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Blisters are caused by friction, normally from your shoes or socks rubbing against your skin. When this friction is concentrated in one area, fluid builds up under the skin causing increased pain and pressure. A blood blister forms when the small blood capillaries around this area also rupture due to increased friction.
Our feet absorb the greatest amount of force in our body when running. When it comes to preparing for the marathon, most of us tend to forget about our feet and concentrate on stretching, rolling and carb loading. A painful blister can easily prevent you running your best so aim to do everything you can and prevent this happening.
Poorly fitted socks are one of the main causes of blisters. Make sure your socks are snug to your feet with no excess fabric. Socks with a reinforced heel and toe area can add protection.
Avoid cotton socks. Cotton socks absorb moisture. The longer you run the more you’re sweating, along with sloshing through water stations and possibly pouring water over your head if it’s a warm day. Increased moisture in your socks, means increased friction and the eventual formation of a blister. Lightweight, breathable, synthetic socks are most suitable as they wick water away from your skin.
Go for a long run in the same socks and runners you are going to wear on race day. At this stage you should have fully broken in your running shoes and been for a number of runs in them. Never try out a new pair of runners or socks the day of the main event.
Using some form of a lubrication such as moisturiser or Vaseline directly on your skin and also on the outside of the sock help limit the friction and therefore, decrease the risk of blisters developing. Wearing two pairs of socks is also recommended so that the friction occurs between the socks rather than the sock and your skin.
If you have tapered and rested sufficiently before the marathon it is unlikely you will have any blisters on race day. If you notice any areas of increased redness, where a blister might possibly form, try wear specialised adhesive blister plasters. If the bubble has already developed, lance it with a sterile needle and allow the fluid to gently drain out of it.
A pedicure before race day, which might seem a bit soft is also quite important. Make sure your toenails are short and skin calluses are filed down.
If you are unsure on how to prepare your feet for the marathon or have any other running related injuries contact us here. Our clinic director, Aileen MaGuire has years of experience treating foot related injuries and orthotic prescription.