In this episode of the real-life runners podcast, Dr. Tonya Olson shares her wealth of knowledge on foot care for runners, emphasizing the importance of considering individual needs, terrain, distance, and footwear.
Dr. Tonya Olson is a board-certified doctor of physical therapy who has a long history of working with runners of all disciplines. This year will be her 15th year providing footcare at the Michigan Bluff aid station at mile 55 at the Western States 100 Endurance Run. She is the co-author of the 7th edition of the book "Fixing Your Feet", and has been running ultramarathons since 2005. She has her own mobile physical therapy business based in St. Petersburg, FL, Centaur Physical Therapy.
Dr. Olsen insists on the awareness of the foot's connection to other body parts and its role in a runner's performance. She also recommends runners be proactive to avoid injuries. Tips range from toenail care and the management of callouses to the choice of an appropriate running shoe. Dr. Olson encourages runners to seek expert advice when necessary and to be mindful of putting the right care into their feet.
If you want to connect with Dr. Tonya Olson, you can find her at the links below!
00:05 Importance of Foot Care for Runners
00:38 Introducing Dr. Tanya Olson
00:50 The Role of Feet in Running
01:34 Dr. Tanya Olson's Experience and Expertise
02:21 The Importance of Physical Therapy
04:57 Dr. Tanya Olson's Journey into Foot Care
05:24 The Impact of Terrain on Foot Health
07:23 The Importance of Proper Footwear
08:23 The Role of Physical Therapy in Running
11:14 The Importance of Foot Care in Ultra Running
11:58 The Impact of Footwear Choices on Running
14:21 The Importance of Considering Foot Health
26:10 The Impact of Training Conditions on Foot Health
27:33 The Importance of Proper Footwear for Runners
28:04 The Role of Community in Learning About Running
40:39 The Importance of Addressing Calluses for Runners
51:46 The Importance of Seeking Professional Help for Foot Care
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This is the real life runners podcast, episode number 344. Take care of your feet. With Dr. Tanya Kay. K Olson, DPT. What's up runners. Welcome to the show today. I have a special guest on the podcast today. I am talking to Dr. Tanya Olson, who is a board certified doctor of physical therapy with a long history of working with runners of all disciplines. And we're talking all about feet. Now, we as runners don't realize the importance. Of our feet. Most of us don't, I would say some of us might, especially if you've ever had any pesky problems with your feet, you probably understand how important it is to take care of your feet. But I think that in general, this is a very overlooked area that a lot of us would benefit greatly from spending a little bit more time and giving a little bit more attention to so. I brought Tanya onto the podcast to talk all about fee, especially, you know, what we need to know as runners and some of the best ways that we can take care of our feet so that we can. Stay out on the roads and the trails doing the thing that we love, which is running. So Tanya has a wealth of knowledge and a wealth of experience she's been providing foot care. Uh, at Western states, which is a 100 mile trail run, um, for the last 15 years, she's at aid station 55 at the Michigan bluff. And you might know that that is one of Kevin's goal races as the Western states 100 mile race. So Tanya's been there for 15 years taking care of runners, especially with their feet. She's also the co-author of the seventh edition of the book fixing your feet. And she herself has been running ultra marathon since 2005. So. She knows what it's like to be a runner, to be an ultra marathon runner, and also to help other ultra marathon runners to achieve their goals and to help them take care of their feet. She has her own mobile physical therapy business based in St. Petersburg, Florida. It's called center physical therapy. Tanya is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to feet. And you guys will see that in this episode. And so I encourage you to please check the show notes. You can get all of Tanya's contact info there, connect with her. If you have any sort of foot questions or foot issues, um, she'll be able to, to help support you. And if you are a member of the academy, if you are on the team, Tanya is going to be coming to speak to us in February. And she's going to be hosting our February workshop to go more in depth with ways for us to take care of our feet and then really help us specifically with any foot problems you might be having. And, uh, you know, that's the, one of the benefits of our monthly workshops is we get to go into these topics in greater depth and you get to ask your specific questions about exactly what's going on. With you and get advice from experts. Get advice from people that have doctorate degrees and that have been doing this for years and years and years. You don't need to go into random Facebook groups and post questions, looking for advice from people who don't know what they're talking about. Okay. That is one of the benefits of being a team member inside of the academy. Is that. You get scientifically based. Uh, advice from doctors and from practitioners, long-term practitioners who know what they're talking about. Okay. So if you are interested in joining us for that February workshop, I will put that in the show notes as well. You can also send us an email to support at real life. runners.com. And if you are already on our email list, you'll be getting some information on how to join that workshop. If it's something that you are interested in in February. So keep your eyes out for that. We would love to have you come aboard. So that you can learn how to take some of these concepts that Tanya talks about in our podcast today and apply them specifically to you, any problems you might be having and help you prevent foot problems in the future. So with that being said, enjoy this amazing episode with Dr. Tanya Olson DPT.Angie:
All right, everybody. Welcome to the show today. I'm super excited to bring on my special guest, Dr. Tonya Olson. She is a physical therapist and foot specialist, and she is very passionate about feet, especially runner's feet. And so we are super happy to have her on the podcast today. Welcome, Tonya.Tonya:
Thanks for joining us. Oh my gosh. Thank you for having me and allowing me to talk about one of my favorite topics, which are feet.Angie:
Okay, first I have to ask, how did feet become one of your favorite topics?Tonya:
it's super funny, but it completely makes total sense. So I grew up riding horses. And if you, you know, if you've been around horses or if you've heard about horses, you've probably heard the adage, no hoof, no horse. And that's, that's a real thing. and so, that's just carried over for, you know, as a PT, you know, just the, it's the same interest, really. but, the watershed moment for me was when I went to volunteer at the Western States 100. And I, I just showed up there with some friends, other, some friends who are running and volunteering, and I just said to Sean Misner, who's a ultra runner. I said, Hey, Sean, you know, what, where should I volunteer? And he goes, go to Michigan bluff and, and volunteer with John Bonhoff. He's the guy who wrote the book fixing your feet. And so I just rolled into Michigan bluff and introduced myself to John Bonhoff. And he just, you know, took me under his wing and. and has been a mentor and a really good friend of mine. you know, coming up now, it'll be 15, this will be the 15th year of my volunteering at Western States. and, being a friend and, kind of, what's the word? you know, when, what's the word when you're I'm not an acolyte. an apprentice? Protégé. Protege, a protege, a protege of John Vonhoff. So for, for anyone, for those who are uninitiated or who don't know, John Vonhoff has the researcher's mind and he was an altar runner back in the 80s, back in the day, because he's in his mid early 70s right now. And so he was, you know, back in the early days of altar running and he was the one who, he, he created foot care as a thing. as a specialty, as a, as a thinking, as something people think about. And, he created, you know, special taping techniques and, and just having a really thinking, approach to foot care itself. And he self published Fixing Your Feet. you know, seven editions ago and, he just, he deserves all the credit for really for, my interests, my skills, a lot of my skills as a foot care person, but, having foot care be a thing in endurance run, endurance sports in general, he's just, he kind of, he invented it himself, but that was a really long answer to a short question.Angie:
No, that's, it's, it's okay. But that's really an interesting. So yeah, kind of going back a little bit further, how did you even, you know, get into PT and just tell us a little bit about you and your background and what you do. do you, are you just specializing in foot care now as a PT or kind of, kind of give us a background of who you are and what you do. Oh, sure.Tonya:
So, grew up riding horses. my whole plan, my whole life, since I was two years old, I was going to be a veterinarian. And then, I actually stayed out of college for about 10 years, to ride horses because I had an amazing opportunity with a really talented horse and to work with some really kind of fantastic people. And I worked as a vet tech and I realized that. That was not as good of a fit as I thought it was because the reason I was so interested in veterinary medicine had a lot to do with the horses and with horses, you spend a lot of time looking at movement and looking at so it's kinesiology, it's movement, it's creating exercise programs, it's looking at that whole entire horse holistically. And so I just realized I Physical therapy was a better fit for me with regard because that's, that's what it is. it's just, it just was all of the things that I was super interested in. And so there's a little bit of a convoluted path for me to be able to, get through school, or get to and through undergrad. but that's really the basis of why, why I ended up with, being a physical therapist. I did a little stint as a PT assistant in the early days. that was pretty cool. I love the content. So that's that's kind of what gave me the idea to go to PT school. And then just, you know, I've been watching movement my whole life. as with horses, you're constantly watching how they move. And so I started when I sold my horse to go to undergrad, I, I I started running because I didn't know what else to, I had this big hole in my life. And I've always, I worked at a restaurant called Grandma's in Duluth, Minnesota. And I would watch these people run this marathon every year. And I was just that is so crazy. They run 26. And I was just in awe because I never considered myself an athlete. but then there's also a race called, it's not, they don't do it anymore. It's called the Edmund Fitzgerald 100K. And I was on a team for that where, you know, six people were on the 100K. But I, they were did you know that some people run the whole thing? I'm a hundred K, how do you run a hundred K? That's crazy. And that planted the seed of just the concept of, Whoa. And then I just, I ran when I was in undergrad, I ran a bunch of marathons. I had a really great group of friends. And then when I moved to Charleston, South Carolina for PT school, I just was it's time for me to run an ultra. And my, my younger brother was in the ultra running scene. And I asked him, I said, where are there, where, where are there ultras on the East coast? Cause I was in Charleston and he said, David Horton's races up in Virginia. And so I ran my first ultra, was a 50 miler, the Mountain Masochist 50 miler up in the Blacksburg, Virginia area. Yeah, yeah, so that my first ultra was a 50 miler with 9, 000 feet to climb and I was this I was this, just, naive roadrunner living in Charleston called the Low Country, and I thought that running up and down the six flights of stairs in the parking garage twice a week for 45 minutes was sufficient hill training for me for the 9, 000 feet of climb in the mountains. It was, I, that race was so much fun. And I met amazing people and it's just the culture of ultra running and the people, no matter where in the country you live, they're still just a really amazing bunch of human beings. And so that's where the, and then the more you're running on the trails and the longer you run, the more people have issues with their feet. And so I just kind of fell into all of it. Okay. Short story or long answer. Question. So,Angie:
did you kind of have this interest then while you were going through PT school? Cause that's, it sounds that's kind of when you started to get into the, the ultras. Yep. So, going through PT school, you were okay, definitely want to work with runners. Definitely the ultra community and then kind of foot care and then that kind of just snowballed into. Yes.Tonya:
