Running blisters are annoying, inconvenient and downright painful. They can happen to any of us, but especially those who run long distances. Today’s article is written by Ryan Lange, a long-time ultramarathon runner and RRCA certified running coach. He shares 5 practical tips to prevent those annoying blisters on the feet from running.
If you are someone who partakes in some sort of physical activity, there is a good chance you have experienced that pesky little aggravation we call a blister. Blisters are inevitable, especially if you are jumping into a new sport or hobby without any build up in training.
Most runners will experience these once they get into longer distances. If you ever get into a 50-100 mile race, be prepared for some serious running blister action. They are not fun; but with a little bit of effort and understanding of what blisters are, they can be prevented.
What is a running blister?
Blisters, also called vesicles, are a thin layer of your skin that is raised by a fluid. This serum fills the gap between good skin and damaged skin to cushion the remaining good skin from further injury. If you are lucky, your blister will fill with blood and even pus. We are kidding – this is not lucky.
As if blisters weren’t painful enough, it’s usually smart to disinfect with iodine and possibly seek medical attention as well. If you are to pop your blister, we would advise to wait a day or two at least. This will enable some of the skin under the blister to heal. If you do not do this, the freshly popped blister will become extremely painful to touch.
We would advise to then cover the blister with anti-biotic ointment to have it heal faster. Wounds need moisture to heal faster. So, if you great aunt told you to, “leave it be,” we are here to tell you… she’s wrong.
5 Ways to Prevent Running Blisters
Let us jump into how we can prevent these pesky injuries from occurring on your next long run.
Toe socks are a rather new trend in the running community. Not many people know about them are their benefits quite yet.
Most running blisters occur when your toes rub against each other from every step you take. What toe socks do is they prevent your toes from rubbing against another.
Since there is coverage on your whole toe, this prevents the skin from rubbing. Additionally, this stops dirt from getting between your toes and rubbing onto your skin to form blisters on your toes from running.
Lube/Squirrels Nut Butter/Body Glide
SNB and Body Glide are the two leading brands of athletic lube. I put a big glob of this all over my toes before I go out on a long run. You can feel your toes slip-n-slide between each other. This option is great but will only last a few hours.
Also, if you forget you tube of lube at home, it could be a big bummer to realize you will inevitably experience running blisters since you forgot your lube. This stuff can become expensive as well. If you run 3-4 times a week and must apply each time, it can become time consuming.
Please also note that if you apply this stuff to your feet, do not walk around the house before you put socks on. I have slipped and fallen on multiple occasions and have gotten oils and greases all over my house.
Wear the right shoes
This goes without saying, but if you are wearing shoes that are too tight you are making yourself extremely susceptible to getting blisters on your feet from running.
The walls of your shoe will rub up against your foot and cause running blisters that are worse than your usual toe-on-toe kind of blister. Most of the time, you will not find out your shoe is too tight until you are 18 miles into a marathon. So be sure to listen to your local shoe store associate, or running coach, and do the right thing.
Build up a callous
Unfortunately, this means no more pedicures! Yes, you want to keep all of that ugly callous on your feet. Gross looking feet is not a problem, until you start selling feet pictures.
Hey, maybe people like that athletic, batter looking foot? Who knows? All joking aside, the callous will prevent blisters from happening because it is actually dead skin that cannot be damaged.
Tape your toes
This method is tough because tape tends to fall off easily unless you are utilizing that KT tape which is meant to stay on for weeks at a time. Essentially, the tape acts as a synthetic callous and takes the beating for your skin rather than letting a blister form.
The nice part about tape is it can be a quick fix when you are in a tight pinch for a fix, just like 20 miles into a marathon.
Regardless of which method you try, make sure that you are doing something to prevent running blisters from forming. Blisters are awful and could potentially send you to the medical tent for the dreaded DNF. They can be prevented with just a little bit of effort and you can keep those dogs barking all the way to the finish line.