Avoiding Blisters

Blisters may be the most common malady for sports in general. For anyone who runs long distances or marathons, you may have come to accept some skin chaffing, blisters on your feet, or blackened toenails as a price of completing this feat. You shouldn’t! Just like you can avoid chaffing with proper clothing, you can also take steps to avoid blisters. Before we talk about the best way to avoid blisters cramping your run, let’s talk about why blisters form.

When we run, or walk, the forces that propel us forward also create forces where our feet meet the sock, shoe, and road. The back and forth or side to side forces create a friction between your foot and the surfaces it contacts. Your increased body heat, and moisture from sweat can greatly multiply these frictional forces. The talcum powder or Vaseline that you may have been told can help actually does so for only a short time. After about an hour, these products actually increase these forces as well. Your skin is made up of five layers. Over the miles, these frictional forces cause a cleavage, or tear in which the top three layers pull away from the bottom two. This area then quickly fills the clear fluid that is the trademark of blisters.

The blackened toenails we mentioned earlier are often a result of poor fitting shoes. If the fit is loose enough for your toes to slam against the front of your shoe, there is also a good chance there is enough slide to form friction blisters. This isn’t likely the cause for most runners. Instead, you should look at your socks and insoles in order to resolve this potential problem. Because moisture amplifies the friction, consider ditching cotton based socks and look for something that will better wick away moisture and keep your feet dry. The next thing you should look at is your insert. Is it worn in any area? A good insert can decrease frictional forces by 25%! All these things can help prevent blisters from occurring. If blisters do form, despite all these precautions, you shouldn’t pop them as this will increase pain and leave you open to infection. Instead, visit your Austin podiatrist who can show you how to properly treat and protect this area.

Keep those feet running and pain free Austin!

Dr. Craig H. Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
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Founder and Managing Partner of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists
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