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.

ENGO Blister Prevention Patches

September 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Footwear, Sports 

In my last post, I talked about four ways to reduce shear and the likelihood of blisters. To recap, they were fit, cushioning, moisture management, and socks. Today’s post will cover a fifth way by using ENGO Blister Prevention Patches.

Tamarack Habilitation Technologies is well known for providing healthcare professionals and clients with innovative, value-added orthotic-prosthetic componentry and materials. Their ShearBan product is similar to the ENGO Blister Prevention Patches reviewed in this article. ShearBan is used in the orthopaedic and prosthetic industry on prostheses at amputation stump sites to reduce the incidence of skin breakdown.

ENGO in Footwear

ENGO in Footwear

Introduced in 2004, ENGO Blister Prevention Patches have radically redefined the way hot spots, blisters and calluses are treated. As a preventative measure, ENGO patches provide peace-of-mind that blisters won’t become a painful, debilitating problem. If a blister has already formed, applying patches to footwear, corresponding to the blistered area eliminates painful irritation and further skin damage, allowing continued activity. Friction forces are reduced by more than 50% when you apply an ENGO Patch to your footwear.

ENGO Applied

ENGO Applied

The patches are made from an ultra-thin Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) film and are 0.015 inches total thickness – a very slippery surface. They are very durable, lasting four to six weeks in most applications. The aggressively sticky patch peels away from the backing and is applied to dry shoes or boots. The PTFE ENGO Patch reduces the ‘stickiness’ between the shoe and sock so they can glide over one another. The foot, inside the sock, glides over the patch shear distortion and friction are reduced, and blisters can be averted, in spite of pressure.

Avid runners, hikers and sports players rely on their feet to reach performance goals; from day hikes to ultra marathons. But quality footwear and socks alone don’t eliminate the skin trauma your feet can experience from repetitive rubbing — building friction forces to levels that cause hot spots, blisters and calluses. While I use these patches in runners’ footwear at races, they can also be used in ordinary every day shoes to reduce calluses.

Similar to Tamarack’s ShearBan material, ENGO patches are applied directly to footwear and equipment, not to the skin. Outcomes of this unique application include ease of use, long-lasting and guaranteed friction relief.

ENGO Patch in Shoe

ENGO Patch in Shoe

ENGO Patches are made in several sizes and types:

  • A large oval – 2 ¾ x 1 ¾
  • A small oval – 2 x 1 ½
  • A rectangle – 3 ¾ x 2 ¾
  • Back of the heel patch – 3 ¾ x 1 ¾
  • A cushion heel wrap – 3 ¾ x 1 ½

When I work a race I always have a bag with different sizes of ENGO patches. I have applied the ovals and rectangles and the back of the heel patches. The patches are applied to the shoes and insoles – not to your skin. This means wherever you are going to apply a patch has to be dry. My advice is to apply patches before your race when your shoes are dry. I have used them inside the shoes in the sides, in the heels, and on the insoles.

ENGO in a Shoe's Heel

ENGO in a Shoe’s Heel

Typical problem areas in footwear are under the heel and forefoot, and at the side of the heel. An oval patch can be applied to overlap the side of the heel counter and the insole as seen is the photo. I often use a rectangle or large oval under the ball of the foot or an oval under the heel – applied directly to the insole. The patches are useful over stitching or seams in footwear that are rubbing the wearer. If necessary, a patch can be cut to shape for where it will be applied.

The patches will reduce shear and friction; provide relief from hot spot and blister pain, and can be used in any type of insole or orthotic and footwear, from sandals to running shoes, and any type of hiking or ski boot.

I like ENGO patches because they work. The patch is thin and does not alter the fit of the shoe. When properly applied to dry footwear, they stick.

Rebecca Rushton, a podiatrist in Australia, strongly recommends ENGO Patches. She discovered the patches after getting blisters herself and now represents ENGO in Australia. She has written several free reports on blister prevention available on her website, Blister Prevention.

If you are unclear about shear and blister formation, here’s a link to my article An Introduction to Shear and Blister Formation.

The Technical Stuff

JM Carlson, in a 2009 report wrote, “The measurement of friction is the ‘coefficient of friction’. The coefficient of friction (COF) is a number that represents this slipperiness or stickiness between two surfaces and is generally below 1.0. Within the shoe, the COF between the foot, socks and insole can range from 0.5 – 0.9. In contrast the COF between a sock and a polished floor is around 0.2.” Tests have shown PTFE patches to reduce the coefficient of friction (COF) in the shoe by up to 80%. The COF is in approximately 0.16, which is significantly lower than all other in-shoe materials. Importantly, the low COF is maintained even in most and wet conditions inside the shoe.

