12 Top Tips for Preventing Blisters
Enjoyment of time out on the path is lessened or stopped completely if blisters develop so take action to prevent yourself getting them in the first place.
These tips have been tried and tested and they work. After 38 miles walking over 2 days none of my team had blisters.
Basically, a blister is a fluid filled sac caused by heat and/or friction. They develop where rubbing from shoes and socks tears the skin and wet skin is easier to tear.
The following tips will really help.
1. Build up your walking to get your body and especially your feet, used to the idea. Start with 30 minutes and build up your distance and pace.
2. Remove any small stones, little bits of twig, grass, grit etc that you pick up as soon as you can. Don’t wait to see what happens.
3. Wear the right shoes. When buying walking boots or shoes, go to a specialist shop and have them properly fitted. It’s best to go shoe shopping after walking when your feet are warm and a little swollen. When standing in your new shoe, there should be 1/2 inch from the big toe to the end of the shoe and you should be able to wiggle all of your toes comfortably. Try out lots of pairs until you find the make that suits you best and then try them out in the store, climbing steps, walking fast and on a slope. Your shoes should not slip when you walk in them.
4. Walk your new boots/shoes in before going out on a walk. This is not as necessary needed as in the past but I do find it a good idea anyway. Wear them as you go about your every day business where possible or just wear them round the house.
5. Your socks are one of the most important pieces of equipment you need so invest in proper walking socks that are made from wicking fabric, not cotton as they take the moisture away from the skin. Some people swear by two pairs of socks, a thick pair with a thinner pair underneath. I prefer only one as I find two give more opportunity for rubbing between them. You need to try them out and see what works best for you.
6. When you take longish breaks, take off your boots and socks to check your feet and let them air. Carry a spare pair of socks with you and if doing a long walk, change your socks during the walk.
7. Wash your feet after your walk rather than before it as washing softens the skin which, if walked on immediately afterwards, can easily lead to blisters.
8. Rub large amounts of Vaseline or the equivalent into your feet before you put your socks on. Be especially liberal with it on your heels and round your toes as well as anywhere else where you may get a rub. It’s cheap and it’s wonderful and I hardly ever get a blister due to this. (This tip is the one that never fails for me – Ed)
9. Invest in some Compeed, these are special blister plasters available in most chemists and walking shops. They are self-adhesive and stick to the skin and should be left there until they come off themselves. You can buy small ones toes and regular ones for heels and balls of the feet. The pads act as an extra layer of skin. Other companies do their own version but I find Compeed superior and well worth the money. If you know that you are prone to rubs or blisters use them to stop blisters forming. Always stop the minute you feel something rubbing.
10. You can toughen up your skin on your feet prior to walking by applying white spirit or soak your feet in strongly brewed tea (tannic acid).
11. Keep your feet dry. Wear gaiters in wet, muddy and snowy conditions to prevent dampness developing. If you have to cross a stream then do so barefoot, if safe, or take your socks off first and put your boots back on. Then on the other side dry your feet thoroughly before putting your socks back on.
12. Be prepared and carry your own blister kit so you are ready for whatever occurs.