Blisters! Every runner’s nightmare, those horrible fluid filled sacs that seem so trivial, yet can eventually stop the hardest of runners in their tracks. Surely there must be a way to make yourself “blisterproof”? Not quite; but if you follow these tips, you’ll be as blisterproof as is possible in one of the most blister prone activities out there.
Step 1: Make sure you have the right shoes
We talk about this all the time, but it’s because it is so important to have your running shoes properly fitted and chosen based on your biomechanics, rather than how they look or how well reviewed they are. We have found that ill-fitting or ill-matched shoes is the number cause of blisters in runners.
A shoe that has a terrible reputation could actually be the best shoe out there for your particular biomechanics. And likewise a shoe that is highly rated by other club runners or running press could be terrible for your running style. Unfortunately, contrary to popular belief, even with the best possible shoe for you, it is still possible to pick up blisters (which leads us onto the next steps).
Step 2: Use proper running socks
If they came in a pack of three and have cotton in them they are not proper running socks, if you bought them “direct” from a well known notoriously cheap sports shop, then chances are, they’re not proper running socks (no matter what they lead you to believe!).
Having a well fitted technical running sock, will transfer the moisture from your feet to your shoes and it’s the moisture that makes your feet more susceptible to the blister causing friction. If you are particularly prone to blisters then use a double layer sock or ‘twin skin‘, which disperses friction between the layers.
Step 3: Get some lube!
Running lube can be a lifesaver, some customers swear by it and won’t run without it. But if anything’s for sure then using a good quality sports skin lubricant will reduce your chance of getting an annoying blister. Avoid petroleum jelly as it warms up and quickly loses its effectiveness, look for a specific sports lube that has been tried and tested. We recommend Bodyglide as it absorbs into the skin and forms a protective barrier that isn’t gunky or oily, it is also used by triathletes so you know it works in tough environments!
Step 4: Tape it
Applying Zinc tape on well known blister hotspots before your run can be a great preventative measure, this is to be used instead of lube and we normally recommend trying lube first, but a well placed piece of Zinc tape will form a solid barrier against friction. Make sure you apply the tape to warm (but very dry) feet and then warm the tape with your hands for a minute after applying; to let the adhesive work better. Note: Never apply tape to open skin or a blister as it can rip the skin away when you remove it!
Step 5: Stretch
This may sound strange, but if you suffer from blisters on your heels then improving your calf flexibility will help to reduce heel lift in your trainers. A biomechanical early or excessive heel lift is normally caused by poor ankle mobility and/or poor calf flexibility (which itself also causes poor ankle mobility!). As heel lift can cause blisters on your heels, reducing heel lift naturally reduces the blistering.
Step 6: Change your running style
Probably the most drastic approach and one that we certainly wouldn’t recommend unless you have exhausted all other options. But we occasionally hear from some customers that changing their running style reduced or even eliminated their regular blisters. So if you are a heel striker, maybe try landing more midfoot or forefoot and visa versa. Experiment, but don’t forget to listen to your body, the last thing you want is to swap a niggly blister for chronic shin pain!
It’s too late…
If you already have a blister then the best approach is to clean the area, lance it with a sterilised pin, then cover with a specialist hydrocolloid blister plaster such as Sorboskin or Compeed.
Good luck in the battle of the blister! Follow our Marathon Series for running advice from the experts!
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