What you need to know
Hiking is a favourite pursuit of many people all over the world. From day trips to trekking to thru-hiking, it’s great to just get outdoors and surround yourself in nature.
One thing every hiker should be prepared for is foot blisters
Why? Because they're the most likley injury you'll suffer.
A single small foot blister can take a wonderful experience and turn it into a nightmare.
Unlike activities such as running, you can't just pull out. And unlike sports like basketball and netball, you can't just come off the court and be replaced by a team mate while you get medical attention - unless you're hiking with a podiatrist, in which case, lucky you!
How common are foot blisters in hiking?
Let's take a look at the blister research:
29% of long distance hikers in Vermont¹
48% during a 21km cross-country hike²
73% of Oxfam Trailwalker 100km participants in Sydney 2011³
95% of college students on a 580km road hike⁴
Wow, they're some pretty scary numbers!
Let’s put this into perspective
Researchers⁵ have found that foot blisters were:
Twice as common as acute joint pain.
3 times as common as back pain, Achilles tendon pain and cramps.
4 times as common as tendinitis.
6 times more common than ankle sprains.
And the most damning stat so far
Blisters make you 50% more likely to experience an additional training-related injury!⁶ They make you change your walking style - because they're painful and because you're trying to make them not get worse.
Foot blisters are so common they tend to not be taken seriously, even when they’re exceptionally painful and limiting. And from what these statistics show, hikers should be especially prepared! But they're often not. In fact, an alarming number accept blisters as an inevitable part of their hike.
I understand why. But to watch people accept blisters as inevitable is frustrating.
The good news is ... there is a way to beat the blister odds.
Gardner TB and Hill DR. 2002. Illness and injury among long-distance hikers on the long trail, Vermont. Wilderness and Environmental Medicine. 13: 131-134.
Knapik JJ, Reynolds K and Barson J. 1998. Influence of an antiperspirant on foot blister incidence during cross-country hiking. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 39(2): 202-206.
Oxfam Trailwalker, Sydney 2011
Choi S-C, Min Y-G, Lee I-S, Youn G-H, Kang B-R, Jung Y-S, Cho J-P and Kim G-W. 2013. Injuries associated with the 580km university student grand voluntary road march: focus on foot injuries. Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine. Journal of Korean Medical Science. 28: 1814-1821.
Boulware DR, Forgey WW, Martin WJ. 2013. Medical risks of wilderness hiking. American Journal of Medicine. 114(4): 288-293.
Bush RA, Brodine SK and Shaffer RA. 2000. The association of blisters with musculoskeletal injuries in male marine recruits. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association. Vol 90 No 4: 194-198