FIXING YOUR FEET E-zine
Volume 8, Issue 8, August 2008 ~
John Vonhof, Footwork Publications ~
Copyright, August 2008, All rights reserved
THIS ISSUE IN SUMMARY ~
This issue has an editorial Change that Patch, and an article, Badwater and my Feet. It also has information on foot care resources, a foot care tip, a story on finding time for your sport, a new bad feet photo, information on the ElliptiGo Glide Bike, and a scary piece on the obesity epidemic.
The Fixing Your Feet E-zine is published monthly to inform and educate athletes and non-athletes about proper foot care skills and techniques, provide tips on foot care, review foot care products, and highlight problems people have with their feet.
EDITORIAL: CHANGE THAT PATCH ~
Last month, I wrote about my, “… philosophy of patching feet.” I told readers how I look at a runner’s feet and figure out what to do, and I talk to him or her. This allows me to see them as an individual, see where their head is, and to help educate them on foot care. I enjoy the work and am pleased that many runners and crews are learning how to do the work themselves. I believe it is important to educate while I work.
This month, I want to expand on my philosophy. When I ran Western States in 1988, I needed a blister patched at Rucky Chunky. What I got was gauze over a donut of moleskin. It was really bothersome and more trouble than it was worth. Maybe that is why to this day I hate moleskin! But that’s how things were done back then.
Over the years I have honed my patching skills. I have used almost every blister patch product made. Some work better than others – but each have their place. I have patched feet from scratch, meaning nothing was on the feet. However many times, a patch or tape was in place and it needed to be removed before the new patch could be applied. In these cases, the runner wants the patch replaced because the blister has grown larger or because the patch simply no longer works. It is the latter that I want to talk about.
Take a few minutes and read Todd’s story in the article below. He had a blister patch applied and while it worked for a while, it did not do the job. The patch may have been applied perfectly, but it simple did not work for the condition on Todd’s feet.
When I saw Todd, I asked him questions about what he was feeling, and I poked and prodded to learn exactly where he had pain and what caused it. That gave me the information I needed to figure out how I would patch his feet. I ended up using a small gel patch under a layer or Kinesio-Tex tape, with Hypafix tape between the toes to hold the forward edge of the tape in place. I had felt a small hard core in the middle of each callus at the base of his second toes. This required cushioning – hence the small gel pad.
This patch worked for Todd. I was elated when I he came through Lone Pine and when on to finish with the second fasted time from there to the finish. He had guts and strong determination.
The point of this story is to remind you that when you patch a blister, sometime the patch needs replacing and another, better patch applied. Maybe the patch job needed another type of patch, a different type of tape, tape applied differently, or several elements combined.
Todd (in the story below) could easily have said screw it, my feet are shot, and quit. But He didn’t. I give him credit for allowing me to work on his feet. I gave him the best patch I could – and it worked.
In the other case in this newsletter, in the Bad Feet Photo part of the newsletter, the runner’s feet were in pretty bad shape, and he had not taken care of them correctly. Although I also patched his feet as best I could, it did not work for him on that day. Would another patch have worked for him? I don’t think so. There were several factors involved, the language barrier and since his wife was also running, he really wanted to help her.
So, if you do a race, a walk, a hike, or any activity where you develop a blister, which you patch, and it doesn’t feel right, try another patch. Of course, this means you have to understand the basics of patching and taping. Practice and then practice some more. Try different tapes and blister patches and learn as you go. It will be time well spent. Good luck and let me know how you do.
If you want to comment on this piece, please send me an email.
FIXING YOUR FEET, 4th EDITION ~
The 4th edition of Fixing Your Feet can be ordered through my FixingYourFeet.com web site, ZombieRunner.com, or Amazon.com. If you have any of the older editions, you need this one. It has three new chapters, lots of new sections, and is completely updated. The retail price is $18.95 but most sites, including mine, have it at a reduced rate.
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ARTICLE: BADWATER AND MY FEET ~
By Todd Baum
Editor: This is the shortened story of Todd Baum’s attempt at Badwater this past July. Todd finished Badwater in 2007 and returned this year – and struggled. For the sake of space, I have cut much of his story to allow the issues with his feet to be the focal point.
The route is Badwater to Furnace Creek, 55% humidity and 115F. The only way to keep body temp in check is by staying wet… I was soaked head to toe… the toe part is the bad part to be soaked. Finally took off the soaked sun pants and changed into dry shoes and socks. The water wasn’t evaporating. Everyone in shorts had very wet legs. My belly seemed off, thought maybe it was the heat and slowed down from 5.7-5.8 mph (GPS) to 5.5 mph, but anorexia, gas and upset became worse.
Heading up to Towne Pass, my ever present callous behind each 2nd toe were getting sore (a very difficult area to reduce about 5mm x 10mm area that felt like a pebble in each shoe). I stopped and rested a while. I knew things were unraveling and needed to regroup. I reapplied Hydropel and again got into clean dry socks and shoes a second time. The skin was intact, the pre-race tape had come off, no blisters noted, but no doubt a painful inflammation had started. I took some time to eat calories…soup, crackers, PBJ. I should have taped to stabilize the calluses.
I wanted to walk to Panamint, and then rest, but I couldn’t make it. About four miles before the motel, I had to lie down on the mat and slept for 10 minutes. I arrived at Panamint Springs at 3:55am. Got to sleep at about 4:10am and Laurel pushed me back out on the road about 5:10am as twilight started.
The slow walk to Darwin was well off my plans, and my apologies to my crew started as I knew we were going into a second night eventually and perhaps into the third day.
Running wasn’t possible, and my tender calluses at times left me limping. The blisters there, that did eventually form, didn’t seem to stay filled as I (a foot care amateur who never has had a foot problem before) had poked several holes in each with a lancet.
Mike had had a little talk with Padre Crowley a little earlier, and he explained this is why the “Zombie Runner foot care” vehicle arrived seemingly on-call for the Padre’s work. Meanwhile, Gillian, Chief Zombie, patiently acknowledged my crews’ delirious greetings; “Are you a mirage? Are you the foot queen?” as if they had had three drafts at Jake’s already and found Gillian walking by. Gillian returned, “No, but I have been referred to as the foot princess.”
I tried my best to politely accept her foot care, knowing full well this woman, an entrepreneurial giant, was now going to touch and care for my feet out of love for the sport and this event. I immediately forgot her name as she introduced herself. She had seen the top runners safely find their way to Lone Pine, and she was now popping up for the race stragglers (who clearly suffer and need her), offering the help of the Padre.
As the “how’s your race going” question was absorbed, I quickly chose to not go off the point, and kept the concern on the feet. I wasn’t listening well…or understanding anything well, but I think Gillian explained her taping would stabilize the calluses and that area of the foot in hopes of controlling the pain. She did a good job of it because that helped me walk faster.
Cloud cover and a brief rain early in the day soon changed back into the good old Owens Valley desert that I remembered from 2007. The feet eventually became very painful again. The 23 miles from Darwin that I walked still left me with a good 10-mile chunk of road before Lone Pine.
I decided the race was over. After arguing a bit, we agreed to stake where we were, about nine miles from the Lone Pine time station, Laurel having 113.6 miles on the runner van that had been staying with me. Since much of my foot misery before this decision was not being shared with my crew, they were caught off-guard. I wedged the stake into the top of a road reflector post, those that give the desert drivers a visual of what is road and what is desert. It would make it easy to find if needed as a souvenir.
We went to the Lone Pine time station at the Dow Villa motel, and I reported that I was a DNF. Don, who I got to know, immediately told me, “You have a lot of time man.” He said I looked good. Apparently DNFing required dragging knuckles on the ground, drooling, and having an injury that was excitedly visible for the web cast. I had to quickly provide an excuse and I mentally went down the list: having an epiphany as a gardener, telling him each step hurt a lot, that my system was pooping my brains out for 113 miles, or that I was way behind my goal and feeling sorry for my crew. This helped me also focus on what was wrong, and I reported to Don that my feet had painful calluses and the self-inflicted pain no longer made sense.