Today. So I've always had a strong interest in foot and ankle specifically, even back in PT assistant school, which has been quite a bit long time before. And, and actually one of my clinicals in PT school, I worked with a foot ankle specialist out in, at the intercontinental mountain healthcare, but out in, in Utah and near Salt Lake. so that's just always, and it has to do with horses. it just, that's where the seed was planted. You gotta, yeah, foot and ankle are so, they're just a fascinating. And then of course the whole runner's attached to all of it. And then when I worked in, I ended up working in, Bend or I moved to Bend, Oregon. And I worked at a, and everyone, there's just a lot of retired, Olympic. Athletes there, and it was just super fit, super active, community. And then, I lived in Eugene, Oregon, and I worked at the PT clinic that was the exclusive PT providers for the Oregon Track Club. And the Oregon Track Club is a feeder team for them, for the Nike, Nike team. and that was back in, oh, oh. 09 to 11. So anyhow, somewhere along there. And so that clinic had, we had, we had a pressure sensitive treadmill and a, flat screen TV on the wall and then, surface EMGs and, emotion, analysis software and we used all of that technology, to work with these high level track athletes specifically. And we were gathering data normative data and how people run and running form and all that. but you know, Eugene is track down USA. And so that just really got me kind of that, that. But those experiences got me really settled into, and gave me a really good skillset with, with runners in general and, and research on runners and just, et cetera, but yeah. Absolutely. It's a little bit, it's a little bit ofAngie:
it. No, I love that. but it, it's really cool, listening to you talk because it's very obvious how passionate you are about this and I love talking to and learning from people that are passionate about what they do. I know. I Absolutely, because I know that when you're passionate about something and this is I think how I hope that most of us feel about running in general is that this is something that we love and we want to do and we want to learn more about we want to become better at it and how can I improve and you know what how can I put my stamp on it. This sport, or how can this have an effect on my life? And I just think that's so powerful. So what should we be thinking about as runners when it comes to taking care of our feet? And I'm curious, in your mind, is there kind of, a couple different categories, you know, kind of the weekend warrior that does five Ks, 10 Ks, maybe some half marathons is that different than the way that marathoners and ultra marathoners need to be taking care of theirTonya:
feet? Okay, so first of all, you should be thinking about your feet at all. I think that would be a massive improvement for the vast majority of runners. It's mind boggling to me how runners of any distance or any genre, how little time in general that they spend thinking about their feet.Angie:
Yes. Specifically. I would agree with that statement. Because you cannotTonya:
run without I mean, okay, now, if you have prosthetics or something, that's a whole different story. But, if your feet are not healthy, if you don't have something to land on, you cannot run. And so, people, runners in general, that I've interacted with on a regular basis, they treat their feet an afterthought. And it's just Mind boggling to me, why, how you would take the main thing that you need completely for granted. So if I could get runners to do one thing, it would just be consider your feet as a part of you being a runner. And that can solve you a lot of problems. And, and I think to kind of a part B of that answer would be if my platform with foot care in general is people be thinking about it. Have a thoughtful and informed approach. people, the amount of time people spend thinking about the clothing that they're going to wear, the shoes that they're going to wear, the, the gels, the, the food, the hydration, the nutrition, all think about how much time and effort you spent educating yourself and figuring all that out. And the amount of time people spend on their feet is Not one hundredth of that. and so having a thinking approach to your foot care, is kind of the biggest platform I have. And so then to answer the second part of your question with regard to the needs of a roadrunner, shorter distance versus longer distance and trail, obviously something that's, the longer you're running, And the, and the more buried terrain that you're on, the more your feet are going to be stressed. So, food care is a great deal more of a nuanced and personalized and specific topic, the longer you're running. Because no matter, no matter who you are, If you're out there long enough, your feet are going to become an issue for you. And so, the, and then it depends on the person. some people can run marathons, and half marathons, and road races, and they have zero trouble at all with their feet. So then, those folks don't necessarily have to spend a lot of time learning about what to do, but everyone, but you should have some type of A strategy, that you can implement if something does go sideways with your feet. And so going into a race completely unprepared, especially if it's a longer something, and you've never had it, if you've never had any trouble, then, you know, and you're a road, you run shorter distances, you're probably going to be okay, but you should have some concept of what to do if something happens and have just the basics, basic supplies available for you, regardless of the distance that you're running, because, you know, if you don't have a problem, somebody else might, and that's what I love about the running community is we're, we're also helpful to each other, especially when you're out on the trails, If you have supplies for yourself, you might not use them, but, you might save another person's race if you're, if you're properly prepared. Yeah. So.Angie:
Another long answer. It's okay. Long answers are, are welcome. Yeah. Yeah. Don't even worry about that. Keep it going. but the thing, so. What is it? So when you say that we should be thinking about our feet, okay, just bringing some awareness to our feet, awareness is definitely the first step, but what kind of things should we be thinking about? Because if I think about, you know, what a lot of runners would think about when it comes to feet, it would be blisters. people that have had experience with blisters and then they just think that they need different socks, which socks are important, obviously. But I'm, I'm, I know there's more to the, to the story and, and you are the expert here, not me on this. So what kind of things, when we finally bring this awareness, which this episode is going to help bring awareness to this topic for so many runners, which is amazing. What then should we be thinking about when it comes to our feet?Tonya:
So, Did you know that your feet are attached to the, your legs, which are attached to your hips, which are attached to the, your torso, which are attached to your, your feet are a part of your entire body, and they are the victim of all of the forces that are generated above them, so just appreciating that. What the foot is, the stresses that the foot is handling when you're running is, is an important thing to be aware of. and that goes into, your choices in footwear, the shoes that you are wearing, and here's a little soapbox that I'm going to jump onto. The shoes that, and a runner just reminded me of this the other night. The shoes that you wear, the decisions that you make. On what type of shoe you wear, has, should have everything to do with who you are, how you're built, how, how you run, what surfaces you run on, and what distances you run. All of those things have to do with you, your choices and foot care, footwear should have nothing to do with the current trend or what other people are wearing and what they find successful. Now you can use a little bit of information from recommendations from other people based on, you know, their experiences with different shoe types. but I frequently see people making shoe decisions based on, an identity. They're, this type of a shoe person. And oftentimes, or, or what, a famous athlete or somebody they look up to prefers to wear. And they might have a completely different type of foot and have completely different types of challenge of, yeah, they challenge their feet in completely different ways. and so. I forgot the question, but I went on my soapbox. Well,Angie:
and I think it's an important soapbox to go on because that's definitely important and I, and I agree. You know, I think that, I know I fell into this trap before I knew better, you know, what, before I thought of myself as a runner and I just was running to lose weight in college. I would just buy whatever shoe was on sale. sale or whichever shoe looked cute. I didn't even buy real running shoes. when I met Kevin, my husband for the first time, he's the, he was working in a running shoe store, in summers in California, he's the one that put me into a real running shoe. And it was a game changer. all of a sudden. Running in just a, just a real running shoe. It wasn't even actually the correct shoe for me at the time, but just a real running shoe versus some random cross trainer that I bought, you know, at, at the store, was a game changer and how my body felt while I was running. So I def and the other thing that kind of came up to me when I was listening to on your soapbox was, it's not just important. The footwear that we choose for running that is definitely important, but also the footwear that we choose throughout the rest of the day, because most of us only spend a very small fraction of our time of our day running. But what are you wearing on your feet the other part of the dayTonya:
as well? Right, right. And just, and understanding, yeah, foot care, your foot choices should not be your religion. It should not be your identity, because I just, I see, and this may be controversial, but I see, I see a lot of injuries that are caused by people wearing a shoe that is not appropriate for the conditions. And the and the and the distance and the demands that that they're putting on their feet. And so, you know, I'll just say it there's, you know, the barefoot running trend is, well, I guess it's not really so much of a trend anymore. It's fairly established. it broke a lot of barriers and kind of change things for the better in a lot of ways, but there's a time and a place for zero drop shoe with no padding. There's a time and a place for a shoe. There's no evil shoe. There's a time and a place to have a little bit more of a higher heel. There's a time and a place to have more cushioning. And so So a variety of shoes and making decisions based on what you are doing and what the demands of your running on your feet have. So, you know, you should have shoes that are, that are good for, you know, when you're running shorter distance on roads, those, those, those are not necessarily the best shoes to be wearing when you're running distance on on technical trails or even socks. surfaces. I was just talking to again. Here I am on a rabbit hole. you know, I just had a runner the other day who, became injured by running on soft terrain that she's not accustomed. She's typically runs in the city on on hard surfaces, ended up running, some fairly good distance on, a muddy. terrain, but stayed in the same shoe. And if they'd been a little bit more of a thinker, or you know, they would have said, okay, that soft terrain is going to create more stress on the back of my leg. And my, you know, the foot ankle, it's going to be flexing in a dorsiflexion a little bit more the toe up, it's gonna put more strain on my calf and my Achilles, then I Would, if you're not, if your body's not used to it, then a little bit more support and the heel could have, you can't quantify prevention, but that would be a time where you, you pay attention and you do the math on what your body's accustomed to, and then now the stress that you're going to ask it to handle. And so there's one footwear doesn't fit for all circumstances. That was a rabbit hole, but no, we could both talk about this for a long timeAngie:
for sure, but it's things to consider, but it's interesting though, because I think that. You know, there are a lot of people that have no idea about that. they wouldn't think about that. I, you know, of Oh, I'm going to be running on different terrain. I might want to adjust my footwear. And I think that's really what you're saying here is start to be aware, you know, that the terrain does matter and that the distance does matter. And, your choice of footwear should. kind of accommodateTonya:
