Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Footwear, Sports, Travel
Last week I read a report over at BirthdayShoes.com about a guy who completed the Jungle Marathon in the Amazon in Vibram FiveFingers. I was fascinated by what I read and contacted the race director who made the connection. Stuart Crispin sent me the article he submitted to Vibram.
“I recently completed the 2012 Jungle Marathon in Brazil, and in doing became the first person ever to take part in and finish this grueling event wearing a pair of Vibram FiveFingers (VFFs). With the help of a pair of VFF Spyridons men’s 43 I even managed to finish the worlds toughest endurance race, as listed by CNN, in 5th place overall. I did not wear toe socks at any time during the race. [Stuart's overall time was 47 hours, 43 minutes.]
The race is a six-stage, seven-day self-supported foot race. Runners have to carry all of their food, clothing, hammock, sleeping bag/liner, medical kit and other mandatory kit, as well as 2.5 litres of water (picked up at every checkpoint). My rucksack at the start of day one weighed about 12.5kg. The longest stage on day five is a non-stop 108.5 km ultramarathon. The total seven-day distance covered was over 255km across swamps, dense jungle, mangroves, sandy beach, creeks, rivers and dirt roads. (Details at junglemarathon.com).
Before flying out to take part, I wrote to the race director who advised me not to wear VFFs suggesting they might not offer enough support for such a long distance race. I also emailed a previous competitor, who is also a physiotherapist for her advice on wearing VFF. Her response was ‘… FiveFingers will be a disaster… they will not offer your feet the support they need… they are not designed for such long distance running… and they won’t have enough grip to help you stay upright on the seriously wet and muddy terrain, particularly on the severe ascents and descents.’
Despite this advice I opted to go with my Spyridons. Thanks to the clever Kevlar lining in the sole I had every confidence they would give my feet enough support to avoid injury to the sole of my foot while running through the dense jungle, where the floor was covered in sharp spiky objects as well as spiky stinging insects like scorpions. I felt no impact at all underfoot and the Spyridons’ grip was more than adequate to cope with the muddy terrain. A week before going to Brazil for the race I wore my Spyridons to hike up Snowdon, the UK’s third highest mountain. They were great for that too, although while walking across large, wet slightly tilted rocks and boulders I could feel my feet slip slightly, but I think that may have happened in walking boots also. The hike up to the summit left me in no doubt that my Spyridons were the right choice for the Jungle Marathon.
The tough material used for the upper is still in exactly the same condition it was before the 255km race. There are no tears or cuts at all to the upper of both shoes, and the soles too are also damage free. The only minor sign of wear and tear is a very small section of the material on the outside of one of the big toe pockets, where it has very slightly come away from the sole. But in order to see it you have to look closely and after such a long way in some seriously aggressive and tough terrain, including deep bogs and swamps I think that is extremely impressive and shows how robust the Spyridons are.
I did have a concern about using the Velcro strap version as I wondered how it would hold up in the swamps and bogs. Some of the bogs were up to 1km long and over knee deep with mud. My concern was whether the strap would stay secure and tight when pulling my leg up out of the mud, as I did not fancy losing a shoe. However, the VFFs are designed to fit snugly to the foot so although on a couple of occasions the strap came undone the shoe remained firmly in place on my feet. But this did not happen during every swamp or bog, and there were many.
Every single day of the race I had several other competitors asking me about my choice of footwear, often questioning whether I would be able to finish the race. My reply was the same every day, that they were extremely comfortable and I felt no pain or any objects under foot at all. They looked amazed but also looked very impressed. Many of them said they were going to try using VFFs after the event. Perhaps even more impressive than the toughness of the shoe, is the comfortableness of the Spyridons for running and hiking. After running 255km I did not have a single blister on either of my feet, and that is dispite starting and finishing every day with wet soggy feet. The only sores I had on my feet were between a couple of my toes caused by sand getting between them during the 108.5km long stage. I had already run several miles on sand during the previous four stages without any problems with the sand at all. During the long stage I think it only happened due to having had wet feet since 4.30am at the very start of the stage when we started with a river crossing, and by the time I ran on sand I had been running with wet feet in 35 degree heat in almost 100% humidity for over 12 hours. Perhaps if I had put on a pair of toe socks I may have been able to prevent the sores at all but as they were only minor I opted to just carry on to the finish.
The race director, who advised against wearing VFF, saw me on day four at the first checkpoint and said she couldn’t believe I was still going wearing them, and going so well. She said every day she expected me to pull out with trashed feet and after the race told me how seriously impressed she was with me for finishing in 5th place and wearing VFFs for the entire race.
