ENGO Blister Patches Can’t Fix Every Foot Pain
There are limitations you should be aware of.
1. ENGO Patches will not help pressure-related pain
ENGO Patches minimise friction via their blue polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) surface. They can’t help with pressure [friction is a parallel force, pressure is a perpendicular force]. However, because they are only 0.38 of a millimetre thick, you can be sure ENGO Patches won’t increase pressure. If pressure is the problem, you'll need to concentrate on good shoe-fit, proper shoe selection for the activity, lacing and cushioning. And remember, a Podiatrist can reduce pressure by providing stretches, orthotics and other biomechanical interventions if they're necessary.
2. ENGO needs a dry surface to adhere to
Like most things that stick, the surface must be dry for initial adhesion. After that, the adhesive won’t be adversely affected by the moisture of perspiration. No matter how hot, active and sweaty your feet get, the patches will stay stuck! Moisture can't soak through the patch.
3. The adhesive won’t handle waterlogging
ENGO Patches will come unstuck if the shoe becomes waterlogged. For example:
Putting them in the washing machine
Wading through deep puddles, swamps and river-crossings
Excessive body run-off, eg: in prolonged or heavy rain, tipping water over the head at running event drink stations, the swim transition of triathlon events.
The patch is unlikely to detach immediately. But the adhesive's life expectancy will understandably be reduced, particularly if you don't allow your shoe to fully dry before wearing again. Once a good initial adhesion is achieved, the adhesive will cope with some water. But you should be prepared to replace the patches after circumstances like the above.
4. Waterproofing compromises adhesion
Sometimes, patches just don't seem to stick very well, right from the start. Or, they come off within the first few uses. The problem is almost always with hiking boots (but not all hiking boots have the problem); the boots are almost always new; and this almost never happens to patches applied to the insole, but rather the inner lining of the shoe (where you get blisters around the heel).
The American manufacturers suspect this is due to either:
The use of waterproofing lining materials which don't accept the adhesive
Or chemical contaminants from manufacture sitting on the lining material that prevent adhesion (because sometimes the second attempt of patch adhesion is fine)
To minimise the chance of this happening in your case, rub the area of the shoe where you're about to apply the patches to with a dry towel (or something similarly abrasive). This will remove any loose contaminants and allow for best possible adhesion. Be sure to follow the application instructions by:
Minimising the amount you touch the adhesive of the patch
Press the patch on firmly
Immediately wear your shoes for half an hour or so to apply pressure and body warmth to maximise the adhesion
Be very careful not to catch the edge of the patch with your sock as you slip your foot into your shoe. Use your fingers to guide your foot in, or a shoehorn if necessary, on the first few occasions. This becomes less critical over time as adhesion becomes stronger with wear.
5. Some patches had a fault called 'delamination'
An uncommon fault existed with some patches pre-December 2016 where the patch falls off the shoe after one or two wears, but leaves the majority of its adhesive on the shoe. It looks something like this (below). Unfortunately, faulty patches don't look any different to unaffected patches. Reports were rare at a rate of 0.068% of patches. If you experience this problem, please complete this form. The American manufacturers believe this fault has been eliminated with the use of new materials. We have been fully stocked with the new patches since mid December 2016 and have not experienced any issue since.
6. ENGO Patches need to apply to the shoe to stop blisters
And so they can’t stop blisters between the toes – because there is no shoe surface to apply them to (except Vibrams of course). We do have customers that stick them to toe-socks. But they won’t last the washing machine cycle.
Written by 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.