8 Ultramarathon Running Tips for Blisters (2023)

The 2015 ANZAC Ultra (Canberra, Australia) was the brainchild of Australian Ultra Identity Race Director Phil Essam. It consisted of a 75km loop made up of part road and part trail. The riders completed 1, 2, 4, or 6 laps in the same number of days. I was there to take care of my feet, so of course this article will focus on blisters. Below are eight ultramarathon running tips to keep your feet as blister-free as possible.

race conditions

This was a very different experience compared to Adelaide the year before. Instead of seeing runners every 1.1 km, he could only see them every 75 km. That meant more blisters, worse blisters, less blister self-care.

The first two days saw freezing temperatures, record rainfall, and snow on the nearby mountains. This made the 6-day runners, with issues ranging from foot maceration to hypothermia, a particularly challenging event.

8 Ultramarathon Running Tips for Blisters (1)

ANZAC Ultra 2015 Competitors Canberra

1. There is always a first time for blisters

First time on my big toe; for the first time on this foot; the first time! This continues to surprise runners. Should not!

2. Get a blister kit

Get a blister kit together. One that not only gives you the power to treat blisters, but also the power to treat them.preventthem! Don't have time to purchase all the items yourself? get one of oursblisters.Dear DIY? No problem - take a look at what's inside and get the individual items yourself.

(Video) How to Fix Your Running Blisters before they happen

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    (Video) How I Avoid Blisters And Foot Injuries On The Trail - Tips And Techniques For Backpacking

3. And don't be afraid to use it

It is useless to have a blister pack if you do not know how to use its content. Learn to get the most out of each element. take thebubbles of course.

4. Do not apply Compeed to an intact blister, this can happen

In this painfully good example, a Compeed was placed on an intact bladder (this doesn't work; it's only used on made-up bladders). The Compeed came loose a bit and stuck to the sock like glue. And when the runner took off his socks, the bubble ceiling ripped back (I saw that, it wasn't pretty). This should be my biggest ultramarathon running tip for blisters: make sure you use Compeed the way it's meant to be used.

8 Ultramarathon Running Tips for Blisters (4)

Hydrocolloids should not be applied to intact or ruptured blisters; they are intended for clean, uninfected, unreflective blisters.

This has given us a burst bubble. But the blister top wasn't worth saving - the broken and shaken blister top was stuck with Compeed and I couldn't separate the two! I cut out the rest of the roof and washed the dirt out with saline (sterilized salt water). We are left with a bubble ceiling.

(Video) 5 Tips to Stay Blister Free When Running | How to Prevent Blisters

Ironically, this now designed blister requires a hydrocolloid bandage. A raw, oozing blister base like this is exactly the kind of wound hydrocolloids they're designed for [minus the mess...you don't want to use hydrocolloids if your blister is infected, so we wash the area with saline and apply a antiseptic for her]. learn more aboutwhich bladder bandage fits which type of bladder.

Note: Compeed is a well known blister pack product in most of the world. But it is not available in the United States. A similar product is Band Aid Advanced Healing Adhesive Bandages. Other brands of hydrocolloid dressings are also available. For example, I have used Comfeel and Duoderm a lot because they come in larger sizes. These products are usually sold as wound dressings and may be available at your local pharmacy. We also have our own BlisterPod brand of hydrocolloid dressings.

5. Beware of blisters on the edge of the heel

My #5 tip for running an ultramarathon is to understand tire blisters. They are very common in ultra running. Heel edge blisters were common among ultrarunners in this event. This is what they look like.

8 Ultramarathon Running Tips for Blisters (5)

Blisters on the side edges of the heels were common

The irritation comes from the insole where it curves up and meets the side of the shoe. If there is a lot of fluid in the bladder, it will be pushed up and the heel side will appear to be the problem area. The best way to prevent and treat these blisters is with engo patches to reduce friction. These work even better than donut pads (donut pads are always uncomfortable on this part of the foot). Learn more about edge blisters and how to apply engo plasters in this video. Below is an Engo 4-pack containing 4 large oval patches. Using a special application technique for those edge blisters, the two-patch technique, the 4-pack for 2 edge blisters has you covered (that's a pair of shoes if you have an edge blister on each foot).

(Video) FOOT CARE for Runners | How do Runners look after their feet? | FOOT TAPING DEMO

6. And keep your focus on prevention

Blisters are not inevitable in ultrarunning. They are common, but they are not inevitable.

If you really think you've tried everything, let me help you!I'm serious!

7. One thing leads to another

I can give you two examples that I saw in this race.

  • A seemingly insignificant ankle sprain, even if it doesn't hurt too much at the time, can cause you to change your running technique. Sometimes without you noticing. Twisting the ankle (inversion ankle [subtalar] sprain) can pinch the lateral ankle ligaments. This causes the peroneal muscles to work harder to limit movement, aggravating the injured ligaments. And it can go downhill from there.
  • Blisters can form in the days after the race. There were two riders who finished the event a day early but stayed put. They both saw me the next day for post-race blister care. And both had new blisters on their styloid process (the bony bulge in the middle of the outside of the foot), an odd place for a running blister. There was no blister at the end of his run 24 hours earlier. So that was unexpected. Although none of the runners spent much time on their feet in those 24 hours, there werea lotthey sway from side to side when they walk, due to their aches, pains, and stiffness (the post-ultra duck). I'm guessing this stiff, cautious gait was the cause of these blisters.

8. Beware of infected blisters

Pus indicates an infection. Compared to normal bladder fluid, which is thin and clear, pus is yellow. This was on the tip of the second finger under a callus. It didn't hurt the runner (note, everything hurts after running 450 km in 6 days). I found out while he was treating another blister that was bothering him. The toe was not red, there was no cellulite or lymphangitis. To the untrained eye it looked like a cornea with a small blister underneath. But for someone who does a lot of foot work, the appearance of the callus suggested an underlying infection.

Do you know what the signs of infection are and what to do?

8 Ultramarathon Running Tips for Blisters (6)

(Video) BLISTER PREVENTION: Taping Feet Before An Ultra Marathon

Infected blister on the tip of the toe


It was an absolute pleasure to be a part of this race. And many thanks to the runners who allowed me to take photos (and videos) of their feet! For more ultramarathon running tips for blisters,This is a good start.


How do ultra runners deal with blisters? ›

If the race is over, soak your feet up to four times a day in Epsom Salts and warm water. The salts dry out the skin, helping blisters to heal faster.

How do you prevent blisters during an ultramarathon? ›

Preventing Blisters
  1. Beware of Cotton Socks. Cotton socks retain moisture, which increases friction and makes it easier to develop blisters. ...
  2. Ensure Your Shoes Fit Properly. ...
  3. Run Within Your Capabilities. ...
  4. Keep You Feet Dry. ...
  5. Take Them Seriously. ...
  6. Don't Pop Without A Doc. ...
  7. Use Blister Treatment Products.
Mar 3, 2020

How do you make blisters not hurt when running? ›

“Some athletes will apply 'skin lube' (like Vaseline or Aquaphor) to reduce friction in pressure points about the foot.” You can add this to your nightly routine: Apply a skin-lubricating lotion, Vaseline, or Aquaphor, to your feet and then cover with a pair of socks before bed, says Dr. Smith.

Does Vaseline help with blisters when running? ›

Use Vaseline

Many blisters are caused by friction, whether that be skin on skin or fabric on skin. By applying a generous amount of Vaseline to any problem areas of the foot (or other part of the body), you will reduce the friction and therefore reduce your risk of developing blisters.

Is it OK to keep running with a blister? ›

If you develop a blister while running, you can continue running unless it becomes too painful. If you keep moleskin or tape with you, you can stop and treat the affected area right away. Otherwise, don't push it. If you feel a lot of pain, stop running!

Should you cover a blister or let it breathe? ›

Cover the blister and the area around it with a dry, sterile dressing to protect it from infection until it heals. Hydrocolloid dressings, available over the counter from pharmacies, have been shown to help prevent discomfort and encourage healing.

Can I wrap my foot to prevent blisters while running? ›

Taping is a mainstay of preventive foot blister management in athletes and active people. Its use is based on the premise that rubbing causes blisters, and that tape protects the skin from this rubbing and/or provides thermal insulation from the heat generated by rubbing.

Should I pop a blister before running? ›

With any wound there is a risk of infection, this can delay healing and could see you facing a couple of weeks off running. The sensible answer is usually don't pop it – A blister is a fluid filled sack that is natures own barrier to infection and is protecting raw healing skin.

