This post came about because of a Backpacker magazine article about skills. One of the items was about endurance and was for, “Blistered feet during a high-mileage trek.”
The tip was to, “… protect against hot spots by applying a skin lubricant like Vaseline to high-friction areas…”
I’m sorry, but I think Vaseline is a bad choice.
When I ran my first ultra, back around 1982, there was not a huge choice in lubricants so Vaseline was commonly used. But I learned very quickly that its stickiness helped it collect dust and grit, sand and dirt, and other things that found their way into your socks and shoes. Once absorbed into my socks, it also became stiff. I looked for an alternative and discovered Bag Balm, which I used for years.
Over the years, Vaseline has been surpassed by lubricants that are slicker without attracting “stuff’ that can cause hot spots and blisters, that last longer, that don’t cake up on your socks, and that are much more effective.
So, here’s my choice for a bad lubricant: Vaseline.
And here are my choices for good lubricants:
- Solid Stick
- Pocket Slick
- The Original Anti-Chafe Balm
- FootGlide Foot Formula
- Ant-Chafe with SPF 25 Balm
- BodyGlide Anti-Chafe for Her
- Liquefied Powder
- WarmFX Anti-Pain Balm
- Anti-Chafe Stick
- Anti-Chafe Stick, Sensitive Formula
Hydropel Sports Ointment
Many of these are available through ZombieRunner. Click on “Anti-chafing & Skin Care.” I you are looking for a new lubricant, or want to try one of these, check them out through ZombieRunner.
Disclosure: Clicking through to ZombieRunner and making a purchase credits me with a few pennies to support this website.
Let’s confess. You get out of the shower and pull on your socks or nylons and shoes. Right? You don’t even really glance at your feet.
Unfortunately, that split second, usually an automatic action, causes us to miss things our feet are trying to tell us. So, let’s slow down and see what we might have missed.
Start with the toes. Use your fingers to spread them apart and make sure they are dry and there are no signs of athlete’s foot. Look for calluses on the side or bottom of the toes.
Now the toenails. Check for nails that need a trim or filing, signs of ingrown toenails and toenail fungus.
Move on down to the bottoms of your feet. Check for any unusual bumps that might be plantar warts.
Now around to the heels. Look for cracks in the skin, scaly skin or calluses that indicate dryness and the need for a moisturizer.
Finally, move around to the sides of the foot. Check for calluses that could be reduced.
This quick check can take only a few seconds but can prevent problems later. Learn to use your fingers and hands to gauge the health of your feet.
I was reading one of my newsletters the other day and came across a small piece that caught my attention.
This has to do with melanoma – skin cancer. Neil A. Campbell, DPM, a podiatrist from Yaokum, Texas, is a spokesperson for the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Dr. Campbell warned that melanomas on the feet or ankles have a higher mortality rate than other melanomas. The reason is that the cancer is typically diagnosed at a later stage.
His self-defense suggestions are to check your feet and ankles monthly. Check your ankles, tops of the feet, soles (with a mirror), between the toes, and around the toenails. You are looking for small areas of pigmented skin, moles that have changed in size or appearance, and any unexplained discoloration under a toenail. If you see any of these, consult your doctor.
The chart seen here is from CancerResearch.org.
Sometimes athletes are under the mistaken impression that they cannot have nice feet. They think that the miles they run or hike, the blisters or calluses, the black or missing toenails, all mean they are relegated to bad or even ugly feet.
Let me assure you that you can be an athlete and still have nice feet. Take a good look at this picture. The foot looks great dosen’t it? Even the toenails look good. Let me assure you this foot belongs to an athlete – and the other one is just as good.
I took this picture several years ago when I was providing foot care at The Atacama Crossing, a Racing the Planet seven-day foot race across the high desert of northern Chile. The foot belongs to one of the women who ran the 150-mile race. She had learned how to care for her feet and what worked for her feet. Notice the nails are well trimmed. The skin is clean and no calluses are evident on the sides. The picture was taken half way through a 30 mile day.
Whatever your sport, with a bit of care and knowledge about how to care for your skin, toes, and toenails, you can have nice feet.
