Don't count blisters

Written by on May 15, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Blisters can be a walker's worst enemy. Here are three tips of what socks, liners, and practices you can use to prevent them.

When recently asked about my experience as a four-year Challenge Walk veteran, the word "counting" popped into my head.

"So," you might ask, "what do walkers count?" Walkers count miles, of course — those we've trained and each and every one between one and fifty. We count the distance to the next rest stop, and we keep an accounting of our fundraising money.

Sadly, also to be counted, are blisters. Over the past four years, I have seen some pretty scary blisters — blisters whose size and quantity become legendary through bunk bed whispering and campfire tales. However, those blisters have been on others' feet, not mine. What lies between my skin and sneaker is what has helped keep my count low.

Here's what works for me:

  1. Lubricate. Friction is not your friend. Products such as BodyGlide work. Most drug and sporting good stores sell it and it's often for sale at the Challenge Walk kick off party. I use Vaseline. It's cheap and I find I get better coverage than using a stick application product. The downside is it's messy.
  2. The right (and left) socks. Walkers' feet need to stay dry, and 100% cotton socks don't do the job. I wear a moisture wicking liner under a cushioned sock such as Thorlos. Do some price comparisons online at sites such as Sports Unlimited or NexTag. Target and other retailers are a resource as well. Best deals are generally packages of multiple pairs.
  3. Be fresh. Each day at the lunch stop, reapply the lubricant and change into fresh socks. The one time I skipped doing this resulted in two of my four blisters.

Taking the time to prepare your feet helps to prevent blisters and that's something you can count on.

Joan joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2004 when her friend and now Blister Buddies team captain, Patty Thorpe registered to walk. Patty, diagnosed with MS over 10 years ago, shared her diagnosis with Joan early on in their friendship. The undertaking of that first Challenge Walk and the three that followed not only strengthened Patty's and Joan's friendship, it began an MS educational journey that continues well after mile fifty each year.

6 Comments so far ↓

  1. Ed Marshall says:

    Sidewalks and Paved Roads.

    These surfaces are purposely slanted to allow for water run off. This slant is generally not noticible. But, if you are logging a great number of training miles —-walking the 'same' route on the 'same' side of the pavement—your body will surely suffer from this devilishly slight difference in elevation. Solution–simple–switch the side of the road/ sidewalk you use. One day walk with your left leg next to the curb–next day make it your right.
    Your hips and knees will thank you.

  2. Margie Steiner says:

    Because of dance I haven't been able to train much yet. But, now that I have started I am having problems with blisters even when I use vaseline, good socks and broken in shoes. Do I have to lose more time training while I wait for them to heal? or is there something else I can use? Help!

    • Margie,
      Have you tried wearing two pairs of socks? I wear a thin wicking pair, then a cusioned pair over those. Another important thing to remember is to keep both pairs the same, meaning if your wick-away sock is a synthetic material, make sure your cushioned sock is synthetic as well. If you go to a good shoe department they should be able to give you some more specific advice. My local Eastern Mountain Sports showed me several different options, and also taught me 3 different techniques of lacing and tying my sneakers to help avoid blisters. Good luck with the rest of your training!

    • Mike Berthiaume says:

      I was having problems with blisters. Now I have gone 15 mi without blisters. I switched shoes to the Skechers shape up sneakers. Takes some getting used to but these are thick and the walk seems to take pressure away from normal blister area (mine is front of foot just behind toes), At first I had some ankle pain but think I was using muscles not usually exercised. This pain has gone. Now after 12 miles right calf has pain as these shoes really work calf muscles but believe it is just a matter of building muscle strength. In any case calf pain lasts a few hrs. while blisters take days/weeks. I also rub feet with Bond foot cream and then add Bond powdr to the shoe.

  3. Paul says:

    Love the article above. I always have problems with blisters when running found this article very useful. Paul.

  4. mens socks says:

    Excellent article. Best thing to avoid blisters is to make sure you wear a comfortable pair of walking socks and comfortable trainers. You can buy these cheaply from many reatailers. Wolsey offer a huge range of mens socks including rambling and walking designs.