I had reservations myself about wearing VFFs and I don’t think my Bikilas, KSO’s or Classics FiveFingers would have been up to the task. But thanks to the Spyridons trail running qualities I was able to wear them. In my opinion the Spyridons are the most comfortable running shoe I have ever worn. I have run over 20 marathons on both road and off road, and several ultramarathons including multi-day events in the Sahara, the Atacama in Chile, the Himalayas and Scottish highlands, as well as 100km and 100 mile non-stop races. I have worn several different brands of running shoes, some of which have left me with horrendous blisters. Some have been ok when it comes to blisters, but even if I finished blister free I always felt ‘hot spots’ which is the start of a blister. I have never worn a running shoe that has left me with zero blisters and zero hotspots.
I would have no hesitation at all in recommending VFF to other runners and for trail/off road running at the moment in my mind there is no better option than the Spyridons.
I will definitely be using Spyridons for my future off road running and will continue to recommend them to other runners who always approach me at races and while I’m out training, asking about them and how they feel.
I would be happy for you to use this review if you wish, as I would like other people to know about my experience of using VFFs. I searched the web before the race looking for other reviews or advice on using VFFs in such extreme environments but the information out there was limited. No one has ever worn Fivefingers in such an event and I would be happy to share my experiences with others. I am also a qualified personal trainer, as well as a London based firefighter, and will recommend the sensible and safe use of VFFs to some of my clients where suitable.
I asked Stuart a few questions and here is what he wrote back, “The Jungle Marathon was my first multi-day race wearing Vibrams. Before that I ran the London Marathon in VFF Bakilas but since I hadn’t run further than 12 miles in them before the marathon the jump in distance was rather silly and I did get some minor pain in my left foot. But I didn’t get a single blister or hot spot and like in the jungle I ran with no socks. My longest run before the Jungle was 14 miles off road and I ran with wet feet and again had no blisters. I have run several multi-stage ultras and marathons and only the VFFs left me with no blisters. I know they probably won’t work for everyone but I won’t run in trainers ever again. Before wearing VFFs I used Injinji toe socks and they definitely helped reduce the amount and severity of blisters I got from running than when I wore normal socks (including two socks).”
Thank you Stuart for this great report and congratulations on your finish.
If you are interested in learning more about the Jungle Marathons, the links are below. Shirley Thompson, the race director, puts on challenging races, well run with a great safety record, and a professional staff. It is my hope to be at both these events next year.
In October 2010 I wrote a blog post about a runner at the six-day ThanksRockies who wore FiveFingers for the 115 mile race. If you want to check out the link, here’s the post: Vibram FiveFingers at the Gore-Tex TransRockies.
I have worked a lot of events. Every one has its one set of conditions that stresses the participants’ feet. Sometimes, it’s the dry heat of Death Valley or the rainy British Columbia coast, or the ups and downs on the trails of the many trail hundreds.
For years, the norm has been to avoid getting your feet wet. Wet feet often mean skin that is soft and can become macerated. In long events, and especially in multi-day events, that can lead to trouble. Taping or patching wet feet, or macerated feet, is very difficult. So it is best to keep your feet as dry as possible.
And then there’s the Jungle Marathon.
The Jungle Marathon is held in the Amazon Rain Forest of Brazil. This year’s race is held over October 4 to 13.The race is in the stunning State of Para – often referred to as the Caribbean of the Amazon. Competitors have the choice of two distances: 240km or 100km, which will be completed in stages throughout the week. The longer distance will include six stages and the shorter will include four. Imagine running through the jungle with stream crossings, wet foliage, wet trails, mud, and extremely humid conditions. Your feet are always wet.
At the Jungle Marathon runners have to be self-sufficient, carrying their food and provisions during the race. They are provided bottled water at designated checkpoints. Nights are spent sleeping in hammocks at campsites along the shores of the river.
Shirley Thompson is the race director and she stresses, “Our medical team has many years experience in remote locations. Your safety and well-being is our prime concern and we employ only the most experienced personnel to assist us.”
Shirley told me, “We always advise runners to train with wet feet so that they can focus on a strategy before they get to the jungle. We also tell them to buy your book and try to find a strategy that works for them. As far as footwear is concerned, we always emphasize trail shoes with good grip, and that comfort is the main factor.
