Monday, September 24, 2012

Love your hooves, I mean feet.

Ever since I bought new boots and started breaking them in for the last ten days, I can tell you that my feet and their health has been on my mind.  Feet are so important when it comes to derby, and if you're taking care of your tootsies, you're going to have an easier time skating.  If you're not, then you're going to SUFFER!  I'm kidding, but I'm not.

1.  Check your skate fit.  A lot of newer skaters have skates that are a couple of sizes too big for them.  Push on the front of your toe while you're standing; if there is a gap between your toe and the end of the skate, then your skate is too big.  Many people have one foot that is bigger than the other, and some people even have a foot that is one size bigger than the other! If you're one of these people, it really behooves you to special order your skates.  Let's face it, skates are your most important piece of equipment, and so many newbies just get a basic pair without really thinking about it.

2.  Leather is the way to go.  I'm sorry vegans, but leather really is the best thing for your feet.  Synthetics don't tend to breathe well, stretch or conform to your feet the way leather can.  Spend the money and get the leather.  Once again, I apologize to the vegans for the crappy synthetics out there.  Maybe someone will economically solve this problem one day.

3.  Uh, oh.  Your skate isn't too big because you're losing your toenails.  Many skaters like to have tight support from their skates, and a convenient way to tighten your fit is to tie your laces tighter and tighter.  Unfortunately, this can put pressure on your toenails, and if you abuse them enough, you end up with black nails, or nails that fall off.  That's pretty damned disgusting, and I can say that because it's happened to me!  The best thing I can suggest in this case is lace your skates with two regular shoelaces instead of a long skate lace.  That way you can loosen the lower lace and save your toenails, and tighten the upper lace to give you more support.
This saved my nails.

4.  Your foot is growing a hoof.  Callouses are a necessary and important part of your skater foot, but you should still try to keep it under control.  Never cut a callous with clippers or scissors or a knife or a light saber, even if it seems like it's an inch thick on your pusher foot.  It's a great idea to use a pumice stone on your callous at least once a week, just to keep that thing under control.  You can read more about using a pumice stone on your feet here.  The article does suggest you use a moisturizer on your feet twice a day, but who has that kind of time?  I personally hate touching feet, so the idea of rubbing them with an alpha hydroxy moisturizer seems to be a little farfetched to me, but the rest of the article seems to be spot on.

5.  You get a blister.   What does heat, plus friction, plus moisture equal?  Don't be a pervert, it's a blister!  When your skates don't fit well, or you are practicing a new move, chances are you might get a blister.  DO NOT POP IT.  Repeat, do not pop it.  DO NOT POP IT!  Five on Five has a great article about blister maintenance, and most articles I have read really stress not puncturing it unless you absolutely cannot walk.  If you really need to relieve the fluid build up in a very painful blister, then check out this site and follow the directions carefully.  The last thing you need on your feet is a MRSA infection.  I did a lot of reading about blisters and the best advice to dealing with a blister is to not get one in the first place.  Take off your skates and let the area dry and cool off before one develops.

6.  Soft corns, it's not just for dinner anymore.  Soft corns are areas of white moist skin between the toes. They most commonly occur between the fourth and fifth toes, and usually happen because of pressure on the bones in those toes, so the best way to relieve the pain of a soft corn is to use a soft pad or lamb's wool to relieve the pressure on the bone.  Keep the soft corn clean because they are easily prone to infection, yet another invitation for MRSA!

7.  Foot pain.  Foot pain comes in many flavors and causes, so I can't really tell you the best way  prevent it, but you should be exercising and stretching your feet on a daily basis.  Skating can do all sorts of horrible things to your musculature, so you should be stretching your Achilles tendons every day, strengthening your ankles, and moving your feet differently than you do when you are skating.  Two exercises I do to help my feet are picking up socks off of the floor with my toes, and sitting in a chair and rolling a weight around with the bottom of my foot.  The arch of my right foot is collapsing due to skating a severe ankle injury last year; the best thing I can do is perform these activities to keep it from getting worse.  If you are experiencing foot pain, please go see a medical professional!  It's not going to get better with all of the skating and abuse we put our feet through!


  1. I would add massage in there as well. foot massage is awesome.

    David (yes, a massage therapist/referee)

    PS. this is a wonderful blog.

  2. I don´t know if you have this in the US but we use it alot in Sweden. Try to get ALL OF THEM! Sometimes if i know we have a speciall new drill that i get blisters from, i put it on before. Please buy some! Save your feet! Help me Compeed Footcare, your my only hope!

  3. I have started wearing Injinji toe socks in my skates. They eliminate the hot spots that can occur between toes from them rubbing on each other. They also come in three different thicknesses.

  4. I keep my calluses under control with a Mr. Pumice bar (yep, it says Mr. Pumice on it). I know it's time to start sanding when my mom goes, "Ew, your feet are so rough."

  5. I have found more than anything else that Smartwool is my foot's friend. The socks are super spendy and wear out pretty quickly, but they are well worth it. And contrary to what some may think, they aren't hot at all - I wore them all summer. Also, I am suffering this week because I rode my mountain bike in sneakers - proper footwear (in this case bike shoes, in others good sports specific sneakers that aren't worn out) for cross-training is so important.

    1. Ha. I wrote an earlier blog on smart wool. I love those socks.

  6. My saving grace has been a good pair of New Balance insoles. I had been through several pairs of different types you can pick up at the drug store, and a pair of Super Feet (berry) before picking up the NB ones. They make a world of difference and are well worth the money! Go to a NB store (or something equivalent if those aren't around you) where they measure your feet and scan them for pressure points. With my new skates and these insoles I feel like I'm skating on clouds!