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Scout
2006-04-14, 18:35
The question is this: How to protect my feet from walking in Army boots for 25 miles a day for 4 days...?

Anyone done this march? It is a pseudo military march that is conducted yearly in the Netherlands. If you have been stationed in Europe you may have heard of it or even participated.

I am trying to get the time off to go there this year and wondered if anyone of you have participated? And if so, have any advice?

Nijmegen March (http://www.4daagse.nl/)

Take-a-knee
2006-04-15, 01:02
Yeah, make sure your boots fit perfectly and get your feet tough by walking a lot. There is a book available from REI called "Fixing Your Feet" that was written by a podiatrist who happens to be an ultramarthoner that covers every possible remedy. A lot of guys going through SFAS get some pretty nasty blisters and they have to keep going everyday. Some guys take the saw on their leatherman and cut a window in the boot to eliminate the problem area.

dropkick
2006-04-15, 03:20
Good suggestions :
Get some baby wipes and stop once or twice along the march daily, and wash your feet (change socks then too).
Put foot powder or talc in your socks.
Wear nylon socks inside cotton socks (this wicks moisture away from skin).

Really good suggestions:
Wear your boots for a few days before the march to make sure there aren't any problems.
Carry many extra socks and change if your feet are feeling hot or sweaty.
Bring camp shoes along and change as soon as you stop hiking.

Most important suggestions:
Stop immediately if there is any irritation to your feet and fix it (i.e. wrinkled sock, pebble, bad boot seam) don't let it develop into something.
Carry moleskin to cover any foot irritations (either put on boot or on foot).

Scout
2006-04-15, 07:39
I have never used mole skin...and I guess I have never really marched that far anyhow. The most road marching I have done is the quarterly 12 miler or 20K when I was in the 82nd Airborne...and just to dispell rumors - even as an Aviator I still did my quarterly 12 milers while in DivisioN! :-)

KLeth
2006-04-15, 13:37
Yup, done that march a few times :biggrin: In issued standard black leather boots with wool and cotton socks. Quite a party, too bad I'm not going this year either :bawling: But hey I get to walk around muskoxen :fisheye: :biggrin:
The Danes have a qualifying march on 2x40km, Nijmegen style (10kg) but mostly we did another 2x40 or 3x40km to ensure good enough physics :) My training used to a total of 300-800km before the Nijmegen March. The 300km were the mandatory qualifying training (including the 2x40km on the qualifying march).

Buy Tenso and Artiflex in the town - There are serveral "Drogeries" in the city where the stuff usually can be bought, but be quick to get it.
Bring an extra cap or other souveniers type of stuff (elsewise try a tray with beer) and get a Dane from the "Homeguard" to show you how to use it. Avoid you own medics and get Danes or Swedes to fix your feet if you encounter trouble.
The "Homeguard" are voulenteers and in general in a lot better marching condition. Many from the "Homeguard" have marched the Nijmegen March more than once.

Dont overdo the weight - You only need 10kg of weight in pack excluding water and food - Extra socks, weight of pack, raingear and everything else counts. You will regret not taking weight seriously on the third day when you encounter "The seven sisters" - Just when you've gotten confirmation on that the Netherlands are flat you hit seven hills . . . . .

CUT blisters and then cover them - DON'T just cover them.
Prepare feet for hot weather and very wet weather, see to that you socks don't fold and that they don't burn nor boil your feet

Rub/sand feet to rid them of any dead and hard skin. A blister is much easier to cut when not under a lot of skin, also a lot less painfull.

Eat heartly, the food in the mess tent is plenty and used to be good, add an extra pinch of salt to cover your natrium. See that you rehydrate on plain water during evenings and mornings, don't do saltpills unless it's above 35C.

Bring stickers and other souveniers to hand out to the kids, they love it. Avoid the greedy kids but treat the nice but shy kids. There are many disabled kids and elderly placed on the side of the road, greet/wave to them and give those kids a bit of attention, it gives such a good mood and a lot of smiles.

