Chaffing and Blisters
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Now that you are well on your way to upping your mileage you might be finding some issues with blisters and chaffing.
Many people, whether training for an endurance event or just walking or running miles to stay fit have problems with blisters and/or chaffing. Both occur due to rubbing and moisture. Whether it’s heat and humidity or skin to skin or skin to fabric, rubbing can cause blisters and chaffing severe enough to make us stop training until we’ve healed.
Blisters can develop anywhere on feet and are generally caused by shoes that rub, feet that slide around or just blister prone feet.
I’ll start with shoes… It is important to have shoes that are one to one and a half sizes larger than your regular shoes. This allows for your feet to swell without your shoes getting too tight. With the right shoes and the right size tying them is very important to prevent blisters, black toe and sore feet. A simple process that I have found to make sure that my shoes are not too tight is starting at the lower eyelets pull firmly then arch your foot by curling your toes under, relax your foot and then move up to the next set of eyelets and repeat. Just be careful not to pull too tight at the bottom of the lace because it can actually shorten your shoe by pulling the toe upward causing runners toe (black toe). A properly tightened shoe will help keep your foot from sliding around in your shoe.
I addressed socks in the What to Wear blog, but I’ll briefly revisit them. Two great socks that help prevent blisters are Wright Socks and Injinji. Wright Socks are two layer socks that allow the fabric to rub together keeping your skin from being rubbed. Wrights are great socks for those of us who have blister problems just about anywhere on our feet (heels, balls, arches, toes). Injinji socks are toe-socks that are perfect for those who get blisters between toes. When choosing socks make sure they aren’t too thick and fluffy because your foot can slip around in them. Also you need to make sure that your shoes continue to fit with the socks you choose. Just remember NO COTTON SOCKS. Cotton stays wet and moisture can cause blisters as well.
Chaffing happens in damp areas or those that rub. Some of the not so pretty areas are between legs, under the belly, the crotch, the butt crack and what my kids have deemed the “butt pit” which is where your leg meets up with your butt. Also the underarm where it rubs against your shirt is a chaffing point. Finally for the guys beware your nipples and ladies your bra area. An easy one is the guys’ nipples; you can get nipple guards or just use band-aids. For the rest of the areas there are products available to prevent chaffing. A very popular item is Body Glide – it looks like a deodorant stick. One of my favorites is Sport Shield. It comes in both a roll-on and a powder. I prefer the Sport Shield roll-on to Body Glide because for me it lasts longer and goes on easier. But whichever one you choose just rub it on your trouble areas. The powder is great for inside your socks to help prevent blisters. These products can usually be found at running stores and some sports stores; also they can be ordered online.
Two favorite finds are Hypafix Dressing Retention Sheet and Squeaky Cheeks. I use Hypafix tape on my feet because despite all the other things I do - I still have feet that like to blister. I tape my problem areas (toes and ball). I like the Hypafix because the glue doesn’t bleed through the tape and adhere itself to my socks like sport tape and duct tape. Squeaky Cheeks is my favorite find that helps prevent chaffing and blisters. Squeaky Cheeks powder is an all natural product made of bentonite clay, corn starch, slippery elm bark and essential oils. It absorbs moisture to help keep those tender areas dry. I also use it in my socks. Squeaky Cheeks can only be purchased from the manufacturer at www.squeakycheeks.com.
If you do end up with blisters, you can use Second Skin to help cushion the area after you have drained the fluid from the blister. And if chaffing still happens there are spray-on liquid bandage products to use until the area has healed.
While long distance training can cause problems there are ways to avoid or deal with the problems and be able to keep on training.