The weather is changing and with summer not far off, a word to the wise about foot care is in order. Lots of people like going barefoot around the house once warm weather starts. Bare feet can be refreshing and invigorating. Wiggling and curling your toes without socks, and stretching your feet, feels good.
One important tip to get your feet in shape for summer is to care for the skin on your feet. Stop at your local drug store and select one of the moisturizing creams to start using at least every other day. There are many to choose from and rather than list a few, it is better for you to look over your local selection. Read the tube or canisters to learn what they have in common. Pick one and use it regularly.
Pay special attention to your heels and the balls of your feet. These two places are where the skin usually starts to harden and build calluses. If you have stubborn calluses, and have tried to soften them without success, try this trick. Apply the moisturizer in the evening before bed, than wrap a strip of plastic wrap around your heels, or feet, whichever area you want to soften. Leave it on overnight. In the morning, use a callus file or pumice stone to remove the loose skin. Then apply another light coating of moisturizer.
Hardened or callused skin tends to get harder and more callused through the summer. Take a few minutes and get your feet in shape for the coming summer. Do what it takes to keep your feet happy.
This past weekend was great. Four days off in a row. As usual, I spent quite a bit of time gardening. My Teva sandals are fairly old but still sturdy and most importantly, comfortable.
I start most Saturday’s by using a callus file to remove the hard spots and callus buildup. Then I rub a good callus reducing cream all over my heels. This helps keep the skin soft while wearing sandals. I usually use Zim’s Crack Creme, Weleda’s Skin Food, or Total Foot Recovery Cream from Podiatrist’s Secret. I don’t skimp on the amount.
By the end of the day, the skin on my heels is dirty and has started to harden. Going in the pool helps but it is important to wash my feet at the end of the day. I am amazed at the amount of dirt finding it’s way into the pores and small minor cracks of my skin. Then I apply another light coat of the cream. This is repeated on Sunday.
This regiment has helped keep the calluses on my heels under control. I like wearing sandals but I know wearing them day after day, without proper skin care, will lead to calluses and hardened skin—and later cracks in the top layers of skin. I also use the cream several times on weekdays. There’s no sense in letting my skin go during the week even if I am not wearing sandals all day.
Take a few minutes and stop by your friendly neighborhood drug store and pick up a container of callus reducer cream. Use it and you’ll help your feet be happy.
Ok, let’s get right to the point. Summer is here and many of us will be wearing sandals, flip-flops (mentioned in the last post), or going barefoot. You will see your feet—but so will many others. So the question is, Are your feet pretty?
Some of you may say, I don’t care, while others while answer with either a Yes or No. Let’s spend a few minutes talking about our answers.
If you answered, I don’t care, I really can’t argue with you. But… In some cultures, your feet are seen as the window to the soul. I’d point out that good foot care is a health issue that everyone should pay attention to. If you toenails are dirty, untrimmed, picked at, cracked, dry and scaly, yellow or other colors, simple toenail care can go a long ways to getting pretty feet. If you have let your skin go, it may be dry, callused, callused with yellowed or brown coloring, or cracked. Good skin care with lotions or creams, and a callus file or pumice stone, can help. A twice a week self-massage of your feet with lotion can also help restore tone and make them feel better.
If you answered No, the above steps can also help you. I understand that many of us have feet that won’t win any prizes in a pretty feet contest. We may have inherited long or short toes, irregular shaped toes, or have toes that have lost their toenails due to black toenails from our shoes and sports involvement. We may have bunions, hammertoes, long thin and boney feet, or short and fat feet. Whatever the foot gods have handed us as feet, we still need to take care of them. The tips above about toenail and skin care can help. So can a pedicure.
If you answered, Yes – good for you. Pretty feet are a nice thing to have.
If you think your feet are worthy, whether pretty or not, send me a photo and in a future blog, I’ll post some of the pictures. In the mean time, keep your feet happy.
