Author Topic: Runners/Walkers: blisters?  (Read 4178 times)

Frankies Girl

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Runners/Walkers: blisters?
« on: January 31, 2016, 10:18:32 PM »
Need some help please!

I'm coming from a very sedentary, overweight lifestyle. I quit my horrible soul-sucking, stressful job last spring and have been making big changes in both diet and exercise (now that I'm able to concentrate on myself and not so sad/stressed all the time). It has resulted in a 100 pound weight loss, some pretty decent muscle development and increases in stamina and overall health. I'm damned proud of myself and I hope to keep losing weight and improving.

I have added walking daily and have been working up to slow jogging for some of the distance for the last two plus months. Keeping in mind that I've started from virtually zero, as I'm sure there are plenty on here in much better shape and will think my distances pitiful, but I'm now averaging 3-5 miles daily and some days have been able to get up to 7 miles.

But I have developed a rather painful blister on the inside big toe - between the big and second toes. The secondary toe that is next to the blister area is not effected, and the only thing that seems to make it possible to continue exercising is taping. The problem is the blister won't heal since when it gets taped, it gets sweaty and wet and starts hurting again. I am not pulling the roof of the blister off or anything, it seems like it just gets wet from sweat and gets gross all over again. And if I use something like Vaseline instead of taping, it just redevelops into a blister again.

I am pretty sure it was caused by a combo of increasing the amount of walking/jogging and wearing regular cotton socks. I've switched over to thin nylon ones and no further blisters have developed anywhere else, and I have two different pairs of shoes that I'm switching between to make sure that they're not causing specific issues (one is a very old well broken in pair that I was wearing when the blister developed; and a brand new pair that I've just started breaking in this past week).

It popped but I didn't deroof it, just cleaned it and used some antibacterial on it for the first couple of days. It redeveloped into a new blister, and popped again. If I leave it alone, it seems to dry out and doesn't hurt, but as soon as I tape up and go out for an hour, it looks and feels awful after I take the tape off.

I am taking at least one full rest day and I am using aloe now and I go barefoot most of the time so the blister is exposed to air, but I want to keep walking/jogging without having to tape since it seems like it just makes things worse.

So should I quit walking until it's completely healed? Is there any other way to keep it from blistering further but not cause it to get all gross again but still go out? I'm getting worried it's going to just get infected if it keeps going the way it's going now. Or that I'll have to stop completely for a week just to avoid it coming back, which would be awful for me right now, but I'll stop if that's really the only way to handle this.

« Last Edit: February 01, 2016, 12:51:38 AM by Frankies Girl »


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Re: Runners/Walkers: blisters?
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2016, 11:37:56 PM »
Hey Frankies Girl - first of all, CONGRATULATIONS on FIRE and losing 100lbs, both are things most people can accomplish but rarely put their minds to. Amazing work!

I'll give you my two cents of advice as someone who does marathons, obstacle course races and ultra marathons/triathlons.

I use and love NewSkin (liquid bandage: on areas that get hot or develop blisters. I also have found the right shoe/sock combo to help - fit is important (enough room in the toebox of the shoe to avoid rubbing, snug but not tight heel, etc) and material is important as well (avoid cotton at all costs, maybe try different thicknesses of athletic socks, they are honestly worth the money).

When I DO get a blister, I pop it asap, use toe clippers to remove at least 25% of the head of it (usually just a few small holes/areas that allow it to not reform) and then put some NewSkin on it if I'm going back out or need to immediately put shoes back on. If I'm at home or done running for the day, I'll put only a tiny bit of NewSkin on, and let it breathe after I've popped it. That way it dries out.

With the right tools (shoes/socks/liquid bandage) and the continuation of exercise, they always go away as I go on with my training.

Hope that helps. Just my experience!

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Re: Runners/Walkers: blisters?
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2016, 11:50:58 PM »
Udderly smooth anti chaffing cream is amazing for stopping blisters.

Remember to sterilise whatever implements you put into your blister.

For hiking I like a very thin pair of socks and then a thick pair of socks, for running I like athletic socks.

