Blisters – The Bane of Every Runners Life!
Blisters are possibly one of the most common running injuries. They can hit you when you least expect it and can put an end to a good race or training run, with the niggling pain taking your concentration away.
What Causes Them?
Blisters are caused by a combination of friction and an excessively moist foot environment. The body responds to the friction by producing fluid. The fluid builds up beneath the part of the skin being rubbed, causing pressure and pain. Other possible causes are:
- Running at a faster pace.
- Poor fitting shoes.
- Foot abnormalities such as bunions, heel spurs, and hammertoes.
- Heat and moisture will intensify friction by making your feet swell
How To Prevent Them
As with other running injuries, begin with the shoes:
- Your shoes must fit correctly to prevent blisters. Check the height of the ankle and heel counter as these are potential blister traps. Avoid shoes that impinge on your toes from the sides and the top.
- Select socks that fit your foot without being too tight or loose. Choose soft wicking fabric such as Coolmax and avoid cotton – cotton absorbs moisture and is usually a little rough in texture. Don’t wear socks that are too worn either.
- Try and keep your feet dry.
- Do NOT wear new shoes to race in – wear them in first.
- Regular foot inspection should identify any potential blister sites, as would general training runs.
- Regular application of a drying agent to the skin, such as methylated spirits, especially to sites most at risk is a good option. Do not apply to existing blister areas!
- If you have specific areas that are prone to blisters you might try applying some covering such as Compeed or Second Skin. These types of product can be found in the Foot Care area of most Chemists
Be aware that if the blister remains intact, and there is no fluid seeping out, then it is technically a sterile lesion and if possible it should remain intact. Leaving it intact aids the healing.
This is easy if the blister is not in a high weight bearing or stressed area and if the blister is small. If the blister is large and somewhere prominent, such as the end of the big toe, side of the little toes or on the heel then it is not desirable to leave intact. This is due to the continued amount of friction that it would be exposed to and the pressure applied to it.
If you do have blisters like this then lance the side of the blister with a clean, sterile needle and squeeze gently to remove the fluid. Make sure your hands are clean and try to keep the roof of the blister intact as this will aid the healing process.
It is important that an antiseptic dressing is applied immediately and fixed securely in place. If the blister has already broken then the some antiseptic dressing should be applied.