A Survey About Feet From The 2012 Amazon Jungle Marathon

Vicky Kypta is the Medical Team Manager for the Jungle Marathon, which starts October 6 in the Amazon in Brazil. Last year she did an informal survey of the participants and the results are interesting. The race lasts seven days and goes through the jungle on pre-existing paths, trails, and tracks with natural obstacles to pass including streams and shallow rivers. This leads to feet that are constantly wet.

Jungle Marathon foot care

Jungle Marathon foot care

This is the race that I will be at in a few days.

Vicky shared the results of the questionnaire and commented it was quite interesting, although the sample group was quite small. There were about 30 participants.

Here are some of the findings:

  • 77% of the respondents wore Injinji socks
  • 100% of those NOT wearing Injinji sock got blisters
  • 46% of those wearing Injinji sock got blisters: out of those 50% were on the balls of the foot and 50% were on the toes. Those who had blisters on their toes all wore shoes in their normal size.

Out of those with no blisters:

  • 100% wore Injinji socks
  • 100% wore shoes one size larger
  • 75% applied some form of anti-friction compound to their feet; i.e. Body Glide, 2nd Skin or Zinc Oxide cream
  • 75% pre-taped problem areas or hotspots

I find this interesting and wonder what we will find with the 78 participants next week. The Jungle Marathons are well run and the staff tells runners to train with wet feet. They have found this results in less foot problems.

The results are striking in several areas (remember this is a seven day stage race):

  1. All the runners who did not get blisters wore Injinji socks and shoes a full size larger than their normal shoes
  2. All the runners who did not wear Injinji socks got blisters
  3. Runners wearing their normal size shoes all got toe blisters
  4. The majority of blisters were on the forefoot and toes

Over the past 17 years, I have worked a lot of ultramarathons and multi-day stage races. I can honestly say that overall, feet have improved. More runners are prepared and know how to manage their feet.

When I return, I will share what we found at this year’s Amazon Jungle Marathon.

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 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.

Sock Loyalty

December 20, 2009 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Footwear Products 

Sock loyalty – is there such a thing? Is there really more than one ‘good’ running sock? Why are many people are loyal to their favorite socks?

It started with a simple email to one of the ultrarunnng forums:

“I’m so VERY disappointed today. My loyalty to a running sock company is unfortunately coming to an end given their recent business practices and unprofessionalism… it might be time for a change. So I’m hoping some of you could recommend a good running sock for me. I am NOT at all interested in Smartwool (NFI)… been there, done that. What I am interested is a sock that offers amazing cushioning, breathability and if needed, warmth. I’ve been running in a pair of Coolmax socks (NFI) for the last 2 years made by this local company… I’m sad to be searching yet it must be done… I loved the Coolmax with cushioning… it was PERFECT.”

Then the responses started – one after the other – for days. I found them interesting and fun to read. Being a sock lover, I decided to pay close attention to what these athletes were saying. I knew there was something to learn.

Right new, here is what people wrote, in sock company alphabetical order.

Drymax Socks

I wear Drymax socks every day of my life for everything that I do. They are the only socks I wear. When it comes to running ultras, I have yet to get a significant blister since I have been wearing them.

Another vote for Drymax. Ran Leadville in one pair, no blisters, nuf said.

I have no problems at all with Drymax. To me, they’re a godsend. OTOH, I had all sorts of blister problems with Injinji and they started falling apart on me after only a couple hundred miles. Those Smartwool micro-crew socks used to be great for me, but now, not so much.

Injinji Socks

Injinji socks worked great for me at three straight races.

Badwater (one pair the whole way); Leadville (one pair even with water crossing) and UTMB (one sock change).  For some reason my feet took a beating at Keys 100 this year, but I think shoes were the issue, not socks (which were Injinji).

I get blisters with ALL socks EXCEPT injinjis, and with injinjis, I get no blisters.

I like my Injinjis, but I’ll only wear them during a short race, or on short easy runs because of how unpredictable their wear is. Put me in the category of always wearing Injinji socks.  I have several pair that have been around since I started wearing them in 2003.

Injinjis! Not much in the way of cushion, but pretty comfy, nonetheless. The merino wool version keeps me plenty warm in single digit temps.

You’ll get very mixed reviews about the Injinjis. IMO, they’re fabulous. I probably have 30 pairs of them, and I wear them pretty much all the time, regardless what I’m doing. As far as lifetime goes, I have pairs that have seen thousands of miles of running and are still hanging in there. Others will report sock failures in the first 100 (or fewer) miles. Not sure whether their socks were a different material (there are several alternatives), they just got a lemon, the socks are better suited to certain running styles or anatomical properties, or what. Anyway, one very strong vote “for.”

Another vote for injinji. They are all I wear. Never had a blister. I’m not big on cushion. I wear minimal shoes (race flats, VFF’s etc) all the time except on fancy date nights. Performance style wears longer than the other materials in my experience.

Smartwool Socks

I tried a pair of SmartWool socks several months ago and haven’t had a problem since. I really like them a lot!