I personally spend quite a bit of time in the jungle preparing the trail and doing a trial run of the course, and I always use the same strategy, which I found years ago in your book. I spray on two coats of New Skin Liquid Bandage, then wear SealSkinz hi-tops, with a thin lining sock. I have never had a blister.”
Vicky Kypta instructs new medics who join the team on foot care and she gives clinics for competitors in the United Kingdom on foot care and preparation for the race. I emailed her and asked about their strategy for managing runner’s feet. Here is her response.
“Feet are soaked from the start of each stage, so in the end it made more sense to get people used to their feet being always wet. We found runners had less problems during the race when they had trained with wet feet. There was a lot of hideous feet in the first couple of years of the event before we adopted this strategy.
As far as blister prevention is concerned, we encourage all runners to find a shoe/sock combination that works for them and to train in them including getting them wet. During the race, the runners are told to stop and deal with any hot spots as soon as they start which includes not waiting to get to a checkpoint. It is amazing how just stopping for 20 minutes to deal with feet saves so much time and pain later in the race.
Some runners have their own preferences on how to treat blisters and if they do then we follow their instructions otherwise we tend to drain non-blood filled blisters. On those hardy enough we the inject compound tincture of benzoin to help seal the space created by the blister, to serve as a local antiseptic, and to prevent further abrasion or loss of skin. However, due to the intense burning sensation experienced for a few moments after injection not all runners want this method used – so for all others we drain the blister and then use the benzoin over the top to provide a tacky surface to help the tape stick. Over the top of the blister we then apply a layer of fleecy web and tape over that using zinc oxide tape.
Over toes we just use tape without the fleecy web as otherwise it becomes too bulky resulting in the runner being unable to put their shoe on.
Some runners like to use Compeed on their blisters and whilst they are very good at protecting the blister we have found through experience that with an ultra event such as the Jungle Marathon, they are very difficult to remove should there be any further problems with the blister later on during the race and more damage is often caused in attempting to remove them so we therefore don’t encourage their use.
Over the years we have been very fortunate and have had very few macerated feet as at the end of each stage we get the runners to remove all the tape and to thoroughly dry out their feet. Blisters and problem feet are then freshly taped later that evening or the next morning ready for the next stage.
Despite the incredible punishment the runners feet endure during the Jungle Marathon, year after year we have very few cases of macerated or infected feet which I believe stems from early and effective treatment of problems as they arise.”
Vicky holds foot care clinics including medical care prior to the races to help provide the runners with increased knowledge to enable them to treat themselves more effectively which will hopefully reduce the amount of foot problems even further.
The Jungle Marathon helps their runners successfully complete the race because of their unique approach to foot care. Here are my observations:
- They encourage participants to train with wet feet
- They even suggest soaking your shoes and socks before heading out for a training run
- They give specific advice that runners find the best shoe and sock combination for their feet when wet
- After each day’s stage, they have runners remove their tape, which allows the skin to dry out – re-taping afterwards
This combination of advice and attention of the runners keeping their feet healthy for the multiple stages of the race works well. I commend Shirley and Vicky and the Jungle Marathon for their success with foot care.
I encourage you to check out their website and Facebook page. If you are looking for a stage race with adventure, this is a well-organized event.
Here’s the link to the Jungle Marathon’s website.
Here’s the link to the Jungle Marathon Facebook page.
Next week is Badwater. I’ll be there along with Denise Jones, patching feet. I’ve captured the press released from Chris because if utilizes the best of social media and the web to keep followers in touch with the race. After the race, I’ll post pictures. Promise. Here’s the story and links.
AdventureCORPS, Inc., an event production firm specializing in ultra-endurance and extreme sports events, will host the 35th Anniversary Badwater Ultramarathon on July 16-18, 2012. Recognized globally as “the world’s toughest foot race,” this legendary event pits approximately 95 of the world’s toughest athletes – runners, triathletes, adventure racers, and mountaineers – against one another and the elements. Covering 135 miles (217km) non-stop from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA in temperatures up to 130F (55c), it is the most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet.
The start line is at Badwater, Death Valley, which marks the lowest elevation in North America at 280′ (85m) below sea level. The race finishes at Mt. Whitney Portal at 8360′ (2533m). The Badwater course covers three mountain ranges for a total of 13,000′ (3962m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 4,700′ (1433m) of cumulative descent. Whitney Portal is the trailhead to the Mt. Whitney summit, the highest point in the contiguous United States. Competitors travel through places and landmarks including Mushroom Rock, Furnace Creek, Salt Creek, Devil’s Cornfield, Devil’s Golf Course, Stovepipe Wells, Keeler, and Lone Pine.
A true “challenge of the champions,” the 2012 AdventureCORPS Badwater Ultramarathon features 49 Badwater veterans and 49 rookies: die hard “ultra-runners” of every speed and ability, as well a athletes who have the necessary running credentials, but are primarily known for their exploits as adventure racers, mountaineers, triathletes, or in other extreme pursuits. They represent twenty countries by citizenship or residence: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Canada, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, and United States of America (and nineteen America states).
There are 18 women and 80 men. The youngest runner is 23 (rookie entrant Claire Heid of Tacoma, WA) while the oldest is 70 (Arthur Webb of Santa Rosa, CA, a thirteen-time finisher), with an average age of 45. Full details are available on the race roster.
The men’s course record is held by Valmir Nunez of Brazil with a time of 22:51:29 set in 2007, while the women’s course record of 26:16:12 was set in 2010 by Jamie Donaldson of Littleton, CO. It is expected that the winner of the 2012 AdventureCORPS Badwater Ultramarathon will finish in 22 to 26 hours. The average finishing time is approximately 40 hours, while the overall time limit is 48 hours, as compared to the 60 hour limited used in the races held through 2010. For those who finish in less than forty-eight hours, their reward is the coveted Badwater belt buckle. There is no prize money.
The 2012 race field is particularly competitive. Veteran contenders include 2011 men’s champion Oswaldo Lopez, 40, of Madera, CA (also place 2nd in both 2009 and 2010; Mexico citizenship), 2010 men’s champion Zack Gingerich, 32, of Tigard, OR, 2009 men’s champion Marcos Farinazzo, 44, of Brazil and 2004 men’s champion Dean Karnazes, 49, or Ross, California. Also competing is Marshall Ulrich, 61, of Idaho Springs, CO, the 17-time finisher who placed first in 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1996.
The women’s field, with 18 entrants, includes 11 rookies and 7 veterans. Veteran contenders include the 2011 women’s champion, Sumie Inagaki, 46, of Aichi, Japan and Pam Reed, 51, of Jackson, WY, the 2002 and 2003 overall champion who also won the women’s field in 2005. Every year is a new year at the Badwater Ultramarathon, with rookies and “previously unknown” athletes surprising the contenders with top performances. New stars will shine as the race unfolds in July.
RACE MAGAZINE Download the 2012 edition (44 pages; 3.4MB).
RACE WEBCAST Follow the race live via the webcast.
BADWATER ON TWITTER
Follow the 2012 Badwater Ultramarathon via Twitter. We will post race updates and observations, photo links, and important news and announcements. NOTE: Please use hashtag #bw135 to join the Twitter conversation! Here’s the current conversation stream.
BADWATER ON FLICKR
Official race photos by the Badwater Race Staff will post to Flickr July 15-18. Race Director Chris Kostman’s race photos will post to Flickr July 15-18 in his photostream.
BADWATER ON INSTAGRAM
Badwater Race Director Chris Kostman will be posting photos “live” (whenever a cellular connection is available, which is in Furnace Creek and then the latter 1/3 of the course and the finish line) via his Instagram account. Follow his photo stream on your iPhone or Android with the Instagram app and his stream at “chriskostman.” Photos also automatically post to Chris’ Instagram stream for viewing online.
BADWATER ON YOUTUBE
We will be posting videos from the race on the AdventureCORPS YouTube channel. Most videos will appear on Tuesday and Wednesday, where the internet connection is far superior to that in Death Valley.
Some of you may have been wondering where I have been for the past three weeks. Or maybe not. In any case, please allow me to share my story.
Three weeks ago I left on a week long mission trip to Ecuador. I was one of 18 people who made the trip. We flew into Quito where we spent the night before moving the next day to Riobamba, 4 1/2 hours south. Both cities are above 9000 feet. That was our staging point for the next four days. Over the next four days, our team traveled to remote villages in the the high mountains.
In each village we set up in their school building. They were very poor villages and the facilities were rough. Broken windows, warped floors, dirt everywhere, primitive school supplies – but warm people. Our mission was to deliver shoes and socks to children in each village. We set up chairs and worked in teams of two, with an interrupter for each team.
We washed their feet and applied powder before putting on socks and a new pair of tennis shoes. After that we shared the Gospel with each child. At the end of four days, we had seen over 500 children and each received shoes and socks. Some of the adults received shoes too.
