A new study conducted by researchers at Saarland University Medical Center in Germany focused on patients suffering from chronic bone heel spurs. The study showed that radiation therapy provided relief.
With millions of American suffering from heel pain, commonly often diagnosed as plantar fasciitis, this could be a new form of treatment. Plantar fasciitis is a common problem for athletes – with some dealing with it for years and others never beating it.
Plantar fasciitis (PF) is best described as an inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot running from the heel to the toes. Those with a severe case of PF often experience extreme pain and it often compromises their ability to walk and stand. It is often most problematic in the morning.
The Saarland study looked at 62 patients followed for one year. Twenty-nine received a standard dose ot radiation therapy, and 33 received a low dose. The radiation therapy used was external bean radiation that delivers radiation only at a specific part of the body.
The patients receiving the standard radiation dose found pain relief to be “highly significantly superior” and of the 29 patients receiving this dose, 80% had complete pain relief. The pain relief continued or improved for as long as 48 weeks after their treatment.
Dr. Marcus Niewald, a radiation oncologist at Saarland said that, “Radiation therapy has been used for its anti-inflammatory effect for more than 60 years.” Researchers are, “… extremely encouraged by the results of the study because evidence of improved quality of life for patients in clearly evident with the standard radiation dose.”
The study also found no acute side effect or long-term toxicity from the radiation therapy.
The study was published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology.
If you suffer from chronic plantar fasciitis, ask your podiatrist or doctor to research this study and see if it could be beneficial for you.
Several years ago I met Gregg at Badwater in Death Valley. We were in line to check in at Furnace Creek and I heard the last name. It was the same as an aunt of mine. Turns out we are related.
At Badwater he ran well and finished near the top. Later that year, he and his wife moved to Asia and I had not heard from him – until the other day. He sent an email about running the Spartathlon in Greece. It’s a 246-kilometer (153 mile) race between Athens and Sparta. The Spartathlon aims to trace the footsteps of Pheidippides, an Athenian messenger sent to Sparta in 490 BC to seek help against the Persians in the Battle of Marathon. Here’s his email:
I just finished running Spartathlon. It was nearly as hot as Badwater (100.4), ok maybe not as hot as Badwater, but it was far to hot for this race, considering it is normally 86. The race by the way is fantastic; I would highly recommend that you make a trip out there if you get the chance.
So, I took a photo of my feet after the race and thought you might like the photo, being that you are the foot guy. Might make for a good example. The blister appeared to start from underneath the pad of my foot by my big toe. The pressure built up so much that it formed the blister on top of my foot as well – as you can see from the photo. Pretty cool if you ask me. I probably ran with it for 50 miles, since I didn’t change my shoes and didn’t feel like taking them off. They lanced it when I finished… as I was receiving two bags of IV fluid. Haven’t had any problems with it since, although it has taken a few days for the pressure under my foot to slowly recede.
As you can see in the photo, there is blood in the blister. Here’s where you have to be careful and take precautions to prevent infection. I don’t encourage people to lance these on their own, but in aid stations with the right equipment and knowledge, it can be done. When I do it, I always give the athlete the warning signs of infection: redness, warm to the touch, pain, fever, pus, and swelling. If you have a blood blister, be careful.
Really though, Gregg’s feet look pretty good for just having run 153 miles. Don’t you agree?
Filed under: Books, Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Footwear, Footwear Products, Health, Sports
Many athletes use ZombieRunner for their running and adventure racing needs. Don and Gillian have built ZombieRunner into a great website with everything needed for training and racing. Their help and support is fantastic.
They are now running their Black Friday Sale – through Monday, November 28. Their ad is below. Check them out and do your Christmas shopping. Here’s the link to ZombieRunner.
Disclosure: The above links take you to my affiliate page at ZombieRunner. If you make a purchase, I received a bit of compensation. That said, I have the highest regard for Don and Gillian, and ZombieRunner.
When I talk to runners preparing for a race, some seem to be well prepared. They know about blisters and what kind of socks to wear. They either have experience or are smart enough to want to learn more. Others seem unconcerned or unprepared.
The main question I ask is, “Are your feet prepared?” I give them a half page of tips. Here are the tips. They easily can be applied to anyone running or walking a marathon, or doing any similar event. Are they magic? No. But many people, even athletes, seem to forget the common sense tips that can make their marathon a better experience.
Before the Race
- Toenails too long catches on socks – trim them short.
