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How to: Protect your ankles

Protecting your ankles

Reposted from the Dagger blog, written by Christie Glissmeyer

Piton risk increases this time of year as river levels drop and more nasty rocks are exposed. One method to avoiding ankle injuries is to cushion your bulk head with extra foam. I learned this outfitting technique from Pat Keller and I have walked away from some really, really bad pitons.

Many creek boats come with extra foam blocks for cushioning your bulk head. If not, pick up a couple blocks of mini-cell closed cell foam about 4-6 inches thick.

  1. Trace the shape of your bulk head and cut out two base blocks.
  2. Cut a few holes straight through the blocks from top to bottom. Now they will look similar to swiss cheese and will have a nice spongy cushioning effect when you put pressure on them.
  3. Shape a 1-inch thick foam sheet to cover the block and attach with adhesive. (I like to use 3-M spray adhesive for gluing foam because it dries quickly and isn't messy to work with. Just make sure you get the waterproof kind.) It also helps to score both foam surfaces with a knife before you apply the adhesive. Wait for at least 3 minutes after you apply the glue before attaching the two pieces. The glue will start to get tacky after a few minutes and make a solid bond.
  4. I like to push off the blocks with my heels instead of my toes. This keeps my feet from falling asleep. To do this I make a wedge block and attach it to the base block. Make it just big enough that your toes can still rest on the base block.
  5. Attach the wedge to the block, again by scoring both surfaces with a knife and spraying with adhesive.

  6. Now score the back side of the core blocks. Spray that surface and the bulkhead with adhesive. Again, wait a few minutes before bonding the blocks to the bulkhead.



  7. Now when the glue dries you can go paddling and try not to run into anything . . . but if you do it shouldn't hurt as much :)