Monday, April 18, 2011

Tips to Prevent Blisters

The probability of developing blisters while walking 800 km is quite high; while the likelihood of rescue by Mr. Spock is, sad to say, infinitesimally low.

["Way to Eden,"]

Tip for free: don't walk barefoot.

When I set out to walk the Camino in 2001, I expected blisters to be a mild annoyance. Instead, after walking about 100 km with nothing but band-aid protection, it felt like my feet were being flayed. Because they were.
[The Flaying of Marsyas, by Jusepe de Ribera]

So, this time I'm trying out all possible blister-prevention aids. Here's what I've gathered in items and advice, so far.

1. Replace your boot's insoles to add support and stability. (Even expensive boots come with flimsy insoles.) Superfeet insoles may feel weird at first because they support your arch where it begins, closer to your heel, rather than in the center. Wear every other day at first, to break them in. (about $35)

2. Gel toe spacer for big toe, if that's your hot spot. It's not mine, but I tried it out. ($4.99, Walgreens gel spacers).

3. Medical tape to help prevent blisters forming. The premium brand is made of rubber; Walgreen's is latex-free and costs less.

4. My hot spot: my little toes tuck under and get squished and rubbed. These corn cushions work as spacers. Adhesive, but the adhesive only holds a day. ($2.99 for 18 Walgreens corn cushions)

5. Toe liner socks (Injiji liners, $10). I haven't worn these yet, but they're designed to wear under your hiking socks to reduce friction between toes.

6. Hiking socks with loopy-loops on the inside. Supposedly eliminate the need for sock liners. I like Wigwam best, or Thorlo (both about $15). Coolmax or Smartwool.
Tip: To fluff up lining, turn socks inside-out to wash and dry.

7. bodyGLIDE original anti-chafe formula. My marathoner friend Maura swears by this---not just for feet but any body parts that rub. (I paid $12.99 for 2.5 oz. at REI outfitters.)

8. Not pictured: moleskin. The cotton flannel, not the notebook. I'm taking a big pile of it for my heels, which rubbed raw last time.

9. Keep your feet dry. Switch out your socks during the day--let your spare pair dry.


To avoid blisters, "Walk in a relaxed manner."

(This is surprisingly hard to do, even on pilgrimage.)

--From Joyce Rupp, Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Life Lessons from the Camino, about Rupp's experience as a pilgrim (at 60, which encourages this 50 year old).

11. ...or, in the words of John Wayne, "Whoa! Take 'er easy there, Pilgrim!"
(Thanks for this tip, Crow!)

12. Finally, since no matter what we do, we will probably get some blisters, a sense of humor.

If you have any tips, please let me know!


Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

The Crow said...

Hey, there, girl! I dropped by here earlier, but because I am at work, didn't leave a message. However, thank you for dropping by my blog and leaving your comment.

I wish I were going with you...more like trailing miles behind you, is what it would be...but I look forward to your reports. If I don't get back here prior to launch, God/Universe bless, be safe, have a wonderful time, and know that I'll be one of many thinking of you on your journey.

Why do I here the Duke's voice saying, "There ya go, Pilgrim"?

Fresca said...

Thanks, Steve.

CROW: And thank YOU!
Wonderful reminder of the Duke: now I will hear him on the road. That's a good thing. :)
I'll be thinking of my blogfriends as I walk too.

Clowncar said...

my wife lost several toenails walking the grand canyon. not trying to scare you. just saying.

have fun. sounds like you will.

Fresca said...

CLOWN: Yikes. Does she have any tips on NOT losing toenails?

We will have fun, blisters notwithstanding, godwilling.
As a fellow pilgrim said last time,
"Everything's fine, except for the pain."

Margaret said...

The JohnWayne clip is SO SATISFYING!

"Like I said, Pilgrim, you can eat here until you get back on your feet."

Does this mean
a) unlimited food?
b) Jimmy Stewart'll be walking too?

In one of my Camino dreams (did I tell you this?) there were little wraps of candy and gelato along the path! wishful dreaming!

At least there'll be

Anyway, we should put the gelato in our socks, huh?

I talked to an old neighbor who had a blister-less Camino, and she said
- Glide
- Smartwool
- "baby your feet"

(baby your feet while still making them walk many miles every day just like you wouldn't with a real baby)

Fresca said...

MARZ: Peregrinas y helado? Si, si!
(Most of my Spanish is words for food.)
Great dream! No, you hadn't told me.

Smartwool. Others have recommended that too---I wonder if it's better than Coolmax...

Baby your feet like you would a baby you kept dropping on the floor.

Lill said...

Can't wait for the product evaluations after the Camino. I got some useful tips from your list just for every day foot situations--like fluffing the loops inside my socks by laundering them inside out!


Annika said...

This is something I've been wondering on and off for a very long time: how the hell did people cope in the old days? Pilgrims in the Middle Ages, with entirely flat shoes? Xenophon's army, walking so and so many parasangs every day, in sandals? Napoleon's army, pushing a long way into Russia on foot? Were their feet scalier than our modern ones? Their ankles and arches less flimsy?

(About your Spanish: I discovered, when I went to Helsinki, that all my Finnish is words for food. Here, information on the back of boxes/bags/packets tends to be printed both in Swedish and Finnish, and it turned out that I'd unwittingly picked some of it up.)

fresca said...

LILL: You bet!

ANNIKA: I've read that pilgrims used fresh rose petals, among other things, to cushion their feet.

But I think pilgrims and soldiers in the past had tougher feet, yeah, but they simply suffered more, and without ibuprofen too.

On Camino last time, someone was romanticizing medieval pilgrims, saying they didn't have Goretex and high-tech hiking boots, and another pilgrim replied--quite rightly I think--
"Yeah, but they wish they did!"

bink said...

Tried my toe sock liners today... seemed to work pretty niffy.

Brad Mackler said...

Wow! It looks like your feet are going to war in those photos. :P I love to hike as well and I have found that the calf-length socks are very nice for preventing blisters as well as keeping my ankles and calves protected from sticks.

I got some men's calf socks from this site and they were a pretty good price. Can't wait to try them out on a hike with some of your tips.

Brad Mackler said...

Sorry guys, my link did not go through! Here it is for the socks: