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Slimy yet satisfying

Written by on July 27, 2009 at 11:23 am

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.

Don't count blisters

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

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.