When I NEED to run/walk the next day, I spend an hour or so soaking the blister in surgical spirit and salt (methylated spirits, I think this is similar to rubbing alcohol). If it is a bad blister this can hurt, but it dries it out and hardens the skin. I use it on spots that are prone to blisters to prevent them (not suitable if wearing strappy shoes and polishing foot skin is important to you).

Well done on your weight loss - this can change how your shoes fit, so it might be worth going to a specialist store with a treadmill and a video camera to check out different running shoes.


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Re: Runners/Walkers: blisters?
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2016, 11:55:51 PM »
Fantastic dedication and huge congratulations on your weight loss.  That's amazing, and believe me when I say I know exactly how hard it is, having completely changed my life with exercise many years ago.

Ironman triathlete/Marathoner here.  You mentioned that you are alternating shoes, which is good, but you also mentioned that one pair was very old, and the other brand new.  If you are getting persistent blisters, I would strongly suspect poor fit and that your old shoes are dead.  You are reaching the kind of mileage where it would be extremely advisable to go and get a proper fit done in an actual running store (not just an athletic shoe store, but a store that caters specifically to runners).  You may spend somewhat more on your first pair, and thereafter you'd know what fits you best and can pick up new pairs online.

A really good running store will have someone who can iteratively put you in shoes and watch your gait to zero in on the right pair.  They may also have access to other tools such as video or infrared analysis.  This is so incredibly worth it when you are first figuring out what you need.


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Re: Runners/Walkers: blisters?
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2016, 12:05:37 AM »
100 miler here.  I do mostly what you do; small slits/needle to open it up at either side/base, drain, then tape.  This is doable in the field.

Prevention-wise, toe-socks (like Injinji, though they're not super durable) help to keep any bits of your toes from rubbing directly against other bits.
I also use any of various brands of powders (pour a bit into the sock and shake to coat the interior) to reduce moisture.  Don't overdo it; it'll cake up.

Agree that shoe-fit could be a problem.  I personally like quite wide toe boxes, which may help with toe blisters.

If you have ongoing problems, Fix Your Feet is a classic.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Runners/Walkers: blisters?
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2016, 12:51:12 AM »
Thanks so much for the ideas so far! I'd been scouring the interwebs and hadn't found real practical advice about exercising with an existing blister like what you've all posted so far; just lots of blister prevention (which I'm assimilating but isn't directly helpful since I've already got a blister!)

But you've all given me some concrete things to look at and experiment with - will definitely give these ideas a try. Thank you!!

As far as the shoe situation - I am planning on getting a real running shoe fitting - my reward for keeping to my walk/jog routine for 6 months is getting real running shoes with a professional fitting - but regarding my current pairs of shoes:

Both are New Balance brand, average/medium width. I was professional measured many years ago before I gained so much weight, so I do agree they could be an issue, but they are two different styles with differing cushioning/sole/construction. The old ones are old, but they had little mileage on them until the last year or so. No other blisters or hotspots except for this one blister and never had any before.

I do think this problem foot is ever so slightly larger than the other one, and that's why it is causing me a bit more grief (I also am experiencing either periformis syndrome or plain ol' hip bursitis on this same side, but I'm doing hip exercises to stretch/strengthen and it seems to be working itself out)

Old pair is one half size larger than my normal footwear and has always been great for my previous exercising before. It wasn't until I increased my distance and frequency (I'm going out for at least 1-2 hours daily, 6 days a week) that the blister developed. 

New shoes are one full size larger than normal footwear (one half size larger than existing athletic shoes) to allow for a better space for the toes as I'd developed a black toenail early on (think that was because I was still doing the girly thing of having pretty but longer toenails so they could be painted - they're clipped back properly now). These shoes are being broken in slowly; wearing them on the treadmill for half hour at a time or just walking around the house. Won't wear them to go out walking/jogging for a another week or two to make double sure they're good and ready.

