Several weeks ago I was interviewed by Gabriella Boston, a reporter for The Washington Post. She emailed me asking whether I was available and when could we talk. When she called we talked for about an hour. She asked all kinds of questions about foot care based on my experiences for runners.
The article came out on the 17th and is worth reading. The title is How Runners Can Keep Their Feet Happy. Sections include, run training, proper footwear, cross training, and foot care. Gabriella interviewed two podiatrists, a physical therapist, and me. Fixing Your Feet is also mentioned in the article. Click on the link in the paragraph above to read the full article. My bet is that you’ll learn something new.
Filed under: blister care, Books, Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Footwear, Footwear Products, Health, Sports
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.
Filed under: Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Footwear Products
What better time of the year to pamper your feet than Christmas. Our feet are encased in heavy socks and footwear. We take them for granted. Here’s a look at my favorite things for your feet this year. My suggestion is to check out these items at Zombierunner.com. Don and Gillian support athletes with great service. You can click on their link and at their website, click on Foot Care or any other items. Zombierunner has everyone of these items, except a callus file.
Engo Footwear Patches – these slick patches go in your shoes to reduce friction. A must for any foot care first aid kit.
Drymax Socks – my favorite socks that hate moisture. Their micro-fiber technology is a sweat removal system to keep your feet dry.
Injinji Socks – the original toesocks that are perfect for many sports, and a must for those who are prone to toe blisters.
Sportslick Lubricant - Prevents blisters, chafing and skin rash during sporting activities. This skin care product also cures jock itch, athlete’s foot, and other skin conditions.
Stuffitts Portable Drying Solutions – for shoes, gloves, helmets to defeat wet and stinky gear. Their soft, lightweight forms combat moisture and kills odor in personal wearable gear.
BlisterShield Powder – a great powder, especially for those who prefer powder over a lubricant.
Kinesio Tex Tape – a great tape that breathes and conforms to the shape of any part of your feet. 1, 2, and 3 inch widths.
Leukotape – one of the stickiest tapes available. 1 ½ inches wide.
Superfeet Insoles – one of the best insoles for support. They are available in a number of options.
Toenail Clippers – everyone needs a good clipper to tame their toenails.
Callus File – a callus build-up can lead to problems that can result in blisters underneath this hard layer of skin.
Natural Running – this is a great book that teaches you to run the way nature intended, mimicking the healthy, efficient barefoot style you were born with, while keeping feet safe from rough modern surfaces.
Fixing Your Feet, 5th edition – my best-selling book that covers all aspects of footwear and foot care.
Here’s the Amazon link for the Fixing Your Feet print edition.
Here’s the Amazon link for a Fixing Your Feet Kindle edition.
I hope you’ll consider one or more of these as gifts either to yourself or a friend.
Disclaimer: I am an affiliate of Zombierunner and make a few pennies when you buy through my link.
Lets talk about expectations for foot care at races. I like this subject because being prepared is important. It can make my work easier and likewise that of everyone helping with medical and foot care at races. This coming weekend is Western States and there will be a lot of runners needing help with their feet.
Over the years I have seen everything at 100-mile races. Runners with holes in their socks or socks so worn you can see through the material, severe Athlete’s Foot, long and untrimmed toenails, huge calluses, no gaiters, the use of Vaseline as a lubricant, the use of Band-Aids on blisters, existing injuries that have not healed, shoes that should have been tossed out, huge blisters caused by not treating hot spots, and lots more.
I see runners with crews that manage everything for them – including foot care. These are typically runners who have experience in longer races. They also seem to have some degree of foot care expertise. They will come through an aid station and meet their crew and all is well. If they need foot care, they have the supplies and they or their crew knows how to use the materials. They are prepared.
Other runners are less prepared. They might have crews, but they don’t have the foot care supplies, much less the expertise in how to do what they needed. They count on someone being there to fix their feet.
Many of these runners expect a lot from the podiatrity staff – sometimes, they want a miracle. There are four issues to get past. First, many times there are no “official” podiatrity people at the aid station. No podiatrist anyway. Second, what they get is someone who is maybe a nurse, paramedic, EMT, or even a full-fledged MD, who is volunteering as the aid station’s medical person. Third, often this person(s) has limited skills in fixing feet. And finally, fourth, often they have limited supplies.
So what do you get? You get a person who really wants to help but may be hindered by their limited skills and resources. Don’t fault them if the patch doesn’t work or it feels wrong. You might try and give them directions on what to do – with limited success.
What’s wrong here? Your expectations are wrong. You cannot expect every race to have podiatrity people at every aid station, with supplies to fix hundreds of feet. Some races have medical staff while other races have none. A majority of races do not have podiatrist on hand. Is it their job to provide it? Only if they advertise such aid.
