HOW TO PREVENT BLISTERS WHILE RUNNING
Blisters on our feet can ruin a run faster than you can say PR. As you run, especially longer distances like half and full marathons, your feet can swell and perspire more than normal, causing an increase in friction inside your shoes and socks, and in even between toes.
(See the 2Toms Knowledge Page on Blisters to find out more about what causes blisters, the different types of blisters and more.)
Here are some ways you can prevent blisters while you are running:
LUBRICATE YOUR FEET
Moisturize Your Feet
Experts recommend keeping feet moist because dry skin is more susceptible to friction, which causes blisters, of course. Try to keep your feet moisturized on a regular basis. Apply softening creams or lotions to your feet on a regular basis—in fact, try to make it part of your everyday routine.
Use Moisturizing Lubricants Pre-Run
Applying anti-chafing lubricants to your feet before you go running is another way you can stop a potential blister from forming. This is especially useful if you know you have blister-prone areas on your feet or if you have crowded toes. Our 2Toms SportShield Roll-On, for example, can be rolled between toes that rub together to eliminate friction and allow them to glide easily.
Anti-chafing powders that absorb moisture, such as 2Toms BlisterShield, can help give feet just the right amount of suppleness—not too moist, not too dry. Sprinkle the special powder into socks before you put them on to help keep feet dry and to prevent blisters when you are running.
Staying hydrated will help to keep the skin on your feet supple and less susceptible to dryness, friction and blisters when you’re out running. Hydration, however, is something many runners struggle with. How much water is enough? How much is too much?
If you over hydrate, your feet will swell. If you don’t drink enough, you’ll lose too much sodium and dry out.
Hydration varies from one runner to another, of course, but one of the most recommended ways to ensure you are drinking the correct amount of water is to weigh yourself before and after a run, then figure out your “sweat rate.” The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for each pound lost during exercise.
Rebecca Scritchfield, a Washington D.C.-based nutritionist and ultramarathoner, gives an example in this article on proper hydration from Active.com:
Weigh yourself before and after your run. “If you find that you lost four pounds while running, you know that those four pounds are due to fluid losses,” Scritchfield says. So, if you do the math based on that example: “4 pounds x 16 ounces = 64 ounces and 4 pounds x 24 ounces = 96 ounces. This means you should consume somewhere between 64 to 96 ounces, or at least four 20-ounce bottles of fluid that day.”
PROPER FITTING RUNNING SHOES
How well do your shoes fit? Many runners, especially those new to running, don’t recognize the importance of a properly fitted shoe. In fact, shoes that fit correctly are one of the best ways to prevent blisters on your feet!
Try on Running Shoes in the Afternoon
Buy running shoes in the afternoon or during the second half of the day. Our feet swell as we walk and run on them during the day, so it’s best to try on new shoes when your foot is at its largest. A shoe that’s too small will cause your toes to cram together or slam or rub against the end of the shoe when you run, which can cause blisters.
Proper Shoe Fit
A well-fitted running shoe should be both not too tight and not too loose. Can you wiggle your toes? You should be able to. Toes that are too crowded will rub and give you blisters.
What about your heel? Your heel should not move as you walk or run in the shoes. A rubbing heel is a recipe for disaster (AKA blisters!).
Make sure there is a space between the tip of your running shoe and your longest toe of approximately one half of an inch. Remember, feet will swell while running, so you will want a little space for them to expand (but not too much space).
Take Advantage of Trial Periods
Many specialty running stores have a specific policy for trying out shoes for a certain number of days. Check with the store and see if you can return a shoe if it’s not fitting properly. If your new shoes are giving you blisters right away, take them back! “Breaking them in” does not mean they will stop giving you blisters.
Tie Shoes Correctly
Sometimes just tying shoes correctly can help stop blisters from forming while running. Laces should be snug, but not painfully tight, across the tops of your feet. Tie the laces a little bit tighter across/in front of your ankle to keep your heels in place in your shoe.
Fix Problem Running Shoes
Maybe you already own a pair of shoes that give you blisters. And maybe you can’t afford a new pair right now. You can try to fix poor-fitting shoes with insoles, like Superfeet, especially if the problem is that your shoes are too large. But if your running shoes are too small, you probably want to invest in a new pair. Anti-chafing lubricants can help, but blisters will be the least of your problems if you continue to wear shoes that are too small while running.
WEAR QUALITY SOCKS
Wearing moisture-wicking socks is another one of the best ways to prevent foot blisters—especially while running! Invest in good quality pairs of running socks. You won’t be sorry!
Buy socks that let your feet breathe and wick away sweat to keep your feet dry. Moisture-wicking socks, such as Drymax Sport Socks or SmartWool socks, work well for blister prevention.
Double-layer socks, like the WrightSock, are a special type of sock that help prevent blisters by transferring friction away from the foot and keeping it just between the interaction of the two layers. The inner layer of the sock absorbs moisture and the outer layer controls air flow to the feet.
Take Extra Socks
If, for example, you plan to go on a long, technical trail run, or participate in an ultrarun or race, you will want to bring extra pairs of socks with you to change into. If your socks get wet, change into a dry pair as soon as possible.
Some runners swear by toe socks, such as those from Injinji. Socks like these claim to help toes move more naturally, and may be especially helpful at preventing blisters for runners who have crowded toes.
Long toenails are a no-no for runners. Nails don’t need to be exceptionally short, but make sure they are below the tip of the toe to prevent blisters. You want to keep nails from rubbing against the inside of your running shoes and from rubbing other toes.