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Using Fixing Your Feet

[excerpt from the 5th edition of Fixing Your Feet]

In the 14 years since Fixing Your feet first came out, I have answered many questions about foot care. I have patched thousands of feet at ultramarathons, multi-day stage races, adventure races, marathons, and walking events. If there is one thing I have learned, it is this, the majority of athletes wait until they have problems to learn how to care for their feet.

When problems develop, everything becomes reactive-working to solve an existing problem. Preventing foot problems is being proactive-working to solve problems before they develop. Being proactive takes time up front. Being reactive takes time and resources often when they are not available or when using them may jeopardize the outcome of the event. I prefer proactive.

So here you are, holding this book in your hands. Maybe it's the first time seeing it or may you have had one of the earlier editions. The question is, how can you get the most value out of it?

I would start by skimming the table of contents, the Foreword and the Introduction. That will give you a feel for the depth of information inside. Then, of course, read the chapters that catch your attention - maybe because you are dealing with those particular issues.

If you are new to learning about foot care, set aside some time to read through the Part One: Foot Basics and Part Two: Footwear Basics. They are the starting point for everything else in the book. Then skim through Part Three: Prevention and highlight the material that catches your attention. When you have time, go back and read the chapters that apply to your situation. Pay close attention to the chapter on Taping.

Part Four: Treatments, is important to cover when you can take in all the information. If you are experiencing specific problems with your feet, read those chapters first. Then skim the others. Be sure to read and study the chapter on Blisters.

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Nathan's story, below, is a perfect example of how to get the most out of Fixing Your Feet.

Nathan's Story

As I was finishing the material for this 5th edition, I received an email from Nathan Wilson, who lives in the Kimberley region of northwest Australia. The week before, he had finished the seven-day, 250km, stage race, Racing the Planet - Australia. Nathan had finished some marathons and ultramarathons-the longest being 100km races. Of the 185 starting competitors only 118 completed the race, and most competitors had a lot of problems with blisters from the first day.

Three months before the race, he bought Fixing Your Feet. He read it and learned a great deal about what he needed to do in preparation for this grueling event. Importantly, he learned how to deal with the problems he had in other races. He learned how to pretape his feet and had the right tapes. In fact he taped his feet three times during the race. He carried seven pairs of Injinji socks and Teko merino wool blend to wear over the toe socks. He used Hydropel at the start of each day. He used Sorbothane insoles for added shock absorption. For river crossings, he took off his shoes and socks, and once on the other side, cleaned his feet and reapplied Hydropel. Each evening he cleaned his shoes and insoles. When he got into camp each day, he dried his feet and coated them with iodine, and in one instance, benzoin, to dry them further. He watched his electrolytes, to avoid swelling of his feet and hands. For him, the race was an enjoyable experience.

Nathan was proactive from the get-go. Contrast that to others, who did not have adequate protection for the wet conditions, did not know how to use the contents of their “required” foot care kit, did not pretape, used the wrong tape, had not conditioned their feet and bodies for the weight of their packs, and who were reactive to problems.

Nathan wrote, “I realized that the part of the book that focused on working on your feet prior to a large event really had an impact on me. After reading people's stories of soaking their feet, removing calluses and filing their toe nails, I was motivated to do the same on a near daily basis. It also motivated me to work on my ankle strength and my calves to help my feet. I suppose if I had not done this prep work, all of the taping/hydropel/toe socks etc, would have helped some but it may not have made such a difference. A lot of people have asked about the race and the blisters 'I must have had.' I just laugh and tell them that I didn't get a single one."

Nathan thanked me for getting him through Racing the Planet - Australia, a very tough event. I commend Nathan for doing things right.

I hold Nathan up as an example of how to use the material in this book.

I could not have found a better example of being proactive.

I challenge you to do likewise.

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