Check out for more information about ENGO Blister Prevention Patches. They also offer a money-back guarantee.

ENGO Patches can be purchased at the ENGO website,, and Rebecca’s Blister Prevention website.

Disclaimers: I support ENGO Patches and am supplied with whatever I need for the events I work. I am an affiliate of Zombierunner and make a bit of any sale made through the link above.

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 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.

Sometimes Your Feet Quit

September 30, 2012 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Sports 

In August I worked the Gold Rush Adventure Race in the California Sierras. Throughout the race I worked at three checkpoints. As racers needed foot care, I carried my lounge chair and foot care box to where their team was set up and did what I could.

Most racers had hot spots, blisters and sore feet. A lot of times, athletes tell me that have blisters and yet, after cleaning their feet, none are visible. They may have a very sore spot or a hot spot, but there is no blister. Sometimes I can tape over the area or place a Spenco patch to provide a bit of cushioning. I often add an Engo Blister Prevention Patch to their insole underneath the tender area on their foot.

A lot of the racers needed blister care and taping. My whole aim when patching feet is to get the racers back in the race. I do what I can to drain and patch blisters on any part of the foot.

One of the racers came into checkpoint where they were transitioning from bikes to foot. At this point, they had been on their feet for almost two days. They started with a long paddle, followed with a long bushwack up a canyon, and then a really long bike section. The team was near the end of pack. The four members sat and discussed their options and whether to continue. The next section was a long trek of about 36 miles.

The racer needing foot care took off his shoes. As he sat back in my lounge chair, I removed his socks. His heels were fine, however he had major problems with blisters at the ball of the foot where the toes started. Both feet were the same. I cleaned his feet and did an evaluation.

I wish I had taken a few pictures of his feet but I was too involved in getting his feet patched so the team could continue. At the base of each toe were blisters. Many extended to several toes. Some of the blisters extended up between the toes. The majority had blood in the fluid. There were blisters at the base of the toes from one side of the foot to the other side – on both feet. His feet were swollen so the blistered skin was stretched tight from the fluid. In addition, several of the toes had blisters on the bottoms or sides, several with blood inside.

The blood in the blisters was my major concern and that there were so many of them. I usually drain blood blisters and with clean skin and a dab of antibiotic ointment – in a 24-hour race, I’m comfortable doing that. I always ask the person if they are up to date with their Tetanus shots and give them instructions about infections.

I talked to the racer and gave him my honest opinion – that he not continue in the race. We talked and I gave him my reasons. The next section was about 36 hard miles of cross-country trekking. His feet would get wet, and this would soften the skin and lead to further skin breakdown. The blisters were in a hard area to patch and it would especially be one long patch at the base of all his toes. The swollen condition of his feet was not going to get any better. And most important, the blood in so many blisters, even with the blisters lanced and patch, would increase the chances of an infection. Plus, if his feet took a beating during the trek, the blisters would become a huge open unpatchable mess (for lack of a better term). And of course, his feet would hurt badly.

He took my advice and I wrapped his feet as shown in the photo.

Wrapped feet with blisters all the way across the base of the toes

Wrapped feet with blisters all the way across the base of the toes














I think I can count on my fingers how many times I have advised racers to stop because of foot problems. Sometimes your feet simply quit. They have had enough.

Could this have been prevented? Based on my experience, I have to say, probably. Changing socks, treating hot spots, earlier blister care, better socks, moisture controlling lubricants, airing feet at checkpoints, and better shoe fit. In a team event, such as adventure races, every member of the team must help the other members with foot care. Every team member must be honest with their teammates about the condition of their feet. In solo races where athletes are racing alone, they need to be constantly aware of their feet. And where there are crews, these important people must ask questions about the condition of the athlete’s feet.

There are no guarantees in a race of any length. Our feet propel us forward, but every so often, out feet quit.

ENGO’s New Blister Prevention Products

November 30, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Health 

I have been a fan of ENGO blister prevention products since I first learned about them, more than two years ago. Their Blister Prevention Patches work on insoles, over the edges of insoles to the inside of the shoe, in the heel counter – anywhere there is friction. By reducing friction, they reduce pain associated rubbing that causes hot spots and blisters.

