I’d bet most of us think we are immune to warts. Or we simply never think about them.
But we can pick them up in communal showers at the gym, the local pool, or anywhere where people go barefoot.I found an email where the sender told the story of his wart – and included a picture. Here is Brad’s story.
I used to be that guy who didn’t wear shoes. I played volleyball barefoot. Went around the house/yard barefoot. Took showers at the gym barefoot. I’m not sure where it happened, but somewhere I picked up a wart. Not just any wart, but the wart that wouldn’t respond to any treatment kind.
Did the salicylic drops. Moved to salicylic acid patches. Then to the podiatrist: three rounds of blistering agents, four rounds of bleomycin injections. While waiting for surgery, did the duct tape method. Needless to say, nothing worked, and the wart just kept growing and shooting off satellites. Finally, after an incision of about 3 cms wide by several mms deep, and 7 weeks of recovery later, I think I’m finally wart free.
Needless to say, at least in the gym showers and other questionable patches of real estate, I’m keeping my thongs (zorries) on, thank you very much…
So there you have it. It could happen to you if you are not careful. Wear clogs, flip-flops, or sandals in common areas. Check your feet after showering for any signs of a wart beginning. Then take care of them before they become too large for localized over the counter treatments.
If you think about how this would affect your training and running/hiking/walking, you’ll be careful in communal areas.
Yesterday I watched hikers, backpackers, and walkers do their best to pick the right footwear out of dozens of possible choices. It was a madhouse.
I had done a foot care clinic at the Berkeley REI store. It was fun with 40 people attending. Rather than 1 hour, it lasted 1-½ hours. They had lots of questions. Good questions. They ranged from neuromas, taping, blisters, plantar fasciitis, toenails, minimalist footwear, barefoot running, and a few others. The guy in the front row ended up with all fingers on one hand tapes (to simulate toes), plus tape on the palm of his hand (to simulate taping he ball of the foot). Earlier I had talked to the footwear sales staff to give them tips on footwear and answer their questions.
So, as I said, it was a madhouse. The store was packed. REI put together a Foot Wear Festival with 12 footwear vendors on hand to promote their wares – and my free clinic.
Adults, teens and children were there to pick out shoes, boots and sandals. The crowd never stopped the whole day. REI staff worked like dogs, assisted by the vendor reps, to bring out stacks and stacks of footwear. I talked to a few folks who had been in my clinic as they tried to pick the best for their feet.
I had told them to buy footwear based on what they wanted to do, the weight of their packs, experience level, and any pre-existing foot conditions. I watched them look at the footwear from different angles, look inside, feel inside, try them on and walk around, stand on the artificial rocks to try different positions, and more. Many were doing a good job.
I had told them earlier that I believe there is more than one pair of shoes that is correct for their feet. Whether picking running shoes, boots, or sandals, there is more than one for you. Pick your footwear based on function and form, and above all, comfort. After walking around the store in them, then take them home and spend time wearing them for several hours. Make sure they feel right and don’t have any rough spots. Then when you are satisfied, wear them outside – and enjoy them.
As you may recall, several weeks ago I helped at Western States and patched a bunch of feet. Afterwards I listed 10 items that I had observed and wanted to share with my readers. The first was Trail Shoes – The Good and the Bad. The second was Socks – Good, Bad and Ugly.
Then earlier this week, I was in Death Valley for the Badwater Ultramarathon – a grueling 135-mile run through extreme heat and fatigue. Because feet are what I do and what I see I came home with more observations – 10 in fact. So over the next couple of months, I will share what I saw and how it affects you as an athlete.
First though, I want to take a moment and acknowledge Denise Jones, the Blister Queen of Badwater. Denise is a close friend and I value her expertise in taping feet and patching blisters. She pretaped several runners at Badwater and is dedicated to the runners. When we talk, it’s always about feet and we bounce ideas off each other. Denise is a true class act. One of the fun aspects of Badwater is working with Denise. Thanks Denise. [Death Valley Ultras: The Complete Crewing Guide by Denise Jones and Theresa Daus-Weber is available at Lulu.com].
So, let’s start with a biggie, aftercare. This means the care that your feet need after an event like Western States, Badwater, or any extreme event. I have seen runners at both events that have not planned to manage their feet after the race. Healing the trauma starts at the finish line.
This is a two-part tip. First, whether you are traveling to an event or it’s close to home, I want you to add an item to your foot care bag. Epson Salts. They can be found in drug stores and pharmacies for about $3.00 for 48 ounces.
Epson Salts are great for soaking your feet to dry blisters and relieve the pain of bruises and sprains. Simply add a cup of the salts to a basin of warm/hot water and soak your tired feet for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat this at least twice a day. As the skin of lanced blisters dries, trim it off.