- Then file toenails smooth.
- Use a nail file to smooth calluses.
- Clean out lint and junk from inside shoes.
- Check your shoelaces and replace if frayed.
- Apply a layer of your favorite lubricant or powder.
- Smooth your socks around your feet.
- Avoid tying laces too tight.
During the Race
- If you feel a hot spot: apply a pad, a bit of tape, a dab of lubricant, or an energy wrapper between your sock and shoe.
- Loosen shoelaces if you have pain on the top of your foot.
After the Race
- Drain blisters only if they are in a pressure area.
- If you have blisters, soak your feet in Epson salts and warm water three times a day.
- Trim edges of loose skin around blisters.
- If feet are swollen, elevate and ice.
Many of you know these tips – and practice them. However it is easy to become complacent and forget good foot care. Too many other things seem to be more important. Once you experience the pain of blisters, bloody toenails, or some other common ailment, you will again want to know the basics. The tips above will always be worth knowing.
On Sunday I helped at the finish line of the Ohlone Wilderness 50K Trail Run. This great event goes from Fremont to Livermore in Central California over lots of hills. The course is on trails and fire roads. This is one tough course—great for seeing what kind of shape you are in—as well as what shape your feet are in.
Of the 112 finishers, I only saw one or two who were favoring their feet when they crossed the finish line. I knew from the race information that they were running their first ultra. They were in new territory.
Let’s talk a moment about conditioning your feet. Most runners are aware of the common problems when running. Chafing between their thighs, at the armpits, and where their nipples rub on their tops. But, what about their feet?
Athletes can get their feet in shape by working up to longer distances over time. Don’t assume you can go out and walk or run a distance farther that you have trained to do. Your feet will rebel. By building up to longer and longer distances, your feet get in shape—just as your body does.
Your feet must be conditioned to endure the rigors and stresses of whatever the race throws at you. Rough trails and fire roads? Cross country bushwhacking over small rocks and uneven footing? Constantly changing terrain with the streams, rivers, and whitewater with the associated mud? Sand, grit and small stones that work their way into your shoes and socks? There are several answers.
Train in race conditions, in the shoes and socks you will wear on race day. You can get by with minimal foot conditioning for a short event but a multi-day race requires a plan of action. Your feet must be conditioned for mile after mile after mile of running and walking. Put in enough hours to help your feet adapt to the stresses to which they will be subjected. Toughen your feet with barefoot walking. If you constantly train by doing six-hour hikes, you will be really good at doing a six-hour hike. Learn from successful ultrarunners who know the importance of at least one long training session per week. Add a long session to your week’s routine. As you get closer to your event, make the session longer and more closely resemble an actual race. This will help condition the feet for long hours of a race.
Do short hikes with a pack on your back before taking off to tackle a multi-day race. Work up to distances that you will tackle in your event. Training with a ten-pound pack is different than with the 20-pound pack you will use on race day. The weight of your pack and the change it means to your gait will have a stressing affect on your feet. Just as important is learning to do back-to-back training days. Teaching your feet how to adapt to long sessions, on consecutive days, will further your odds of success.
Will your shoes still fit after three days or will you need a larger size? Do you have good socks and supportive insoles? Learn how to cut slits in the sides of your shoes with a knife to relieve pressure on a bad toe or bunion. Where possible, rest your feet by raising them above the level of your heart. Anytime you stop to eat or take a break, take off your shoes and socks to air your feet. The cold water in streams and rivers can work wonders to sooth tired and swollen feet.
Work Out the Kinks
Work out the kinks; find the best shoes and socks for what you will be doing. Learn how to trim your toenails and reduce calluses. Discover the proper insoles that provide support to relieve any pre-existing foot problems.
Strengthen your toes and ankles. Maneuvering over bad trails and roads, and going cross-country, with a loaded pack, is easier when your feet are used to such stresses. A turned ankle will ruin your chances of success.
Strong feet and ankles will make off road travel easier. After days of travel, even though your feet are tired and sore, they will still put out for yet another day. Because of conditioning, recover will be faster.
Life in this age is often complicated. Time is precious and money talks. That’s why it’s important to recognize what matters.
