Fixing Your Feet makes The Washington Post!

June 19, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Footcare, toenails 

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.

Runners Should Pay Attention to Foot Care

June 16, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Footcare, Health, Sports 

I’ve been on vacation much of the past two weeks and given my time away, have turned to a good friend, Alene Nitzky, an experienced and well qualified ultra runner who wrote an article published at the Coloradoan website. You have heard me go on and on about the importance of god foot care. Here’s another slant, from an ultra runner who has run Badwater and many other ultras.

Alene Nitzky

Alene Nitzky

Runners spend all kinds of money on entry fees, clothing, travel to races, nutritional supplements and race foods. They spend all kinds of time on training, body work, stretching, weight training or cross training.

They worry about their weight, hydration, nutrition, sleep, and preparing for race-day conditions. And most of all, they obsess about finding the right shoe.

But in all this obsession, the two things they forget are the most essential tools they have to carry them from start to finish and go into those expensive running shoes.

Their feet.

Your feet are your base of support. They are the vehicle that carries you forward and through the distance. You can’t run without them. So why do so many runners neglect them?

You can do all the right training and preparation, wear the right shoes and gear, but if your feet fail you, it can ruin months of hard work.

The problem is lack of foot care. Blisters are just a symptom of the problem. Friction and moisture are the two culprits in creating blisters. Improper hydration plays an important role, too.

Blisters are caused by layers of skin and fabric or debris trapped inside the shoe or sock, combined with friction from running motion. Creases in socks, rough edges inside shoes, and dirt contribute to these rough spots. Calluses that are allowed to develop on feet and are not removed can lead to deep, painful blisters. Rough or jagged toenails can catch on socks, causing the fabric to bunch and rub against the toes.

The role of hydration, especially too little sodium relative to fluid intake, also contributes to blistering. Fluid travels out of the blood vessels into the tissues and separates layers of skin, making shoes tight and contributing to more friction. Check your hands while running. If your hands are swollen, your feet are swollen, too. Popular sports drinks often don’t have enough sodium to replace what is lost during long, hot weather events.

Regular pedicures are helpful. If you don’t want nail polish and all the extras, you can do much of it yourself. Softening and removing calluses over time reduces the likelihood of blisters under these trouble spots. Soften rough, dry spots with lotion when you’re not out running. Keep your toenails trimmed and filed. Underneath the ball of the foot, most people don’t realize they have callouses, and these are a common trouble spot.

Moisture is another problem, even in our dry climate. If you are running trails with stream crossings or crossing snow banks at high altitude, you are also at risk for developing blisters. But even without water crossings, your feet sweat, and moisture in socks and shoes can become a problem.

Keeping your feet as dry as possible helps. If you have a dry pair of shoes and socks to change into after the stream crossings are behind you, that will help.

Use a good sock that wicks moisture away. There are many different brands at specialty running stores. Keep your shoes and socks clean. If you’re running a road marathon, don’t race in shoes or socks you wore on trails. The dirt will stay inside and cause friction.

A foot kit should be part of every runner’s supplies. You can learn how to give yourself a pedicure, how to stock a foot kit and tips for avoiding blisters and other foot problems by doing some research.

Band-Aids are fine for knees and hands, or even on feet that aren’t being used, but they are not meant for use on feet while running. They don’t hold up to friction, moisture and shearing. The Band-Aid will soon bunch up and crease, and any dirt in your shoes and socks will stick to them, causing more friction.

Two excellent resources for learning how to take care of your feet are John Vonhof’s book, Fixing Your Feet, 5th Edition, Wilderness Press, 2011, and website fixingyourfeet.com. You can also get a free subscription to his fixing your feet blog with helpful tips.

Alene Nitzky, Ph.D.,RN is a health coach and cancer exercise trainer. Her website is Sunspirit Wellness Services.  She has been running ultramarathons since 1991. Her blog is Journey to Badwater

I encourage you to check out Alene’s websites. She’s a great person with a big heart.

