He sent an email about running the Spartathlon in Greece. It’s a 246-kilometer (153 mile) race between Athens and Sparta. The Spartathlon aims to trace the footsteps of Pheidippides, an Athenian messenger sent to Sparta in 490 BC to seek help against the Persians in the Battle of Marathon. Here’s his email:

I just finished running Spartathlon. It was nearly as hot as Badwater (100.4), ok maybe not as hot as Badwater, but it was far to hot for this race, considering it is normally 86. The race by the way is fantastic; I would highly recommend that you make a trip out there if you get the chance.

So, I took a photo of my feet after the race and thought you might like the photo, being that you are the foot guy. Might make for a good example. The blister appeared to start from underneath the pad of my foot by my big toe. The pressure built up so much that it formed the blister on top of my foot as well – as you can see from the photo. Pretty cool if you ask me. I probably ran with it for 50 miles, since I didn’t change my shoes and didn’t feel like taking them off. They lanced it when I finished… as I was receiving two bags of IV fluid. Haven’t had any problems with it since, although it has taken a few days for the pressure under my foot to slowly recede.

Spartathlon Feet

Spartathlon Feet

As you can see in the photo, there is blood in the blister. Here’s where you have to be careful and take precautions to prevent infection. I don’t encourage people to lance these on their own, but in aid stations with the right equipment and knowledge, it can be done. When I do it, I always give the athlete the warning signs of infection: redness, warm to the touch, pain, fever, pus, and swelling. If you have a blood blister, be careful.

Really though, Gregg’s feet look pretty good for just having run 153 miles. Don’t you agree?

A Wart Story

August 22, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Health 

I’d bet most of us think we are immune to warts. Or we simply never think about them.

But we can pick them up in communal showers at the gym, the local pool, or anywhere where people go barefoot.I found an email where the sender told the story of his wart – and included a picture. Here is Brad’s story.

Excised depression after a large wart on the bottom of the heel

Excised depression after a large wart on the bottom of the heel

I used to be that guy who didn’t wear shoes.  I played volleyball barefoot.  Went around the house/yard barefoot.  Took showers at the gym barefoot.  I’m not sure where it happened, but somewhere I picked up a wart.  Not just any wart, but the wart that wouldn’t respond to any treatment kind.

Did the salicylic drops.  Moved to salicylic acid patches.  Then to the podiatrist:  three rounds of blistering agents, four rounds of bleomycin injections.  While waiting for surgery, did the duct tape method. Needless to say, nothing worked, and the wart just kept growing and shooting off satellites.  Finally, after an incision of about 3 cms wide by several mms deep, and 7 weeks of recovery later, I think I’m finally wart free. 

Needless to say, at least in the gym showers and other questionable patches of real estate, I’m keeping my thongs (zorries) on, thank you very much… 

So there you have it. It could happen to you if you are not careful. Wear clogs, flip-flops, or sandals in common areas. Check your feet after showering for any signs of a wart beginning. Then take care of them before they become too large for localized over the counter treatments.

If you think about how this would affect your training and running/hiking/walking, you’ll be careful in communal areas.

Blister Repair – Your Way or Their Way?

July 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Uncategorized 

One of my goals is to educate athletes about good foot care techniques. You may recall blog posts where I stress the importance of knowing how to do foot care and importantly, to know what’s best for your feet.

I recently received an email from Rob, asking for some advice. Here’s Rob’s email:

I have been running a modest 30 miles a week for a few years. Last weekend we attended a tennis camp and during the first night of drills during ball pick up (not during a drill or competitive play) another player smacked a ball in to the arch of my foot from a shot distance away causing severe pain. I played through the pain and the next morning I asked the trainer to tape up my bruised arch, which she did. I played all day and at the end of the day there was a blister in the center of my foot between the taped and un-taped area. I went back to the trainer in the morning and she created a donut shaped pad about a 1/4-inch thick and taped it to my foot. I took out my shoe arch supports and played for another 1/2 day in a bit of pain. When I took off the shoe, sock, and bandage and pad I found that the blister had filled with liquid to the size of donut hole – now a huge blister about the size of a silver dollar and 1/4-inches thick. The camp staff took picture as the biggest tennis-related blister they had seen. I went back to the trainer at the college and she drained about half of the liquid out of the blister and we decided I was done playing tennis for the rest of the camp. I’m not sure going to the trainer really helped and I probably should have had your book along as reference and taped myself up. Now I am back home and have a huge blister on the bottom of my foot. 