Until now, they only offered Blister Prevention Patches in small and large ovals and rectangles. I am glad that ENGO has several new valuable products. These come just in time to be used as stocking stuffers for Christmas. Both products receive a five start rating because of their value to athletes. Each fills a unique need for active outdoor athletes – whatever your sport.

five-stars4 Blister Relief Kit

ENGO's Basic Blister Relief Kit

ENGO's Basic Blister Relief Kit

ENGO is introducing two new Blister Relief Kits. I have given my endorsement to these kits. They are ideal for hiking, climbing, running, walking, team sports and other adventure activities. A durable cloth zipper bag (3.75 x 4.75 inches) protects the 2-ounce kit’s contents against dirt & moisture. Most of the kit’s components come in their own plastic baggies – and the two extra baggies can easily accommodate the remaining components. This kit was designed by ENGO, with input from yours truly. It features several products that I wholeheartedly recommend: Kinesio-Tex tape and ENGO Blister Prevention Patches. Athletes can use both products together to treat a hot spot or blister, or in different locations on the foot. The 18-inch strip of two-inch wide Kinesio-Tex tape is enough to treat multiple blisters. The tape can be cut in one-inch strips for toes. The two ENGO Blister Prevention Patches can be used anywhere in your shoes. The Blister Repair Instruction Booklet tells how to use ENGO patches and my instructions on how to treat a blister. The components of the kit include:

  • ENGO Large Oval Patches (2)
  • Kinesio Tape (18″)
  • Benzoin Tincture (2)
  • Alcohol Prep Pads (4)
  • 5″ x 8″ Hand Towelettes (2)
  • Triple Antibiotic Ointment (2)
  • Sterile Lancets (2)
  • Empty Bags (2)
  • Blister Repair Instruction Booklet
  • Nylon Zipper Bag

ENGO is offering two kits. The Basic Blister Relief Kit contains everything listed above and retails for $11.00. The Complete Blister Relief Kit has the same components plus a stainless steel folding scissor and retails for $14.00. If you don’t have a small folding scissors in your foot care kit, get the Complete kit. They are considering whether to offer a refill pack. Until then, all the components in the Basic kit would be used in typical blister patching scenarios and so ordering a new Basic kit is a no brainer.

Discount Ordering Bonus: Jason, from ENGO, just emailed me and said they are offering a $2 discount on these kits through the end of the year when customers use coupon code “blistergift” during checkout on their site.

Additional patches can be ordered from ENGO as needed. I like the patches and personally would add a couple of small ovals and a large rectangle. You are then covered for all foot parts. If you have other blister patching favorites, they can easily be added to the kit.

five-stars3 Back of Heel Patches

Back of Heel Patch

Back of Heel Patch

If you suffer from back of the heel hot spots or blisters, or Achilles tendon rubbing, ENGO’s new Back of the Heel Patches are made for you. These unique heel-shaped patches are curved to wrap around the top of your shoe’s inner heel. They will give you weeks of uninterrupted protection from painful rubbing, blisters and calluses. Alternatives to these patches include cutting a notch in your shoe’s heel coulter to relieve pressure or applying tape and/or some sort of blister patch on your skin. The first cuts your footwear and the second is often works well for a while and then if not applied correctly, peels off. These new Back of the Heel Patches, if applied to a dry shoe, will last for weeks regardless of what socks you wear and road/trail conditions.

ENGO’s convenient, ultra-thin patches easily store in fanny packs or your foot care kit to be available whenever a hot spot or blister may occur. Or attach one to your race bib pin so you’ll have it handy if a hot spot occurs during a race. The price is $8.00 for a packet of two patches. A cushioned Heel Wrap has been trialed and will be offered soon.

Remember, ENGO patches are applied directly onto your footwear, not your skin. I like the page at their website that describes creative uses of ENGO patches: rake handles, watch bands, bike seats, helmets, furniture, squeaky shoes, backpack straps, and more.

Disclosure: I receive samples from ENGO, which I use at the races where I provide foot care services and I also give samples to athletes. I have endorsed the blister kits and for providing consulting on the kits, I will receive a small royalty.

A Tip for Hotspots and Blisters

April 18, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care 

It is easy to get ready for your race and forget good planning. The paper today had several articles on Monday’s Boston Marathon. Whether you are running a 10K or a marathon, just going for a long walk, or doing a multi-day event, today’s tips is important.

Am ENGO patch in the heel counter of a shoe

Am ENGO patch in the heel counter of a shoe

ENGO Blister Prevention Patches are great to reduce friction over a hot spot or blister. These oval patches are very slick and adhere to your shoe or insole to protect the sensitive area. Just peel off the backing and apply the patch to the area. I recommend pinning an ENGO Patch to your bib number if you are running a race – or put one in your fanny pack. When you feel a hotspot or blister developing, apply the ENGO patch to the area.

The patches are available in small and large ovals, and a large 3×4 rectangle.

ENGO Blister Prevention Patches are available though my link to ZombieRunner or directly from the ENGO website.

Sample Engo Blister Prevention Patches?

March 12, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care 

Those of you who have followed me for while know I am a fan of ENGO Blister Prevention Patches. These slick oval patches are applied to your insoles or inside your shoes, to reduce friction.

An ENGO patch in the heel counter of a shoe

An ENGO patch in the heel counter of a shoe

I have applied them at many of the races where I have patched feet and have given away many as samples. The larger rectangles are great to apply to the front of an insole to reduce friction at the ball of the foot. When I have had an athlete with bad forefoot blisters or tender feet from hot spots, I will cut one to the shape of the insole. I have also used them under heels. The ovals are great for heels and sides of the foot – although getting them into the front of a shoe to relieve side of the foot friction takes work.

Jason M. Pawelsky, the Marketing & Sales Manager at Tamarack Habilitation Technologies, the makers of the patches, recently wrote me with an offer for my readers. Jason said, “I’d be happy to send a free ENGO Blister Prevention Patch sample to any Fixing Your Feet subscribers who emails me their contact information.” Here’s your chance for a free trial. Send your request to: In the subject line put: Happy Feet. Include your full name and snail mail address.

While you wait for your sample, check out the GoEngo website. They have a page of tips and techniques that is worth reading and shows typical applications.

ENGO’s adhesive is pressure-sensitive. Therefore, as pressure increases so does patch conformance & adherence. Patches will eventually need replacement. Replace your ENGO patch when the blue top layer wears through, or completely releases from, the white support layer. These patches can also be applied to your socks.

Over the years, I have narrowed the list of products I carry. Blister patches like those made by Spenco, are always in my bag. ENGO patches compliment whatever patch I have applied or a tape job. Wherever I go on a foot patching expedition, I always carry a supply of ENGO patches.

I invite you to give them a try. I have even suggested that runners take one of two and pin them to their bib number during a race (if they don’t have a small pack). That way you always have a patch handy for the unexpected hot spot or blister. You’ll make your feet happy!

Gifts for Christmas to Keep Your Feet Happy

November 24, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

How about being nice to your feet this Christmas and giving them a gift. In fact, be nice to a freind and give them a gift for happy feet. Here are a few suggestions. These can easily be found through a Google search—but many of the items are available at (marked with an *).

Fixingyourfeet_3A copy of the 4th edition of Fixing Your Feet: Prevention and Treatments for Athletes. If you have the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd edition – you are out of date.

A copy of my Happy Feet booklet. A short 36 page booklet for those who don’t need the full book.

Hydropel_1   *  A tube of Hydropel  –  Hydropel is especially good at controlling moisture and maceration. Used by many adventure racers and ultrarunners.

* A tube of BodyGlide

* A container of BlisterShield Powder or Roll-On

Outdoor_quarter   *  A pair of Injinji Tetrasok socks with Nuwool – These toe socks are popular with many runners, ultrarunners and adventure racers.

    A pair of Smartwool socks

Eco_poly_quarter_sock_2x2  *  A pair of ecologically safe Teco Ecopoly or EcoMerino wool socks. These socks are made by a compamy that walks the walk of eco-friendly products.

Sub24  A pair of Dirty Girl gaiters. Lightweight gaiters made in a multiude of patterns and colors. Unisex. 

Engopackagefront  *  A pack of Engo Blister Prevention Patches


*  A pack of Spenco Blister Pads


* A pack of Spenco QuikStik Adhesive Blister Dressings

Zeasorb  *  A container of Zeasorb Super Absorbent powder. My favorite foot powder.

  A callus file from your local drug store. Use every few days to control those pasky calluses.

  A good nail file, not the throw away kind, from your local drug store

Kinesio_beige_2inch_1  *  A few rolls of Kinesio-Tex tape. This tape is quickly becoming the tape of choice for foot taping.

  A pair ShockDoctor insoles

Related_sole_ultra  *  A pair of SofSole heat moldable insoles. Pop them in the oven to heat, stand on them to mold, and they fit your feet.


*  A gift certificate from

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