This means you should be prepared at any race you enter, to have the foot care supplies and knowledge to patch your own feet – or have crew that knows how. Does that sounds harsh? Maybe so, but you entered the race. You spent money on travel, a crew, food, new shoes, lodging, new shorts and a top, water bottles, and more. But did you spend a few bucks on preparing a good foot care kit?
Why take a chance that I or anyone else is there to fix your feet? I find lots of runners who have my book (Fixing Your Feet) but I am amazed at the large numbers who haven’t heard of it.
Many of us don’t mind fixing your feet. In fact I love to do it. But we can’t be everywhere – at all aid stations, at all hours, and at all races. Can you do me a favor? Tell some else about Fixing Your Feet and this blog. Make their life a bit easier and help them finish their race with happy feet.
I’ll be in the medical area at the Michigan Bluff aid station. In back of the scales and food tables. If you need me, I’ll be there.
Those of you who are fans of Fixing Your Feet will probably agree that the 5th edition released in the Spring of 2011 is the best one yet. Of course I am biased, but I have seen each edition become better that the previous ones.
Yes, I think the 5th edition is the best one.
My publisher, Wilderness Press, released it as a trade paper version. So imagine my surprise when I received word that it would be released in a special edition hardcover edition for Rodale Press and Runner’s World. Several months ago, in a deal with my publisher, they did a test, offereing Fixing Your Feet to their subscribers. Because the test was successful and the interest was good, they decided to go with a hardcover edition.
If you are interested in Fixing Your Feet in hardcover, click on the link. As you can see from the ad below, they did a great job with the marketing.
Last weekend I worked the Michigan Bluff aid station at the Western States 100 Mile Run. The 2011 running of this amazing footrace over California’s High Sierras was different for several reasons.
This was a huge snow pack year, resulting in many runners with wet feet and footwear for long periods of time. The temperatures were particularly mild, resulting in the highest finisher rate since 1993.
As I worked the medical aid station, feet were my first responsibility. Somehow that’s the assignment I draw, and the rest of the medical staff are quite happy to let me do my thing. I don’t mind, it’s what I do. Push come to shove, many of them could do an acceptable job of patching a blister – but they are not knowledgeable with the best techniques.
So I set up my canopy, two chairs, stool, a card table with all my gear, my foot care kit, and several containers of extra supplies. I was ready. Over the course of the front-runner to the last runner, there was about an eight hour spread.
I didn’t count runners that I helped. I never do. I just move from one to the next as they come in for help. Strangely, this year I might have had one time when I had two runners in at the same time. Most years, there are runners waiting. And the runners I treated had less serious problems. So what did I see?
Two runners come to mind. I was amazed at how these two runners treated their feet. The first runner had come in for some minor blister repair. After I checked his feet and made a few minor repairs, I asked him whether he had clean socks. He pulled a pair out of his drop bag and handed them to me. One was fine. The other had a hole over the tip of the big toe. He laughed and told me they were his lucky socks, and asked whether I could put a Band-Aid over the hole. Really!
The second runner came and complained of heel problems. One heel had a quarter-size blister directly on the bottom and I cleaned and drained it, and then applied tape side to side under the heel. The other foot had no identifiable fluid or blister. I asked about clean socks and he said he didn’t have any. So I powdered his damp socks and put them back on his feet. When I picked up his shoes, I was amazed to see that both insoles were worn through in the heels – exactly where he was having problems. The insoles had essentially fallen apart in the heel, creating a hole into which went the flesh from his heel. No wonder he had heel problems. I added an Engo Blister Patch on top of the indentation on each insole. After I had him set to go, he remembered he had extra socks in his drop bag, which he had forgotten about.
I saw several other things that could lead to problems.
For one thing, a majority of runners were not wearing gaiters. Those who know me have heard me preach the benefits of gaiters to keep junk out of shoes. Don’t use them and you take chances with small rocks and debris getting kicked up into the shoes, which can lead to hot spots and blisters.
Another huge issue was runners with wet socks. Failing to change socks for 65 miles leads to softened and macerated skin. More than one runner saw their day end because of this problem. When your feet hurt because of maceration, you slow down – and that leads to longer times between sia stations, and ultimately leads to missing a time cutoff. Some of these had gone through aid stations and not changing socks. Taking five minutes at an aid station to change socks can save you from slower and slower times when feet turn painful. Knowing ahead of time that snow would be an issue, failing to plan with additional socks, and even shoes, is puzzling.
Working at Western States is always an experience. I always come away having learned something new. This year I learned that no matter how many people I think I have reached and influenced with good foot care tips, there are still many who need to hear the message.
Dorrian Rhodes is not your average guy. Recently he was 365 pounds. And he decided to achieve something new and challenging. He is an occasional blogger at RunOregon.
I revieved a Google alert on my name because Dorrian mentioned my name and Fixing Your Feet in a blog post on April 20. I plan on emailing Dorrian to offer him encouragement. Here are excerpts from Dorrian’s blog post.
“… a year and a half ago, something changed inside and set into motion the idea of a new possibility…that I could complete a 100-mile race. At the time, I was 365 pounds.
There are few obstacles that can’t be overcome without training. At almost four times the distance of a marathon, running a 100-miler seems to suggest that those who do them are not only extremist, but are just plain nuts. For even the advanced and long standing runner, my idea was extreme and far-fetched. Everyone I talked to expressed caution and various medical reports on knee injuries related to force impact.
With that in mind, I started small by walking with my children. I also began to read literature on endurance running, and learned about running shoe construction. Fixing Your Feet by John Vonhof has been instrumental in helping my advancement in running and hiking. Armed with information, inspiration and desire, I slowly began to increase my weekly mileage. After shredding 50 pounds from my body, the journey continues in making this soft hunk of man into a hardened endurance runner.
You may be wondering where to begin. Start with getting to know your feet. Go to a running shoe store like Fit Right, Road Runner Sports, or the Portland Running Company to get your feet evaluated at no cost. All running shoes don’t require running, start with walking daily. I want other obese and overweight people to know that a healthy lifestyle is not beyond your reach. Find your inspiration, be consistent and you are already on your way!”
I commend Dorrian in his adventure. Read his post here at the RunOregon blog.
Today I want to share the new Introduction to the 5th edition of Fixing Your Feet. I think the Introduction to any book is one of the first parts buyers should read. It usually sets the tone for the rest of the book. While authors’ struggle to make sure the whole book is complete and thorough, we often sweat over the Introduction. Personally, it is one of the last sections I write. Here is the new Introduction to the 5th edition.
For years, I have signed copies of Fixing Your Feet with the following inscription, Best wishes for healthy and happy feet. That has been my motivation for more than 14 years of learning as much as possible about foot care – and helping people. I love to see athletes able to finish their race without foot problems.
Those reading this fifth edition of Fixing Your Feet are, by their very nature, active people. They love the outdoors. They love challenges, often pushing their bodies beyond normal. Oftentimes this is done in less than ideal conditions – rain, cold, snow, sand, and on feet that hurt. And more often than not, on blistered feet. If there is one injury that has plagued the majority of athletes, it’s blisters.
Mark Swanson, an ultrarunner, sent an email to a listserv in response to a comment about blister prevention. He wrote: “Let’s remember the lesson John keeps emphasizing – what works for you may not work for the next person and what works for you now may not work for you next time. But what works for you will help some people and may work for you for a long time!”
There is a lot of value in these two sentences. A common saying is, “We are each an experiment of one.” That applies to foot care, and especially blister prevention. Ever since I wrote the first edition of Fixing Your Feet, I have tried to get people to learn about how to prevent blisters with a variety of techniques and products.
Yes, blisters are the number one issue, the number one question, that athletes ask about. I wish I could tell you the one answer that would solve all your blisters problems. But there’s not one solution. In this book are hundreds of tips to help prevent blisters, and if you get them anyway – products to fix them. You need to find which ones work for you. By doing your homework, you’ll be closer to solving your foot problems. This goes for other foot problems too.
Fixing Your Feet is filled with information to help you keep your feet happy and healthy. Rather than read looking only for a solution to your problem or injury, I encourage you to learn as much as you can about what caused the problem or injury. It is important to eliminate the cause to achieve a long-term solution. Start with the new chapter on Getting the Most Out of Fixing Your Feet.
In the publishing world, not many books make it to a fifth edition. Fixing Your Feet has because, as I said earlier, we are active people, loving the outdoors and challenges, and we pushing their bodies beyond normal – and when our feet give out – we look for solutions. This book offers solutions.
In each edition, the Foreword presents a perspective that emphasize a unique point that we need to understand:
- Our feet are our primary mode of transportation and require our attention and preparation. Billy Trolan, MD, 1st edition
- Most of our foot problems could have been avoided with proper care. David Hannaford, DPM, 2nd edition
- Our feet will take us to new challenges and adventures if we make the conscious choice to care for them. Dan Barger, the Primal Quest Expedition Adventure Race Founder, 3rd edition
- If your feet are happy, you’re happy. If your feet are miserable and want to quit, you are miserable and want to quit. Demetri ‘Coup’ Coupounas, 4th edition
- It’s our feet that connect us to the surrounding terrain, propelling us toward our next destination. Take care of your feet and the world is yours to enjoy. Ignore your feet and life can be a miserable experience. Brian J Krabak MD MBA, Sports Medicine Physician and Medical Director, RacingThePlanet 4 Desert Series, 5th edition
Fixing Your Feet is for you – solutions for your feet. I would love to hear from you. Send me an email and let me know your story about your feet.
