Blister Wars: Preventing Blisters

Blister Wars

Lucky for you, I don’t have any pictures of the blister that I battled for nearly 3 weeks, but, as you can gather from the 3 month-aftermath photo, this was a blister for the ages, and I learned a lot about blister protection and healing while dealing with it.

My heel 3 months after the blister war
My heel 3 months after the blister war

This particular blister, like most of the ones runners get on their feet, was caused by friction between the back of my heel, sock and heel back of my shoe. I simply didn’t have my shoe tied well enough while doing a long run on a pretty hot and humid day. The result was, after that first run, just a small, single pocketed blister directly on the back of my heel.

Common wisdom is to leave the blister intact and let it heal; the liquid inside the blister is protective and will be absorbed once there is new skin. However, as I discovered, a blister on the heel will be extremely painful if left alone because of the pressure from the sock and shoe. If you plan on continuing to run, leaving the blister intact may be impossible.

I was determined that it was the right thing to do, so I used a form of stirrup taping with duct tape in an effort to protect the blister and relieve some of the pain while running:

Extend the bottom piece of tape higher up the heel for more stability.
Extend the bottom piece of tape higher up the heel for more stability.

 

This did lessen the pain and allow me to run; however, the blister continued to grow due to continued friction and excessive sweating in the NC heat; it soon become a three compartment blood blister. My husband graciously agreed to help me drain the liquid(s) that now plagued my foot, and we used a sterile needle. He poked the holes horizontally, creating two holes like putting on a button pin, which allowed the liquid to flow out. Once the blisters were drained, I had immediate relief.

I quickly became determined not to face this problem again. Here are the steps I took to prevent a future blister battle:

Heel Lock Lacing:

There are many ways to lace your running shoe, and heel lock is used to secure the heel in the shoe while allowing the rest of the lace crosses to be looser fitting. You can find diagrams and how-to videos here.

I could immediately feel the difference when using this lacing method. I didn’t feel pressure on the top of my foot but was able to tighten the ankle in the shoe so that even when pulling down on the shoe heel, my ankle did not slip out/ move at all. Less movement means less friction which means less blisters.

Alternatively, try out Lock Laces  for the same effect with the added benefit of never having to tie your shoe again!

 

Engo Patches:

Engo patches are placed onto the shoe lining in problem areas to reduce friction between sock, skin and shoe. They can last hundreds of miles in the back of your shoe, and you just replace them when the blue layer wears away.

More info about these patches can be found on their website
More info about these patches can be found on their website

 

 

Wright Socks:

These socks are dual layered; the sock rubs against itself rather than causing friction on your skin. The inner layer wicks away moisture and the outer layer absorbs the friction. I run in many pairs of shoes during a training cycle, and wright socks have protected my feet even in the ones without engo patches or lock laces.

Of all my blister prevention tips, this is the one that may cost the most, but these are great socks. You can keep your eyes out for sales on amazon or other online retails to save some money.

I hope these tips can help you prevent a blister war.