What should I do the week before an ultramarathon? ›

Avoid crouton legs by training normally until about two weeks before the race. Then, cut down volume by 25 percent for a week, keeping intensity and a solid long run (most of my athletes do 16 miles the week before an ultra). In the final week, cut down volume a bit more, but be sure to keep running.

Can I use KT tape to prevent blisters? ›

KT Health Blister Prevention Tape from KT Tape® is the pinnacle in athlete blister prevention care. These premium synthetic non-woven fabric strips are designed to help prevent athlete-related abrasion injuries, such as blisters, chafing, and hot spots*, during the rigors of athletic training and competition.

How do I stop my feet from rubbing when I run? ›

The most important thing is that your running shoes fit properly and are not too small. To keep your toes from rubbing, there should be a thumb's width of space between your longest toe and the toe box. This ensures that your foot has enough room to move on downhill sections.

Where do you put Vaseline before running? ›

Using moisturiser or other lotions such as petroleum jelly or hypoallergenic balm will reduce the effects of friction so you can run undisturbed. You should cover all the usual chafing spots. That includes the inner thighs, nipples, armpits and groin.

Where do runners put Vaseline? ›

Time to dig out the vaseline.

No, seriously – be sure to put vaseline, under your armpits, over your nipples and between your thighs to prevent the dreaded chafe, around your ankles to stop blisters and even between your toes and over your toenails (if you want to keep them)!

Does aquaphor prevent blisters? ›

Aquaphor Healing Ointment

Aquaphor is a great alternative to BodyGlide, and unlike BodyGlide, it's available in most drugstores. Use it to help prevent the friction that causes blisters.

What is runner's toe? ›

Runner's Toe can be described as toenail damage, and would occur when the toe is rubbing against the front of the shoe, or toes are rubbing against each other, especially if the shoe is too small, narrow, or too large and there is space in front for the foot and toes to move.

What not to do with a blister? ›

  1. do not burst a blister yourself.
  2. do not peel the skin off a burst blister.
  3. do not pick at the edges of the remaining skin.
  4. do not wear the shoes or use the equipment that caused your blister until it heals.

How do you dry out blisters overnight? ›

Cover your blister with a loosely wrapped bandage. You can use a regular adhesive bandage or some gauze secured with tape. Your blister needs air to help it dry out, so keep the middle of the bandage slightly raised for airflow.

How do you get rid of blisters fast? ›

Clean a sharp needle with rubbing alcohol. Use the needle to prick the blister in several spots near the edge. Let the fluid drain, but leave the overlying skin in place. Apply an ointment such as petroleum jelly to the blister and cover it with a nonstick gauze bandage.

Do blisters heal faster uncovered? ›

Wrapping Up. If you ever wonder should your blister be exposed to the air, remember this. Leaving your blister open to the air to dry out and scab over is either counterproductive to healing (deroofed and torn blisters) or inconsequential (intact blisters). It is certainly not beneficial to any blister, only maceration ...

How can I run barefoot without blisters? ›

Solution: To correct heel blisters, focus on allowing the ball of your foot to touch the ground first. Again, slowing your pace and shortening your stride are helpful methods to solve this problem. Blisters are not the only obstacle new barefoot runners may face.

Do toe socks prevent blisters running? ›

Toesocks are an ideal choice for running, as they prevent blisters between your toes, keep your feet cool and dry, and allow you to utilize your entire foot and toes on pavement and trails.

What socks prevent blisters? ›

Cotton fabrics often stick to your feet while they absorb sweat, increasing friction that leads to blisters. But polyester, spandex, and silicone socks give your feet a smooth and sweat-free space to prevent any blisters.

Does soaking feet help blisters? ›

An epsom salt foot soak is ideal as well because it contains magnesium which reduces swelling and pain associated with blisters. Magnesium can help irrigate, cleanse, and dry out blisters which also helps reduce the painful rawness of blisters, while expediting the healing time.

How do you get rid of a blister overnight without popping it? ›

The obvious place to start is to make sure the area is clean and dry, so wash it with mild soap and warm water and gently pat it dry. Then you can rest your feet and apply icy cold, wet compresses to the sore to soothe it.

How many days rest before an ultra-marathon? ›

For a half-marathon you start about two weeks out with reducing training loads. For a marathon, it's about three weeks, and for an ultra, it's more like four weeks.