The little girls also received panties. It was hard to imagine that none of the girls have these basic things we take for granted. Likewise, for shoes and socks. Most of the children wore high rubber boots – without socks. Of those that had shoes, most had broken straps, no laces, holes in the tops and bottoms, and holes in the inside bottom. Many were too small for the child. It was obvious that these were handed down from child to child. Pity the youngest.
The parents were happy to see their children getting shoes. They mingled around and it was fascinating to see them with their children. Women were spinning yarn, feeding babies, and helping with the children. Each day we had a team from the Ecuadorian Army who accompanied us and helped with the children. It took teamwork to process the children. I took close to 500 photos.
You might ask why I made this trip. For more than 12 years I have worked on feet at runs, adventure races, and walks; taught clinics on foot care and talked to athletes about their feet; and written on all aspects of foot care. This trip provided a challenge of a different nature. These children live in villages from which most will not leave. They have little chance to improve their lives. I had the chance to touch the feet of children and make a difference in the lives of those that have very little. Did I make a difference? I believe so. But, just as important, the children touched me. I will remember their faces for a long time.
I am sharing a few of the images from the trip. I ended up as the compiler of the team’s photos – more than 2500 in all. I have been working to prepare several presentations for the team members, edit some of the images, and sort them. It is a time consuming job, but the memories of the trip are rewarding. I hope you are as touched by the images as I was.
This last image is one that really touched me. Maybe I read too much into her expression, but when I ask people what they see in her face, their answer mirrors mine. Despair. She was about 13 years old.
If you are interested, we went with an organization Happy Feet International, from Alabama. They do eight to ten of these trips a year, mainly to South and Central America. Each trip goes to new villages.
Would I do it again. Yes. Without a doubt. I will always have the opportunity to work on athletes’ feet. And I love doing that. This was different. I touched feet and touched lives. My faith is important to me and as a Christian, I needed to do this trip.
Something else I observed is worth saying too. We saw no beggars or panhandlers. People of all ages worked. Children helped with their younger siblings. They worked in the fields alongside their parents. Their parents worked – in fact even old people worked. Life for people in these villages is very simple. You work to survive. Every child told us they had cows, chickens, pigs and sheep. They go to school and they work after school. They were happy, as most children are, playing with simple toys. In retrospect, if more Americans had the opportunity to visit a third world country, they would appreciate their home and lives even more.
In my next I will return to discussing a new aspect of foot care.
Last week I had the opportunity to spend six days working medical at the Gore-Tex TransRockies Run in Colorado. This was truly a positive experience.The Colorado Rockies are fantastic.
About 50 individuals did the three-day race and 110 teams did the six-day. We saw a significant amount of foot problems. Toenails and heels were the main issues. We had between 10 and 14 runners who presented with large heel blisters. Toenails were an issue mainly because of poor personal hygiene and runners being not understanding the potential of under the toenail blisters and toe blisters. There were only a few runners with ball of the foot blisters. The next few posts will highlight what we saw and treatments given. I have some great photos. Those of you who know me know you can count on some photos that will make you cringe!
The photo is of Tim and Doone Watson finishing day four at Redcliff.
This year the runners covered 115 miles in six days. Stages ranged from 14 to 24 miles. The route was from Buena Vista to Beaver Creek, going over Hope Pass into Leadville, and then later through Vail. Great swag for runners, all inside a huge duffle bag – a Gore-Tex WindStopper jacket, Timex watch, hat, shirt, a trail running book, ceramic mug, Peet shoe dryer, energy food stuff, WindStopper stadium blanket, WindStopper gloves, and more. Good meals, masseuses available every afternoon, ice baths, mobile showers, and tents put up and taken down for you. Awards were presented every night for that day’s stage category winners and overall winners. Videos were shown each evening of the day’s race. It was a real social event too. Gore-Tex and Salomon each had areas for runner relaxation for the runners every afternoon.
The staff and volunteers are there to make the event as fun as possible for the runners. I can honestly say the runners every need was taken care of. We worked hard but were treated well. We also received swag, in fact more than any other race I have worked.
For those looking for a late summer experience, the TransRockies is a first rate race. I encourage you to consider the race for 2011. Teams can be two guys, two ladies, or a guy and lady – or do the three-day race solo. The link is http://transrockies.com/transrockiesrun/news/
In two weeks I will take Fixing Your Feet to Colorado for the 2010 Gore-Tex TransRockies Run.
