We're well and truly on the countdown to the Oxfam Trailwalker! Our Podiatrist Anabelle Hawkins has put together this blog with everything you need to know about blisters, before you lace up those shoes next Friday!
LET'S TALK BLISTERS...
- Blisters are the #1 reason people don’t finish the OXFAM trail walker.
- Approximately 70% of participants seek treatment for foot blisters. Let’s take a minute to let that sink in, that is 3 out of 4 of your team who will get blisters.
- There has been research to suggest that 50% of those who develop blisters experience an additional injury. For example: knee, lower back or ankle injury as blisters make you change your walking or running style, due to pain and trying to stop them getting worse.
- Blisters are caused by rubbing on shoes/socks and are made worse from moisture from sweat or rain.
- They can be large or small.
- Anything from rubbery, soggy skin to a large fluid filled raised blister.
- They are common and debilitating, but we can prevent lots of them.
PREVENTION IS KEY!
- Prevention is better than cure! If you know you have areas that rub or blister (heels, tops of toes, arch) then protecting these “hot spots” with tapes/dressings is essential.
- If you feel a hot spot during exercise, stop as soon as possible and protect from further blistering.
- Low allergy tape such as (eg. Micropore, Mefix, Fixomull) white tape and then sports tape on top.
- For extra protection smear Vaseline on top then put on socks and shoes as normal.
- Ensuring skin is dry and clean before taping toes to ensure maximum adhesion.
- If clammy or sweaty use methylated spirits or alcohol based wipe before applying.
- If you generally have sweaty feet, try to dry skin by soaking with Condy’s crystals (available at pharmacies). Soak daily for 1 month before event
- I recommend trying alternative lacing techniques too, such as “heel lock lacing” or missing an eyelet to offload an area
- Aim to reduce friction! This doesn’t mean stopping movement it refers to making things more slippery.
- Use Engo Patches.
- Body Glide/lubricant.
- Powders 2Toms Blister shield (Amazon/running stores).
- Merino wool or Hikers wool – wrapped or packed around hot spots and toes – lightweight to carry, easy to use.
TREATMENT WHEN FORMED:
- Unbroken blisters are a sterile environment – it is therefore, NOT advised to pop as this may introduce infection to raw skin underneath.
- If blister is large and filled with a lot of fluid, or painful, then popping a blister should be done with a sterile needle and the blister lanced/popped at both ends ensuring all fluid is drained before dressing.
- Dress with Betadine liquid, Hypoallergenic Elastoplast Bandaid strip.
- Change daily or when wet; after a swim, shower
- Continue dressing until the blister has dried up and scabbed
- If the blister can be left unbroken, apply special Blister dressing (from pharmacies or online order) for protection. Tape can be used around the edges to ensure the dressing does not shift
TIPS FOR BLISTER PREVENTION & ENDURANCE EVENTS:
- Shoes to be worn for the event should be appropriate for the terrain you are walking on
- Be properly fitted and wear them in gradually. Ensure new shoes are fully worn in prior to endurance training/event
- Waterproof your footwear with sprays or get a shoe that contains Gortex
- Thicker sports socks are generally ideal for extended walking – they wick moisture away better and provide more padding/cushioning. However, if the shoe is a tight fit, thinner socks may be needed. Consider specialist sports socks eg. Thorlo/Coolmax, these are excellent for sweaty feet or people prone to blisters
- Sweaty feet can also encourage tinea/athletes foot so treat promptly with antifungal creams and powders available over the counter from pharmacies
- Changing socks is advised to reduce the sweat impact
- Trim toenails about 1 week before event
- Toenails cut too short will be painful with walking, whilst long toenails are prone to injury such as developing blisters underneath the nail and or/turning black and lifting off
- Thick callouses should also be removed by a podiatrist 1-2 weeks before event. Painful blisters can develop underneath callouses that aren’t removed.
SUGGESTED ITEMS TO PACK:
- Betadine liquid (dropper bottle size)
- Hypoallergenic Band-aid strip eg. Elastoplast Sensitive (white) as less irritation than brown; that you can cut to size
- Sports strapping tape (for prevention of “hot spots” and adhering existing dressings securely in place)
- Low allergy tape eg. Micropore (2cm) or Mefix/Hypafix/Fixomull to use under sports strapping tape.
- Sterile needle for popping blisters if required.
- Anti-inflammatory gel eg. Fisiocrem, Voltaren, Emugel
- Spare socks and shoelaces
- There are podiatry tents at various locations for assistance on the day
Rebecca is a podiatrist who specialises in blister prevention and management. You can jump on her website to check out her tips and to create your own blister plan. She has videos, an app, techniques and even dressings/packs you can purchase.
This is why we recommend practising your shoes, socks, taping all before the day so you know what does and doesn’t work for you – up until a point as the day may be different to your training. Never try anything new on the day, don’t take new socks out of a packet, or try doubly socking that day this will set you up for trouble.
To make an appointment with one of our podiatrists for further help or assistance with creating your personalised prevention plan or assistance with taping up before the event, please phone our friendly reception team on 9650 9372.