Nick Ianco, a Marketing Manager for New Media Strategies, has been working on a promotional piece for New Balance. He emailed me the following; “I think this “For Love or Money” marketing campaign speaks to the positive aspects of running, or any sport for that matter, which is one of the reasons I was excited to have a part in the promotion. I just ran the Boston Marathon last week, and sometimes when the going gets rough, I have to reaffirm why the heck I even get out there in the first place. I think this spot answers the questions pretty well, so I thought other fitness-health-running blogs might have an interest in speaking to the idea of running for love rather than the money that permeates so many other sports.
“It speaks to me – as a runner and a human – as well. It sometimes feels like running may be the bastion of honest competition, but certainly threatened by performance enhancing drugs and other types of coercion. It is good to know that there are others out there who run, bike, swim, climb – or whatever – simply for the sake of enjoyment and fulfillment.”
Listen closely as you watch the video. Yes, life is complicated. We have our good and bad times. It says, “Like anything, there will be times when you think about quitting, but you never find that point when you do quit. It’s about going beyond that. You think about what your motivation is.” It’ll take you through the bad times. Click here to watch the video For Love or Money.
Whichever sport you choose, running, walking, hiking, adventure racing, make sure your motivation is right—do it because you love it—and remember, keep your feet happy.
A few shortened versions of the spot have appeared on television in various small markets (during running events, etc.) but the entire version has not been released to the public via television. The ad is for New Balance. They make great shoes. Take a moment and check them out.
As long as you have good form, whether walking, running, hiking—or any activity where you are using your feet for movement, you stand a better than average chance of not injuring yourself due to a biomechanical problem. But have a pack that rides wrong on your back so you lean to the side, weak abs that make you lean forward, tired arms causing your shoulders to drop, or spent quads cramping up, and your body is tossed out of alignment. This will ultimately work its way down to your feet. As they compensate for your biomechanical problems, your gait and stride change, and your feet develop their own problems. So what is “gait?” We’ll take our definitions from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Its definition is, “Gait is the way locomotion is achieved using human limbs.”
“Walking is the most common human gait. It involves one foot placed forward with the second placed the same distance beyond the first. It can provide good move speeds with relatively little energy input and low (typically minimal) strain on the body.”
“Running is nearly identical to walk except that the person is actually airborne once each beat. This is the chief high-speed gait of humans. The beats happen faster and the distance-traveled per-beat is also much higher. This requires a lot more energy than walking. Jogging is a sub-gait of run where the pace is much less and the legs nearly never go out of the body’s centerline.”
In an article, Gait Biomechanics by Stephen M. Pribut, DPM, he describes, “The gait cycle of each leg is divided into the stance phase and the swing phase. The stance phase is the period of time during which the foot is in contact with the ground. The swing phase is the period of time in which the foot is off the ground and swinging forward. In walking, the stance phase comprises approximately 60% of the gait cycle and the swing phase about 40%. The proportion of swing to stance phase changes as the speed of walking or running increases.”
Again from Dr. Pribut, “In the gait examination, we will observe for symmetry. We will look for clues regarding leg length inequality. Arm swing asymmetry, uneven head bounce, unilateral pelvic drop, uneven stride length are all indicators that there is a leg length inequality. Other factors to note are: the heel contact point, an apparent bouncy gait, excessive pronation of the foot, early heel off and the angle of gait.”
If you have problems or pain that won’t go away, a gait analysis may be in order. Look for a podiatrist, preferably one who treats athletes and inquire about a gait analysis. It could be money well spent and will help keep your feet happy.
For more in-depth information on gait, read Dr. Pribut’s article Gait Biomechanics .
Every once in a while, we have to step out and try something new. I did that today—literally. I stepped out in a pair of Bite Xtension 2 sandals. These sandals are made for walking and running, whether on pavement or trails. I used them today on a morning run while on vacation on a old mountain road that is a mix of asphalt and gravel and dirt. I ran without socks.
The result? I love the freedom of my toes open to the air. Bite’s sandals have a wide base, which makes footing secure. The tread is fine for trails. As expected, I kicked up a few pebbles, all of which I quickly expelled in the next few steps. What I expected to be a problem was simple to resolve.
The strapping system is secure and holds the foot in place. I found I did not have to cinch the straps tight. The system is engineered on a design that locks the ball of the foot, the ankle and the heel to the sandal for support. These sandals will definitely be in my bag when I run trails—but I will pull them out for roads too. Sometimes we have to simply try new toys—in this case a pair of sandals.
Now the necessary disclaimer. As I post to this blog, please understand I have no financial interest in any products mentioned. If I ever do, I will disclose the relationship.