One random discussion with a stranger made all of the difference… for my feet. I was on a training walk with a group of women who liked to walk longer distances than most sane people, and I fell into step with a woman who had walked 60 miles to raise funds for breast cancer research. Among the many tidbits of information she passed on as we walked, she mentioned petroleum jelly (or Vaseline). Oh yes, you're thinking, it works wonders on chapped lips (so true!). But that is for a different blog. I've found when you're walking 50 miles that petroleum jelly is also a wonderslime for your feet. The first morning of the MS Challenge Walk I slathered petroleum jelly all over my feet — between my toes, on the soles of my feet, over my heels, and on the top of my feet. Gross. Words cannot convey how slimy and strange this felt. And yet, this woman promised me that I would be blister-free (or at least have fewer blisters) if I cut down on the friction by slathering the goo on, so I did.
To add to the fun, I then tried to slip my double-layer walking socks on over the slimy feet. Easy, you say? Yes, but you have to be certain to get rid of any wrinkles in the socks (again, blister avoidance), as they stick to the slime.
Lunchtime rolled around, and I remembered my talk with the stranger. I retrieved my change of clothing bag that had been set out by the crew and pulled out my fresh pair of socks and a tube of petroleum jelly. I took off my shoes and socks before enjoying my lunch so that my feet could breathe. After lunch, I slathered up my feet again and put on a fresh pair of socks and my sneakers.
I have participated in all the MS Challenge Walks on Cape Cod to date, and while I have had some blisters, they have been small and for the most part not too bothersome. This luck is probably due to a combination of the double-layer socks, sneakers that fit well, and training, along with the petroleum jelly. Still, I remember my first back-to-back long training walk and remember the big blisters that I got that day when I had the right socks and shoes, but forgot to slather on the goo.
Some walkers swear by Body Glide instead of petroleum jelly, but I'm not changing what has worked for me during my many MS Challenge Walks. Try both, find what works for you, and stick to it. Your feet will thank you!
Susan lives in the greater Boston area and has been involved with the National MS Society since she was diagnosed with MS in 1995. She has participated in the MS Challenge walk for the past seven years and currently serves on the event's steering committee.