Ninety-nine percent of those whom have participated in an adventure race or ultramarathon of any significant distance, at one time or another have had their share of blisters. Some blister easily; regardless of what steps they take to prevent them. Others get a blister now and then.
Some people are simply not prone to blisters. They might rub some Vaseline on their feet, pull on cotton socks, run on trails where dirt gets into their shoes, and still not blister. These folks are just plain lucky and we all wish we could be like them. Others of us blister in spite of what we do or because we don’t know what to do. What steps can we take to prevent blisters?
Some assumptions have to be made upfront. We assume you are already wear socks made from Coolmax or a similar fabric that wicks moisture away from the skin. You may even use double-layer socks or a thin liner under a thicker outer sock. Your shoes should fit your feet properly and not allow the foot to move too much inside the shoe. Gaiters are an important part of your gear and should be worn to keep dirt and grit out of your socks and shoes. These are the first steps in blister prevention.
Finding What Works
Before giving up and resigning yourself to a life of blisters, try a few things and see what might work for your feet. The first is to determine whether your feet can benefit by using a lubricant to reduce friction. Some of the most popular lubricants include Avon Silicone Glove, BodyGlide, Sport Slick, Hydropel, Runner’s Lube, Bag Balm, Vaseline, and Un-Petroleum Jelly. Clean off any dust and dirt buildup and apply the lubricant to any parts of the feet that typically blister.
A second choice is to switch from lubricants to powders. The best powders will keep the feet dry as they reduce moisture and friction. Two top choices are Zeasorb and Gold Bond that contain moisture-absorbing agents and are less prone to caking than regular talcum powder and cornstarch. Reapply the powder as necessary when the feet are exposed to a lot of sweat or water.
If the lubricants and powders do not work, consider learning to tape your feet-or at least the areas prone to blisters. Before taping there are a few tricks to learn. Clean your feet with an alcohol wipe to remove the skin’s natural oils. Then use a tape adherent on the areas to be taped. Tincture of benzoin can be applied with a clean cloth or use one of the spray products, Cramer Tuf-Skin or Mueller Tuffner Clear Spray. Allow the adherent to dry before taping. Apply the tape and round off any corners. After taping, apply a bit of lubricant to the edges of the tape to cut any exposed adhesive on the edges of the tape that might catch on your socks and pull or roll the tape off the skin. Put another thin layer of lubricant, or powder, on any areas of the feet still sticky from the adherent. You don’t want toes sticking together or socks sticking to your feet!
If you are prone to blisters, try one or two of the lubricants and powders mentioned above. You have to find what works for your feet.