Whether you are new to running or a veteran runner, you are no stranger to blisters. If you are spending a lot of time on your feet, in your shoes with heavy activity your shoes rubbing against your skin is going to cause friction that usually leads to painful blisters, which are basically skin bubbles that are filled with liquid. Some of them are small and innocuous and can be ignored while others are more painful and can cause some serious setback to your running.
While new shoes are often blamed for blisters, as they need to be “broken in”, your old, faithful running shoes could also be the problem. More often than not, your perfectly comfortable runners could be causing you painful blisters. If there is no problem with the fit, size or padding in your runners, it could just be time to swap out your shoes.
But Why are your shoes suddenly giving you blisters? Shoes that have been serving you well will suddenly start giving you blisters when they are worn out. Shoes that have seen a fair bit of use tend to stretch out and will not be keeping your foot in place. Sometimes when the soles or the padding have worn off you will start feeling the onset of blisters, as your feet are not well-cushioned anymore. With repeated use or overuse, the shape of your shoe changes. Once they become loose, your feet start slipping out and are not firmly held in place with adequate support. This will eventually cause blisters to form.
For more on how to deal with running shoes, check out our post How Many Running Shoes Should You Have? Types & When To Replace Them!
How to Stop Shoes from Giving You Blisters?
Blisters are basically caused by friction between your skin and your shoe or sock. Repeated friction left untreated leads to abrasions and blisters.
First, ensure that you are wearing the right socks, they need to be moisture-wicking socks. You cannot run in cotton socks. Sweat and moisture are the biggest cause of blisters. Whether it is because of sweaty feet while running or just running in wet weather conditions, you need to make sure your socks are not contributing to your blisters.
Here is an anti-blister Toesocks that we use and highly recommend (The Injinji Toesocks),
Secondly and move on to your shoes. Wearing cushioned insoles are very helpful in preventing blisters. It not only reduces the chances of getting blisters but also gives you a more comfortable run.
If you are getting new shoes, the important thing is fit. Your shoes should have enough space for your feet to move around but not slip out. If your shoes are tight and your toes scrunched up or heel cramped, chances are you are going to get blisters. Similarly, you don’t want loose shoes either, because if your heel is constantly slipping out, you are going to develop some painful blisters. Sure, you can wear thicker socks, but you are not going to get the quality run you want.
Does Vaseline / Lubricants Stop Shoes from Rubbing?
Vaseline (Amazon Link) / Lubricants is both a potential cure and a probable preventative measure from blisters. There are no guarantees to blister prevention but petroleum jelly like Vaseline sure can help. Rub some Vaseline on the area you suspect a potential blister to breakthrough. The Vaseline reduces the friction, which prevents blisters. But obviously, the petroleum jelly will wear off and it is not possible to always reapply during a run. You can also dab some on the inside of your shoe, where it rubs against your skin the most.
If you already do have a blister, apply some Vaseline on it, especially in the edges where it is most raw. Then cover it before putting on your shoes.
This helps reduce the blister from chafing more as your run. The Vaseline provides a thick coating around the blister and can temporarily cause some relief and delay the blister from rupturing sooner.
How Do I Toughen up My Feet to Reduce Blisters?
The best way to toughen up your feet is to use them as much as possible. The constant movement and compression on your feet as well as the heat caused by constantly moving them toughens the soles of your feet. Practice running and walking on different types of terrain, your foot will not only gain flexibility, but your skin will harden with the tough use, especially if you go bare feet.
Going bare foot at home and on rougher terrain like sidewalks will harden your skin. Go bare feet both indoors and outdoors till you find your skin thickening. Take proper precautions when you are going bare feet outdoors so that you don’t develop some other injury.
Another sure-fire way of hardening your skin so it gets calluses is by using rubbing alcohol on your feet. Rubbing alcohol dries out your feet, and the less moisture it has the more chance of your feet getting calluses. Keep in mind you don’t want cracked feet that are painful and may cause infection. You want them dry and tough. Use rubbing alcohol no more than 2 or 3 times a week depending on how your feet react to it. (Source)
For more on this, check out our post titled ” How to Get Sand Out Of Your Running Shoes? Is Running on Sand a Good Idea!“
Do Double Socks Prevent Blisters?
A lot of professional athletes and sports players wear a double layer of socks to prevent blisters. The inner layer should always be moisture-wicking so that your feet don’t remain sweaty. This reduces the friction between your feet and your socks. The outer sock layer will absorb the moisture from where it will evaporate.
Instead of your sock rubbing against your skin and causing friction, leading to blisters, your sock is now rubbing against your other sock, keeping your skin safe from blisters. But bear in mind you still need to wear the right kind of socks, just any two socks won’t work. It needs to be the right material, size and have durability. Lots of research has been done to show the efficacy of two socks as well as how it prevents blisters from forming. (Source)
Some socks are already ready-made double layered. Check out our list Best Triathlon Battle-Tested Budget Gear to find out more about the ones that work for us.
When to Change Running Shoes?
It is hard to let go of your trusty running shoes, especially ones that have served you well and faithfully. But the general rule is to switch out your pair of shoes every 300-500 miles depending on the condition of your shoes. Keep in mind this is a general rule of thumb, your weight, the shape of your feet, and your pronation also play a part in your shoes’ health. While regular wear and tear is expected there are a few things to watch out for when your shoes have reached the end of the road. (Source)
If you notice new aches and pains after a run, it is definitely time for a new pair of running shoes. You will especially have pain in your heels, knees, ankles, and even back or hip. If you know this is not due to an injury, then your shoes might be the culprit.
You also want to change your running shoes if your treads are worn out and your midsoles are not cushiony anymore. The treads on your shoes give your feet and stride a natural buoyancy and if they are worn out, then they are not giving your feet the support they need. Similarly, if your midsoles are tough instead of soft, your runs will make your feet stiff and painful as the cushioning it needs has worn off.