Any hiker, beginner or experienced, has already had to deal with the famous blisters. They are painful and sometimes push us to abandon our plans for long-distance hiking. Rather than resigning oneself and waiting for them to appear to treat them, there are many actions before, during and after the day’s hike to prevent their development.
Follow the guide to learn all the tips on how to prevent blisters when hiking!
- The appearance of blisters on the foot
- Prevent foot blisters before hiking
- Some tips on how to prevent blisters when hiking
- Simple things to do after a day of hiking
The appearance of blisters on the foot
The appearance of foot blisters depends on several factors that are found throughout a hike. Before looking at how to prevent them, a little reminder of the causes of their appearance!
Causes of development of blisters
Foot blisters in the context of hiking develop because of 3 factors:
- Friction: One step after another, your foot will rub against your sock or your insole. This will heat up the epidermis.
- Humidity: You have probably noticed that your feet sweat when you walk. The creation of moisture generated by perspiration will soften your skin, which will then promote the detachment of the latter with friction.
- Dirt/impurities: Surface, dust or even sand are external elements that easily get inside our shoes when we are hiking. Their irregular shape will be a factor in accelerating the appearance of a blister on the foot.
When you combine these three factors, you get a favorable environment and context for the occurrence of foot blisters. The skin (softened by the humidity and heated by friction, peels off) creates a blister and gradually fills with a serous fluid: the blister is created!
Several areas of the foot affected
For hiking, only the feet are likely to see blisters appear. While our feet are supposed to be tougher than other parts of our body, they aren’t used to covering that much distance all day.
3 places of the feet precisely are the source of the appearance of blisters: the heel, the beginning of the toes and the arch of the foot. This is easily explained: these are the 3 areas that support our body when we walk.
The heel, toes and arch of the foot especially sink into the sand when we walk. This is because they support the weight of the body. It is therefore on these areas of the foot that you will have to prevent the appearance of blisters!
Prevent foot blisters before hiking
The prevention of blisters is carried out in three key stages in the context of hiking: before the day of walking, during the day and after the hike.
Choose suitable equipment
I have already touched on the subject in another article that dealt with methods of care for the blister on the foot, but the choice of the material is of course one of the basic principles of the prevention of their appearance. The selection of your socks and hiking shoes should not be taken lightly!
Here are some golden rules to avoid blisters thanks to suitable equipment:
- Hiking shoes: choose specialized shoes for hiking, that better support your ankles and feet and therefore limit the risk of chafing. Also remember to buy one size larger than usual. Do you wear a 40? Take 41! This will leave room for the hiking socks.
- Walking soles: when you go to a specialized hiking store to buy your shoes, you can also take the opportunity to find insoles adapted to the morphology of your foot. Some people take more support on the heel, others on the beginning of the big toe. In short, everyone has a posture of their own and this is reflected in the way we put our feet when we walk. Take the time to find the pair of insoles that reduces friction, this will reduce the appearance of blisters!
- Anti-blister socks: everyone knows about hiking socks, but few people know that brands offer socks that reduce the effect of chafing. So make sure to choose a good pair of anti-blister socks.
Foot blisters: prepare your feet beforehand
If your goal is to go on a long-distance trail in a few weeks, then you will need to prepare your feet beforehand. For this, you must multiply the short walks in order to accustom your skin to future friction and to make your new hiking shoes comfortable.
Above all, don’t make the mistake of embarking on a long hike lasting several days with new shoes! Give them time to adapt naturally to your gait and the morphology of your feet.
It is also recommended to prepare your skin with an appropriate anti-friction cream such as Akileine Anti-Callous. When applied daily, this will soften the epidermis and will strengthen its ability to resist friction and heating. It prevents the formation of redness and blisters.
For it to be effective, start this preparation a week before leaving on the long trail!
Some tips on how to prevent blisters when hiking
A few weeks before the hike, you bought the right equipment and prepared your feet and shoes. It is now time to continue this prevention of foot blisters every morning before hitting the road again!
A few things to do in the morning
In the morning, just before leaving for a day’s walk and before putting your socks and shoes back on, you can take a few preventive measures. First, gently massage the most sensitive areas of the foot: these are the 3 areas prone to the appearance of blisters.
Note that 5 minutes of massage for each foot continues the softening starting with the application of the anti-friction cream! Then, you can continue to use it each morning to continue the action started before the hike.
If you feel (the day after the first day of walking) that a part of the foot is particularly hot, then you can apply talcum powder there. This will have two benefits: reduce moisture in the shoe but also friction.
Finally, you can put strips around the arch of the foot or the heel to mechanically limit friction. And don’t forget to tie your shoes well, because a badly held foot moves a lot and becomes subject to friction!
Take advantage of breaks to improve prevention
The breaks you take in the middle of a day’s hike are not just for regaining strength, drinking or eating, they must be optimized to prevention against the formation of foot blisters.
As soon as you can, start to remove your boots and socks to let your feet breathe. If possible, dry your socks in the sun to remove the moisture that has accumulated during the last few hours of walking.
Open your shoes wide to achieve the same result. Then, several options are available to you: you can quickly massage your feet, reapply talcum powder, replace your strips, etc.
If you feel a blister forming somewhere, you can add a second skin bandage over it.
Simple things to do after a day of hiking
In the evening, when you start to take a well-deserved rest after a day of walking, you can put into practice simple gestures to continue preventing foot blisters.
Start by removing your shoes and then your socks and take the opportunity to spend most of the evening barefoot. This will have the effect of softening the epidermis and accustoming the arch of the foot.
On the material side, remember to dry your shoes, socks and soles as much as possible! Remember that keeping your feet dry helps prevent blisters from forming. Then, you can repeat the operations performed previously: massages and application of anti-friction cream.
Then a good recovery through long nights of sleep allows your epidermis to regenerate better.
Finally, tell yourself that alcohol consumption significantly increases the acidity of sweat. This will then tend to amplify the probability of overheating the next day. By limiting your alcohol consumption in the evening while hiking, you increase your chances of escaping foot blisters!
A true scourge of hikers, blisters on their feet are not a fatality. Many solutions even prevent their formation and significantly reduce the risk of development during a hike. Before going on a long trail, consider buying hiking shoes, anti-blister socks and insoles that are adapted to the morphology of your feet. Don’t go on the trail with new shoes, take the time to “make them”.
Before leaving in the morning, massage your feet, apply anti-friction cream and bandage on sensitive areas to limit friction. When stopping, let your feet and socks breathe and take the opportunity to put talcum powder or bandages where needed.
In the evening, limit your alcohol consumption, stay barefoot, and massage your feet. In any case, tie your laces well and finally take full advantage of each kilometer of the way!