Don woke up John Vonhof. This name was familiar to me, but names were going in and out of my head and as long as he was associated with this race, I welcomed his recommendations. Later, I recognized that the Padre had sent another caring person that would touch, wash and make my feet run again. I agreed with his plan that we were going to approach this as if I was going to return to the race. Apparently there were other approaches at this time. Perhaps embalming the feet was another option.
He seemed to follow a protocol of examining, washing, taking history and foot physical, and than padded, taped etc. He said this would be sore as I restarted my race. I knew this, but he wanted to be sure I wasn’t disappointed his fix wasn’t immediate, but a calculated one to get me up Mt. Whitney.
I was no longer a DNF, receiving a temporary reprieve from the Padre. I was now proud to try and finish this thing as one of the much respected post 48-hour athletes. My 36-hour goal was now just about ego, and finishing was now about me and my crew who didn’t want it any other way.
We agreed to sleep at the Comfort Inn for 2 hours in preparation of the day ahead. My head hit the pillow at 12:30am. At 2:30am we got up and drove to the stake. About 3:10am, I restarted my race and I had no idea what was in store. After a little walking, I wanted to test a run. I enjoyed it! Yes, the feet were sore, but the painful pounding was in effect a secure situation that didn’t worsen no matter how hard I pounded my run. I strangely felt like I didn’t run on Monday. I always enjoyed running at night and this was great. I suppose I ran a 1:25 nine miler into the Dow Villa. My pacers insist that I was closer to eight minute pace, but they were excited and at night things seem fast.
I now had 12.7 miles to go and 3:25 to buckle. I was too tired to do the math and told myself to keep pushing and I would eventually figure out the math as the numbers got smaller. I had a vague memory of my 2007 time up the mountain being over six hours; it was actually 6:05. That would be a 10:35am finish, but I didn’t want to rule out the buckle. The crew and I new we were working for the buckle at that time, but like a no hitter in the 7th inning, none of us said anything…we just worked it.
The grade soon became too steep to run and I pumped my arms and tried two different walking strides to power up the mountain. I even ran when it made sense.
I aimed for the switchback. I now could do the math. If I made the switchback by 6:30am, I would have 1:30 to go four miles; I might actually buckle!! I hit the switchback at 6:31am and felt confident that I could maintain 4mph and I heard rumor the distance was closer to 3.5 miles, but I wasn’t going to flirt with not buckling. I hammered, planning to go all out for the remaining 1:29 if needed. I minutes ticked down. Ryan, my pacer, handed me my bottle when asked and occasionally said “come-on.”
Ryan said “you got it,” when we saw the Portal signs, but Ryan had not seen the upcoming switch-back and I wasn’t prepared to miss out on a buckle by being overly confident. Then I saw the finish, and let up for a moment so Steve Teal’s finish wouldn’t be spoiled, and then I hit that finish tape. I ran up the mountain in 2:49. The only runner that had a faster split from Lone Pine to the finish was this year’s champion, Jorge Pacheco’s 2:40. My time was 47:24:26.
In a way, finding the futility in this race also found its meaningfulness. The sport gone misunderstood by just about every person and runner was now becoming almost understood by one of its most avid members, me.
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The pads and tape helped me get through the airports, and I removed them when I got home. The 2nd day home, the callus tenderness and foot edema went away. I’m a little puzzled about what to do with the skin over the blisters because it seems to have reattached itself. I suspect with routine foot care over the next couple weeks things will sort themselves out. I haven’t had any trouble with my runs.
I will spend some time reading your book, and hopefully the next time I see you, I won’t need your treatment. You do a good job including others ideas and stories in your writings. I find the connections that are made in ultra marathoning quite remarkable. May our days continue to be full of such adventure and camaraderie.
Coincidently, a nice big hunk of old skin came off my right foot today, and the nice new skin that was underneath seems to be callus free. I’ll try to keep it that way.