that. Right. And the most common thing I hear from runners in the middle of a race, when I'm trying to tape their feet back together and get them back on the fricking trail. And it, you know, in a race Western States where it's frequently caught, people are spending six or seven years. Of trying to get into that race, and they come in, and they're at mile 55, and their feet are trashed, and they look at me, and they, and I know what they went through to get there, and my job is to get them to the, to the frickin finish line, and it's just, it's heartbreaking to have a person look at me and say, but this didn't happen in training, and I'm but is this how you trained? Well, you know, I'll be where do you live? Iowa. Well, of course it didn't happen in training because you didn't train in these conditions. And so just being able to have, and so here's another side thought, and this is why I appreciate you especially, because we have a responsibility, which I have not necessarily done a very good job of, owning up to, is, runners. Should have people ourselves who understand the entire body and the physiology and the physicality and all of the variables that contribute to for you to be able to run safely and well and who for for physical therapists ourselves who are, experienced with runners, it's second nature for us to say, Hey, you're running in sloppy conditions this weekend. you normally run on the road. You should think about giving your calf and your Achilles and your foot a little break and wear a shoe that has a little bit of a higher heel because you're not used to that. That's where we're, that's, so you should have somebody, people shouldn't be able, you cannot be expected to come to put these things together and come up and understand the whole big picture, you know, just the average person who's just starting to run. You should have somebody that you can consult with and somebody that can help you, learn. It's a community. You should have people in your wheelhouse and in your network that can help you learn about the more subtleties of how to be more specific and, and how, and, and what type of variables, to, to consider so that you can, you know, prevent injury, but then also, you know, do the best you can while you're out there. And that was definitely a rabbit trail. But, no, but that's such an important, just the more, yeah, yeah. The more you learn, the more you get into, yeah, the more you get into a sport, the more specific you get about the sport. And that's, you know, you're, you know, perfect. And so people shouldn't have to just come up with stuff on themselves. So this is where your podcast and what you guys are doing is so important. You're, you're, you're sharing very important, evidence based, accurate. Information, which is, which is something that's really, really needed in a running community.Angie:
Yeah, I agree. And because I think that running is one of those sports that people just get into, And they think, oh, well, it's just running, you know, I just have to put some shoes on and head out the door. it's cheap, it's free, and I just have to go out and run. And if I just keep running, I'll get better. And they don't understand that there are so many of these subtleties and there are so much, there's so much individual nuance and just even within an individual, you know, that's a big part of what I'm hearing you say today too, is even within one person, if they're changing their distance, if they're changing their terrain, if they're changing other things in their life, that's, that's going to. Need to adjust what else is happening including their shoe choices including the way that they take care of their feet, another big thing, you know cut to kind of go back to my comment before on Footwear outside of running people don't realize you know, if you're wearing high heels at work. What's happening to the Achilles? What's happening to the calf muscle? What's happening to the plantar fascia? For eight hours, nine hours a day when you're walking around in your heels, and then you're going to try to go into a zero drop shoe because you heard that that's what's best for, for runners is this zero drop thing. And they all of a sudden have massive problems because that wasn't good advice for that person, It might be okay for somebody else. But it, for that person, it's not good advice.Tonya:
Yes, you need to know yourself, and you're not, and that's the thing, is that's where runners, I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna confess something. Runners are a really hard patient population to work with, and there have been times in my life where I have chosen. To not be courting that, that patient population. They continue to come, to, to, to come back into my life. For very, for, because this is something, because I just have the skill set to work with them on, in all aspects. But, you know, here's the other thing, and now we're kind of getting off on more of a PT concept, but if you're having an, you have to have somebody in your. That you can, if you do anything long enough, you're going to get injured. It has nothing to do with a particular sport. There's always a sport that people are going to say, Oh, you get more injury. No, if you do any new sport, you're going to, if you do anything long enough or anything, you're going to get an injury. Injuries are a learning opportunity. They should be, if they're approached properly, on the other side of it, you should be a stronger person. better, runner or athlete or person as a result of it, because, injuries allow you to kind of focus on, you know, the nuts and bolts of things. And I think that they're a blessing in disguise. the average runner doesn't have access. Or, to people such as ourselves who are going to give, runner specific advice. Mm-Hmm. to those runners. And, so I, that's just kind of a general kind of, you've gotta have somebody be that in your wheelhouse that you can, you can, consult with. before things go south, rather than spending months, trying to figure it out yourself. Afterwards, yeah. You're not gonna, you know, and so, but, your feet, you have to think about your feet, and throughout the, you were saying, throughout the day, they're just, they're just not something that you can ignore. If you ignore them long enough, they're gonna, they're gonna make you have to think about them at some point.Angie:
Yeah, and I think that, you know, To that end, it's important to, you say that everybody's gonna get injured. I don't think that we have to get injured. I do think that oftentimes we do because we tend to be our own worst enemies. we sometimes know what we should be doing or shouldn't be doing, and then we do it anyway. Or we don't do it anyway, the foot care thing, just. You know, I talked to people that have had plantar fasciitis before, and they know they need to be, you know, doing certain exercises to make sure that their plantar fascia stays strong and mobile, make sure that their calves are staying strong and mobile. They don't even realize that their calves are even connected to plantar fasciitis, right? in the beginning, and then you kind of say, all these things are linked, everything is, is working together here. so yeah, I do think it is really important to, to bring that awareness in. Into the thing into the fold. Right? And I think that, you know, kind of what I'm hearing from you so far is treat yourself as an individual, understand what's right for you. Be willing to adapt in what kind of footwear that you are putting on your feet, depending on your circumstances and what your current goals are. if there was one other piece of advice that you would give me as a runner when it comes to taking care of my feet, what would it be? The toenails.Tonya:
Okay. Now, see, this is good. I want to talk to you about Tonya because this is, so for, I actually, I forgot to mention this at the beginning of the episode, but the way that Tonya and I met was during Kevin's 100 mile race in Daytona. You were at mile marker, 80 something. You were at the aid station there. 84. 84. That's what I thought. It was 83 and a half. Yeah. So, Kevin came in and his toe had, had been bothering him and he was, he had a blister. And it was this second toe that he has had issues with, he says, for 20 years, right? This one toenail on his second toe, has always been an issue. It's one of those things that if our daughters, if somebody accidentally steps on his toe. Just, you know, around the house. I mean, he goes through the roof. It's you know, he needs five minutes to just, breathe through it. This toenail has been an issue. So, what do we need to know about toenails? And, what kind of attention do we need to giveTonya:
to these toenails? Well, I said earlier, you should at least pay some, be aware that they exist and that there are things that you should do. Okay. SoAngie:
what are those, what are some of those things that we need to do?Tonya:
and so, okay. So the, the, the, just the basic, recommend the basic recommendations for toenails for runners is they, they need to be not too long. And they, so they need to be cut. They need to be cut short. So definitely not so short that, you know, you're into the nail bed, but they need to be short, straight across, especially with the big toe. So straight across and then short enough that they, they don't. Definitely don't go over the the the leading the edge of the toe so short and flat across the top now most runners can get away with that recommendation the added variable and modification that is i reckon that is that is good to do is if you're going to be running a longer race Especially if you've ever had a black toenail or a blood blister underneath your toenail, which is exquisitely painful and really sucks to have to deal with in the middle of a race, but you can manage it, which I am very good at, is here's the thing. Is you take the toe. So when you think about filing the toenail, you know, people think back and forth across the top, left and right. What is causing toenail injuries is the edge, the leading edge of the toenail is catching on the sock. Yep. And this has to do actually with range of motion in your foot, your toes and your calf. And that's something that, of course, as a physical therapist, my job in training is to identify the cause of what's happening. Right. That if you have consistently have the toenails, Having damaged your toenails. That's something to, consider as well, but that's another conversation, but taking, if you know, so that leading edge is catching on the sock and if it's catching, every time you take a stride, that toenail is being lifted off of the nail bed and the nail bed is where the blood and the nerves and all that and the et cetera, is, located. And so that's painful, and then that causes a nail bed injury. It can lift that nail right off, or it can cram it back into the nail bed, which is, underneath the cuticle, and that's super painful, and causes a whole other deformation of the toenail. and so if you take your file, and you file from, back to front, So that you're filing down the leading edge so that it's, so I guess, would you say lengthwise? I always say longitudinal, but that's probably the wrong term, but you're going from the base of the nail over to the, to the, to the end of the nail. and soAngie:
basically you're, you're lining up the, I'm just going to describe what you, what I'm seeing. Cause I can see Tonya onTonya:
video right now. So if you can describe it better than,Angie:
so if you take your, instead of, yeah. Yeah, so instead of putting your nail file perpendicular to the, the toenail, which is the left and right that she was talking about before, it would be taking the toenail, the file, and putting it, parallel, on top of the toe, on huh. Angling it so that it's on top of the toe and you're going across the top of the nail and then down theTonya:
front. Yeah, so you're filing the leading edge. Yes. Down and, and, and what ends up happening is you are, you're reducing the thickness. You're thinning out that leading edge of the toenail. So it's, though, so if it's thinner, it's more pliable. Mm hmm. And then when you get done with that filing When you run your finger from the edge of the end of your toe back towards your foot, you should feel no, nothing that you're, that's catching. There should be no, no leading edge that catches. And that can reduce the, the incidence of any sort of toenail issue, by, by filing down that leading edge. and that's just that's a little trick that could save a lot of toenails and it could shave off a lot of time that people spend in their races having to be reactive with regard to their foot care and so I think that's probably another One of my soapboxes is be, be, be a thinking runner with regard to all issues that affect your feet. But also be pro active rather than re active. Because if you're re acting to a problem that has already started and is happening during a race, you are now, you can't un ring that bell. at no point in the history of blisters has ever, has one ever gotten better. When you throughout the course of a race, you can address it, but now you're going to spend time. Having to address it, and then you're going to be affected if by the discomfort of that. So that's going to affect the performance and how that race plays out for you. So a little, you know, it's that, that, what's that saying? A pound of