Blisters on the feet: Prevention during running is the key

Blisters are painful and occur frequently. But there are a few things you can do to prevent them. Find out how to counteract blisters and stay pain-free.

Author: Cornelia Caviglia, physiotherapist MSc and sports physiotherapist ESP, Medbase Zurich Löwenstrasse, and quality manager at the Medbase Group.

Blisters occur when socks are ill-fitting, wet or due to running shoes that don’t fit. The increased friction between socks and shoes leads to the top layers of skin separating from each other. Fluid accumulates in the resulting cavities, and deeper damage can also cause bleeding. If the pressure persists, the blister bursts and creates an open wound that can be very painful and cause infection.

6 tips to prevent blisters from developing in the first place

1. Foot care

To prevent blisters from occurring, regular foot care is important. Runners should also make sure to cut their toenails short and round off sharp edges on nails.

2. Shoes of the right size and fit

When choosing shoes, the fit needs to be right for the foot. You should choose the right size and the shoe should be comfortable. Since there are countless different running shoes with different fits, it is definitely worthwhile to get good advice and test run the shoes. Before important running events, it is important that runners already know their shoes and have already broken them in.

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3. Socks must fit properly

To avoid friction, socks must fit well on the foot and not wrinkle. Socks made of synthetic materials or wool are recommended. Cotton socks are not recommended because they can absorb more moisture and are more likely to slip. In addition, socks with a left and right foot fit are usually better than those without.

4. Make sure your socks are dry

If socks get wet, they cause more friction on the skin of the foot. Therefore, when preventing blisters, it is important to look for materials that keep the feet dry. During long races, it is worth changing shoes and socks at refreshment stands. It doesn’t matter whether the socks have become wet because of foot sweat or because of moisture from outside.

5. Test your individual finesse

For long runs with a lot of altitude, some athletes choose shoes one size larger so that they don’t bump their toes in front when running downhill. For competitions, a special lacing technique can also help, such as “marathon lacing”. You can find many instructions on the internet. Other athletes use deer tallow or other grease to rub on their feet to further minimise friction. Experiment and find out what works best for you.

6. Use preventive plasters and tapes

If your shoes and socks fit properly, but blisters keep appearing, you can put a plaster or tape over the damaged area. Tapes often hold better than blister plasters, especially if you sweat a lot. Tapes are also a better way to fix blister plasters. For some runners, blister sprays work well, applying a protective layer to the skin that replaces a plaster. Others rely on tubular bandages to prevent blisters between the toes. Again, try it out!


Medbase is the largest multidisciplinary sports medicine network in Switzerland and offers specialised sports medicine services for athletes, clubs and sports associations of all activity levels in the areas of sports medicine, sports physiotherapy, performance diagnostics and training advice.

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