Truth be told, getting blisters while running can be a nasty and painful and annoying injury.
They hurt like hell and can sideline your running routine like nothing else.
That’s why today I’m gonna share with you some of my favorite treatment and prevention tips.
Inside of this short post, you’ re going to learn all there is to learn about the exact causes of blisters, how to safely treat them, and the right prevention strategies so you could kiss them goodbye and will no longer have to worry about getting them.
How running Blisters Occur
Here is how blisters form (yes it’s gross, but bear with me):
First, a tear takes place within the upper portion of the skin—or what’s known as the epidermis— then the outer layer separates from the inner layers, forming a space between the layers while leaving the surface intact.
Next, lymph fluids enter the picture and seeps into that space, which builds up beneath the part of the skin being rubbed.
Yes, it’s gross.
In some extreme cases, a rupture in any tiny blood vessel can lead to a blood blister.
As a runner, you are most likely to get blisters on the soles of your feet and toes since these areas often rub against your running shoes in a repeated manner while running.
Causes of Running Blisters
Blisters occur as a result of a mix of moisture and friction, usually your shoe or your sock rubbing non-stop against your skin.
Anything that intensifies the friction exacerbates the blisters, including poor-fitting shoes (too tight or too loose), improper running mechanics, and foot anomalies, like hammertoes, heel spurs, and bunions.
Runners’ Guide to Treating and Preventing Blisters
Most blisters don’t pose a grim health risk, but they shouldn’t be ignored—especially when they are too painful.
In fact, a throbbing blister can put a stop to your running routine.
Not only that, it can get infected if you don’t handle it right (using a dirty needle to pop it for instance).
First, let’s start with the treatment.
Treating Running Blisters
Treatment is better than cure. But, as you already know, this is easier said than done.
Here is how to treat your running blisters (no medical qualification required!)
Let it heal
“To Pop or Not to Pop—That is the Question.”
If you get a blister, and it’s not painful, just let nature take its course. It will; sooner or later, break, and the fluid will drain.
Nonetheless, if the blister is too painful, then you gonna have to relieve the pain, stop the blister from enlarging and prevent infection.
How to Drain a Blister for Runners: The 5-Step System
To adequately and safely drain a running blister do the following:
- First of all, wash your hands,
- Wipe a needle with alcohol to sterilize it (or boil it for five to ten minutes in water), then
- Carefully pierce the blister.
- Drain the fluid out and but leave as much of the skin as possible covering the wound—this is a critical defensive layer of the skin and will help to avert infection.
- Then, put an antiseptic cream on it. Cover the area with a second skin (a product such Band-Aid Blister Block) to keep bacteria from getting in. For more safety, wrap the blister overtop with a tape.
If you got hit by a blister during a race, then stop at one of the medical stations and have it taken care of. The medical staff there will be able to look over your blister, and with any luck, help you return to the race running pain-free again.
Prevention of Running Blisters
Prevention is always better than cure.
Therefore, here are some ways to help you prevent blisters for good so you can run pain-free.
Start with running in proper shoes. Improper shoes—too small or too big—will eventually cause blisters on the ends of the toenails, under the toes and in the arches.
Your running shoes should have enough wiggle room inside of the shoe—but not too much. There should be at least a thumb’s width of space between your longest toes and the end of the toe box—front of the shoe.
Also, when trying out new shoes, make sure to wear the same socks, orthotic or insoles that you use when running.
Before you go run in the new pair, give it a test drive. Wear the shoes around the house for a few days to identify any areas of discomfort and to safely break them in.
Opt for blister free socks. Go for polypropylene, synthetic socks specifically made for running, such as WrightSocks. Other options such as Teflon or CoolMax are also good synthetic options.
These socks that can wick away moisture from the skin more efficiently than cotton. In fact, cotton can only make blisters worse since they tend to stay soggy and wet.
Plus, you can always double up to be double sure. Wear two pair of socks so the rubbing takes place amid the two socks, rather than between the sock and your skin.
For rainy runs (or races), carry an extra pair of socks to change into if your socks become too soggy.
Apply Body Glide
Moistening your feet before you go out for a run can also help.
So, be sure to keep good skin moisture by using skin creams and lotions on a daily basis.
Bodyglide and Vaseline are some of the best options—use them especially on trouble areas. These lubricants are designed to help you minimize the friction that can lead to blisters.
Lubricants can be applied quickly and effortlessly and is dry to the touch.
Just don’t do it too much. Otherwise, your feet will be sliding and slipping around in your shoes.
Image Credit – Liz Broderick through Flickr