Happy feet make for a happy runner.
A message from race medical director, Dr. Aaron Reilly, DO – It goes without saying that taking care of your feet during a multi-day ultra is imperative. Foot problems have often ended races for competitors and can involve several days to weeks of painful recovery. There are several good resources both in print and online in regards to tips for prevention and treatment of foot problems.
One great resource is the site “Fixing Your Feet” written by John Vonhof. He works several events as medical foot support, including the Western States and Badwater ultras. You can review his website or his book for great tips and tricks in avoiding race ending foot problems.
Some of the basics of foot care, specifically blister prevention, involve basic maintenance of your feet. Blisters form by two mechanisms: friction and shear forces. Managing fiction alone is not enough. Runners should trim their toenails short and manage foot calluses as these are common areas for friction and provide a layer for shearing forces. Each individual needs to find the best shoe/sock combination, which can be very unique. Taking recommendations from others can be a good source of information, but just because it works for one runner, don’t assume it will work for everyone. Gaiters may also help keep sand and small pebbles from finding their way into shoes, which can cause areas of friction and irritation. Other helpful prevention may involve pre-treating common problem spots with taping or lubricating anti-friction products.
Moisture is another enemy of healthy feet. Runners should take advantage of any chance to remove shoes and socks and let their feet air out, with application of foot powder to keep them dry. It is also beneficial to have a lightweight pair of open sandals/flip-flops to allow the feet to dry out while in camp.
Treating blisters should also be practiced as much as practical, and each athlete should be familiar with the items in their kit and how to tape various foot locations. Overall, just like nutrition, foot care is highly individualized and a plan should be in place well in advance.
Participants at Trans-Pecos Ultra will be expected to perform their own basic blister taping with guidance from medical personnel if desired. The medical personnel will be available at every checkpoint, as well as camp and will always be available to give advice and help keep you on the course.
Remember, Trans-Pecos Ultra is a self-supported race, therefore foot care will be the primary responsibility of each participant, who are required to carry a foot care kit, as outlined below, but should carry more if significant issues are expected based on previous experience. Runners will be expected to perform their own basic blister taping with guidance from medical personnel if desired. The medical personnel will always be available to give advice and help keep runners on the course. If assistance is needed with foot care, the athlete should present to medical with their own foot care supplies, as providing enough supplies for every runner is impossible.
Foot care kit:
Minimal requirements (additional supplies should be added based off of expected issues or previous experience)
- Needles (x 2) – 18 gauge hypodermic needles preferred, LARGE safety pins
- Elastic therapeutic tape – 36”/92cm length (recommended: 2” RockTape H2O, although other tapes are acceptable) – tape should preferably be elastic and porous
- Iris scissors for trimming tape
- Benzoin swabs/pads (x2)
- Alcohol pads (x6)
Optional supplies (recommended)
- Foot lubricant (i.e. Trail Toes or other similar silicone based anti-friction product) or foot powder
- Hydrogel dressing (i.e. 2nd Skin)
- Blister pads (i.e. MoleSkin product)
Leave a comment down below and our race medical director, Dr. Aaron Reilly, DO will answer your questions.