Feet are particularly prone to blisters and whether it be from the wrong pair of shoes or starting a new form of exercise nearly everybody has a blister story.
At the 2018 Australian Open having defeated world number 1 Novak Djokovic on his way to the final, the fairytale story of the tournament Hyeon Chung was forced to pull out of his deciding match up against Roger Federer due to severe blisters.
Chung’s blisters cost him his shot at a Grand Slam title as well as at the 4 million dollar cash prize.
Not many can say a blister has cost them quite as much as Chung. But whether you are a hiker, trail runner, netballer or basketballer I’m sure you can relate.
The good news is most blisters can be completely preventable.
Sports Podiatrist Jakob shares some of the common causes of blisters as well as some proven preventive tactics.
Moisture: Whether from sweat or competing/exercising in a wet environment (think sport in the rain or trail running through creeks and rivers) excess moisture can soften your skin and increase friction leading to blister development.
What Can you Do?
The easiest tip to control moisture is to use moisture wicking socks that pull moisture away from the skin and dry quickly. Natural materials such as cotton tend to hold moisture. If your socks feel soaked after exercising, switch to socks like Steigen or Light Feet socks.
Depending on your type of activity picking shoes that have a high level of breathability or are waterproof is also important.
Controlling moisture can be impossible during longer events. In that case having a spare pair of socks to change into at half time during netball or a spare pair of shoes to change into at the checkpoint of a trail run can be a life saver
How can your Podiatrist Help?
Podiatrists can help by prescribing specific antiperspirant products that reduce the buildup of sweat on your feet, we are also able to recommend specific shoes/sock combinations for trickier cases.
Friction: Movement causes your skin to rub during exercise which leads to blistering.
What Can You Do?
It is extremely important to get the fit of your shoes and socks right, as well as making sure that your shoes and socks work together. Ill fitting shoes and socks can lead to an overly grippy or slippy environment that puts extra pressure on your skin. We recommend getting professionally fitted for your footwear to get the mix right.
How Can Your Podiatrist Help?
Podiatrist can teach you taping techniques as well as use special patches in your shoes that reduce rubbing that can lead to hot spots/blisters.
Callus: Our skin adapts to pressure by thickening and forming callus. The right amount of callus can actually be good to help protect your feet from pressure… However too much callus, or callus in the wrong spot is a problem. This is because callused skin doesn’t stretch as well as softer skin and can cause extra rubbing which leads to blisters.
What Can You Do?
You can manage excess callus at home using a pumice stone. This is best done after showering when the skin is soft. Using a foot moisturiser afterwards helps keep the skin soft, stretchy and strong.
How Your Podiatrist can Help?
As podiatrists we are able to painlessly and effectively remove callus using sharp debridement. We are also able to assess what is contributing to callus formation and use tools such as custom shoe inserts to reduce pressure on these areas.
Blisters can range from a minor inconvenience to a major nuisance that can severely affect both your performance and the level of enjoyment you take from exercising and competing. If you are struggling with painful or tricky blisters please reach out. We are here to help!