My old Buddy Karsten might be going this year, he might wear a nametag saying "Lommelærke" or "Vorherrer", he is easy to spot since his mascot is a yellow, black spotted worn out teddybear with a very long tail. He is very very loud and is most likely found in the beer-tent :beer:
Another old buddy Alex might also be around. Don't know if my old team "Turtle-Team" is still around. All mentioned are very skilled and helpfull.

Best of luck - Mail me if you want to know anything. It's almost four years since I did it the last time, but I still know my way around.

dropkick
2006-04-15, 19:03
Buy Tenso and Artiflex in the town - There are serveral "Drogeries" in the city where the stuff usually can be bought, but be quick to get it.
Bring an extra cap or other souveniers type of stuff (elsewise try a tray with beer) and get a Dane from the "Homeguard" to show you how to use it. Avoid you own medics and get Danes or Swedes to fix your feet if you encounter trouble.
Kleth,
Are Tenso and Artiflex bandages? What's a Drogery? Do you have moleskin (or know what it is)? And if you do have it there, is it still called moleskin? Why is the sky blue? :confused:

I don't think he'll need help from the Homeguard in learning how to use beer though. :biggrin:

Just Jeff
2006-04-15, 21:53
Not sure how this particular march goes, but on long days I like to air out my feet pretty often. Taking off your boots for 30 minutes at lunchtime can really help with blisters and hotspots. And if you can elevate them while you're resting, all the better to reduce swelling.

KLeth
2006-04-16, 02:01
Don't know moleskin, but Tenso is an adhesive elastic bandage that realy sticks. Tenso can be formed to follow the area that needs protection. Artiflex is a synthetic cotton.
Artiflex is used to cushion the foot and to prevent that the Tenso sticks to the entire area. Artiflex can also be used to wrap around toes to prevent them rubbing against each other (to keep it in place either sports-tape or silk-tape might be needed).
Normally I used 2-3 layers of torn off artiflex (cutting gives edges) an one layer of tenso. I did this on both forefoot and heel. The Tenso must be stretched when applied to provide a smooth surface, be carefull not to have it fold or you might be worse off.

Airing your feet is a good thing - I used not to since we most of the time did not have the time for it. And when everyting was in place, I did not want to mess with it.

Another thing is boot-size, I had boots so large that I would wear 3 pairs of socks. Then I could drop a pair when I had bandages or my feet swelled.
This can be critical when using GoreTex boots since they can not expand like leather-boots (without GoreTex) can .

dropkick
2006-04-16, 06:37
Just for Kleth,
Moleskin is a cotton flannel bandage\cushioning material. It is used in a similar fashion to Artiflex, except that it has adhesive on one side. You can either use it on your foot or use it on the inside of your boot to cover whatever might be bothering your feet (seam, etc). In the U.S. it's considered by many hikers to be a "must have" item.
www.rei.com/online/store/ProductDisplay?storeId=8000&catalogId=40000008000&productId=671297&parent_category_rn=40001904

Take-a-knee
2006-04-16, 14:26
I've found a moleskin-like product called Spyroflex to be far superior to the original moleskin. Moleskin is oftentimes too thick for the area it is applied to. Often a lack of room in an area of the footwear caused the blister or hot spot in the first place. If you catch a hot spot early, duct tape will work in a pinch, if you later get a blister under the duct tape that can be a mess. I've also used one of the clear, breathable films such as Tegaderm on hot spots and it worked great. Tegaderm is a breathable film used to cover IV sites. You can also get blisters from the heat of the road itself, insoles come in to play here. The more weight on the soles of your feet, the more pressure and friction.

KLeth
2006-04-16, 14:44
Thank you for enlighting me :) I will look for Moleskin.

Moleskin sounds good, so does the other products. I stick to Tenso since I know it can be "boiled" in a boot at 40C for 8 hours and still stick to the foot. The adhesive is a synthetic resin that sticks realy well.
I know that Compeed and much other "smart-stuff" doesn't go the distance on my feet (never tried Moleskin).
But some thing works for some and other for others :smile:

Tenso can also easily be removed without removing the skin, that is when white-gas or iso is used. I use iso to unstick the Tenso.

Scout
2006-04-22, 07:36
Thanks for all your comments - especially KLeth - I will be sure to pass these along to the others going with me.

I am planning on wearing army issue leather boots but I will look for something other than wool socks.

I think some Thorlo's with a silk liner underneath may be a good idea?

Any thoughts?

How about a realistic training regimen for us? All of us who are going are from various posts around Germany and won't have much time to get together to walk around a bit...but what would you suggest as a realistic training goal for the next few months?

Scout
2006-04-22, 07:40
Yup, done that march a few times :biggrin: In issued standard black leather boots with wool and cotton socks.

Since I plan on using standard issue leather boots - do you or anyone else have a suggestion for some after market soles that perform well enough?

I have resoled a pair of boots before and without marching around in them, they were toast after 2 months in Iraq...so I don't want something too soft but maybe something a bit softer than the hard rubber on the bottom of my black boots...

Thoughts?

KLeth
2006-04-22, 09:22
Since I plan on using standard issue leather boots - do you or anyone else have a suggestion for some after market soles that perform well enough?
I have resoled a pair of boots before and without marching around in them, they were toast after 2 months in Iraq...so I don't want something too soft but maybe something a bit softer than the hard rubber on the bottom of my black boots...
Thoughts?
Remember that 95% or more of the Nijmegen March is on Asphalt - You will need cushioning on heels and forefoot. A pair of shock absorbing (maybe gel) soles will help on that if the outer soles are too hard. Remember that you'll have to put your feet to the ground at least 166300 times to complete.
That will be around 7 hours of walking every day at 6km/h. Teams often walk at 5km/h after the first day :biggrin:
When arriving, note the alley, it's around 900m and before starting and after completing it has to be marched - The bright side is that you'll get around 1.8km for free every day (Except friday where the march finishes is in town).

Scout
2006-04-22, 09:35
Remember that 95% or more of the Nijmegen March is on Asphalt - You will need cushioning on heels and forefoot. A pair of shock absorbing (maybe gel) soles will help on that if the outer soles are too hard.

Never tried anything other than the $1.00 cushioning soles that I can get at the PX. Any brand or type that you have tried? I will look into some and also see what the gel soles are like.


The bright side is that you'll get around 1.8km for free every
day (Except friday where the march finishes is in town).

...anything FREE is always better! haha

KLeth
2006-04-22, 09:54
Free - That's my favorite brand :biggrin:

Unfortunately I got a bad case of Metatarsal Stress Fractures (My toes went numb for three months and my feet went from a narrow size 11 to a wide size 12) during my first Nijmegen March. After that I had to get custom made insoles for my boots.

I guess that most shock absorbant insoles will do, but they must be stable and rugged to handle that kind of beating or bring a new pair for each day :)
- Elsewise they might do more harm than good.

Take-a-knee
2006-04-22, 23:45
The ripple soles that are (were) available at the shoe repair shop on every post I've ever been on are the best thing I've ever found for walking on pavement. They wear out really fast 'cause they are soft but that is what makes them work well. You can also try some sorbothane insoles if you have room for them in your boots. Smartwool socks are far and away the best I've ever used...and I've used 'em all.

Scout
2006-04-23, 04:36
The ripple soles that are (were) available at the shoe repair shop on every post I've ever been on are the best thing I've ever found for walking on pavement. They wear out really fast 'cause they are soft but that is what makes them work well. You can also try some sorbothane insoles if you have room for them in your boots. Smartwool socks are far and away the best I've ever used...and I've used 'em all.
The ripple soles are the ones that wore out on me in two months in Iraq...but if they are the best for walking on pavement I will have to get them!

I will also get some smart wool socks to use as well.

What about liners? Ever used anything?