This is a case where the trainer patched Rob’s blister the best way she knew how. It was an “old-school” patch job. A piece of moleskin cut in a donut shape with a hole in the middle for the blister. There may have been Vaseline on the center, and then tape or gauze over the top.

The problem with this old-school method is that it adds bulk to the foot – that can easily alter the person’s gait. This gait change can lead to further problems. At the same time, the patch can cause irritation, expanding the original blister or leading to new blisters.

Rob’s experience shows there is a long ways to go to get everyone up to speed about good blister care. I’d bet that if Rob had been prepared, he could have done a better job then the trained did. It’s hard to go everywhere with a blister patch kit in hand, but here’s my recommendation. Make up several simple kits and put them in Zip-Lock bags and stash one in your car and another in your gear bag. Fill the kits with your choices of blister tapes and patches. Then of course, make sure you know the best way to patch any blisters that may develop.

Here’s where to start – pages 228 to 256 in the 5th edition of Fixing Your Feet. If you don’t have a copy, or have an old edition, my suggestion is to get the new one. My home page has a link to Amazon if you need one. I was amazed at Badwater in Death Valley a few weeks ago. One of the runners had me autograph a copy of the 2nd edition. So much changes from edition to edition that it’s a small price to pay to help your feet.

Foot Care Video Content?

December 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care 

In the coming months, I will be producing a foot care video. I have a fairly detailed outline of what I would like to see in the video, but wonder what you would like to see. The project is a video that will show tips and techniques about foot care – things that are hard to describe in a book. Taping is one of those things. How about others?

What would you like to see in pictures? This is an opportunity to describe for me what you’d like to see in a foot care video. If you can spare a few minutes, please drop me an email and let me know one or two things you’d like to see.

Fixing Your Feet banner

Fixing Your Feet in a foot care video

Later, I’ll share the results of what things people want.

And of course, I’ll keep you posted as I make the video.

Thanks for your help.

Accolades for Fixing Your Feet, 5th edition

December 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Books 
Fixing Your Feet - 5th edition

Fixing Your Feet - 5th edition

I first wrote Fixing Your Feet back in 1996, self-publishing it in 1997. Then came the 2nd edition in 2000, a 3rd in 2004, 4th in 2006, and finally the 5th edition earlier this year. That alone makes it a very successful book.

Do you have a copy?

I have talked to some athletes who have an old edition. As much as I love every edition, I am especially proud of the 5th edition. It is the best of them all. Each edition has built on previous editions.

After all these years, the book remains popular. I was surprised when I saw the sales number for the first six months of the 5th edition. It sold more copies than any previous six months after the release of past editions. Also surprising was that close to 300 copies were sold of the Kindle version of the 5th edition.

This morning I received an email from Runner’s World. The email had been sent to their subscribers. It gave information about a book with “583 secrets for foot-savvy athletes – like you.”  It went on to say, “In the pages of Fixing Your Feet, you get secrets…” I wondered if someone had published a book with the same title as mine. I scrolled down in the email and saw the picture of the cover – and it was for my Fixing Your Feet! My publisher and Runner’s World, with Rodale Books, had worked the deal to offer Fixing Your Feet to their readers. The link to their three page website for the book is below.

I am honored.

This 5th edition has received accolades from lots of folks. This promotion by my publisher through Runner’s World and Rodale Books, is an honor. It shows how respected the book is. I hope you have a copy. If you don’t have a copy of the 5th edition of Fixing Your Feet, here is where you can get it:

ZombieRunner – click through to the website and then Books & Magazines

Amazon.com for the print copy

Amazon.com for the Kindle version

Runner’s World / Rodale Books

While you’re there, please consider a copy for a friend. Drop me an email and give me your feedback. I value your comments.

You, the athletes, are the ones who keep me going. I wrote Fixing Your Feet for you. Enjoy it.

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