HAPPY FEET: TOP TIPS FOR KEEPING BLISTERS AWAY
A scourge among hikers, blisters can turn a glorious afternoon hike into a tortuous march of pain. Changing shoes, or sharply increasing the amount of walking you do in a day can bring on a bout of blisters.
There are measures that can be taken to prevent blisters, and if you treat them swiftly, they can be healed before they become too painful and ruin a hike.
Blisters come from friction against the skin. The easiest way to prevent blisters is by lubricating your feet. The easiest way to lubricate your feet is with Vaseline, however, there are several brands specific to walking. I have used a Compeed stick several times and found the brand to be really good at keeping blisters at bay.
Keeping your skin dry will also help prevent blisters. Because wet skin is more sensitive and prone to ripping, it is essential to keep your feet dry. This can be a challenge on a hot day’s walking, but by using socks made from material to reduce sweating, or by applying antiperspirant to your feet you should be able to keep them dry. Try not to use cotton socks as cotton retains moisture and once it’s damp, it takes a long time to dry out.
Apply tape or a bandage to an area that is prone to blister. If you have just bought a new pair of shoes and you they still feel a little tight it might be worth putting some tape or a bandage around areas likely to blister. Similarly, if you always blister in the same place because of your gait, make sure you protect that area of your foot before you start walking. I usually use simple tape and apply Vaseline to the outside to prevent rubbing, but there are many products on the market to provide protection, some more expensive than others.
If your prevention methods haven’t worked and a hot spot has developed on your feet, you need to act immediately. Stop walking and apply a bandage to the area, if the blister isn’t fully formed this might help it from getting any worse. Similarly, there are blister pads which can be bought for covering up blisters which are newly formed. I have experimented with a couple and found them to work really well, however, they are usually pretty expensive and they can ruin your socks because they tend to leak adhesive.
If your shoes are the cause of your blister problem, it could be that they are too small. Your feet can swell a whole extra size on a hot day hiking and your shoes may not have the space to accommodate the swelling. Your walking boots should be able to allow for this swelling without rubbing and giving you blisters. Similarly, if there is too much space your feet will slide around and the friction will give you blisters. In short, wearing boots or shoes that can cope with walking and hiking is the way to go.
If you are wearing insoles try taking them out and seeing if that makes a difference. It could be that your feet are enlarged due to swelling and the insoles are no longer necessary.
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