Blisters on Feet From Running: How to Prevent Blisters During Your Workout

There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Runners’ feet take a beating. Whether you’re logging double-digit miles for marathon training, powering through some hill sprints, or even just taking it easy on a long, slow jog (sometimes through mud, slush, and puddles on your favorite trail), your feet bear the brunt of the pounding that running requires.

So it’s no surprise that some of the most common injuries that can knock runners off their feet have to do with their, well, feet. Injuries like stress fractures, plantar fasciitis (inflammation along the heel that can lead to pain), or tendinitis can seriously hamper your running routine, and also just suck.

And here’s another one to add to the list: the blister. While its long-term implications are likely not as serious as something like a stress fracture—which can sideline you for weeks or even months—blisters on your feet can still wreak serious havoc on your running game.

“The main problem after blister formation is pain,” James Koo, D.P.T., physical therapy supervisor at NYU Langone’s Sports Performance Center, tells SELF. But in order to avoid pain from the blister, some runners may develop what he calls “compensatory movement strategies”—basically changing your gait to try to avoid aggravating the blister—which can hamper your performance and possibly even lead to overuse injuries. Yikes.

We asked nine podiatrists, sports medicine docs, exercise physiologists, and physical therapists for their best tips on how to keep your feet healthy, happy, and blister-free. Here’s what you need to know.

Why does running cause blisters, anyway?

Chances are you’ve had a blister at one point of your life—whether attributed to pounding the pavement or just walking around in too-tight dress shoes for one hour too many—but did you ever wonder what they actually are?

Put simply, “a blister is a raised area of skin filled with clear fluid,” David M. Smith, M.D., a sports medicine physician at the University of Kansas Health System, tells SELF. “They are caused by friction or pressure on the upper layer of skin sliding against a deeper area of skin.”

When you’re running, tight shoes and pressure points from bones on your feet close to the surface of your skin are typically to blame, since they cause repetitive rubbing of these layers of skin, he explains. The body’s response to this is to form a bubble of clear, watery fluid between the layers of your skin to help reduce tissue damage and promote healing.

What should you do when you get a blister?

It’s the fluid trapped within the blister exerting pressure on your skin that leads to the pain you feel, podiatrist Robert Eckles, D.P.M., M.P.H., an associate professor in the department of orthopedics at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine, tells SELF. Which then leads to one of the biggest questions with blisters: to pop or not to pop?

Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut answer, says Dr. Eckles—there are experts on both sides of the issue. In fact, while the American Academy of Dermatology recommends against popping a blister in most cases to avoid infection, it does also recognize that if the blister is large and very painful, it may be necessary to drain it. (Caveat: If you have diabetes or poor circulation, you should always check with a doctor before self-treating any blister, as it may rapidly progress to infection and ulceration, says Dr. Eckles.)

Dr. Smith—an advocate of not popping—recommends simply applying an extra layer to protect it and prevent painful friction when you run.

“Take some thin moleskin [a padded adhesive available in any drugstore], cut a hole the size of the blister, and apply the moleskin with the blister fitting in the center of the hole,” says Dr. Smith. “This allows the friction and pressure to be transferred more to the moleskin and less to the blister, and may allow a runner to continue training.” If you don’t have moleskin at home, you can apply a light layer of lubricating jelly (like Vaseline or Aquaphor) over the blister, then cover with an adhesive bandage. Replace this frequently to wash the skin and reduce your chance of infection, he says.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Fitness Advice & Workout Tips

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *