So as most if not all of you out there I have started to get blisters. Well, it had been just grin and bear it but then I realised “I can’t do this day in day out for at least 3 months”. 10 miles is one thing but 1000 miles was just not worth trying to comprehend. In fact the idea of LEJOG has changed my perspective on a lot of things! So I took to the magic internet and was surprised to see the variety of advice out there. As I had always done as a young athlete (many years ago :(), there was the recommendation to burst the blister with a sterilised needle (put it in a flame for a short while) or there was the idea of ‘letting the blister breathe’, particularly if it had already burst. Clearly, bursting the blister opens up the possibility of developing an infection whilst airing might not only promote bacterial growth but also dries the wound out – what happens next? It cracks open and we’re back at stage one or usually even worse. A quick trip to my local chemist had me discover what I’m sure many of you already know. Graham told me to cover the blister with an adhesive dressing to prevent possible infection and to allow the area to remain ‘moist’ ultimately leading to a controlled healing process. Yes, the blisters would open up when I walked but the padding from the dressings limited the pain and slowly but surely the wounds began to grow smaller. I can’t say that they have fully gone yet but fingers crossed the process does’t start reversing 😉
That leads us to the prevention of blisters. Well there are plenty of things to avoid. Always wash a pair of new socks before wearing them for a walk. You might experiment, as I am currently, with padded socks or anti-blister socks. The former have padding at the usual stress points – toes, heels etc. while the latter appear to work by using two layers of non-friction material rather than a single layer. You might use powders to keep your feet dry from sweating, although most modern socks have a wicking capabilities which take the sweat from the skin and put it on the outside of the sock. Thinking of water you’re always best to try and keep your feet dry from rain, puddles, streams etc. given the ability of a wet sock to develop a high level of friction. While we’re on the subject of socks, I think it’s particularly important to keep an eye on the condition of the socks – as soon as they start thinning around those key areas of heel and toes it’s time to replace them however many miles you’ve spent together or hills bagged or expeditions completed. Get the right thickness of sock for your requirements and think about the conditions in which you’re asking them to perform; lighter weight material during the summer etc. While I believe you should always have your boots fitted professionally it’s important not to try to squash too thick a pair of socks into boots or wear too thin a pair allowing your feet to move too freely and rub. There are anti-friction sticks and lube and I have been tempted to try Lanacane given how well it has worked on reducing friction in other, more sensitive areas. Certain insoles can also stabilise the foot, particularly the heel, and prevent the foot from moving too much.
Similarly to this last point, how you lace your trainers or boots is also worth thinking about. Consider this technique, for instance.
Other ideas include taping but when I looked at it it seemed a bit time consuming and made me think it could easily promote blisters – hey, but each to their own. Related to taping were the anti-blister patches. I had come across a several very positive comments about ENGO patches. In fact, they “guarantee you no blisters or your money back”. After a quick message they have agreed to send me some samples and I will enjoy letting you all know how they go. No blisters for 3 months – now there’s an idea.
Let me know how you deal with or prevent your blisters… what has worked or failed for you?