5 tips to preventing the dreaded blister
Every runner has experienced a blister and every runner knows just how debilitating that tiny injury can be!
There are a myriad of tips and tricks you can try to prevent blisters from taking over your running life but here are the best 5.
1. Selecting the right shoes
Shoes are so important! Friction will be worse if you are wearing ill-fitting shoes. Where possible, get a professional to help you select the right footwear for the task you are planning.
Specialised shoe stores will have facilities where they can test your running style through a gait analysis and help you to select the right pair.
There should be a space of around 1.25 cm between your longest toe and the front of your shoes. You should be able to wiggle your toes and your heels should not slip when you walk.
It is also worthwhile getting shoes that breathe well, such as those with mesh or fabric, and before running you should inspect the inside of your shoes for seams or worn areas that could result in extra friction.
2. Choosing the right socks
A sock today is no longer just a sock. Sock technology is off the charts and has come a long way over the years. The wrong sock can cause a world of pain so it’s important to get them right. In saying that, you don’t have to drop heaps of cash on specialty socks either as cheap doesn’t necessarily mean low quality.
Firstly, it’s best to stay clear of cotton socks. Cotton socks soak up moisture and increase the chances of a blister appearing. The best sock material is nylon or other synthetic material as it draws water away from the skin and lets it evaporate out through the shoe.
Often you can get socks that have extra padding in those sensitive areas prone to blisters such as the heels and tops of the toes. Even better are ‘toe socks’ which are socks that look like a glove…not the most attractive sock but when they live in your shoe, who cares?
Another option many runners go for is wearing two pairs of socks as this can also help to reduce friction on skin.
The whole goal of taping your feet is as a preventative measure, and it makes sense…but it isn’t necessarily an easy skill to master and if done incorrectly the results can be worse than any blister.
It’s also important to remember that taping your feet shouldn’t replace the need for well-fitting shoes.
With that said, taping can be a lifesaver. There are many brands of athletic tape on the market (Leuko, Elastoplast etc) so it really is a case of finding one that’s best for you. Ultra-marathon runners for example may have very different needs to those training for their first 5km.
There are a couple of key rules when taping your feet:
- Avoid taping toes too tightly
- Ensure that the tape is applied smoothly, as any wrinkles could create excess friction.
- Tape should be placed in those areas that are notorious for blisters. This will be different for everyone but most common areas are the heel and the toes.
Powders, such as talc or corn-starch, can help reduce friction by absorbing moisture. Blisters love moisture and heat and skin that is already damp is far more prone to suffering a blister than dry, col skin.
The use of powders is not for everyone and like taping, if you get it wrong you can find yourself a long way from home with the dreaded blister rearing its ugly head. Some powders can cake up and leave you with not only a sore foot but also a very messy sock.
There are powders designed specifically for this purpose so shop around and try one that’s right for you. A popular powder is Australia is Blister Shield.
Lubricants are a favourite of runners. Once someone discovers a product that works, news spreads like wild fire and you’ll find there are one or two products that everyone is using and swears by.
Creams and lubricants have been around for eons in the form of good old Vaseline or petroleum jelly. The trick is to apply the lubricants often.
Two cracking products that are pretty hot in the running world are Body Glide and Gurney Goo. These are not just good for blisters on the feet but can also be applied to any chaffing hot spot on the body.
Unfortunately, whilst preventing blisters is usually a preferred option for people, sometimes they just have a way of sneaking past all lines of defence!