FOOT CARE RESOURCES ~
Drymax Socks Update: Bob from Drymax socks sent me an email with a link to a video demonstrating how dry their Drymax socks really are. He says, “This is a demonstration we do at a lot of marathons and really shows how dramatically well our socks move moisture away from the foot.” The Drymax video is here on YouTube.
BAD FEET PHOTO ~
This month’s bad feet photo is from Badwater. The foot’s owner is unidentified. When I
patch feet, I often fail to remember whom they belong to. The runner came into the Lone Pine checkpoint and complained of pain in his right foot.
The runner had completed 122 miles and had 13 left to the Whitney Portal. His left foot was patched and felt okay. I removed the patch from the right foot to face the blister in the photo. I drained it and applied at patch. The runner and his crew spoke no English and it was hard to talk to each other. I later learned the runner did not finish. This type of blister might have been caused by a too narrow shoe, causing a pinched mid-foot.
READER FEEDBACK AND COMMENTS ~
Rod Dalitz (Scotland) wrote: “If you read the interview with Denise Jones, the Blister Queen (July’s Fixing Your Feet Ezine), you may recall she mentioned a runner with wet feet and how the tape came loose. I have seen the same thing at Western States. Runners come into an aid station and their crew or an aid station volunteer is waiting with a spray of cold water. While it feels good, this can be detrimental to one’s feet. The water runs down the legs and into the socks and shoes. While not totally able to prevent water from getting in your socks and shoes, gaiters or an absorbent cloth wrap around the lower leg can help. The water causes maceration of the skin and can increase the odds of blistering. The wet and damp skin also makes it much harder for blister patches or tape to stick. While some athletes may argue that they do fine with wet feet, the majority of us don’t. I will always try to keep my feet dry rather than wet.
I have read this idea many times in Fixing Your Feet among others, and I have been concerned about wet feet. Here in Scotland conditions on the ground are often very wet, and it is impossible to avoid soaking feet. I have run races like the Lairig Ghru 28 miles through the Cairngorms, the Lyke Wake Way 43 miles through the North York Moors, and the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon two-day event, when it was raining and the round was running with water, not to mention the occasional stream crossing, and my feet were continuously wet. Although 25 years ago I used to get blisters, that is very unusual for me these days. So I do not know how to interpret your “macerated skin.”
One factor in blisters I learned from Karl King. When your sodium level is wrong, your tissues swell – too much salt, and cells dump saline into intercellular spaces; too little salt, and they dump plain water. When there is more intercellular liquid, the tissue is softer, and allows blisters to form more easily. So electrolyte balance is important.
What I have done to reduce blistering is not clear. It may partly be due to better choice of my shoes and socks, tougher skin, electrolyte balance, or something else. Twenty-five years ago I used Vaseline to lubricate my toes, and that reduced blistering, but I use little or none on my feet now. I have sometimes used duct tape on my feet, and I carry a small roll in my pack, but I do not normally use tape.”
Reader feedback to this E-zine and its articles is welcome and encouraged. Please email any foot care ideas or tips that you have tried and would like to share with others, or ideas for an article for the ezine.
NON-FEET GOOD STUFF ~
I recently saw a web video for a new bike design. The bike is called the ElliptiGo Glide Bike. Designed and made by two guys in California, the bike combines the best aspects of
running and cycling to create a fun and effective means of exercising outdoors. It offers weight-bearing exercise that builds muscle and strengthens bones. More comfortable and safer than sitting on a bicycle saddle, you do not have the irritating genital numbness, pain, or increased risk of urological problems and the upright position alleviates shoulder and lower back discomfort. The rider stands taller in the saddle and the elevated line of sight improves visibility. The bike allows for an easily modify stride length, pedaling motion, and rider position. Its unique hub eliminates derailleur and permits shifting without pedaling. There are eight different gears enabling comfortable speeds from 6 to 25 M.P.H. while it freewheels, allowing the rider to coast without pedaling. I watched the video on the web site would certainly consider the bike as a great means of transportation and exercise. Here is the link to Elliptigo Glide.
