How to Prevent Blisters During Hikes

Discover why blisters form and learn how to protect against them!

How to Prevent Blisters During Hikes

Blisters occur when our skin is weakened by friction. It could be from our socks, footwear or things like small pebbles or dirt/soil in our shoes. Humidity (From sweat or external sources) is also a factor as it softens our skin, making it more susceptible to friction.
Here are some tips on how to prevent them and in the worst-case scenario, how to treat them!

1. Always Try Your Shoes On Before Buying Them, Or At Least Before You Go On Your Activity

Be it in a store, at home or receiving an online order. Always make sure that you try out your shoes.

Try them out on various surfaces such as on flat ground, uphill and downhill (stores usually have test slopes or mini-routes where you can test your shoes out on different types of terrain).

If you are ordering online, try to give yourself some margin of safety in terms of the timeframe for exchanging them if you discover that the shoes you ordered are not suitable. Also, never have your orders delivered to your holiday destination last minute!

2. Try Not To Use Brand New Footwear On Long Walks

All new footwear requires seasoning - no, not with salt and pepper! Shoes and boots need to soften  (especially leather) and conform to the shape of your feet. Areas that are stiff can lead to localised friction and cause blisters.

The best practice is to increase the length of your walks bit by bit. You should also ensure that your insole doesn’t slide around. This is especially important if you need to add an insole to adjust the size of your footwear or an orthopedic insole for medical purposes. Those are usually designed more for city life and are a little shiny on their surfaces, which can make your feet slide inside your footwear and cause blisters.

How to Prevent Blisters During Hikes
How to Prevent Blisters During Hikes

3. Choose Socks Suitable For Your Feet

Look at where the seams are (even if they seem very fine) and make sure that they don’t rub against your bones and are comfortable.

Never wear socks with holes or socks that are old and worn out as they will no longer protect your feet or fit well. Most importantly, make sure your socks are the right size! These are small but easily overlooked details. However, a sock that fits badly will crease, leading to blisters.

Also make sure to position your foot correctly in the sock. For example, ensure that the heel of the sock is placed on your heel and not to stretch it beyond.

4. Test Out Both Your Footwear And Socks Together

Socks that you find comfortable in one pair of footwear might be uncomfortable in another. That’s because not all footwear are designed the same. It could be the type of materials used, how it was put together or different support zones for different sport specifications. There are many reasons. And depending on the shape and how your socks fit, some might cause blisters.

Take note of the weather conditions of where you are going and choose the appropriate combination according to the season. Lastly, remember that how you do up your laces also plays a part to ensure that your foot is properly secured without discomfort.

Never hesitate to adjust your laces depending on your sensations during your walk, especially when going downhill.

How to Prevent Blisters During Hikes

5. KEEP YOUR FEET DRY AND WARM

Foreign bodies (stones, sand or bark) in your footwear can also cause blisters. Do stop and take off your footwear to get rid of them should one or more of those find their way in. If you are doing a walk over several days in a row with the same pair of socks, do make sure to rinse them thoroughly every evening when you stop. This is to remove any dust.

Ideally it’s better to take 2 pairs of socks with you, even for short walks, so that you can change your socks if your feet become too damp be it from stepping in a puddle or an unforeseen rain shower.

Above all, consider taking out the insoles of your footwear to let them dry overnight.

How to Prevent Blisters During Hikes

6. take care of yourself!

It is easy to forget, but how tired we are affects our body. Skin becomes more sensitive when we are tired. It is entirely possible for someone with the same socks and footwear, who does not usually get blisters, to get a different reaction. For example, on holiday, when you are relaxed and the body releases the pressure built up on a daily basis.

What we eat also plays a part; alcohol, for example, makes our perspiration more acidic and thus more aggressive on our skin. If you still continue to suffer from blisters despite all these tips, you can also try anti-blister creams, which reduce the irritation caused by friction.

But always remember to test whether they are suitable for you before going out on a long walk! Foot baths containing lemon juice will also help to thicken your skin so that it does not weaken as quickly.

How to Prevent Blisters During Hikes

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How to Prevent Blisters During Hikes

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