A Fraction Too Much Friction

The missing link to less blister pain

 How to heal a blister on your foot (Faster, and with less pain) when you have to keep running -  Image credit

How to heal a blister on your foot (Faster, and with less pain) when you have to keep running - Image credit

There's something you don't get about friction.
And your feet need you to know this!

Think back to your last foot blister …
That one on the back of your heel
Under the ball of your foot
Or on your toe.

You treated it with a plaster …
You know, to stop that friction.

But I bet you think friction is rubbing.
It isn’t.

Friction is about grip.
High friction means two surfaces grip together. 
Low friction means they don’t … they’re slippery.

There is high friction in your shoe. There just is. 
This means your skin grips your sock; and your sock grips your shoe.
They all grip together so your foot doesn’t slide around in there.
But with every step you take, your bones move under your skin.
And everything between skin and bone is pulled and stretched.
This pulling and stretching is what causes blisters.
We call it shear.
And it needs high friction to get anywhere near blister-causing.

You can stop blisters in the first place by cutting friction levels – this is smart!
But if you miss the blister prevention boat …
You'll want to know how to heal that blister fast
And make it hurt less.

The answer is not a blister plaster.
The answer is to cut friction levels (ie: add something slippery).
Make it less grippy (more slippery) where your blister is.
Because if you don’t …
That pulling/stretching continues at the blister base while it’s trying to heal
Making it hurt more
And taking longer to heal.

Most people don’t know to do this.
(Because they’re caught up with thinking friction is rubbing).

But by making it less grippy (more slippery), just where the blister is
I can get runners back up and on their feet again
With even the worst blisters!

So how can you cut friction levels?
Pick one of these:
• Lubricants
• Powders
• Antiperspirants
• Tapes (maybe)
• Moisture-wicking socks
• Double socks
• ENGO Blister Patches

All of these cut friction levels.
Some work better than others.
In other words, some don’t get friction down low enough … for long enough.
And so when friction inevitably rises, everything grips together again.
And you’re back to square one.
But one or two work brilliantly, keeping friction very low for very long.
[My favourites are Engo Patches, 2Toms BlisterShield powder and Armaskin double-socks].

So if you’ve got a blister …
Make no mistake.
You still need to put a plaster over it.
To protect the fragile blister roof and painful blister base.
But to truly be effective at treating it
You will need to cut friction levels.
So your blister can heal quickly and hurt less.

Figure out which of these friction-cutting strategies is right for you …
Right for your feet, your shoes, your event and your lifestyle.
And have it handy for when you next get a blister.
You’ll thank me!

(This article originally appeared on Medium and is republished with permission)

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Rebecca Rushton

Rebecca is an Australian podiatrist with over 20 years experience. She has spent a lifetime dealing with her own blister prone feet in her sporting and everyday life. Rebecca specialises in helping athletes and sports medicine professionals figure out how to manage foot blisters with ease. And for kicks, she enjoys providing blister care at multiday ultramarathon events. Rebecca is the founder of Blister Prevention and author of both "The Blister Prone Athlete's Guide To Preventing Foot Blisters" and "The Advanced Guide to Blister Prevention".