If you’re an athlete, you’ve likely had to deal with foot blisters at some point or another. Even if you’re not an athlete, you’ve probably endured a blister after wearing a pair of ill-fitting shoes. So what can you do to keep from getting blisters? A Stanford University doctor thinks he’s figured out a foot blister prevention technique that’s cheap, easy and effective for endurance athletes to try – surgical tape.
“Everyone has a blister story,” according to Dr. Grant Lipman. “Blisters are everywhere, and they’re a real problem.”
Most blisters start as a minor nuisance, but they can quickly become extremely painful. And if the blister breaks open and becomes infected, the athlete can easily be out of the race.
What Is a Blister?
A blister is a skin condition that’s caused by friction when two surfaces rub together. The repeated friction damages the cells in the layers of the epidermis or skin. The layers of skin begin to separate and fill with a watery liquid. The fluid causes the skin to raise and look like a bubble. This is a blister.
Blisters are most common on the hands and feet. The major causes of blisters are heat, moisture and friction.
Research in Preventing Blisters
Few researchers have really studied foot blister prevention until now. Lipman, who specializes in wilderness medicine and has spent years studying endurance athletes performing under extreme conditions, led a team of scientists to find a proven technique in blister prevention.
The team studied 128 ultra-distance runners who participated in multiple day races that covered hundreds of miles in extreme conditions like the deserts of Jordan, Madagascar and China. Professionals taped one foot of the study participants with surgical tape in areas where the athlete was prone to developing blisters. Surgical tape is thinner than more traditional methods of foot blister prevention like Band-Aids and moleskin. Plus, surgical tape isn’t as sticky or stifling as duct tape, which is commonly used by endurance runners.
The study compared the taped areas of the participant’s foot to the untaped areas (on the same foot) to see if the surgical tape worked to prevent the development of blisters. At the end of the races, the number of blisters were tallied up. Among the 128 athletes, there was a big difference in the number of blisters that occurred on the untaped areas. The athletes developed 117 blisters in total on the untaped spots. The study researchers concluded that the surgical tape reduced the occurrence of blisters by 40%.
Tips for Blister Prevention
If you’re an athlete, you may want to consider taping your feet with surgical tape prior to training and competition. Tape areas where you’re prone to develop blisters. However, make sure your feet are clean and dry before you apply the surgical tape.
Additionally, be sure to follow these other foot blister prevention tips:
- Wear the right socks. Moisture-wicking socks help keep moisture away from your skin. Choose socks with reinforced heels and toes to reduce friction.
- Double up your socks so the friction occurs between the socks and not the sock and your skin.
- Wear properly fitted shoes. Shoes that are too small can cause blisters. Shoes that are too big can slide around, causing blisters. Refer to the WalkEZStore’s Shoe Fitting Guide for information on how to properly fit your shoes.
- Wear shoes for your intended activity. For example, tennis shoes aren’t good hiking shoes.
It’s also a good idea to always have a first aid kit for blisters handy in case you do develop blisters.
WalkEZStore Custom Orthotics for Walking
If you’re a walker or play sports, you’ve probably had to deal with blisters. However, with WalkEZStore custom orthotics, you can reduce your risk of developing blisters. Our custom orthotics strategically support your arches while helping to reduce the pressure on your heels and balls of your feet. When pressure is redistributed, you’re less likely to develop blisters. Additionally, our custom orthotics help to realign your feet, enhancing your feet’s performance.
Because … when your feet feel good, you feel good.® And you perform even better.
Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.