Blister Prevention 101: How To Prevent Foot Blisters [14 Ways]
Below is a list of 14 blister prevention products, methods and techniques. How you prevent foot blisters depends on where your blister is, your activity, your foot structure and function.
- If you need to prevent blisters running a multiday ultramarathon where your feet will swell significantly, you’ll have less room for paddings and cushions compared to someone running a half-marathon.
- If you need to prevent blisters hiking on predominantly downhill terrain, you should focus more on toe blisters and blisters under your heel compared to someone hiking mostly uphill who is more likely to get blisters at the back of their heel. So you’ll need different gear.
Let’s take a look...
FOOT BLISTER PREVENTION STRATEGIES
—— FOOTWEAR ——
While there are lacing techniques that can hold your foot in your shoe, good shoe fit is a must. If you have a wide feet, a bunion, hammertoes or bony lump at the back of your heel and perfect shoe fit is impossible, at least get as close as possible to perfect and work from there. Even with significant foot deformities, it is possible to prevent blisters. You just need to apply the right strategy to the right location. This program will help you identify the right strategy, even if you’re very blister prone.
Moisture-wicking socks are highly advised if your feet are very sweaty, as one of the first line strategies to implement before honing in on your exact blister location if they prove to be insufficient.
Double socks in all their forms are often used by hikers for blister prevention.
Cushioning gel toe protectors are great at absorbing blister-causing forces; and replacing worn and flattened insoles with good quality cushioning material can make a big difference for ball of the foot blisters.
Orthotics are great for certain blisters, for example, blisters under the big toe.
Engo patches are one of the best ways I’ve found to reduce friction levels for days, weeks and months in one application. They’ll work great for heel, arch and ball of the foot blisters.
—— SKIN ——
The skin adapts to blister-causing forces over time. That’s why training or wearing your shoes in gradually is so important. It’s also why people get blisters with new shoes – certain parts of their skin are not used to the pressure.
Antiperspirants actually don’t work very well, unless you only need a little bit of preventive impact.
Most powders work by absorbing moisture to reduce friction levels. One in particular actually repels moisture but still reduces friction significantly.
Astringents like alcohol wipes and cold black tea soaks tighten the skin and dry it out, but probably only in the short term.
Lubricants like Vaseline are greasy and make things very slippery ie: they reduce friction levels. They work better for toe blister prevention than other parts of the foot.
Tapes and dressings form a protective layer and prevent the skin from stretching quite so much.
—— ACTIVITY ——
Changing your running gait can reduce blister-causing forces.
Your training program should help to gradually toughen the skin a little and highlight blister-susceptible areas of your foot that will require preemptive action.