The Complete Runner’s Guide to Prevent Blisters
As a runner, you train hard for races, eat right, and invest in high-quality running shoes. The last thing you want to worry about is getting a painful blister when you’re training or, worse, during a big race. Fortunately, preventing blisters is easier than you might think. Follow the tips below and your next run will be blister-free.
1. Get a Good Fit
With all of the online shopping options available, it’s tempting to simply skim the reviews and order running shoes online. Don’t do it—at least not until you’ve had a proper fitting. One of the biggest causes of blisters is shoes that are too small, too big, or have seams in the wrong place. It’s important to go to a local running store at least once every few years to have your gait evaluated. Get a good shoe recommendation and buy your running shoes there. Save online shopping for replacement shoes when those wear out.
2. Find the Right Socks
When it comes to causing blisters, poorly constructed socks rank right up there with shoes that don’t fit. Consider the fabric, seam location, and weave when you’re buying socks. Some runners prefer moisture-wicking or nylon socks, while others swear by double-layer socks that reduce friction. Runner’s World has a great guide to choosing right running socks.
3. Shake Out Your Shoes
This one might seem obvious, but you would be surprised by how many runners “power through” and ignore a pesky pebble—or even a large grain of sand—in their shoe and end up with painful blister. Before you lace up, shake out your shoes, then stick your hand inside and do a quick sweep. If you feel something in your shoe when you’re running, stop and remove it, even if you’re making great time.
4. Kick Friction to the Curb
The primary cause of blisters for runners is friction, which is a component of rubbing. When you run and your foot moves around, it rubs against the inside of your shoe. If you’re not using a blister prevention product like ENGO Blister Prevention Patches, that repetitive rubbing causes blisters. ENGO reduces friction to levels where blisters will not form at all.
5. Break in New Shoes Gradually
It’s exciting to try out a brand new pair of running shoes, but take it easy at first. Don’t take your new shoes out on a 20-mile run. Give your feet time to adjust to your new shoes by alternating between your old running shoes and your new ones. (The same goes for new insoles.)
6. Lace Up Just Right
Some runners are in the habit of lacing their shoes up so tight they almost lose circulation in their feet, while others tie their laces so loose they could slip their shoes on. Neither is a good idea as both too-loose and too-tight laces can cause blisters. Be mindful of how tight you’re tying your shoes. If you’re having problems you suspect are caused by laces, learn how to custom tie your running shoes to relieve your foot pain.
Before snugging up the laces, make sure that your foot is positioned all the way BACK into the heel counter of the shoe. The vamp (upper, front of the shoe, where the laces are located) then can be laced to hold the foot in place properly. If the foot is pushed forwards into the shoe, as most people do when putting on the shoe, then laced, the shoe will actually be too loose once you begin taking steps (you can see this by checking for the gap behind the heel…not good). Holding your foot back into the shoe assures reduction of unwanted motion in the shoe, better shoe function for control and fit (arch, ball of the foot), and it keeps toes from banging into the end of the shoe.
7. Mix Up Your Terrain
If you’re running on constantly changing, uneven terrain, you might find you get blisters more often. Trail runners, especially, run into this problem. Try to vary your runs between flatter trails and varied terrains to prevent blisters.
8. Check Your Feet for Bony Protrusions
If you’ve done everything listed above and are still getting blisters, you might have an “irregularity”—typically a bony part of your foot that sticks out more than other people’s—in your foot. Some common protrusions are hammertoe or mallet toe, morton’s neuroma, haglund’s deformity (bauer bump). if you suspect you have any of those conditions, a podiatrist can help you troubleshoot to make running more comfortable.
Bonus Tip: Avoid any products that add moisture to your skin. They reduce friction in the short run, but weaken your skin so that it’s more prone to breaking down and getting blisters.
Do you have more blister prevention tips? Let us know and we might add them to this list!
*Notice: This information is not intended to replace the advice of a licensed medical professional. If you have any questions or concerns about blister management, consult your primary caregiver, athletic trainer, or a podiatrist.