Take-a-knee
2006-04-23, 11:04
Most any liner will work as long as it is slick and fits well enough to stay in place. When the liner doesn't fit and causes puckers it will cause instead of prevent blisters. Backpacker magazine top-rated the Fox River brand years ago. The big thing with liner socks and insoles is to make sure your boots are large enough (have enough internal volume) to accomodate all this stuff and your foot. Also, on a multi-day march, your feet are going to swell. Most soldier's duty boots are too narrow.

KLeth
2006-04-23, 13:31
Also, on a multi-day march, your feet are going to swell. Most soldier's duty boots are too narrow. This is very important, I've seen people cut up their boots because they wouldn't fit any more.
On a qualifying march I once tried to have my feet swell so much that I almost couldn't use my boots. It was caused by a 0.3mm glassfiber reinforcements in my insoles, just beneath my heels. The swelling also made my injury much worse and I ended up with bloody blisters covering 2/3 of both feet, I never thought I could walk the 40km the next day.
<EDIT>Forgot the point - I lost 9 nails on a single day, since there weren't enough space for my toes. </EDIT>

The heels of the boot is very critical and if the heel is either nailed or screwed on it could be a good idea to smooth outh the heel using epoxy filler.

I always did Nijmegen using 90% cotton tennis socks as liners, elsewise I got burns on my feet. But now I know much more and I prefer to use CoolMax :biggrin: But I never tested CoolMax under that kind of heavy duty.

dropkick
2006-04-23, 22:18
What I used to do, and still do (very) occasionally, was use my nylon dress socks inside cotton socks. This is very low tech by today's standards, but still works.
However you have to be very careful that the nylon sock doesn't bunch or get any creases, or you can have real foot problems. I normally use a rubber band as a garter on the sock.
Anymore I usually just carry more socks and change more often. I feel this is a better solution.

j.johnson
2006-04-24, 01:48
I use the Bates Lites Combat boot and I have very sensitive feet. US Uniform Clothing Issue Stores sales the replacement insoles for about 2-3 dollars.
You could check AAFES.com and see if you can get them on line. I have found that the gel insoles fit a bit narrow and cause sore spots on the side of my feet.

JAK
2006-04-24, 11:17
I agree that you should consider resoling the boots somehow. I wonder if drilling holes into that hard plastic might help. Some sort of bleach might help the plastic to swell and soften a bit. The softer soles will wear faster, but so what. Also you might consider leaving the leather untreated for a road march, maybe even soak them beforehand and dry them in the sun so they will breath better. I think changing socks regularly is the most important thing, since it feels great, gives your feet a minute to breath, and allows you a chance to inspect for early signs of trouble.

shoegazer
2006-05-12, 11:56
I did that thing back in 1994. I was stationed in Baumholder. HHC 4/12 scout platoon. It was one of the worst and best times in the Army. You are really a dead man walking. But at the end of the day you are with ppl from other countries hanging out so its good. We had to march in formation and carried a guidon, while singing cadences. I did it in OD Green jungle boots, I think I bought some aftermarket insoles but that was 12 years ago. Good luck to you if you havent left yet.

gene

KLeth
2006-05-13, 01:18
I did that thing back in 1994. I was stationed in Baumholder. HHC 4/12 scout platoon. It was one of the worst and best times in the Army. 1994 wasn't one of the best years for walking in Nijmegen, all who walked it should be a little bit extra proud. The weather was hotter than it had been for more than 15years, the last day (friday) peaked and temperatures hit 42C and humidity 96%. Also the Route was extended 5km one of the days, due to an anniversary in one of the towns.

hilltop
2006-05-15, 14:06
as an ex member of the 1st battalion ,the parachute regiment i have done his march 4 times, in full kit, and the only way to do it is blood and guts determination, and the pride of being airborne, lol

KLeth
2006-05-16, 01:45
the only way to do it is blood and guts determination, and the pride of being airborne, lol We used to say that it was 50% preparation and training, the rest was determination, blood & guts. It can be done on entirely blood & guts but it is a lot more fun without too much blood. . . .:biggrin:
Also I've seen quite a lot of soldiers from all nationalities been kept up and walking purely by painkillers, which can be pretty dangerous under such a strain and they don't help on the damage being done to the body. :damnmate:

