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.
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.
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 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.
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 GoEngo.com for more information about ENGO Blister Prevention Patches. They also offer a money-back guarantee.
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.
Filed under: Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Health, Sports
Recently a question about ankles was asked on an ultra email forum. Here’s an edited version.
“Rolling ankles seemed to be a weekly thing. So just wondering if there are any specifics to the alphabet drawing feet. Sitting, standing, flatfooted or pointed toes? One of these or all of the above? I have already been messing with it and: 1. I have very uncoordinated feet and 2. I can already feel a little “work-out” going on, so this is very promising! Any specifics would be much appreciated. Whatever that I can do to help my running while at the office is a major victory!”
Most athletes know the importance of strong ankles. Whether a runner, adventure racer, triathlete, hikers, or walker, you’ll benefit from making your ankles stronger. I responded with some basic advice.
“I’d suggest a wobble board or balance board. The best ones are round. They have a rounded ball on the bottom and when you stand on them, you are forced to work your ankles as you try to keep you balance. They are very good at strengthening ankles. Keep one at home and the office. You can always alternate standing on one foot with your eyes closed and arms out. Depending on your sense of balance, that works the ankles too.”
The reference to the alphabet in the question is about using your toes and feet to write the letters of the alphabet. The motion of the writing the letters works the ankle. It’s a very effective exercise.
I also like the simple and no-cost method of working your ankles by standing on one foot, arms out to the side, and then closing your eyes. This is harder than it sounds but is also effective at strengthening your ankles.
FitterFirst has a great line of wobble boards. Here is some text from a wobble board page on their website.
Regardless of your age or ability, daily use of a balance board or wobble board is an asset to your fitness, health and well-being. Our Professional series wobble boards are made of a durable 3/4″ Baltic Birch and feature our patented Tri-Level adjustment system, which allows for a quick and easy change to any of the three difficulty levels. Simply spin the sphere and select which setting suits your balance ability and in seconds you can be working towards better S.A.M. (Stability, Agility, and Mobility). A patented dual level fulcrum allows the board to adjust from basic to advanced with a simple twist of the wrist. Try our wobble boards for daily balance maintenance at the office, while talking on the phone, or while watching television.
You will experience:
- Improved balance & coordination
- Heightened sense of body awareness
- Increased core strength & stability
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.
Making a Foot Care Clinic video is one of my major objectives for 2012. I had the whole project laid out and wanted to know what others wanted to learn. Of course, I have my own ideas of what to teach, but I value the input of others. So a while back, I asked for suggestions. Here a summary of what I received.
Three Topics – I can think of 3 video topics that I would like to see covered. I’m always referring runners to your book. My experience at aid stations and answering runners’ questions tells me there are many runners that neglect basic foot care. While many runners are expert at caring for their feet, there are also many that are getting by but with the grace of God. I think a video as basic as demonstrating foot washing might be needed.
1. The Daily Routine: What the ultra runner should be doing every day to keep feet healthy and race ready.
2. The Race Routine: Preparing feet race morning or the evening before.
3. Race Emergencies: The emergency race supplies to be carried or stored in drop bags that allow the participant to be independent and successful with race foot care. Include special weather conditions. ~ Todd Baum
Blister Care – Definitely blister care, small ones to the nasty, start to finish when athlete rolls in, hows its done, tools, tricks, when to leave them alone, when to advise them to consider oh no stopping. ~ Wayne Kehr
Toe Blisters – I’d like to see a picture of toe blisters and how to tape them. The tape always seems to fall off from the toe, especially if it is the little toe. ~ Kris Martinovich
Taping – Taping would be #1–preventative. Various shoe lacing techniques to reduce pressure on tender top of the foot (skipping holes, etc.) would be helpful for hikers. ~ Susan Alcorn
Blister Popping – I’d like to see the correct way to pop a blister. ~ Patricia Carroll
Callus Care – I would very much like to know the proper treatment for reducing calluses on the ends of my toes and the balls of the feet. I’ve tried scraping, cutting, and the Ped Egg, no luck, they keep coming back, and they hurt. ~ Margie Withrow
Hydration – A section explaining why managing hydration and electrolytes can help avoid issues in the feet! ~ George Miller
Toenail Care – How about proper nail trimming and filing of the nail tip “forward” so there is no ridging to catch sock? ~ Rocky Shon
Taping, Blister Care, Toenails and Calluses – I really love the idea of a Foot Care Video. Obviously, as you mentioned, various taping techniques are a “must” when it comes to the content. I would also like to see proper treatment of blisters both on the trail and after the run at home. Another topic could be best preparation of toenails as well as calluses for ultra events. I am sure that you had those topics already on your list, but I just wanted to make sure that they are indeed covered. ~ Harald Vaessin
Specific Taping Techniques – I’d opt for some demonstration of how to properly tape one’s feet with Leukotape. I taped some sore areas early on the John Muir Trail last August, found I couldn’t remove the tape a couple days later and ended up tearing, cutting holes in my toes to get the damn tape off! I successfully completed the trail in 17 days but did suffer because of my apparent taping errors. ~ John Cusick
Plantar Fasciitis – Information on how to deal with plantar fasciitis. ~ Ed Werner
Honestly, a few of the ideas were ones that were not on my list. I envision this as a tool to teach athletes stuff that is hard to describe in print. Taping is a prime example. It’s hard to fully grasp the concept of taping toes without a series of pictures. That’s where a video will shine.
As this project evolves, my readers will receive updates and will have more opportunities for input. If you have not sent me you idea and want to be heard, please comment below.
Feet are a big part of my life. For the past 15 years, Fixing Your Feet has introduced me to great people. I have enjoyed helping runners at events like Western States; Badwater in Death Valley; Primal Quest in Colorado, California and Washington; Raid the North Extreme in BC Canada; the TransRockies in Colorado; Racing the Planet Atacama in Chile; the Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica; the Avon Walk; the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk; and others. In all these events, I have worked on thousands of feet. In addition, I have responded to an uncounted number of emails from folks asking for foot care advice.
The best part has been the people I have met. Runners, hikers, adventure racers, walkers, and their crews. Athletes walking a fine line between making a cutoff in a race, front runners, back of the pack runners, short and long distance hikers, solo and in groups – all ages. Athletes with a simple blister and others with blisters all over. Athletes in pain, and those wanting to quit.
I can recall many of these people. I remember their stories. Some of you are in my stories. I have learned a lot from each person whose feet I have patched. I don’t pretend to know everything about feet. Together we have learned a lot. I thank each of you for what you have contributed to the Fixing Your Feet story.
I wish all my readers a fun, bright, delicious, warm and cozy, and loving Merry Christmas. I hope you can spend time with family and friends.