The soaking will also speed up the process of re-absorption of fluids in intact blisters and help to reduce any swelling in your feet and toes. This means your feet will feel better and pain will be reduced.
If you have another race or event within a week or two, the use of Epson salts will speed up your healing process. Every time I patch someone’s feet after an event, I tell them about Epson salts.
Secondly, make sure you have a pair of sandals, flip-flops, or Crocs to wear home. It’s no fun having to wear the stinky dirty shoes you ran in. Plus you can’t air your feet in shoes. You don’t need socks and shoes after a race. Find a comfortable pair of lightweight sandals or Crocs, or even flip-flops and pack them in your bag. We cut the toes out of a good pair of shoes for one runner at Badwater because he forgot this simple tip.
That’s my two simple tips for today. Add Epson salts and sandals to your foot care bag for after the race.
Summer officially starts soon. With it, if you haven’t
already started, comes the wearing of sandals or flip-flops. There are also
possible hazards for your feet. A bit of care can help your feet survive in
spite of how we treat them.
Support – remember that generally speaking, sandals are better for your
feet than flip-flops. They offer better support and protection around the foot,
and a more stable base. If you look at most flip-flops, they
are very thin
soled, often thinner on one side as the wearer walks on the side. The heel is
often exposed to the sidewalk. There is nothing to really keep the foot in-line
with the footbed of the flip-flop. At least with sandals a strap goes over the
forefoot and another around the heel, keeping the foot on the footbed. Most
flip-flops offer no arch support and no heel support. The foot is not secure
and it can easily slip to one side leading to a fall or a turned ankle. Then,
to top it off, the feet are usually dirty, often with calluses and cracked
heels. Often it is not a pretty sight. I wear flip-flops around the house, but
not in public.
Protection – Feet on flip-flops are exposed to anything and everything.
You can easily stub toes, something may drop on your feet, they might scrap
against curbs or rocks, and they are easily pierced by anything sharp. Sandals
offer more protection over, around and under feet.
Function – Flip-flops are designed for casual wear, not for extended
walking, exercise, golf, running – and especially not mowing your lawn. Sport
sandals are a better choice.
Given a choice, I’d recommend sandals over flip-flops.
Need more convincing? A study on flip-flops was released
last week at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis.
Researchers at Auburn University in Alabama recruited 39 college-age men and
women, and measured how the participants walked on a special platform wearing
thong flip-flops. Study author Justin Shroyer, a
graduate student in Auburn's Department of Kinesiology, reported, "What we
saw is that when people walk in flip-flops, they alter their gait, which may
explain why we see some lower leg and foot problems in people who wear these
shoes a lot."
If you choose to wear flip-flops, at least
buy new ones every four months. When the thin footbed flattens out, it’s time
to replace them.
After all, we want our feet to be happy.
Warm weather is here and with it comes flip-flops and sandals. These range from the inexpensive throw-away-after-one-year flip flops to more expensive sandals. Given a choice, which are better for your feet?
Flip-flops, sometimes called thongs (not to be confused with underwear), are typically a piece of foam the shape of a foot and about ½ inch thick, with a rubber piece that come up between the big and first toe and extends to the sides. They are a simple design. As your foot moves through a footstrike, the heel often comes up and slaps your heel, making the tell-tale flip-flop noise. They offer no support, little cushioning, and no degree of control over the motion of the foot and ankle. Depending on the wearer, their toes may curl against the foam to keep the flip-flops in place. They may also be worn tight on the foot to keep them from coming off.
Variations on the flip-flop included designs with a strap over the top of the foot, a loop to hold one or two toes in place, nubs on the top of the foam to massage the feet, and various types of foam for durability.
Flip-flops are fine for around the house and at the beach. Too many people wear them out in public when they should have tossed them a long time ago. The foam is compressed down to nothing and the foot seems to roll off the top. As you step down from a curb or over a rock on a trail, there is nothing to control where your foot goes.
Sandals, on the other hand, with their variety of straps and strapping methods, offer more support and control. Usually, the sole is stronger and thicker, offering cushioning, can be safely worn on trails. Many sandals have a strap around the heel that locks the sandal on the foot. With well made sandals that have a good strapping system, stepping down from a curb or over a rock on a trail will provide a small degree of support and control. Strapping variations include toe loops, quick-release buckles, and straps over the forefoot and around the heel, or just over the forefoot.
Sandals also offer a classier look in public. Many people wear sandals everywhere and with all types of clothes.
Given a choice, I’d choose sandals over flip-flops any day.
Of course, if you are going to wear flip-flops or sandals, make sure your skin and nails are well cared for. Nothing says “poor foot care” more than unclipped toenails, toenails with fungus, heels full of calluses, or an obvious case of athlete’s foot. Previous blogs have discussed Dry and Cracked Feet?, Filing Toenails, and Trimming Toenails – It’s Not That Hard!.
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.