Suzanne and I attend the London marathon every year to help in the medical tent at the finish line and we certainly see lots of blisters!

The information below is full of helpful advice to help you prevent getting blisters whilst running.

What is the right running shoe to wear to prevent blisters?

It very much depends on the type of running you do?

There are many types of running for example; trail, fell, road, park runs, marathon, hill, interval running, track and field and more!

You wouldn’t wear the same running shoe for all of those activities of running otherwise blisters would definitely be on the agenda. The best analogy I can use is `you wouldn’t drive a Ferrari through a ploughed field`

So, knowing what kind of running you do is a great start, Road running shoes are lighter and more responsive whereas trail running shoes are slightly heavier with more support to protect the feet from the rugged terrain, they have a gripier sole. Fell running shoes are studded, light with very little cushioning to be able to run in some very challenging conditions.

What is the most important advice here, no matter what shoes you get is having the correct shoe fit?

Minimalist versus the maximalist shoes

Is a discussion that still goes on and will go on for a while yet, the scientific evidence concludes there Is more damage to the foot , including blisters, with a minimalist shoe Like Vibram five fingers or barefoot running than using a maximalist shoe like Hoka one one but there will always be runners that prefer barefoot running and as long as there are no problems with the feet that is great, however I wouldn’t recommend it for trail running but beach or field running is more forgiving and less traumatic for the feet.

Waterproof running shoes versus non- waterproof running shoes

Any shoes that have been waterproofed means the outside water is prevented from penetrating through the fabric membrane of the shoe. Which technically should be the solution to wet skin/ socks and blisters but there is a drawback…. If the environmental weather is hot and humid then the waterproof running shoes will generate heat within the shoe, the feet will sweat more, the moisture levels within the shoe will increase and will be trapped, this scenario will create blisters.

Running in the rain in waterproof shoes, the water will still leak through the sock cuff and into the shoe, eventually making the sock and foot wet, the shoe will keep the water inside the shoe which is then unable to drain out.

I do feel there is a benefit to these waterproof running shoes, they are suitable to use in colder wetter climates with the addition of a shorter gaiter (inov-8 all-terrain debris gaiter) to prevent the water entering the shoe in the first place and a cooler climate will prevent the foot sweating as much.

Non- waterproof running shoes are suited to a warmer climate where a breathable fabric membrane prevents the moisture building up in the shoe and these are less likely to cause blisters, used alongside moisture wicking socks.

The conclusion to which shoe is better depends on where you live, what conditions you run in, knowing the pros and cons will help you to decide which would work for you?

Pronators, Supinator’s and Neutral running shoes,

Which one do I need?

This is such a mine field, how are you, the runner, supposed to know all these technical medical terms and which one that will actually apply to you?

The simple answer is….. there isn’t one!

Pronation and supination are normal forces travelling through the foot during walking and running, everyone will have different levels of both throughout the gait cycle. Bodies are very good at adapting and compensating, so what looks to be abnormal pronation and supination is actually is ok and correcting it, could actually cause a problem.

Unless you have suffering with reoccurring lower limb injuries or really bad blisters, then choose a neutral cushioning shoe with an element of support.

Please note, that cushioning running shoes are varied in where they locate the cushioning in the sole of the shoe. Some have more in the forefoot than the heel area, so establishing if you are a heel or a forefoot striker determines which cushioning placement is right for you.

If you are in doubt or are injury prone in the lower limb then visit a MSK Podiatrist, who will help you ascertain what the problem is, treat or will refer accordingly.

Choosing the wrong type of running shoe could easily result in injuries and blisters

Stride length and foot contact in running

When a running pace changes, so does the stride length, in turn this can increase pressure and friction on areas of the foot, causing blisters and ultimately injuries.

A natural stride length is unique to you and if practiced well, it should feel comfortable and metabolically efficient. If not, and you are trying to change your stride length or rate without adequate conditioning/training then you will definitely cause blisters due to the increases in pressure and friction. If you are carrying an injury then your stride length will naturally shorten to protect it.

There are running coaches/ Physios that specialise in optimising your running technique and altering stride lengths, its best to consult them if you are trying to change your technique and starting to get blisters

Track and field running spikes

These running shoes are built for shorter distance running and have very little cushioning as they encourage forefoot running. The longer distance running spikes have a less aggressive pin plate and are generally more cushioned with an increased ankle support which ideal for cross country. These running shoes are very specific to the type of running distance chosen, wearing the incorrect type would definitely cause blisters on the heels and under the balls of the feet. Engo patches would work well in this footwear as they are super thin and won’t take up any room in the shoe.

Running spike shoes are designed to be snug and give control but it is important that they are comfortable, some runners don’t like wearing socks with them but that will lead onto blisters when the skin becomes wet due to sweating, try a thinner a moisture wicking sock. Some of the pins underneath can create unwanted pressure area which can lead to blistering under the balls of the feet. Shorter pins maybe the solution for this problem, or a thin 3mm poron insole if there is the room in the shoe?

What are the best running socks to prevent Blisters?

It is really important to wear the correct socks. Blisters can be caused if moisture is not wicked away from the skin, so socks that hold the moisture created by sweating will inevitably cause the skin to blister over a period of time. Moisture wicking socks such as Darn Tough socks are the only ones to use when running. If one sock is not enough to prevent the blisters from forming then use two socks, this way the friction created will be taken up between the socks and not the foot and the sock. Injinji socks with their five toe formulae help prevent blisters forming between the toes, by eliminating the friction of skin on skin.

Armaskin Liner socks

Armaskin liner socks are amazing at reducing the shear on the skin and in preventing blisters. They have a lifespan of 260 miles and are worn under your usual sock, they do feel a bit strange at first against the skin but they definitely do the job of preventing blisters. If you get Blisters in-between the toes then Alpaca wool is recommended to weave between the toes. Pull the Armaskin socks over the Alpaca wool.

Engo patches

placed on the inside of the shoe, reduce the friction from the shoe onto a hotspot area of the foot and are worth using as a preventative measure for blisters

Pellitec Blister prevention Pads

Pellitec blister prevention pads are also useful when applied to the inside of the shoes.

Gel products

from gel digi caps, epitact gel ovals and gel heel sleeves, all our gel products help to prevent blisters by absorbing the shear caused by friction and pressure, enabling the skin to remain blister free

Poron insoles

Poron insoles are wonderful at absorbing shear from underneath the feet resulting from ground reactive forces, there are a range of insoles that have different, depths properties and functions depending on what suits your blister type and depth of footwear

Skin Taping with Hypafix and KT pro tapes

Hypafix and KT pro tapes can be used on all areas of the feet. Sometimes it can take a little practice to get right but we have made quite a few videos to help.

2toms Blistershield powder

2Toms blistershield powder can work really well by itself on the skin as a prevention measure or after the blister prevention tape has been applied, reducing the friction applied to that area.

Alpaca wool

Alpaca wool to weave in between the toes if blisters are forming there, the friction is taken up within the fibres of the wool and not within the skin. Do not wrap it around a toe nor on broken skin

Lace locking

is such an undervalued tip that makes a big difference in preventing blisters. It is essential for retaining the foot in the shoe and preventing it moving around too much. Which tends to be a problem when running down hill.