The TransRockies is a six-day stage race where teams of two tackle different sections of trail each day. August 22 to 27 is the official race. Before the race is registration and the typical “get to know you” meetings. The current start list shows 118 teams. Runners will start in Buena Vista and end in Beaver Creek, about 115 miles.
In addition, the TransRockies Run3 will take place the first three days of the longer race. This shorter race is limited to 50 solo runners.
I will be assisting on the medical team – working on feet. If you will be there, make sure you come up and introduce yourself.
With over 250 runners for six days, I hope they come with some of their own foot care materials. I will pack my usual supply of tapes but it is hard to anticipate the quantity I need for that many runners over six days.
If you have a chance, check out their website: http://www.transrockies.com.
Winter is here and with it
comes cold, rain, mud, hail, sleet, snow, mud, slush, and ice – all of which
can contribute to unsafe walking and running conditions.
Select the right footwear
for whatever your activity will be. That may seem simple, but it is easy to
forget our footwear choices. Whether you are outside for work, pleasure, or sport,
make sure you are attentive to the conditions of where you walk or run. One
slip can ruin an otherwise good day. None of us wants a sprained ankle, twisted
knee, or even worse, a fall resulting in a broken bone, hip, back, or head
injury. Falls are more common in the winter because of weather conditions and
the shorter hours of daylight.
Wear sensible shoes. Wear
shoes or boots with good tread. Many times shoes made for everyday wear become slippery
in wet conditions.
Take care to choose footwear
that keeps your feet dry and warm. Good socks are also part of the bigger picture.
Take care of your feet with
good choices of “winter-ready” footwear to keep your feet and your body safe
2009 has ushered itself in
and with it comes hope for many people. Our world is changing and it is my hope
that 2009 will be a good year for you. And of course, I hope 2009 will be a
good year for your feet too!
I have just completed a
redesign of FixingYourFeet.com and New Years day is a good day to roll it out
to my readers. Check out the new site. There are new articles, a blister video,
product links and foot links, related books, and more. If you would like to
read an article on a specific topic, please send me an email.
In the months ahead, I plan
on adding more articles, and based on feedback, even more features. I hope to
one day incorporate this Happy Feet blog with my Fixing Your Feet E-zine into
one link on FixingYourFeet.com.
Now, here is my New Year’s foot
care tip. Winter brings drier air to our homes. Make sure you use a moisturizing lotion on your feet to keep the skin soft and supple. Taking a few moments once
or twice a week will go a long ways top having healthy feet when Spring
Once again, happy New Year
from Happy Feet.
FIXING YOUR FEET E-zine
Volume 8, Issue 12, December 2008 ~
John Vonhof, Footwork Publications ~
Copyright, December 2008, All rights reserved
THIS ISSUE IN SUMMARY
This issue has an editorial on An Analogy – Weight Training and Foot Care, an article on Stretching after Exercise Prevents Injury, three foot care tips, and a new bad feet photo.
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: AN ANALOGY – WEIGHT TRAINING AND FOOT CARE
[first shared in my August 2002 newsletter – and still true today.]
There comes a point in time where we all reflect. It’s a natural part of learning. For instance, after working out at the gym, I have come to realize that no matter how hard some people workout with weights; they will never have the muscles they are trying to achieve. Their biceps will never look like the arms of steel they want. Others will work out with the same weights and have arms to die for. It is somewhat the same way with feet.
Before you call me crazy for making the analogy, hear me out. In weight training, in order to gain muscle, one must follow a routine with the weights (to add muscle), of diet (to feed the muscles and the body with the right types of food), and throw in some cardio (to work the heart and burn fat). Do all of these together and you have a reasonable chance of showing gains in definition and size. Omit one, or skimp on one, and the benefits of all the others will be lessened. Yet, you and I could be working out next to each other, doing the same weight routines, eating the same foods, and doing the same cardio, and we could be much different in appearance. Our body types could be as different as night and day – and subsequently affect our final outcome.
In foot care, you can take two athletes, and have them manage their feet the same way, and have two different outcomes. Give the two the same shoes, socks, lube, and ask them to do the same 50-mile run (for example), and you will have two completely different sets of outcomes. Why? What makes the difference? I have thought about this a lot recently as I have mended feet at Western States and the Primal Quest Adventure Race. Why are there so many racers who struggle to end an event with healthy feet? Why are the feet of some racers so much worse than others? What are the unknown factors? Then one day at the gym I began to see the analogy. It was, however, what I didn’t see that that struck me most.