Personally, I like the feel of books – you know the paper kind. But the world is changing – and people are reading books on their Kindles, iPads, iPod Touch, Nooks, eReaders, eBook Readers, iPhones and other smart phones, and laptops and desktops.
I’m happy that my publisher has made Fixing Your Feet, 5th edition, available on the Kindle. For $9.99, you can buy the Kindle version and have it on your Kindle or your Kindle app equipped devices.
My publisher tells me they will also have it converted into the ePub version for other readers, and Apple’s ePubLibrary and iBookstore. I will let you know when that happens.
I think this is the best of all worlds. The ability to have the book in a really “portable” format is great. Take your Kindle, iPad, iPod Touch, smart phone or other devise right into the field. You can have it at the aid station, at the side of your runner, or in your backpack.
In order to do justice to this post, I went to Amazon and bought the Kindle version of my book. Since I don’t have a smart phone or Kindel or iPad, etc., I downloaded the Kindle app for my Mac. Below is a screenshot of page 139 in the physical book. It shows how clear the photos and text are.
Here is the link to Fixing Your Feet – Kindle version at Amazon. Check it out and give me your feedback.
Disclosure: same as before. I make a few pennies if you buy through this link.
I want to share the new Foreword to the 5th edition of Fixing Your Feet. With the planning for each new edition, I struggle over who to ask to write the Foreword. Is famous better then credibility? My choices have always been someone who brings something new to the table. A perspective that is new. I met Brian Krabak through emails and his work at some of the Racing the Planet six-day races. I think you will enjoy what he wrote. Thanks Brian.
The Foreword to the 5th edition of Fixing Your Feet
Whether you are participating in a 5-kilometer or 150-kilometer race, all athletes need to train appropriately to hopefully avoid injury. Train correctly and you can experience the wonders of the outdoors or the thrill of competition. Train incorrectly and you may sustain a significant injury that will not allow you to compete or obtain your goal. In extreme situations, where athletes are out in the wilderness, these injuries can have deadly consequences. Good athletes train appropriately and prepare for whatever obstacles might come their way.
Spending years competing as an endurance athlete, including adventure racing and triathlons, has taught me the importance of preparation and prevention. I can remember finishing 24-hours races having crossed several river beds, hiking over mountain passes and through slots canyons – thankful that my feet, though sore, were fine. Unlike the poor soul I passed at a checkpoint tending to a horrific blister requiring him to drop out of a race, I’ve learned the importance of taking care of one of the most important parts of our body, our feet. It’s our feet that connect us to the surrounding terrain, propelling us toward our next destination. Take care of your feet and the world is yours to enjoy. Ignore your feet and life can be a miserable experience.
I’ve witnessed the impact of injuries to the feet as Medical Director for RacingThePlanet. These ultra-endurance running events challenge athletes to cross over 150 miles over seven days through some of the harshest terrains around the world. My research has identified that for the majority of athletes who experience some sort of race injury-it’s an injury related to their feet. Yet, almost 25% of these athletes will not need medical care. How can that be? The answer is training and prevention. Fortunately for those with injures, most are blisters that can be managed appropriately if identified early. In fact, our medical team spends a good amount of timing reminding athletes to protect their feet. Strategies include the use of lubricants, changing of socks, checking of skin for hot spots, staying well hydrated and well nourished. However, mismanage these blisters or other lower extremities injuries and most athletes experience some serious illnesses including skin infections that causes them to drop out of the race.
That is why Fixing Your Feet is such an important resource. The comprehensive book provides some of the most detailed information regarding your feet and how to prevent or treat injuries from one of the experts in the field. Looking through the pages, you’ll learn about the basics of footwear, including new information regarding minimalist and barefoot running verses shod or traditional footwear. Preventive strategies focus on the role of clothing, compounds, taping and impact of various extreme conditions on your feet. Treatment recommendations will help manage the typical foot injuries relating to skin, muscle and ligaments. Throughout, practical tips will help you no matter where you go. It’s why I will typically recommend the book as a resource for any medical personal helping with an ultra-endurance running event or wilderness expeditions. So whether you are an athlete competing in a race or part of the medical team taking care of an athlete, I recommend you keep Fixing Your Feet close by.
Brian J Krabak, MD MBA
Sports Medicine Physician
University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital
Rehabilitation, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
Medical Director, RacingThePlanet 4 Desert Series
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I already have decided who I want to write the Foreword for the 6th edition! That’s a long ways off and may never happen, but I remember back in 1997 when Fixing Your Feet was a self-published book done on a shoestring – and a lot of hope. Now, 15 years later, Fixing Your Feet has earned it place in foot care history (if there is such a thing).
Thank you all my faithful readers and followers. Thank you all those who have shared their ideas photos. I pray you enjoy the 5th edition and it saves you pain and discomfort. You are the reason I do this.