How to Prevent Blisters While Running

Health & Wellness

Keep your feet safe as you go the distance.

Last updated: May 20, 2022
4 min read
How to Prevent Blisters While Running

Whether you're a seasoned long distance runner or relatively new to the sport, it's likely that you've experienced a blister somewhere on your foot before.

Blisters are usually a minor issue. In fact, you may not even notice that one is on the top of your toe until you take your sock off. Though, depending on its placement, a blister can range from uncomfortable to quite painful. Whether blisters crop up on a toe, your heel, or somewhere else on your foot, these small pockets of fluid can potentially interfere with your training plan.

Before we provide you with some helpful tips on how to prevent blisters, here’s some information on what causes blisters to form.

Runners Get Friction Blisters

Most often, the blisters you end up with on your feet as a runner are caused by friction. You know you have a friction blister because when it pops, the fluid is clear.

The main culprit of friction blisters on your feet are poor-fitting shoes. If you wear shoes that don’t fit right, they can rub. You can also get friction blisters from wearing shoes without socks. If you don’t wear socks when you run, there’s often more friction between your foot and your shoe.

Because runners are hard on their feet, blisters can form faster while running than they would if you were just wearing shoes for casual, everyday activities. It’s important to try to prevent blisters, not only for your own comfort, but also so they don’t prevent you from maintaining your regular running schedule.

Keep the Blisters Away

No matter where they form, nobody wants to deal with blisters. Here are a few easy ways to protect your feet and prevent a blister from bubbling up while you’re out on a run.

Stop Shoes From Rubbing

Since friction blisters come from repeated rubbing, you’ll want to make sure your running shoes fit right in order to avoid friction. Checking the fit of your shoe should happen before you take your sneakers out on their inaugural run.

You’ll know your shoe fits if:

  • There’s about one finger’s width of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe.
  • You can wedge your finger between your heel and the back of the shoe. It should be a snug fit, and your finger shouldn’t slide into the space.
  • The shoe isn’t too tight. It seems counterintuitive, but a really tight shoe can cause more friction.
  • The shoes fit comfortably on both feet. If you find yourself in between sizes, it’s often best to size shoes to your larger foot.

Even if the fit is perfect, it helps to break in new shoes before making them work really hard. For running shoes, you can start by wearing them on a short run or walk. Do this for a few days before really pushing them, and your feet, to the limit.

Wear the Right Socks

Wearing any pair of socks when you run should help minimize your risk for blisters, but if you really go the distance with each run, you might want to consider running socks.

Running socks are specifically designed to prevent blisters. They’re missing seams, which can create friction when you run. They’re also designed to be a certain height so that they won’t slip down below the top of your heel mid-run. And, running socks will wick away moisture which helps reduce your chance of blisters while also making your feet more comfortable (and less stinky).

Keep Your Feet Dry

If you notice specific areas of your feet that are more prone to blisters, no matter what running shoes you wear, keeping your feet dry can make a difference. Use baby powder or anti-chafing balm to reduce the amount of sweat on your feet. Applying these products directly to the areas most likely to blister before you shoe-up for a run can help keep blisters at bay.

Blister Prevention Is Ongoing

If you’re a runner, you may have developed tried-and-true strategies for blister prevention, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never get another blister. Every time you change shoes, it’s possible that blisters will show up in different spots on your feet. It may be the heel, your toes or even the tops of your feet.

If you feel a blister coming on, don’t toss those sneakers just yet. Slight adjustments to how you lace the shoe and checking shoe fit can make a big impact at reducing the risk of a blister. You don’t have to let them stop you from that run.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Blister?

A blister is a fluid-filled sac that forms right under the top layer of your skin. It’s usually full of clear liquid or blood and can hurt and itch.

Should I Pop a Blister Myself?

If you can, avoid trying to pop a blister yourself. The skin over the blister protects it from infection, so the longer it’s intact, the better.

How Long Should I Keep a Blister Covered?

You want to cover blisters with a bandage or gauze for as long as they’re full. Make sure to change the bandage daily. Before you apply a new bandage, you can wash the area with mild soap and/or apply antibacterial ointment. Most blisters heal within a few days.

Originally published: November 29, 2021