Both pairs feel really good/supportive on, and there were no issues of feeling cramped in the toebox or anything. But I admit I'm a noob when it comes to how a shoe is supposed to feel really anyway, so if this situation doesn't improve soon, I'm probably going to bump up my reward by several months and just go get some fitted shoes.

And can I say how I finally get why people do this? I pushed past the "I don't wanna" feelings after a few weeks and now feel sad when I can't go out. I jump on the treadmill or go outside and hit the trail when I'm feeling down instead of eating or moping about the house, and I am pretty sure my overall mood is much better because of the rush I get when I best my time, hold a steady jog for longer, or add one more mile to my daily total. :)


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Re: Runners/Walkers: blisters?
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2016, 07:39:47 AM »
Congrats! Walking is awesome. A couple more ideas in case the ones already given don't help:

HikeGoo/RunGoo/TrailToes: worked miracles in preventing blisters for me
Wool socks and/or sock liners: helps prevent the heat and moisture that cause blisters
Taping: some people swear by Leukotape. It worked really well at blister prevention for me, but also gave me a severe allergic reaction, so proceed with caution and test a small spot on your skin first
Superglue: some extreme hikers/runners swear by this to treat an already-existing and popped blister, but be warned: while it should work, it also is supposed to hurt like mad when you first put it on

Another thing that has really helped me is to realize that "hot spots" are the precursors to blisters. Now, when I hike, I pay attention to how my feet are feeling, and pop a blister bandaid/extra HikeGoo on a hotspot immediately. This has done wonders in reducing the number of blisters I get.

If this still doesn't help, there is a book called Fixing Your Feet that is supposed to have a good section about blister prevention.

Good luck!


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Re: Runners/Walkers: blisters?
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2016, 08:27:45 AM »
Distance runner here-- If you want to walk while the blister heals, try putting a bandaid over it, and then cover it with Moleskin (a roll is about $10 on amazon, they probably have it in drug stores too). Moleskin also works quite well to prevent future blisters if you know where your 'hot spots' are and cover them before you go out.


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Re: Runners/Walkers: blisters?
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2016, 11:33:44 AM »
Another runner here...for exercising with existing blisters the best thing I've found is Compeed blister plasters.

There are probably generic versions available cheaper too...but these are really great.

For prevention I find socks with a high polymide content (over 90%) are a huge help.


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Re: Runners/Walkers: blisters?
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2016, 02:11:48 PM »
(Slow) marathon runner here.  I almost never have blister problems, but my wife does, so I know a few tricks.  Some of these are repeats from what other posters have already said.

1. Shoes with a wide toe box and non-cotton socks really help with prevention.  I personally hate toe socks, but some people swear by them.

2. Also for prevention, Aquaphor on and around the toes to reduce friction. Don't buy the Wal-Mart brand (Equate) because it's not the same stuff and doesn't work as well.

3. To protect existing blisters, cover them with moleskin, and cover the moleskin with duct tape.

4. If you pop them, cut a slit like others have recommended to keep them from refilling. Then cover with moleskin and duct tape as described above.


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Re: Runners/Walkers: blisters?
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2016, 08:37:19 PM »
Marathoner and former problematic-blisterer. For me, the key was finding the right socks. I have friends who had good success with Wright socks, which are double-layered. This did not solve the problem for me, as they also have double-the-seams which caused some problems. For me the solution was the thicker Fitsoks. Love them. Best socks ever! (IMO) You don't want cotton socks, but I've found that even running-specific non-cotton socks will still give me blisters if they are too thin (and even Fitsocks have some thin versions).

I don't think I ever stopped running, even when I went through my blister period, so I don't think it's necessarily that you must stop to let the blisters heal, but it might help a little???

I didn't find bandaids, duct tape, mole skins, or liquid skin to be particularly helpful in the prevention of blisters, but they all help somewhat once the blister is already there. However, my Fitsoks keep me from developing blisters, and I say prevention is the way to go!

The other consideration as others have said is shoe fit, but for me, sock consideration is much more important than shoe consideration, because all shoes will shift and rub a bit, and the socks are the barrier that should be protecting you from harm to your skin when the shifting/rubbing occurs.