I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
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Saturday, 25 February 2012

Blisters by Stevie Haston.

Blisters are a bugger, better not to have them. How to not have them can be a trial, but prevention is way better than cure. I am tough but although they haven’t yet made me cry yet, blisters have made me yowl, and yell, and wince and wobble. They have even put me in hospital with serious blood poison once, so are defiantly not a laughing matter.
Prevent them. You need to monitor your feet all through the year. Your feet must be kept supple and clean, and most importantly, no hard skin. The best time to sort your feet out is sitting in the shower, or with your feet in a bucket of water. You soften the skin and scrape it off with a stone, or file. Don’t be too aggressive, better to do it over a few goes, than all at once. After filing, apply some oil, and massage it in. Sort out your nails while you’re here, Not just because you get in-growing toe nails, but because they can rub adjacent skin, and also catch in socks, and against the inside of the shoe. The skin on your feet should be soft like a baby.
Shoes and socks are really very important. Check your socks for stones, tiny sticks and seeds. Discard any sock with a ridge in the material, or a hole. Pay a lot of attention when you put the perfect sock on, to prevent any rucking of material. Two thin socks are better than one thick one, but at all costs don’t have feet that are too hot.
Blisttered to the Ying Yang but happy at the finish of the TDG, notice preventative beer can in hand...

Shoes have to be the right size for the distance, They need more room on long, to very long runs because your feet will swell. They must not be so baggy  that they allow excessive movement in long traverses, and while contouring. They need to be perfect! Goretex or waterproof lined shoes can be way too hot, and will promote blisters. I love my goretex shoes but only when I, and conditions decide. Even unlined shoes can be too hot so watch out for dark coloured ones, as well as ones with lots of plastic toe protection. Examine the inside of your shoes for rub points, discard shoes that become rough inside, and rub a toe, or keep them for short runs.
On really big runs were you have to keep on running with blisters, be really super careful about infection. A blister which is broken, is an easy entry point for infection, that’s why you are normally advised not to touch them. If you must touch them its better to do it earlier than let your shoe, and the terrain do it for you. You need a clean needle to pierce the skin, clean fingers to get rid of fluid, and then a clean dressing. Betadine is my preferred solution because you can see it, due to the colour, so you know where it has been.
Blood blisters are supposed to be one step up, and doctors sometimes refuse to do anything for you. A blood blister can sometimes happen at a very deep level especially if you haven’t sorted out those callous. If it is very deep and you continue to run it gets worse, the pressure opens up from inside. If it is close to the surface an incision with a scalpel will drain it, clean it up, disinfect the hell out of it, and make sure see a doctor after the race or course.  I have cut thru deep layers to relieve pressure, but I would not do it for some one else, because it is a serious procedure. If you are anywhere remote take a course of antibiotics with you. Blood poisoning comes on quick, you will have a swelling or stiffness at the juncture of your leg and hip in 12 to 24 hours. With out treatment you can die.
Feet one month after a race...

Some people pre tape their hot spots, and there rub spots, if this works for you good. What works for me is prevention. I am also keen on not running when I have damaged feet, but there is a bit of a problem because of special races that you don’t want to miss, the entries are expensive. It is on your own head right, your decision. You can have a blood blister, and not know about it, because of depth, but you will be aware that something is amiss. If you do alotta tarmac you can sometimes have an almost permanent one on your heel strike area. A telltale black line sometimes gives it away. Cooling down your feet in freezing mountain streams can be good but not after you have holes in them remember infection doesn’t need much.
I have seen people with horrific feet still finish tough races, and they heal up in a month, its up to you. 
On multi days the commercial Compede works well, as does climbing tape, the higher quality ones work best. All the adhesive tapes work best on dry skin, putting an expensive Compede on damp skin, is worse than useless, as it will just slip. If you don’t have fancy plasters for the job, even gaffa tape will do- that’s Duct tape in America.  If you carry sticks you can always put a couple of turns around the pole, for a bister repair, or to tape up a twisted anckle.
 Hope this helps. More fun and Success to you, and less pain.