In a classic blog post, foot-care guru John Vonhof neatly summarises 12 key points about foot care. He wrote this the week before heading off to tend to feet at the Western States 100. John’s points apply as much to 100-milers as to adventure races, trail running and hiking.

Every year I am amazed at the number of runners who are ill prepared. They put extra socks in their drop bags – that have holes in them. The have open Athletes foot sores between their toes. Their shoes are shot and should have been replaced. They have not done good toenail care. They have thick calluses. They start the race with old unhealed blisters. Their shoes don’t fit. They wear full-length compression socks and then are amazed when we can’t get them off at the aid station to work on their feet. Tight fitting compression socks may feel good but are almost impossible to get off and even worse to get back on over patched feet.

You can read John's full post on his Fixing Your Feet blog and definitely consider a copy of his book, Fixing Your Feet, for your Kindle or bookcase.

A summary of his 12 points (we love point #5) follows:

  1. Make sure your shoes fit. 
  2. Make sure you wear good socks. 
  3. Trim your toenails short and then file them smooth.
  4. Reduce your calluses with a callus file and moisture creams. 
  5. Wear gaiters over the top of your socks and shoes. This keeps dust and grip from going down inside the shoes and inside your socks. Understand though that the mesh in today’s trail shoes does allow dirt and grits inside the toe box, even with gaiters.
  6. Use a high-quality lubricant. Do not use Vaseline.
  7. Know how to treat a hot spot and blister. Early care is best.
  8. Know what your feet need to stay healthy and blister-free.Your feet are your responsibility.
  9. Have a well-stocked foot care kit(s).
  10. When you pour water over your head and body to cool off, lean forward to avoid water running down your legs and in your shoes. 
  11. Use products on your feet and toes to control moisture from excessive sweat, stream crossings, and water poured over your head that runs down into your shoes. Reapply. 
  12. DO NOT assume that every aid station has people trained in foot care or have the supplies necessary to treat your feet. 

Originally published on 18 June 2016.