Preparing for Comrades: The athlete's toolkit for tackling foot care woes

Preparing for Comrades: The athlete's toolkit for tackling foot care woes

South Africa’s great climate and beautiful natural resources support a vibrant running community, with trail and road running races popular countrywide. As the Comrades Marathon approaches, many runners are preparing to compete in The Ultimate Human Race, and along with increasing endurance, foot care will need to be a priority.

The almost 90km Comrades Marathon is considered one of the world’s toughest but most prestigious road races in the world. It takes months of preparation, but something as simple as a blister, corn, or callus can put a runner off their game and affect their finish time. With a 12-hour cutoff, every minute counts so to support all the athletes competing, we’re sharing some tips on keeping feet healthy ahead of – and after – the race.

Get the right footwear

For marathon runners, the most important investment is the right pair of running shoes which offer support, cushioning, and stability. Shoes need to be snug but not too tight, with your toes free to move so most runners wear a size bigger than their normal shoe size. It’s best to have a backup pair for rotation during training.

Wear quality socks

An often overlooked but similarly important investment is good running socks that fit well. Socks that are too tight can also cause corns and calluses.  Ill-fitting, wet cotton socks will lead to several foot health challenges including blisters. Acrylic brands that are lightweight and breathable are a good option.

Keep your feet clean and dry

Before slipping your feet into socks and shoes, clean them with soap and water before drying them thoroughly – particularly between the toes. People who wear closed shoes and sweat heavily can be more prone to fungal infections too so it’s important to keep your feet as dry as possible.

Keep your toenails short

Many runners are familiar with the sight of black toenails after hours of training, and while this isn’t always avoidable, the risk can be diminished. Cut your toenails regularly as longer toenails will press into your socks and running shoes, causing inflammation of the nails.

Use quality foot powder

A runner’s best foot care product is a quality foot powder which absorbs moisture in the shoe and prevents blisters. Kroko Foot Powder has anti-fungal ingredients to help prevent fungal infections and athlete’s foot. The purified talc and zinc stearate will help absorb excess moisture. For best results, sprinkle the powder directly onto the foot as well as in the shoes.

Strengthen and stretch your feet

Prevent foot injuries by stretching your feet and toes such as flexing and pointing toes or rolling a tennis ball underfoot. Another great one is standing with both feet flat on the floor, and then slowly lifting the big toe only on each foot. This improves circulation, strengthens feet, and can reduce the risk of cramps when running. A magnesium supplement will also help prevent cramps in the feet and other muscles.

Treat corns and calluses early

Many experienced marathon runners have experienced the discomfort of corns and calluses. Calluses are thick, hardened layers of skin that develop when the skin tries to protect itself against friction or pressure like from running shoes. It’s best to treat these quickly with effective products that yield results. Kroko’s flagship corn and callus remover has been the go-to treatment since 1936. The brand also has medicated Corn Plasters, Corn Protectors, and CornFix – an innovative liquid application with corn protectors included in the pack.

Kroko’s corn and callus treatments are a runner’s best friend!

The Kroko team would like to wish all Comrades Marathon runners success in this year’s race. Kroko is with you every step of the way!

Summertime warts: What they are and how to get rid of them

Warts are a common affliction and mostly affect children and teenagers, although people of any age can get them. They can cause significant discomfort or embarrassment. Otherwise warts can just be a minor inconvenience. The good news is that warts are easily removed with an over-the-counter remedy from your pharamacy or purchased online.

What are common warts?

Common warts are fleshy skin growths. Warts spread through person to person contact and summer is the time when they are most contagious. The virus is contagious and easily spread in wet environments such as swimming pools and change rooms, school playgrounds and gyms. Warts do go away over time but it can take a few years for them to fall off naturally so it is best to treat warts early and before they spread.

What types of warts are there?

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the virus which causes warts. This virus thrives in warm, moist weather conditions, making them particularly common during the summer months. There are many kinds of warts with the most prevalent being:

What are wart treatments?

There are many different ‘old wives’ wart treatments and these range in effectiveness and many of them are medically unproven. Home remedies include everything from clear nail polish and duct tape to sliced garlic, oil, and raw potato. Warts can also be removed by a doctor or skin specialist but this is an expensive option and not always a permanent solution. There can be some scarring.

What is the best wart remover?

Kroko WartFix is a tried-and-tested at-home solution for common wart removal which is both cost-effective and simple. This is a flexible liquid application which forms a waterproof covering over the wart. Apply WartFix directly to the wart, not the surrounding skin and keep reapplying it twice a day until the wart falls off which can take up to two weeks. Please follow the on-pack directions for best results and take care to protect the healthy skin around the wart, as directed.

If you are unsure about your wart or concerned in any way, please seek the advice of a medical professional.

Feet First: Your Back-To-School Foot Health Guide

The start of a new school year is a flurry of activity as learning and sports get underway. There are many demands on young learners mentally and physically, but parents and caregivers can help the little ones put their best foot forward by considering foot health.

