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runners blisters

A Runner’s Guide to Preventing Blisters

We’ve all gotten annoying and painful blisters from hiking, exercise or just walking around in bad shoes. But for those training for longer races, like 5Ks, half marathons and marathons, blisters can be a serious setback, can cause infection, and a lot of severe pain.

Here are a few things runners can do:

Avoid Cotton

Chances are, most of the socks you own are made of cotton. While they can help keep moisture at bay, sometimes that is not what you want, as it can increase friction. Choose synthetic socks that breathe well.

Preemptive Measures

If you’ve already got blisters, it’s too late to avoid pain. All you can do is protect the area carefully, but it will likely still hurt if you continue exercising. For this reason it is important to take preventive measures.

Various tapes, bandages, powders, and creams are available that can help prevent blisters. Since friction and the resulting heat of friction is what causes blisters, most of these products revolve around reducing friction. Some people use things like corn starch or petroleum jelly rather than buy anything, but PreHeels, Body Glide, Moleskin are some decent products to try. Some powders can be poured into socks to reduce friction.

The Two Sock Method

Some runners who are prone to blisters wear two pairs of socks. This can also serve to protect existing blisters, adding comfort as you try to stay on track for race preparation, or with your fitness regimen.

Should I pop or drain the blister?

This can lead to infection. But if it is large and very painful, draining the blister may be necessary. Sterilize a needle with rubbing alcohol. Carefully pierce one edge of the blister, allowing the blister to drain. Wash the area, and don’t remove the roof of the blister. This protects the raw skin underneath the blister. Apply petroleum jelly, and a bandage to protect the area as it heals.

When to See Dr. Myers

If your blister is bleeding and raw, and won’t heal, it can help to come see Dr. Myers. If you think there is an infection, definitely make an appointment.

PRO TIP: Mosquito Bites and Sunscreen

You’ll probably encounter bug bites on your athletic endeavors, whether it’s long runs, hikes, trail running or backpacking. To prevent bug bites, use insect repellent that contains 20-30% DEET. Apply sunscreen first, let it dry, and then apply bug spray. You can also treat your running clothes with permethrin before you go out.