Blisters are miserable. Whether they are on your toes, heels or the soles of your feet nothing can take the enjoyment out of a beautiful hike or relaxing run more than a painful blister. Although many people consider blisters a rite of passage for breaking in a new pair of shoes or a small price to pay for looking glamorous in high heels, blisters are largely avoidable.
Here are some tips to help you avoid baneful blisters:
Proper fit is key – Blisters are caused by rubbing so the first step in prevention is always wearing footwear that fits properly. Proper-fitting shoes feel comfortable the first time you put them on – there is no such thing as a break in period. Always make sure your shoes have a thumbs length of room between the end of your longest toe and the shoe. Buying shoes that are too long or too wide is as problematic as buying shoes that are too short or too narrow as loose fitting footwear chafes too. As feet typically swell throughout the day be sure to purchase your footwear in the afternoon.
Buy sport specific footwear – If you are a recreational runner or athlete, it is vital your athletic shoes are appropriate for your chosen sport. When purchasing your sports shoes be sure to try them on with the socks you wear for your sport and with your foot orthotics (if you require them). Equally important, is replacing your sports shoes regularly as old athletic shoes break down, causing seams to protrude and insoles to wear which can lead to blisters.
Choose your socks carefully – Proper fitting socks can help prevent blisters by protecting your feet from protruding seams but loose, sloppy socks can slip and bunch as you move causing blisters to form. If you’re an athlete or spend long days on your feet, sock choice plays an important role in blister prevention. Look for well-fitting, synthetic socks that draw moisture away from your feet. Depending on the length and intensity of your workout, you may need to wear two pairs of socks to get the protection you need.
Be wary of water – Water can cause a lot of damage, particularly when it comes to feet. Wet footwear (proper-fitting or not) leads to blisters so change out of wet shoes as soon as possible. Dry socks provide your feet with another layer of protection so change your socks too when you take off your wet footwear. Also remember never leave wet leather shoes on heating vents or radiators to dry as the heat may cause the leather to shrink and too tight shoes lead to blisters.
If you don’t have a history of foot pain or foot conditions these tips will help you avoid blisters. However, if you suffer from bunions, hammertoes or other biomechanical issues you are at an increased risk of blisters and should consult with a Canadian Certified Pedorthist when purchasing your everyday or athletic shoes.
By Ashton Lo, C. Ped (C), Kitchener, Ontario