an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And so little things filing off the edge ends of your toenails makes a huge difference. That and, you know, filing down calluses. Calluses may There's different, thoughts on calluses, but at the end of the day, for the longer efforts, if you're going to be out there for 20 or 30 or more hours, the callus that has been built up by your body as a protective mechanism, because of the way that the moisture and being out there for the amount of time, that amount of time affects how your body foot skin is, that callus can create a situation where you get a blood, a deep blister underneath the callus, and that's extremely painful, and you're just, and that's just something that you have to manage, and that can be a reason where people just cannot continue in a race, and it's because that callus. kind of on a daily basis, you can get in shorter races, you can get away with some of these things because you, you, you're just not out there long enough and it's in that those kind of things are fine, but just being aware of what you're choosing to, Ask your body on your feet to handle. so something that you can get away with in training for four or five hours just because it didn't happen in training doesn't mean it's it's not possibly going to happen if you're out there for longer or if you're in different conditions, then that way you're accustomed to training in. Yeah. That makes any sense. I can't remember what the originalAngie:
question is. No, I mean, that makes, that makes perfect sense. And I think that that's really, really powerful too, because I didn't even know this. I, you know, this thing about calluses that you're talking about, right? Because to me, calluses are a good thing in some ways, right? Because they are that our body's natural protection mechanism. but I can't so you think that we should kind of file them down not completely right just kind of less is that kind of what you're saying is just kind of try to decrease the the size of the callus or what are we doing hereTonya:
and this is super fun because this is a typical PT answer where we're going to say it depends it depends on the situation yeah so somebody So, so somebody ourselves, if I see a callus on a foot, I want to know, I'm going to, my brain automatically goes to, let's figure out why that callus is there. And so you bring up a very good point. Calluses, your body creates them. It's kind of you know, an oyster creating a pearl. It's, it's a place of friction. And so your body builds up extra tissue to guard that area that's constantly kind of getting rubbed. And so that's, that's information about how you're built. it's, how you run, it's, it, it, it's an indicator of the fit of the shoe. you know, the fit of the shoe, the sock, less, less so much. But your range of motion, your foot, ankle, and lower leg especially, and your toes. Those all contribute to why you're having calluses. So, I would always want to kind of explore that and, reduce the reason that you're having a callus happen. but, if you're running shorter stuff and you're not having any issues, the calluses, some people want to, they especially if you live, in Florida and you care about what your feet look it's just, it's a kindness to the community. To file down your calluses and not and especially if you're wearing sandals come on people have to look people are looking at your feet Could you could you make a little effort? I mean, I really do feel come on just don't be going out Just give your feet a little bit of love and if you don't want to love on your feet at least love the people Around you but yeah, so having a callus it is an indicator of, an area that's being protected. So, ideally, if you're going in, so if you think about the factors that, that the, the, the worst case scenario with the callus during a longer race is the blood blister underneath. Okay. Which, which it, now it's venous blood, not arterial blood. So the ch, So there is, there's a chance for, a higher chance for infection. So, you really, during a race, if a blister has blood in it, you really Especially if it's, you just don't want to open up the blood supply to the dirt and the gnarliness that your feet are being exposed to. So, that's kind of an added, so you want to avoid having that type of blister if at all possible. Because those are also extremely, a great deal more painful. because it's at the dermis, which is where the blood supply is. And then that's where the nerves are and all that. So, to answer your question. When you are going to run a long race where the calluses could become a problem, the, the, that greater, the higher surface area and the friction that you're, the calluses are gonna, cause, you want to file those down, soften those down as much as you possibly can prior to the race. Not two days before. So the skin's all tender, you want to go it's right. It's a week or so do your toenail stuff and your and your calluses stuff at least the week before a full week, like seven days beforehand so that you can if you go a little too deep or and things are a little tender that has a chance to kind of kind of settle. So you want to have the reason for that is now if you have that callus down as as as As as eliminated as possible. Now you do not have an area that's going to catch and have shearing forces, friction and create a blister underneath. Now, if with that said, knowing that that callus. is formed because you have a friction area or an area of shear happening, then that tissue oftentimes you will want to protect it. So create your own callus by pre taping that area. Ah, okay. And this is a little bit of a personalized situation. Some people, a lot of people can get away with just, and it depends on the reason for the callus. so some people can get away with just, filing down their calluses, having their skin nice and soft, and just having a low profile, and then they're good to go. Some folks, if they file off that callus, Depending on the reason for the callus, they need to then protect that tissue by pre taping. And so, this is where it just kind of depends on that person, and that you need to sort of, you, you'll learn these things from experience, but then, if you just kind of, just, appreciate all of the variables that kind of contribute to that callous happening. and so those are some of the kind of decisions that you're going to want to make. I'm not saying that you should always tape over where a callous is if it's a shaved off callous. It's just, that's, that's a whole nother, that's a bigger conversation to have in, in a more, specific, not a, not necessarily a podcast. Yeah. It's not a general workshop or something yeah, it'd be something I need to take. Show me your foot and I can help you figure that out. And so kind of dovetailing on something you talked about a little bit earlier is reaching out to people who have the knowledge base that can help you. A really important thing to do. Yeah. you're not bothering somebody myself or yourself by reaching out and saying, Hey, I got, I have some questions of this thing. Don't be afraid to ask for advice or assistance. Don't be afraid to pay for that if, if you're asking somebody to do work for you. which is something, it's true. It's, it's just a really, it's kind of an awkward, you know, I'm gonna bring it up, it's just kind of an awkward thing, people like ourselves, who, who have a knowledge base that is gen, generalizable to the public who can be given, who whose advice can be given out at a coffee shop or you know, over at a barbecue or you're having a beer, on a Saturday afternoon, somebody can start asking you questions about things, but you know, a plumber, you're not going to ask a plumber for free information, you know, there's a threshold upon which you're, you're kind of taking advantage of somebody who's very generous. But, I will say, if you have a foot care question, please message me. And ideally, you just Send me a picture because if I see the picture, yeah, I can give you much more specific advice. And so, that's kind of, yeah, anyhow, but we're here to just get the advice you need, ask the questions most of us aren't not, you know, we're not gonna, I'd rather have somebody asked me a question and then report that they had a super awesome race than if they feel they shouldn't reach out you know, yeah, but yeah, so there's lots of things to consider. And that's just where you just got to know yourself and know what you're, what you're planning on doing.Angie:
Yeah, and I love that. And I really want to point out here, too, that I think is, is really important that, seeing that callous. And then also looking at it in a very holistic fashion of why is that callus being formed, what is happening with the running form? What's happening with the foot and ankle mobility? The calf mobility? The strength? are they making some sort of gait compensation that's hitting that tissue weird and is causing That build up for the callus. So that goes back to your point of find a professional that can help you and that can watch you run and that can give you specific recommendations or give you tests to do so that you can find some of these other areas of restriction, weakness, lack of mobility, so that you can start to actually get to the root of the problem. Right? the foot care is very important, but oftentimes, you're saying is the foot is the victim of a biggerTonya:
issue. Absolutely. And so, yeah, more often than not, and you'll, you know, test, you'll be, you know, your testimony to this as well, you'll attest to this as well, is that more often than not, if there's something going on in the foot, I'm going to be looking up at the hip, of course, what kind of hip strength the person have, you know, because the whole lever arm of the leg, you know, creates a lot of stress in the foot itself. But then you're also going to look at foot But where and we'll just go back to, you know, the topic we had earlier is you need to be choosing footwear. That is what you need, not what somebody else is wearing, not what you're what you're a book that you read. Whose philosophy you agree on, I'm, you know, and I'm pleased, I hope nobody gets me wrong. There is a time and a place for zero drop. There's a time and a place for, for less restrictive footwear, more, you know, barefoot type kind of thought process. there's a time and a place. but just really appreciating the extra stresses that those type, that type of footwear put on your own foot, ankle, et cetera, is really important and can save you a lot of trouble. And so just be a little bit more thinking with regard to why that calluses, there's a reason calluses are forming and, I'm always interested in Oh, let's figure out why. Yeah.Angie:
Which is awesome. But yeah. Tonya, this has been such a great conversation. Thank you so much for your time today. Where can people connect with you and find you if they want to learn more about foot care or want to reach out for help?Tonya:
Oh, it's very good. let's see. So it's probably Instagram, Instagram, and Facebook are probably the most, places that it's places I checked the most. And so it's Tonya Kay Olsen, DPT, for Instagram, Tonya Kay Olsen for Facebook. And then I also have a website. My physical therapy practice is called Centaur Rehab or Centaur Physical Therapy. C E N T A U R, the half horse, half human. I love it. Greek.Angie:
Yeah, I get it. I was curious what that was about, but now I understand a little bit more. Yeah, because I, yeah. Yeah, very cool. So, we will definitely put all of those links in the show notes for you guys. So if you want to connect with Tonya, just click on the show notes and you'll be able to get all of her information there. This has been, this has been super great. Thank you so much for your time. Oh, one more thing I wanted to mention. Thank you so much for having me. One more thing I wanted to mention is that if you are a member of our team, if you are inside the Academy, Tonya's going to be coming to do a workshop with us in February. So I'm super excited. Yay! We're going to get into some more stuff. Specifics on foot care. so if you guys want information and to join our team, we've got amazing experts all year long that come in and help us become more aware and actually know what to do, to help ourselves as runners, that you can check out the academy and, join the team. And you can be a part of all that workshop, this workshop as well. So, check all that information out in the show notes, you'll have information on if, if you do want to join us. For that workshop in February, all that information will be there. All right, Tonya, thank you so much.Tonya:
Wait. Go ahead. One thing, if you're going to be a part of the workshop. Yes. Have. pictures. Okay. Of your foot issues. We'll be collecting foot pictures. Yes. Beforehand. So make sure that if you, if you have a picture of something that the, you know, picture's worth a thousand words. So that would be very helpful. Absolutely. Thank you very much. I super appreciate it. This is fantastic. so much.Angie:
This has been awesome.