“School years are a crucial time for a child’s development and, as they grow, maintaining foot health becomes even more important,” explained Lynsey Hammond, MD of Kroko, manufacturers of quality footcare products. “Many people don’t realise that foot health is connected with posture and alignment. Taking care of the feet will protect the spine and neck in later years.”

She says time spent travelling to and from school, as well as time at school itself, puts a lot of pressure on young feet. “In South Africa, many young children have to travel far distances to get to and from school – either barefoot or in ill-fitting shoes - as well as playing on the hard ground for sports or on the playground. They sit at school desks for a large part of the day, which means proper foot health for correct posture. We’ve put together useful foot care tips for caregivers to help their children start the year right.”

1. Choose the correct-sized shoes and socks

Most school children are required to wear socks and school shoes throughout the day. If the shoes are not the right size and don't fit well it can really be detrimental to feet. When a child wears the wrong-sized shoes, they can suffer from blisters, pressure sores, ingrown toenails, and deformities like hammer toes – not to mention future posture problems. Sock size, too, can impact their overall discomfort. Children’s feet are constantly growing, so it’s important to measure the feet fairly regularly. If a child is suffering from feet challenges, there is Kroko SkinFilm for minor cuts and scratches, and HeelFix for dry and damaged heels.

2. Keep the feet dry

In South Africa’s hot summer, and with feet trapped in socks and school shoes, there is a risk of sweating. Make sure children’s feet are kept clean and dry by changing socks and airing out shoes. Also remember to dry between toes after washing. If feet are left wet, there is a risk of fungal infections, athlete’s foot, or corns. Kroko Foot Powder or Kroko Shoe & Foot Odour spray is a great option if a child suffers from excessively sweaty feet; as it keeps feet hygienic and fresh.

3. Let those feet breathe

Encouraging active children to rest is not always easy, but if they’ve had a busy day at school on the playground and sports field, then it’s important to let the feet rest and heal. Pushing it too far can result in pain and discomfort. By resting their feet, children will be ready for another day of adventures, and a life of healthy living! It’s also important for children to go barefoot some times. There are thousands of nerve endings in each foot and walking barefoot on wet grass or soft sand helps to develop new neurological connections. Just ensure they’re walking on surfaces that are safe for bare feet and not too hot.

KROKO’s pharmaceutically formulated foot care products are designed for foot hygiene, the treatment of corns and calluses, and cracked heels. The product range also includes remedies for warts, cracked skin, minor cuts and scratches.

Keep updated on all Kroko news by following Krokofootcare on Facebook or kroko_footcare on Instagram. Kroko – with you every step of the way.

Spring Clean Your Feet

Here at KROKO HQ we are huge fans of Leonardo.

Not that Turtle, or for that matter (despite his aesthetics or abilities) the Di Caprio. For us it is rather the polymath “Leonardo Di Vinci” - he of the painting, sculpting, inventing, composing, engineering and drawing fame! We find him inspiring; particularly for his artistic and structural interest and obsession with feet.  Did you know the foot contains 100 intricate muscles, 30 joints and 26 bones? Perhaps this is why Leonardo was so fascinated by its anatomy and mechanics. For us at KROKO, his quote about the beauty and intricacies of the foot is one of our favourites:

“The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of Art” – Leonardo Di Vinci.

Kroko has been rooted in foot care since 1936, when our Corn and Callus ointment was first launched in South Africa. So we have a keen interest in foot hygiene, footcare and a keen appreciation of what Leonardo said about the foot.

As spring arrives in the Southern Hemisphere with the promise of long hot summer days, it is a good time to give some thought on how to “Spring Clean” our feet in time for summer.

Here are 6 of our Top Tips for perfect spring and summer footcare to keep your feet in peak condition:

Tip 1: Let them out…

Where you can – get your feet out of your shoes and Go Barefoot!  Wearing shoes or heavy work boots daily takes a toll on our feet. So, when work is done, get your footwear off. Clean and freshen up your feet with a quick soak in warm soapy water and air them. If you have been on your feet all day – elevate them as this helps circulation, reduces swelling and pressure, and helps relieve any muscle tension in your legs and feet.  If you can go outside barefoot and “ground” your feet daily this been proved to have added health benefits for body, mind, and spirit.

Tip 2: Wriggle, Point and Flex…

Actively work on your foot mobility as this helps with balance which is important as we age. Stretch your feet out regularly, wriggle your toes, point, and flex them.  If they are tired and sore perform a little “soft tissue massage” on them by putting a ball (tennis ball or rubber massage ball) under your feet and roll it around to massage the soles and arches of your feet.  Stretch your toes out over the ball to increase their flexibility and mobility. Combined with massage and elevation this will also increase circulation as well.

Tip 3: Love your feet…

There is an Eastern proverb that says: “You die from the feet up.” When we think about this saying it sharpens our focus on just how important caring for our feet is, and how important they are to our future health and mobility.

We often take our feet for granted until we have a problem which causes us pain or inhibits our movement and balance.  Blisters, an ingrown toenail, uncomfortable calluses, painful corns, or verrucae can be the root of pain and discomfort. So, learn to love your feet and build a regular “Love your Feet” pamper and self-care habit.  