Foot Fetish

October 14, 2012 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Foot Care, Health 

I have always liked the prose “Foot Fetish” that Lisa BUtler, an ultrarunner, wrote about feet. I have included it at the front of each edition of Fixing Your Feet since the 3rd edition.  It’s short, but relevant to those of us who love sports. Here’s what Lisa wrote:

My feet are runner’s feet;
a little rough around the edges,
with black nails on the toes where I have nails at all
Lovingly decorated with bright colors.

My toes are warriors, of a sort.
They carry the entire continent of my body on adventures
and rise to challenges that could crush them.
Some days they are worn and calloused,
but they are strong and fierce adversaries for the
rocks they overtake.

My arches are the springboard of my soul.
They give me lift with every step I take
and cushion all my landings.
They are always ready
when I want to jump for joy.

My heels respond when the shepherd
of my spirit nips at them to run.
They strike again and again,
to thwart frustration,
to redeem the day.

My feet are runner’s feet;
a little rough around the edges,
but they are strong
and they are willing
and oh, I love them.

~ Lisa Butler, Ultrarunner

Adventure racer's feet from Raid the North Extreme

Adventure racer’s feet from Raid the North Extreme

Embarrassed by Your Feet – Part 3

August 29, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Health 

As you may recall, on August 15th I wrote a blog post on Embarrassed by Your Feet – Part 2. This was a follow up to a post back in April 2008 on the same subject. A reporter from the New York Times had interviewed me and wrote a piece on the same subject. The Secret is Out: We Can See Your Feet. As I expected, I received a few comments about embarrassing feet. I share these below.

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This was an interesting and well-timed posting. I’ve recently been involved with auditions for a Gladiator-style TV program. We run the potential competitors through a function assessment, which requires that they take off their socks and shoes.

The first batch of women, mostly runners, multisporters, and adventure racers, were quite comfortable displaying their feet. On Friday we went through to a football club and 99% of the women did not want to take off their socks (we let them keep them on – easier that way). I find it really hard to understand how they can have such issues with their feet! It is so easy to go for regular pedicures and all kinds of treatments. What is their issue really? “Funny” shaped feet? Long toes? Or do they just neglect their feet and so they have skanky toenails? Surely these girls wear sandals in summer? Or maybe not?

I go to dance classes during the week, where we are barefoot. And the girls take good care of their feet. French pedicures, lovely color shades and hardly a calloused heel in sight. Easy to forget in this environment, and that of runners whose feet are so valuable, that others – in the ‘general population’ or coming from other sporting disciplines where feet are forgotten – can have such foot issues.

Lisa de Speville - Lisa’s adventure racing website
Johannesburg, South Africa

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My feet would not be considered attractive by many people (including me), but since they take me to so many fantastic places and on so many incredible adventures, I am grateful to them. Written from Mt. Hood, where we are 190 miles into a 300-mile backpacking trip on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Susan Alcorn - Shepherd Canyon Books - Publishers of two award-winning books: Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago and We’re in the Mountains Not over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers.

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I am a hiker/walker and my feet do not embarrass me. I have “good feet”. At least that is what I am told by my sister-in-law. I have a few ugly calluses on the outside of my big toes, but I shave them off when they start to cause problems. During my training hikes and walks I have walked up to 6 hours many times and haven’t had a blister yet. I hope that holds true for my upcoming trek across Spain along the Camino de Santiago. By the way, this website has been very helpful!! Thanks, Rita

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Erskien wrote: “No! I have incredibly functional and beautiful feet!

Foot Fetish

January 3, 2007 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Footcare, Footwear, Health, Sports, Travel 

People may wonder how anyone could pen a poem about feet. Several years ago I received an email with a poem written by Lisa Butler, an ultrarunner. I love this poem and feature it in my book, Fixing Your Feet. Lisa has captured the essence of well-used feet – feet that have supported their owner in many adventures. I encourage you to take a moment and read this poem. Many of us do not appreciate our feet for all they do. Thanks, Lisa.

Foot Fetish
by Lisa Butler

My feet are runner’s feet;
a little rough around the edges,
with black nails on the toes where I have nails at all
Lovingly decorated with bright colors.

Read more