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Staying Blister Free

Tips for blister-free feet

Blisters – we’ve all had them. The dicomfort and annoying pain they cause can ruin a good workout and make you want to keep a distance from your running shoes. What is more, blisters can sometimes get infected and cause even more trouble. That’s why the best strategy is prevention – so you never have to deal with blisters in the first place!

The main cause for blisters is friction, which can be augmented by several factors. As the sports podiatrist Lori Weisenfeld explains, „“Friction causes layers of skin to separate and foot blisters are the painful pockets of air or fluid that form between the layers”. How to avoid excess friction? Read on for some tips!

  1. Choose the right shoes – First of all, make sure that your shoes fit properly. Since feet tend to swell a bit from running, it is a good idea to choose a size that is ½ a size bigger than what you wear on the street. You should be able to wiggle your toes a bit, and your heel should stay in place as you walk. Worn patches and broken seams can produce extra friction, so don’t choose any old shoe for running. In addition, it’s a good idea to choose shoes that breathe well to reduce sweating.
  2. Break your shoes in gradually – For many people, new shoes can easily cause blisters. Thus, it is a good idea to start using them gradually. Try wearing them at home first, or go for a light run instead of heading to a marathon right away. This way you will also get to know your hot spots in the shoes – the areas on your feet more prone to friction – and you can take preventive measures for protecting them from blisters.
  3. Choose the right socks – Firstly, your socks should be the right size – if they’re too loose, creases in them can produce extra friction.  Secondly, make sure they’re not worn and don’t have bulky stitching. Thirdly, material matters. Cotton is a bad choice, as it becomes abrasive when it absorbs moisture. Instead, go for synthetic socks – buying a pair that is especially made for runners is always a good choice. Wool blend socks can be another alternative. Runners have different preferences and tips – some swear by lighter, others by thicker socks, some prefer to wear two layers so that there is less friction between the feet and the shoe. Therefore it is best to experiment what is right for you!
  4. Hydrate properly – Proper fluid balance keeps your feet from swelling, which is caused by both over- and under-hydration. Swollen feet, in turn, rub more easily on the shoe, and swollen toes can rub on each other. Therefore, making sure you drink regularly and just enough for your sweat rate, can reduce friction and chance of blisters.
  5. Go easy on the pedicure – If you go for a pedicure (or do one at home), toughened skin shouldn’t be removed with a razor. The toughened skin protects your feet from blisters, making them more resistant. Therefore, opt for a more gentle pedicure that doesn’t remove much skin.
  6. Keep your feet soft – Dry and cracking skin can be more prone to friction. If the skin on your feet tends to dry out, moisturizing them regularly can be a tool for avoiding blisters
  7. Keep your feet dry – Moist feet are more prone to friction, especially as their surface changes when they’ve been wet for a while. To prevent sweatiness, using an anti-perspirant for feet is a good choice. There are also foot powders available for absorbing moisture. Or you could try regular talcum powder or cornstarch instead! During a long run, bringing another pair of socks with you might be a good option as well.
  8. Lubricate your feet – One way of reducing friction is to make sure your hot spots don’t rup on your shoes. The best strategy is to use professional blister blocks or good old vaseline only in the places most prone to blisters, because if you apply too much, your feet can start sliding around in your shoes.
  9. Tape your feet – Taping your feet or hot spots ensures that friction is created between the tape and the shoe, instead of your feet and the shoe. A good choice for this is a soft but secure bandage. Make sure you apply it with care on dry and clean feet, however, as any creases or loose corners can cause extra friction, thus creating more trouble for your feet.

Bottom line

If your feet get irritated in some areas, don’t let it go unnoticed – preventing a blister is easier than treating one. Do you have any other great tips for blister prevention? Any specific products to suggest? Share them in the comments!

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