Blisters are a common hazard with runners and are generally caused by friction, which could be due to a number of issues including:
- Wearing the wrong shoes,
- Running in shoes that are the wrong size,
- Having friction between the sock and shoe, and
- Having the foot getting wet while running.
Blisters are not at all pleasant and if not treated, they can get worse and put you on the sidelines during your training.
So how you can prevent blisters in the first place?
Choose synthetic over cotton: If you are really getting serious about your running, pay great attention to your socks. Cheaper socks tend to be 100% cotton. The problem with that is that once they are wet, they stay wet and you will be more prone to blisters.
If you are running regularly and for longer distances, consider running socks that are made from synthetic fabric rather than cotton. Fabrics such as acrylic and CoolMax are a great choice as they keep the moisture away from the foot.
Wear good fitting shoes: Make sure your shoes fit properly and are not too big as major movement when running will cause friction and may lead to blisters. If you aren’t sure what shoes to get and the size (they can vary from brand to brand) then pop along to your local sport shop and ask them to help you choose the right size.
Wear two pairs of socks: Many people run in two pairs of socks or thicker socks to ensure there is more fabric between their skin and the trainer. This might be something you’d like to try, but ensure that your socks are good and don’t cause too much friction.
Preempt any hot spot areas: If you are prone to blisters and rubbing on your feet, one way to prevent any further blisters is to put a band-aid on the area to prevent any rubbing to begin with. Use a waterproof band-aid or band-aids that provide a ‘second skin’ such as Compeed. Athletic tape can also be used if you find it more comfortable.
Best way to treat blisters
Leave it alone if it doesn’t hurt: If your blister is relatively small and doesn’t hurt, then the best thing to do is to leave it alone as it may go down and heal by itself. Don’t pop it, but consider covering it with a band-aid and resting it for a few days to let it go down.
Pop it if fluid doesn’t dissipate: If the blister is quite nasty and painful, then consider popping it with a sterilized needle. Push the fluid out and then put some antiseptic cream over the affected area and then dress with a plaster. Ask your pharmacist for recommendations for the best dressing.
Visit your podiatrist: If the blister is really bad or not healing, consider going to see a podiatrist or your doctor to get it treated and dressed. It’s always best to get checked out in case of infection.
If you feel a blister coming on in a race, find your nearest medical station and they should be able to help you by treating it or putting measures in place to get you to the finish line.
Blisters can be a real hindrance to runners, but if you safeguard yourself against causing friction to your feet this will certainly go a long way to prevent them.
UK born and based currently in Australia, Zoe has a passion for running as evident by her participation in excess of 30 running events, including five marathons, over the past 14 years. Wanting to share her enthusiasm for running, five years ago Zoe started a blog for the everyday runner “The Girl That Runs“. This blog has quickly built up a strong following amongst runners of all ages and experience levels looking for advice with easily relatable content.
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