What I didn’t see was what the people at the gym did when they were outside of the gym. I suspect many cheated on their diet, what I didn’t know was by how much. That was the unknown. When we do our weight routines correctly, with the right amounts of weight, and add in the necessary amount of cardio, we should see results–if our diet is right. That’s a big IF. But it’s the IF that makes the difference.
In foot care, the big IF is what you have neglected. When I read stories of your foot care problems or see you and patch your feet, I only see you at that moment, with those shoes and socks, and with whatever form of lube or powder or pre-taping you may have done beforehand.
What I don’t see is what you may have neglected:
- The history of hot spots that you usually have-and haven’t bothered to pre-tape,
- The shoes that don’t fit well-even through fit is the number one key to healthy feet,
- The too tight fit of your toes inside your too small toe box on your shoes that has given you black toenails,
- Or the standard issue insoles that came with your shoes that have flattened out and are now worthless.
Or even still, I may see what you neglected:
- The toenails that you didn’t trim and have caught on your socks and given you toe blisters,
- The dirt and trail grit that is inside your shoes – that might have been prevented with gaiters,
- The bunions or Morton’s foot that you have – that might have been prevented with a bigger toe box,
- The macerated skin on the bottom of your feet caused by your not changing socks when your feet got wet and stayed wet for long periods,
- Or the calluses on your feet that you didn’t get rid of and have now blistered under, and which are hard to drain or patch over.
As I said earlier, if you omit one, or skimp on one, and the benefits of all the others will be lessened. In the list that follows, pick one and take it out of the equation and you open yourself up to problems. The list that we each have to consider is: Are we:
- Wearing the right wicking socks?
- Wearing shoes that fit?
- Pre-taping for hot spots?
- Pre-taping known blister problem areas?
- Using a good lube to prevent friction?
- Using a good powder to control moisture?
- Wearing gaiters?
- Tying our laces correctly to avoid instep pressure?
- Using a good insole?
- Wearing the right shoes for the conditions?
- Have put the necessary miles on your feet in training?
- Have gotten rid of calluses, or in some cases – have toughened the skin of our feet?
- Wearing shoes with room in the toe box?
- Wearing shoes that grip our heels?
- Have trimmed our toenails correctly? Aad the list goes on.
Omit one. Any one. It may be the one that makes the difference between healthy and unhealthy feet on that particular day. Both in weight training and in foot care there are ways we hurt our chances of success. Cheating takes many forms and it is easy to cheat our feet by not doing what has been proven. You can argue that each day is different and you never had blisters before – but you have them now. You can argue that you have done everything under your power to keep your feet healthy and yet still had problems. And to a certain degree, you may be right. But the odds are, you omitted one thing, or maybe more than one, or changed one thing – and that made all the difference in the world.
To be fair, there are some athletes who never have foot problems. They are out there, and they usually pass us by as we are stopped fixing our feet.
If you want to comment on this piece, please send me an email.
SHARE THIS NEWSLETTER
Please take a moment and forward this issue to a friend or two and encourage them to subscribe.
FOOT CARE TIPS
Airing Your Feet – Remember when stopping to rest, eat, or change gear, take off your shoes and socks and let your feet air out. Elevating them above the level of your heart will help swollen feet. So will letting them soak a bit in a cold stream or lake.
Cold or Heat – For injuries, of your feet and ankles, or anywhere on your body, the question many ask is, “Do I use heat or cold on the injury?” After a soft tissue injury or suspected bone injury, swelling occurs when blood accumulates in the injured area. Ice the area for 20 minutes every half hour for the first four to six hours. Continue every two to four hours after that as long as there is swelling. Use heat once the swelling has subsided and healing has begun—usually four to six days after the injury has occurred. Sprained ankles are one of the most common lower extremity injuries and this cold and heat treatment will help speed your recovery.
Measuring Your Feet – Every time you buy new shoes, make sure both feet are measured. Not just one foot, but both feet. A large number of people wear shoes that are too short. Also, do your shoe shopping in the late afternoon or evening. And yes, you feet do change over time.
FIXING YOUR FEET, 4th EDITION
If you still don’t have your personal copy of the 4th edition of Fixing Your Feet, it can be ordered through my website FixingYourFeet.com web site, ZombieRunner.com, or Amazon.com. The retail price is $18.95 but these days no one pays full price! So, whichever of the sites below you choose, the price is comparable.
