Pesky Blister Prevention
By Bianca Ceballos, Girls Who Hike Florida Ambassador
I know most people know that having a blister, especially anywhere on your foot can be quite bothersome. Let's face it, even if we take all the precautions possible, that one long hike may be just enough to result in a blister or two. With that being said, I would like to share the steps I have chosen to help prevent those pesky little blisters.
First off, I would like to start by saying that I, like many others, suffer from overpronation. For those of you who aren't aware, overpronation is essentially when the medial side (left side of right foot, right side of left foot) of your ankle rolls in too inward with each step. Normally everyone has a minimal amount of pronation, but when overpronation occurs it can lead to some undesirable results. I don't want to ramble too long about it but essentially an excess of blisters on the medial side of the big toe and the second toe are one of a few consequences.
Now, one of the most important factors in having a painless hike is proper footwear. I know sometimes we can get carried away and choose the most fashionable choice, but we really should focus on comfort. The number one priority in proper footwear is definitely size! I know this seems like such an obvious answer but you'd be surprised how often some women are wearing shoes that are just a little too small. When walking, especially on hikes in varying terrain, your toes will swell up. It's typically not very noticeable, but when you're wearing that narrow boot and walking for 8+ miles you will definitely notice. The skin is made of several layers and when one part of your foot or toes is constantly rubbing against the inside of your shoe, that causes some of the layers to separate and fill with fluid; this results in a blister. I definitely recommend going to your local shoe store and getting a proper sizing of your feet. Depending on the store they will even analyze the way you walk and give you their professional opinion on what shoe may be best for you. This way, you will be one step closer to blister prevention.
Now let's talk about the next commonly overlooked factor; socks! Many people just throw on any pair of socks on the way to their hike, but socks really do matter I promise! The material that your socks are made of can make a great difference in wicking away moisture, and it can help reduce the friction between your foot and the wall of your shoe. Remember, blisters only form when a spot of skin has been constantly rubbing against something (in this case your shoe). I have found that Darn Tough Socks are a great general option, but for those of us who are even more susceptible to blisters between our toes Injinji socks are also a great option! Again, I personally use the Injiinji more often due to my overpronation and my tendency to get blisters between my big toe and second toe. Just choose what works best for you!
Another recommendation if proper shoes and socks are just not cutting it is friction prevention patches. I, after doing some research found that the Engo Blister Prevention Patches off amazon worked great for me. All you have to do is apply the patch to a spot in your shoes where you know your foot or toes are prone to rub against (i.e. susceptible areas; anywhere you form a callous or have had a blister in the past). It is recommended that you place the patches right before a hike so that they may mold to your feet and toes. These patches greatly reduce the friction between your foot/toes and shoe by providing a material that causes your socks to glide across with much less friction, and should last for hundreds of miles before they wear down.
One last thing I would like to add to this list is specific for us overpronators. When we overpronate, it takes our foot a longer time to lay firm on the ground and get ready for being lifted up again for the next step. Due to this, our big toe and second toe compensate by providing most of the power for push off. This is the reason we tend to get more blisters on our big toe and second toe, because they actually end up doing more work, and therefore endure more friction. I have finally (and thankfully) found a solution to this problem; insoles. That's right, it's as simple as getting the correct insole for your hiking boot/shoe! I have found that there are some people who have gone to get customized insoles, but that can be pretty pricey. I personally did some more research and found that you can easily find pretty great insoles off amazon (sweet sweet amazon, am I right?)! The insoles I ended up getting are the Superfeet Blue insole. After reading many ratings and comments the superfeet blue insoles seemed the most accurate for my overpronation, and low and behold they definitely were! You just order them right up, trim to your boot or shoe, insert and be on your merry way. Just make sure to try them on a shorter hike at first since it takes a hike or two for your feet to get used to them.
I hope I have provided you ladies some insight and help for future hikes. At the end of the day it's all about having fun and enjoying the adventure, and we definitely don't need pesky blisters tagging along. Your feet deserve better and so do you! Just keep on trekking on :)