Smartwools that I ran my first marathon AND my first ultra in without any blister problems at all. Now I can’t even wear them in a 5K. I don’t know why they changed. And I sure wish I could get away with 47-cent tube socks from Costco.

Here’s my two cents on the gear in question… Socks: Smartwool – end of story. Their cycling socks offer the perfect length for trail running. They bounce back after every wash and last quite a long time.  Breathable in the summer, and retain their warmth during the cold – even when you go stream crossing in the winter. Don’t try that with a synthetic!

Swiftwick Socks

I’d like to recommend Swiftwick socks. I got a pair early this fall from a race & wear them every time if they’re clean (sometimes even when they’re dirty). Really cushy. They hold up really well in the cold/wet too.

The North Face Socks

I got a pair of socks from TNF this fall that are moving up my favorites list too.

Thorlo Socks

My vote would be for Thorlo’s, Level 3 Running.

I have been wearing Thorlo crew running socks for 16 years and 30,000+ miles with nary a blister. Excellent cushioning.

UnderArmour Socks

I love my UnderArmour socks.

Wigwam Socks

Wigwam wool-polypro blend socks were the best ever. ‘Twas also about 15 yrs ago I went around to all shops in the SF Bay area and bought what they had left of the Marathon Racers. Now down to about 5 new pairs and several used.  Save’em for 100s.

I have some Wigwam Ultimax wool blend socks I got *15* years ago that are still running strong.

I love the Wigwam Ingenious socks.

Wright Socks

For me, you can’t go wrong with Wright socks, Drymax and I been using Wal-Mart Coolmax for years.

I have found the double-layered Wright socks – and Glide – just about eliminated my problems with blisters.


Who wears socks?

Then there were a few general comments about the subject:

If this conversation has proved one thing, it’s that what works for any one person won’t necessarily work for any one other person. You just have to try different brands until you find one that works for you.

Lots of folks on the list have strong opinions about their socks, and you’ll always get the old school tube sock crowd chiming in. It something works, why change it (don’t fix things that aren’t broke is always my first advice)… but if your socks are not working try other options.

The only problem is that that doesn’t work for everybody. I got a pair of Drymax socks (from the great Drymax folks, who were there at ATY last December), and while I liked the socks a lot, I ended up with a tremendous blister on the ball of my left foot from the socks sliding around. They may have just been the wrong size, I don’t know, but when I switched to my then-standard double-layer Wright socks, things settled down.

So what have I learned? Socks are a very personal choice. We pick them based advertisements, emails like those above, suggestions from others, and simply by what is available at our local stores. There are many good socks to choose from. Some will work for your feet while others won’t. Questions include how much cushioning do you need? What weather will you be running in? Will there be water? Do you need any unique features like toe socks or double layers?

Companies want to make their socks the best. Many shoe companies have socks made that carry their name and many companies are trying to tap into the outdoor sports market. The choices are many.

So, are some better than others? IMHO, yes. Injinji socks are great for those prone to toe blisters, Drymax socks excel at moisture control, and Wright Socks offer double layers. Many others are made with almost equal part of different fabric components. While they may have areas of different thickness of cushioning, vents, and a variety of percentages of components, they are all very similar.

If this post inspirers you to try one of the socks mentioned, ZombieRunner carries most of them. And Don and Gillian at ZombieRunner are good people too.

Disclosure: I receive sock samples from Drymax, which I use at the races where I provide foot care services and I also give samples to athletes. I also have an affiliate relationship with ZombieRunner and earn a small amount from referrals.

Socks – Good, Bad, and Ugly

July 10, 2009 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Foot Care, Footwear 

Let’s talk socks. In this part two of what I learned at this year’s Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, I want to share a few observations I made while watching runners and helping them with foot care.

First – the good. Many runners are using good, high quality socks. Drymax, Injinji, Smartwool, Wrightsocks, Wigwam, and a few others were seen in large numbers. Of course, many were beyond recognition because of dirt and mud, or were covered with gaiters. But, at any rate, I am happy to see runners wearing good socks.

Now – the bad. Watching runners pull on their socks can be a bit bothersome. Many take the sock and simply insert their foot – and push. This is problematic as the sock is generally pulled on too tight, putting pressure on the toes and toenails, and stretching the sock, especially over the heels. It is better and easier to bunch up the sock and roll it over your feet. Let the shape of the sock fit the foot. Besides, pulling on socks can disturb any taped areas of your feet.

And finally – the ugly. I saw two runners whose socks made me cringe. One was lying on a cot getting an I.V. He was out of the race and had his shoes off. The socks on both feet had at least one hole over a toe! Stupid. After I patched the feet of the second runner he grabbed a pair of clean socks out of his drop bag and put them on. The socks were thread bare on the sides of the heels! I asked him why he would compromise a race and all the money it cost, for a pair of socks. When you pack for a race, make sure your socks are still worth wearing. Why make the race harder then it already is?

So that’s what I noticed about socks at Western States. In two days I leave for Death Valley to patch feet at Badwater. That’s always a great testing ground for foot care.

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