FEATURE ARTICLE: STRETCHING AFTER EXERCISE PREVENTS INJURY
By Dr. Pamela Adams
Each of us is unique and requires an unique program. It takes quite a bit of detective work to uncover what’s missing or what should be changed. I find that the more lower body stretches I do, the better my feet feel in all respects. Instep, achilles, gastroc, tibialis, quad, hamstring, TFL and hip flexor stretches should be done after every run, after every hike, after every long walk, after every work-out.
Recent studies have shown that stretching before exercising does nothing to improve performance and may actually be injurious. I agree. As a chiropractor and yoga instructor, I have found that stretching muscles that have not warmed up sufficiently can cause micro-tears, inflammation, and ultimately pain and dysfunction.
However, stretching immediately after exercising is, in my experience, the single best way to prevent injury and prolong your level of activity well past middle age.
Musculo-skeletal health is based in large part on good joint alignment and good muscle balance. Degenerative conditions and repetitive injuries over the years happen not because of what we do, but how badly we do what we do.
When a muscle is being used, it contracts or shortens. Take your biceps for example. At one end, the biceps inserts on the bone of your forearm; the other end attaches to the top of your shoulder bone. The biceps’ job is to raise your forearm at the elbow bending your arm. When it contracts or shortens, it actually pulls on the bone of the forearm and lifts it up. At the same time the triceps on the back of your arm is lengthening. To straighten your elbow, the biceps relaxes and the triceps shortens.
What happens when you continuously call upon a muscle to contract as in pumping iron, or running long distances, it fails to lengthen completely. Then each time you use it, you start from an ever-shortened position. A hard, bulging muscle is not a flexible, healthy muscle. Eventually, this shortened muscle will change the healthy range of movement of the joint, which, over time, means trouble.
A chronically shortened Achilles displaces the heel bone back and up causing, or at least contributing to, painful heel spurs and plantar fasciitis. Chronically shortened calves, hamstrings and/or quads misalign the knee joint and have led to the rash of surgeries so common to runners.
Immediately after every run, every hike, every climb, every activity, stretch the muscles you’ve used. There are many books out there showing specific stretches for specific muscles. Start with the Achilles and move up. Stretch slowly, holding the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds. Learn to tell the difference between good pain and bad pain. A very tight muscle may hurt when you stretch it. Stretch calves, hamstrings, quads, inner thighs, outer thighs, hip flexors, and glutes.
Stretching promotes flexibility and flexibility is just as important as strength and endurance for runners. Correct running posture is also vitally important. Picture Michael Johnson, the Olympic gold medal winner. His body is aligned perfectly over his feet. His footfall is perfect–heel, midfoot, toe-off. His feet carry him across the finish line with the least amount of stress possible.
The athletes I’ve worked with who take stretching seriously are aging gracefully and don’t plan to cut down on their activity level any time soon. When they do, it will be because they want to, not because they have to.
Dr. Pamela Adams D.C., is a Holistic Health Mentor who practices in San Francisco, CA.
If you want to comment on this piece, please send me an email.
BAD FEET PHOTO
This month I am showing you what happens when shoes are pushed beyond their limits. The
photo is from Primal Quest – Utah 2006, a 10-day expedition length adventure race. Paramedic Greg Friese took the photo while he worked on the medical team. You can see how the shoes have come apart. The soles have separated from the uppers. Ever popular duct tape has been used to try and hold the shoe together. There are several possible answers to what happened. The shoes could be old. They could have been exposed to extremes of heat or cold, or to long periods of water. While not that common, it can and does happen. I have seen it in several ultramarathons. The lesson is to make sure when you start a race or event you have trained form and invested a lot of time and money, that your footwear is up to the task.
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.
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.
You are subscribed to the Fixing Your Feet E-zine because you subscribed to it. If you wish to be removed from this mailing list, you can find instructions at the end of this email. We respect the privacy of all subscribers and will not disclose your email address or any information about you to any third party.
SHARE THIS ISSUE
If you like this E-zine, please pass it along to others whom you think will benefit from its contents and encourage them to subscribe. They can subscribe the box at the top of this blog or with an email to Yahoo.
If you need to unsubscribe to this E-zine and subscribed through Yahoo, please send an email to Yahoo.
You are welcome to contact me by email about this E-zine or the book Fixing Your Feet.
I wish all my readers a Merry Christmas. This is the day to spend with family and loved ones. I pray you have been blessed in this past year. Our home is decorated outside with lights and over 40 Precious Moments figures – angels, the nativity, the wise men, and more. It even spreads over into the neighbor's yard. Two angels are on the chimney, and a six-foot star stands 15 feet above.