5 Simple Tricks to Prevent Blisters!
It’s happened again. When will it stop? Every step a marathon, every stand a prison. Blisters are no fun for anyone, and if you have to keep walking on, it all quickly turns unpleasant.
These unpleasant things are also the most common injury suffered by hikers, or anyone who spends a lot of time on two feet. No matter what you do, the blister tide springs eternal, it is a matter of when not if.
So, in this article, we will show you a step-by-step guide for how you can prevent blisters.
What is a Blister?
If you are one of the lucky few who do not know what blisters are, allow us to enlighten you.
Blisters are your body saying, “oi, a bit too much of this being on two feet for my liking!”. They are fluid filled bubbles with various damaged layers of skin. The fluid in question is either plasma, pus, or blood – depending on the severity. The end result is an area of uncomfortable skin getting pressed into the ground by your full weight in an increasingly agonising manner.
Most likely, the blister you will experience is caused by friction over a long duration of time. Other causes include chemicals, infections, burns and freezing – you will probably realise if one of these is the instigator…
What Are the Causes of Foot Blisters?
As stated, friction is the most common creator of blisters. The friction, often caused by ill-fitting shoes, occurs over time to result in a breakdown of your foot. This is why ‘breaking in shoes’ makes them comfier and feel like they are not full of thorns. Common areas affected by these blisters are the heel or soles of your feet.
Poorly fitting shoes, however, are not the only instigators of blisters. Research suggests having wet feet, due to full water immersion or rain can increase the probability of blisters. Similarly, having sweaty feet can also cause more blisters.
So, we now know what to target. To prevent blisters, we either must remove friction between your foot and the ground or remove moisture in your foot.
How you can Prevent Blisters
As friction is a leading cause of blisters, footwear is key. At a base level, this means wearing the correct footwear of good quality. The best advice you will get on the exact footwear for you is at the shops you intent to buy the boots from. As the topic is complex and depends on a case-by-case basis, we will leave the exact shoes you get to the experts.
Once you have the correct shoes, the best thing you can do to prevent blisters is to break them in. Although this is pretty dull, it really is the best way of mitigating the risk of blisters. Some places will try and sell you ways to ‘soften leather’ however, from my experience… I still had blisters and the ‘softer leather’ was of little comfort.
The best way to break in your new footwear is by using the shoes on multiple short walks a few weeks before a bigger use. Short is imperative here as new boots will lead to blisters fast! You may still get blisters on these short walks however, there isn’t much you can do about that new shoe feel.
However, it is empathically better to get blisters on these short walks because less intense walks means less time for friction to take its toll. Also, short walks mean you’re not far away from home so, if you do get a blister, the pain will be less intense – this will mean the blister is not aggravated further,
Alternative Methods so you can Prevent Blisters
Another way to limit the chance of blisters is to choose the correct socks. The correct socks are always ones that grip tightly to your feet to reduce the overall friction. Extra cushioning in the sock is also ideal, especially in areas you may normally get blisters. If you have never had blisters before, but are worried about them, cushioning on your heels, toes and balls of your feet is most important.
Material is also decisive. If possible, steer away from cotton as initial research has shown it can be a significant contributor to blisters. The material doesn’t remove moisture, instead it keeps any moisture against the skin. As stated earlier, wet feet are a factor in blister creation so, you can see how cotton socks are not ideal.
Instead of cotton, wool or man-made fibres would do the job. Marino Wool in particular is of common use from most die-hard hikers.
The best socks for blister prevention have been made using man-made fibres and wool. I’ve used Marino wall Will socks and underwear on numerous occasions later a fantastic job of moving swept and moisture away from my skin.
Preventing Blisters with Barrier Creams?
In the cold climates, the effects can be unideal. The cream may freeze which makes it difficult to apply. In warmer climates however, they remain easy to apply. However, if you are intensely walking, the level of sweat may wash the cream off.
Therefore, if you want to try the cream as an additional measure, it is heavily suggested that you also have the correct boots and socks. Without this, there is a risk that the cream becomes ineffective.
Lacing Boots in ways that Prevent Blisters?
As repeatedly stated, thank friction for blisters. However, this friction will occur even in well-fitting shoes so, it shouldn’t be your only method when concerned about blisters. Nevertheless, the are ways of limiting friction with how you tie your boots.
A ‘heel lock’ strategy has been found to work relatively well, attached is a video illustrating how they work.
Final Ways to Prevent Blisters
You have tried everything on the list but, you still get the pesky blisters? Or perhaps you just REALLY don’t want blisters. Well, the final method for preventing blisters that routinely works is Zinc Oxide tape.
Zinc Oxide tape is an adhesive tape that is incredibly hard wearing. It protects athletes from injuries while also repairing damaged tissue. So, as you can imagine, it is very effective for blisters.
The Zinc Oxide tape can be applied before you start the activity to known problem areas. In this instance it works like a thin small sock which can absorb the friction you still receive between your larger socks and your feet. Zinc Oxide tape may also be applied on the move. In this instance you should apply the tape to areas that feel like they are rubbing or beginning to blister. This should prevent further friction in the problem areas.
The best method is applying the tape before the activity. However, if you do not have much of the tape, want to save time or do not know your problem areas, the ‘as you go’ approach may be applicable.
In a warning, the Zinc Oxide tape is very sticky. So, it will protect your feet at the cost of your socks. The washing machine will then have to see a lot of those socks to remove all adhesive.
Great, I have a Blister, what now?
If you have tried every method and you still get problem blisters, Compeed is your best friend. It is easy to apply and works as a ‘second layer’ of skin. When you stick it over the blister, it will prevent further damage while also absorbing all the friction to leave you with little to no pain.
Compeed on large walks is therefore highly important if you particularly struggle walking with blisters.
Which Blister Prevention Method is Best?
Each method works on a personal basis. For me, appropriate socks really made a difference. However, it is best to try all approaches and see which ones work best. A final tip would be to make sure you are fit to go on the level of activity, this will allow you to walk efficiently rather than dragging your feet and sweating in ways that can lead to blisters.