Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Footwear, Health, Sports, toenails
I believe strongly in prevention as a proactive measure in foot care.
Tim Noakes’ sixth law of running injuries must be heeded—any running injury can be cured only after the cause is found and eliminated. All of us who run, hike, or adventure race at some point have problems with our feet or sustain foot injuries. The prevention chapters are numerous and lengthy because many factors contribute to foot problems and injuries, and for every factor, there is a preventive measure that can reduce or eliminate it. Prevention is the key to saving your feet. Dave Scott, a good friend and ultrarunner, put the foot problem in proper perspective: “When you don’t take care of your feet during a long run or race, each step becomes a reminder of your ignorance.”
It’s very easy to relinquish our responsibility for preparedness and let someone else dictate what we should do. We tend to listen to those whom we look up to and to those who are more experienced. In many ways this is OK, and it is often the way it should be. However, only you can determine what works for your feet.
Knowing your prevention options is important. That’s being proactive. I get emails every week from athletes who are looking for answers for their feet issues.
Some have my book but others don’t. Some have the book and have gone through the chapters to find possible treatment options. Others have the book and haven’t read it – and want me to answer their questions.
I try. Sometimes it works and sometimes not. While I answer from my experience and knowledge, I don’t have your feet. And that’s important.
Your feet have your abnormalities (hammer toes, bunions, thick toenails, skin that calluses, a tendency to athlete’s foot, a tendency to blisters, etc.), your ankles, your shoes and socks, your fit (good or bad), your training base, your stride and gait, and more.
You are the best person to find what works for your feet. Others may give suggestions. Fixing Your Feet can give suggestions and I may offer a few via email or in this blog, but you need to try them on your feet to find the one that works best.
You are the key to prevention.
Please, don’t show up at a race with a bad case of athlete’s foot, holes in your socks, shoes that have outlived their support, insoles that are flat as paper, toenails that are long and untrimmed, shoes that don’t fit, huge thick calluses, blisters that are unhealed, thick nails from untreated toenail fungus.
Yes, I have seen all of these.
Again, you are the key to prevention.
When Geoff Baker sent me a few photos of feet, which he took at this year’s Barkley, I found two jewels. The composition of Brett Maune’s feet in the two photos after winning the race is great.
The first photo shows Brett removing tape from his feet. The condition of his feet and legs is rough. Note the light skin on the heel where he’s removing tape. Another light strip of skin is shown on the bottom of the big toe. A strip of tape is still evident on the inside of the right foot.
The second photo is a great example that Brett knows his feet well. All the light spots on the bottom and sides of the feet are places where he applied Leukotape. He knew where his feet were vulnerable and he applied just enough tape to protect the skin and tissue in those areas. From all appearances, it worked.
Years ago, a good friend and renown ultrarunner, Dick Collins, told me to never put anything on or around your feet that was un-necessary. His theory, that I support, is that anything that adds bulk can be bad.
That’s why I frown on using moleskin, gauze and soft foam with cutouts over blisters. They all add bulk. When the runner takes off after the patching, his feet feel tight in his shoes because of the added “stuff” in the shoe. This often adds even more pressure on the blistered area, making it more uncomfortable that before. This can easily change the runners gait and this affect continues up the leg to the knee, the hip and the spine.
I commend Brett for winning the Barkley and for knowing how to care for his feet. We can learn from Brett. In short, pre-tape where you need it.
To view a photo montage of images from Barkley, check out The Barkley: Bad Things Happen.
Here is Geoff’s contact information: Geoffrey Baker Photography.