An article by Diana:

Do you suffer from blisters like me? I didn’t realise that I had a serious problem with blisters until I participated in my very first two day walk. Then I sure found out about the “joys” of blisters! For my first walk I made two basic mistakes:

1. I was wearing relatively new shoes that had not been broken in properly for a long walk. I later decided these shoes were not right for my feet, and so no amount of breaking in would have helped.

2. I had not walked such a long distance before, so I did not know how my feet were going to react. Generally I can walk up to about 20kms without too many problems, but anything longer will result in blisters unless I take some precautions. The distance for each walker will vary, and some lucky walkers will never experience the discomfort of blisters. It really helps if you can identify your own foot ‘hot spots’ before venturing off on a very long walk, so that you can take the necessary precautions.

Blisters are caused by repeated friction/rubbing from shoes and/or socks on the skin causing friction burns, and once the outer layer of skin separates from the inner layers the space between fills with fluid.

However blisters can be prevented by following a few simple steps:

  • Ensure your shoes fit correctly and are in good conditions (not too new or too old) – I prefer Asics running shoes over walking or hiking boots, but everyone is different.
  • Identify your own foot ‘hot spots’ and protect the areas prior to starting your walk – I like Mefix tape or Leukosilk (but have started using Flexitol Blistop spray which has been pretty effective too – a bit like applying a spray bandaid) and love Scholl Gell Finger/Toe Protectors for my blister prone toes (it’s a little pricey, but can be re-used).
  • Ensure all seams are flat inside your shoes and socks fit snugly without wrinkles. I have had good success with using lightweight double layered socks (WrightSock) that wick away moisture.
  • Keep feet as dry as possible. Consider changing your socks during a very long walk and perhaps using foot powder to help keep them dry.

At the first sign of a blister – STOP! Don’t try to walk through the pain. Immediately apply a dressing/plaster or tape the area. Dry your feet and change your socks if possible, and this should provide immediate relief. I recommend all walkers take a change of socks and some tape/plasters in their day pack if venturing out on a very long walk.

If you do suffer from blisters during the Canberra International Walking Weekend, come and see our first aid attendant in the Control Centre who can provide some treatment to help get you through the event!

Do you have any suggestions for preventing or treating blisters? Or perhaps you can recommend a product that you have found particularly effective. If so, please leave a comment below…