Preparation also means extra energy for doing the fun things. Eg. going to town after the march during the first three days, is a good experience as a soldier. Most soldiers don't manage to get to town, but walking around a bit and having a beer or a cup of coffee actually helps the body recover and relive it of toxins ect.
Soldiers who just gets up in the morning, eats breakfast, marches, bathes, eats dinner and goes to sleep will not expirience much of the fantastic good mood that surrounds the Nijmegen Marches (Nijmegen Vierdaagse (http://www.4daagse.nl/index.asp?taal=en&pagina=homepagina&interactivepage=)). :elefant:

KLeth
2006-07-19, 15:10
I have just heard that the Nijmegen four days marches, has been cancelled due to heat. Two persons have died and 300 are in hospital.
In the Nijmegen Marches history this is the first time it has been cancelled.
http://www.4daagse.nl/index.asp?taal=en&pagina=homepagina&interactivepage=

Scout
2006-07-22, 17:55
hello hello! I made it back...

KLeth is correct - the march was cancelled after the first complete day.

I was there and will say that although it was hot, I was ready to hit the trail the next day and continue on.

Thanks for all the help guys. I have to tell you that I didn't get any blisters at ALL! I got my feet taped by the Dutch medic and they were great all day long. Due to an administrative problem on the Friday prior to the march we were only able to go with 10 of 18 marches but we joined with another team and pushed on. We stepped off at 0530 on Tuesday morning and had a wonderful time cheering back at all the loyal supporters who lined the road, passed out treats and cooled us down with hoses along the way! I was absolutely amazed at the number of people marhcing - 44,000!

It was like exiting a concert for 12 hours! Constant flow of people!

There were 2 deaths, 37 critically injured and hundreds hospitalized. When we got back to the camp, they declared a Mass Casualty and pulled all medics in to help all of those who were severly dehydrated.

By 9pm the medics were freed up again and I got in line to have my feet re-taped. They said the wait would be 2 hours so I went back to the tent to chill.

At 11pm there was an announcement over the loudspeaker - "Return to your tent for a very important announcement concerning tomorrows event."

Rumors had already been circulating but this was the final confirmation and we were then told that the march was totally cancelled due to the huge strain on the medical system.

I am going to head back next year and take all that I learned to push on with Blood and guts determination and make it! More to follow!

Scout
2006-07-29, 05:07
I wanted to add that I had chaffing on my inner thighs and other nether regions...I applied Desitin after the walk and it was good to go by the morning! Desitin is a bit heavy (and used for diaper rash) but well worth it!

Take-a-knee
2006-07-29, 15:00
I MUST wear some sort of snug-fitting undergarment to prevent inner thigh chafing in the heat. Underarmor boxers or compression shorts work well for me. Many years ago, young would-be Green Berets were prevented from wearing compression shorts in the many LOOOONG movements they are required to make in selection. The idiots-in-charge decided that using your head like this somehow wasn't "fair". The army can't figure out why they are short of people.

Scout
2006-07-30, 07:01
i haven't tried anything like that yet but maybe I should.

I remember hearing some of the guys saying stuff like - "I am going to sue underarmor for these crappy undergarments - they tore me up."

So, maybe with all the sweating of the day it was just too much for any garment to handle?

As far as footwear goes - I had my leather army boots with a waffle sole and alternated socks from inGenius to Thorlo - the Thorlo light hikers seemed to do best although they were all GREAT.

In 25 miles I got ZERO blisters! My feet were dry and felt great!

tdaward
2006-08-01, 19:55
Hey Scout, when I was over in Korea I had a Cobbler put a Vibram sole on an old pair of Jungle Boot, the old kind without the speed laces, and they were great!!! When I got to the 18th Airborne Corps, we did there required marches and some longer ones (around 25 miles) with no problems....

Scout
2006-08-05, 07:35
yeah, I am with ya - they worked great for me this time!

I had a pair that I resoled and took to Iraq in 2003 - but those things wore down and the glue seperated after a few months.