Running Foot Blisters: Are You Prepared?

by Rebecca Rushton

Being active is important. The physical and mental health benefits are undeniable. Indeed many people take up running for this very reason.

Running injuries

It's well-known that on the whole, running injuries have not declined over the years in spite of advances in technology and medicine.

  • Running shoe design, materials and manufacturing methods have gone ahead in leaps and bounds.

  • Untold sums of money have gone into injury prevention research.

  • Tens of thousands of print magazines, online publications and bloggers continue to speculate on how to prevent injury, treat injury and keep runners on their feet.

And yet runners continue to get injured.

running foot blisters - blisters are the most common running injury

Foot blisters are the most common running injury

Knee pain, Achilles tendinitis, lower back pain and ankle sprains are big ones. But do you know the biggest? It’s foot blisters! 

Take a look at these running foot blister incidence statistics

  • 16% of runners during a 10 mile race¹

  • 26% of runners at 5-Day 219km ultramarathon²

  • 39% of marathon runners³

  • 74% of injuries during RacingThePlanet 4 Desert multistage ultramarathons⁴

  • 76% of the participants after 4 days of running⁵

Let’s put this into perspective

Can foot blisters really be more common than other injuries? Let's compare blister rates with musculoskeletal injuries within the same study

  • When blisters impacted race performance of 40% of finishers, the most prevalent musculoskeletal injuries were:⁶

    • Muscle pain 36%

    • Cramping 11%

  • When blisters affected 26% of runners, the most prevalent musculoskeletal injuries were of the:²

    • Knee 7%

    • Ankle 3%

    • Achilles 3%

    • Hip 1%

    • Cramps 1%

  • When blisters effected 74% of runners, all musculoskeletal injuries combined effected 41% of runners, specifically:⁴

    • Tendonitis 22%

    • Sprains 5%

    • Strains 4%

    • Bursitis 3%

    • Other 7%

The most damning running injury statistic

Blisters make you 50% more likely to experience an additional training-related injury!⁷ They make you change your running gait because they hurt; and because you're trying to run without making it get worse. 

The good news is ... there is a way to beat the blister odds. No matter what kind of running you do.

  1. Pasquina PF, Griffin SC, Anderson-Barnes VC, Tsao JW and O’Connor FG. 2013. Analysis of injuries from the army ten-miler: a 6-year retrospective review. Military Medicine. 178(1): 55-60.

  2. Scheer B and Murray A. 2011. Al Andalus Ultra Trail: An Observation of Medical Interventions During a 219-km, 5-Day Ultramarathon Stage Race. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. Volume 21, Number 5.

  3. Mailler-Savage EA and Adams BB. 2006. Skin manifestations of running. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Vol. 55 No. 2: 290-301.

  4. Krabak BJ, Waite B, Schiff MA. 2011. Study of injury and illness rates in multiday ultramarathon runners. Medicine and Science In Sports and Exercise. 43:2314–2320.

  5. Scheer BV, Reljic D, Murray A, et al. 2014. The enemy of the feet blisters in ultraendurance runners. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association. 104(5): 473-478.

  6. Hoffman, MD and Fogard, K. 2011. Factors Related to Successful Completion of a 161-km Ultramarathon. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. 6: 25-37

  7. 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.

Rebecca Rushton
Rebecca Rushton


Podiatrist, blister prone ex-hockey player, foot blister thought-leaderauthor and educator. Can’t cook. Loves test cricket.

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