Love Your Feet Checklist: 

  1. Examine the state of your nails and feet regularly.
  2. Check between your toes for signs of fungal infections.
  3. Check for verrucae, calluses and corns on the pads and edges of your feet.
  4. Check your heels for dry areas or cracks. 

Pamper Your Feet Ritual:

  1. Wash your feet in warm soapy water and dry them well especially between the toes.
  2. Carefully buff any very dry patches with pumice stone, a foot file or pedi-egg. 
  3. Always take care not to remove to many layers of skin if you’re removing any excess dry skin. Rehydrate your feet with a light layer of KROKO Heel Balm to keep your feet soft and supple.
  4. If you find you have any skin complaints on your feet:
    • for Corns and Calluses – trust KROKO Corn and Callus remover to ease your problem fast or try our new CornFix product.
    • for Cracked Heels – use KROKO Heel Balm especially at night. Massage into cracked and dry areas and cover with socks while sleeping for maximum hydration.
    • for Verrucae – use KROKO WartFix.
    • to keep your feet and shoes fresh and odour free use KROKO Foot Spray and Powder. 

Click here to see our range of foot problem solvers and confidence restorers.

Tip 4 If the shoe fits…

Corns can be caused by poorly fitting shoes, so always wear shoes that do not rub, cramp or pinch your feet. Buy the shoes that feel and fit the best.  Think about the support for your foot and ankle – not too tight or loose. Buy shoes with a little room in the toe box of the shoe so that your toes and your arch are not compressed.  

Tip 5 Trust me on the sunscreen…

Who wants sunburnt feet and ankles? From experience this can be extremely painful and uncomfortable so remember to rub sunscreen into your ankles and feet if going out into the sun barefoot or in sandals.

Tip 6 The Doctor will see you now…

Deal with any unresolved or unexplained foot pain or mobility issues by taking them to your foot care professional or doctor.

In summary, your feet were designed to keep you upright, balanced and mobile so it makes good sense to take care of them as best you can. A footcare regime will have benefits for the whole body and nervous system. Caring for your feet will add to your quality of life in every aspect of it whether at work, play or rest. When you spend some quality time with your feet, we are sure that you too will come to see your feet as Leonardo would – as “masterpieces of engineering and a work of Art.”

Footcare Tips for the Elderly

It is always important to take care of our feet but as we get older this becomes even more vital as foot health starts to decline and may affect our general wellbeing and ability to stay fit and healthy.

Years of wearing too tight or ill-fitting shoes (and even tight socks), old foot injuries, poor circulation and uneven weight distribution can cause corns, calluses, bunions and other issues with the feet. Left untreated symptoms can quickly worsen and lead to falls and infections so footcare is very important especially as we age.

For abnormal changes in your feet please consult a footcare professional like a podiatrist or even a doctor. Diabetics must not self-treat feet without consulting a medical professional.

Our feet grow and change
Along with the rest of our bodies when we are young and developing, our feet grow and change. However, when we get older feet grow due to the wear and tear of supporting our entire body weight. This causes feet to flatten out and become both wider and longer as the tendons and ligaments in the foot become less elastic. This can also lead to the foot arch lowering and the foot becoming flatter.

When the tendon running along the sole of the foot gets longer it can also contribute to bunions.

As we age the fat pads on the bottom of the feet get thinner. Less cushioning can lead to general foot soreness and corns or calluses on the toes and sides and undersides of the feet. Try using Kroko's best selling Corn and Callus Remover has been tried and trusted by generations nearly 90 years.

More stiffness and less flexibility
As we age we usually experience more stiffness and less flexibility. Even if health conditions limit the amount and type of exercise you can do, it’s important to try to maintain foot and ankle mobility and strength by being active and at the very least doing some basic stretches to help flexibility. Keeping your feet and ankles strong and healthy is especially important as we get older, to improve balance and reduce the risk of falls.

Swelling in the feet, ankles and lower legs
Poor circulation and problems with veins, hormonal changes, heart disease, the side of effects of some medications or reduced physical activity can cause swelling in feet, ankles and lower legs. It is important for you to know what the reason is if you experience this.

Feet can become dry and itchy
When we age skin produces less collagen so feet become drier and can be itchy. This can lead to more calluses, cracked heels and rashes. Kroko Heel Balm with 20% Urea is specially formulated to hydrate and soften rough, dry cracked skin.

Toenails can get thicker as we age
This is mainly caused by age-related hormonal changes. Nails grow more slowly but can be thicker and more brittle nails which can be difficult to cut. If nails aren’t kept short and trimmed this can push the toes against the shoes and cause increased pressure which may lead to corns and calluses.

Arthritis can cause pain in the joints of the ankle and toes and can make bunions or hammertoe symptoms worse. This pain may change your gait and affect the knees, hips and back. Arthritis in knees or hips can cause alignment changes and lead to foot pain and put cause pressure on your toes when wearing shoes.

Many of these symptoms can be mitigated with a proper foot care routine:

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