WRITE AN AMAZON REVIEW FOR A FREE COPY OF HAPPY FEET ~
Those of you with the 4th edition of Fixing Your Feet can get a free copy of my booklet, Happy Feet: Foot Care Advice for Walkers and Travelers. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to go to the book’s page—and write a review of the 4th edition. Then send me an email telling me which site the review is on and your snail mail address. I will mail you a free copy of this 36-page booklet. Use it yourself, or give it to someone else. The booklet is described below and has a $5.00 value. Sorry, but because of postage, this offer is good only in the U.S and Canada.
SCARY STUFF ~
Press Release: TUESDAY, Aug. 19 (HealthDay News) — The obesity epidemic in America has gotten worse — not better — in the last year, despite public service campaigns warning about the health risks posed by carrying too much weight, a new report found. Adult obesity rates increased in 37 states, while there were no decreases in any states, according to the annual report released Tuesday by the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The obesity rates rose for a second consecutive year in 24 states and for a third consecutive year in 19 states, according to the report, F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America, 2008″.
More than 25 percent of adults are obese in 28 states, up from 19 states last year. And more than 20 percent of adults are obese in every state except Colorado. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate greater than 20 percent. Eleven of the 15 states with the highest obesity rates are in the South. Northeastern and Western states have the lowest obesity rates.
The five fattest states and their obesity rates are Mississippi (31.7 percent), West Virginia (30.6 percent), Alabama (30.1 percent), Louisiana (29.5 percent) and South Carolina (29.2 percent). The five slimmest states are Colorado (18.4 percent), Hawaii (20.7 percent), Connecticut (20.8 percent), Massachusetts (20.9 percent), and Vermont (21.1 percent), according to the report. An estimated two-thirds of Americans are now overweight or obese. That compares to 1980, when the national average of obese adults was 15 percent.
Among the report’s other findings:
1. While all 50 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws related to physical education and/or physical activity in schools, only 13 states include language to enforce the laws. Of these states, only four have sanctions or penalties if the laws are not implemented.
2. While the Dietary Guidelines for Americans were updated in 2005, the U.S. Department of Agriculture school meal program has yet to adopt the recommendations.
3. Eighteen states have enacted laws requiring school meals to exceed USDA nutrition standards. But, only seven of these laws have specific enforcement provisions, and only two state laws include sanctions if its requirements aren’t met.
FINDING TIME FOR YOUR SPORT ~
The headline caught my eye, “Hard Work Will Kill You So Play More Golf.” Although the following story is about golf, you can make its application to any sport. The moral of the story is important. We need to make time to stay healthy and sane.
Remember when you were younger one of your parents said “Get up off your butt and do something. Hard work never killed anyone.” Well, according to the Japanese, it has.
According to the Aichi Labor Bureau in Japan, the man who died was aged 45 and had been under severe pressure as the lead engineer in developing a hybrid version of Toyota’s Camry. In the two months up to his death, the man averaged more than 80 hours of overtime per month. It appears that this phenomenon in Japan is called “karoshi” and such deaths have steadily increased since the Japanese Health Ministry first recognized the phenomenon in 1987.
Now as a follower of golf, I think that to keep the American workforce healthy, we need to play more golf and spend less time in the office. Based on these findings from the Japanese Labor Bureau, there is quantifiable justification for playing more golf. A dead employee is not a productive employee.
The next time that your boss asks you to work overtime, just point out that poor Toyota engineer and he may even set up your tee time.
MY HAPPY FEET BLOG ~
If you like to stay informed about foot care issues and information – on a more regular basis than this monthly newsletter, check out my blog, Happy Feet: Expert Foot Care Advice for People Who Love Their Feet. This is different from this ezine. The Happy Feet blog will have a new short topic every week. Click here for the Happy Feet blog.
GOT A STORY TO SHARE? ~
I am always on the look out for stories to share about their adventures with some type of connection to feet. If you have something to share, please send me an email.
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