It’s that time of year when the effect of cold and the dryness in the air has a negative effect on our skin. If the skin on your hands is cracking from being outside, you can bet your feet are also suffering. Be sure to use a moisturizing lotion on your feet. In extreme cases when your skin is especially dry and cracked, apply the lotion or cream and then cover the area with plastic wrap to hold it in. Here are my favorite skin care choices:
1. SkinMD Natural – This is a new shielding lotion that adds moisture while stopping the loss of your natural moisture to heal dry and damaged skin.
2. Zim’s Crack Crème – A natural, herbal lotion that moisturizes and softens dry and cracked skin.
3. Burt’s Bees Coconut Foot Crème – Heals and protects dry, rough and callused skin.
4. Weleda Skin Food – An herbal crème that moisturizes dry, flaky, and damaged skin.
The important tip to remember is to use the lotion daily or according to the package’s directions. Using these lotions once or twice a week will not allow them to work their healing magic on your skin.
It’s relatively easy to tell how healthy someone’s feet are—for me anyway. I just run my hands up and down their feet, and over and between their toes. That’s as up close and personal as you can get. The skin on healthy feet will feel soft and supple. The skin feels somewhat smooth and moist as opposed to feeling dry and flaky. I’ll allow only one or two patches of small calluses per foot—if any at all. Many people treasure their calluses and do everything to keep them while others can’t get rid of the rough skin. No corns, plantar warts, or Athlete’s foot will be seen or felt. Just nice soft and supple skin. Notice how I come back to that again?
Toenails are a great indicator of the health of your feet. Do you take the time to trim and file your toenails properly? Do you pick at your nails, leading to ingrown toenails? Are your nails soft, flaky, thickened and discolored? Do you have nail fungus? Nice healthy nails are firm and strong, and trimmed well.
I’ll never say healthy feet can’t have bunions, hammertoes, claw toes, mallet toes, Morton’s toe, or even irritations like Morton’s Neuroma and metatarsalgia (more on all these in the future) since these are generally beyond our control. In general though, the skin and toenails tell a story.
So what can help your skin and nails? The use of a good moisturizer is important since the skin needs it’s natural oils restored and this in turn helps keep calluses under control. This will help the skin’s texture and tone by exfoliating dry and dead skin and allow newly rejuvenated skin to emerge. The use of a deep-penetrating hydrating cream twice a day will help keep skin soft and supple (there’s that soft and supple again). Need product ideas? Try any of the following: Aquaphor Healing Ointment, Burt’s Bees Coconut Foot Cream, Dr. Scholl’s Creams, Neutrogena Foot Cream, Johnson & Johnson’s Pretty Feet & Hands Ultra Moisturizing Cream, and All Terrain’s Therapeutic Foot Rub. FootSmart and Global Drugs have a complete line of foot care products including toenail files and trimmers.
Remember, think soft and supple for healthy feet.
I would like to challenge you to do one thing for your feet. Nothing
drastic. It doesn’t even have to cost anything–and if it does–it’ll
be cheap. Since you know your feet better than I do, you’ll have to
pick the one thing. First, take off your shoes and socks. Secondly,
take a good look at your feet. Run your hands over your feet, between
the toes, and feel the skin–especially on the heels and balls of your
feet. Do you feel any thickened skin or calluses? Is the skin dry? Is
it soft and supple or hardened? Are there cracks in the skin or between
your toes? Feel your toenails and see how long the nails are. Look for
cracked nails. Are there any signs of thickened or discolored nails?
Are they strong or crumbly?
Not wanting to complicate this, I’ll give you four choices. So, depending on what you find, either
- Use a moisturizing cream for healthier skin.
- Use a callus reducing cream on those problem areas. (Value your calluses? We’ll address that in the future).
- Trim and file your nails smooth. (Don’t know how? We’ll talk about that in the future too).
- If you have thickened, flaky or crumbly toenails, see a podiatrist – nail fungus is a bad thing. (Not sure how to tell? That too will be talked about in the future).
Now, I’ll bet you’re not happy I told you to do things that maybe you don’t know how to do. Well, Rome wasn’t build in a day and fixing your feet is not an instant fix either. I want you to start thinking "foot care" as part of your daily routine. Since I am a firm believer in good foot care, these will be some of the first topics we will discuss in the blog. Stay tuned for more.