How do I prepare my feet for an ultra-marathon? ›

4 tips on preparing your feet before a marathon
  1. 1) Take care of your feet with an anti friction cream. ...
  2. 2) Toughen up your feet for 3 weeks before the race. ...
  3. 3) Prepare your feet before the marathon by wearing suitable insoles. ...
  4. 4) Wear technical socks and shoes which you've already used and are designed for running.

How many miles do ultra runners run a week? ›

When training for ultras, you can expect to run at least 40 miles per week and up to 65-75 miles per week for most age-group level amateurs.

How do you prevent anti friction blisters? ›

To prevent chafing that can lead to blisters, dermatologists recommend the following tips:
  1. Protect your feet. ...
  2. Wear the right clothing. ...
  3. Consider soft bandages. ...
  4. Apply powder or petroleum jelly to problem areas. ...
  5. Stop your activity immediately if you experience pain or discomfort, or if your skin turns red.

Is ZINC OXIDE TAPE better than kinesiology tape? ›

Zinc oxide tape is non-elastic and more rigid than Kinesio tape, so it is better suited to support and secure a joint by reducing mobility. Experts choose Kinesio tape over zinc oxide tape when they want to support a muscle group or joint while allowing for the area to flex and stretch naturally.

Does ZINC OXIDE TAPE prevent blisters? ›

ZINC OXIDE TAPE can be used to help prevent blisters, especially around the feet and ankles. It works by preventing your shoe or sock from rubbing directly against the skin. It is incredibly sticky, but also lightweight and breathable.

How do I toughen my feet for ultra running? ›

The toughening method involves applying skin tougheners regularly and working on calluses as a good thing. Calluses shouldn't be ragged, but the skin will be thick and tough by the start of the race. This may make the feet less prone to blisters, but should blisters occur, they are more painful and difficult to treat.

Does baby powder prevent blisters? ›

Not only does talc soak up the sweat (damp socks can cause blisters), but it acts as a lubricant between skin and sock. Use what seems to be an excessive amount of talc to prepare the inside of the sock and on the foot. An extra shot of talc can be put down the heel just before lacing up.

Should I roll my feet before running? ›

One way to help prevent an injury, is to roll out your feet using a foam foot roller or tennis ball. Often when runners do not roll out their feet before runs, their foot muscles become tighter and more restrictive, which can increase the stress felt on the ankle. This consequently increases the risk of injuries.

Should you put lotion on before petroleum jelly? ›

A person can apply serums or other active ingredients to their skin before applying Vaseline as a moisturizer. The Vaseline will help seal in the other skin care products, allowing them more time to work on the skin.

What is the best thing before a run? ›

Eat a mix of simple and complex carbs one to two hours before you run or a snack 15-30 minutes before. Eat 60 grams of simple carbs, like sports gels or pureed fruit, for every hour you run. One to two hours after, eat a meal with 20 grams of protein and about 60 grams of complex carbs.

Should you take gel before or during run? ›

When to take gels? Energy gels should be taken just before or during exercise. They work by immediately raising your blood sugar level. If you are not exercising, the body will release insulin and convert into long term stores (glycogen) actually leading to lower blood sugar levels.

What should I put on my nipples before a marathon? ›

Some runners simply put Band-Aids over their nipples before heading out for a run. Another option is BodyGlide, a lubricant made especially for athletes that reduces friction in areas prone to chafing like nipples, thighs, and underarms.

Why do runners have clear skin? ›

Beck says the increased blood circulation during a run gives the skin more opportunity to get nutrients from oxygen-rich blood. Better oxygenation of the skin helps with the regeneration of new skin cells, leaving behind supple and glowing skin.

Why do runners drink gel? ›

A marathon runner's staple, energy gels replenish your depleted carbohydrate stores when running. When you run your body uses two sources of fuel to feed your muscles, fat and carbohydrates. While fat is widely available it's slower to break down into usable energy making it ineffective when running a marathon.

How do runners prevent blisters? ›

Keeping your skin dry is an effective way to stop blisters when running. If you notice that your feet get especially sweaty when running long distances, consider using talcum powder, antiperspirant or another specialist skin drying product. This will reduce the chances of your feet becoming too moist.

Why is Aquaphor so much better than Vaseline? ›

Aquaphor tends to be a better moisturizer because it contains humectant ingredients and is occlusive, while Vaseline is only occlusive. When used for wound healing after surgery, Vaseline has shown to cause less redness at the wound site than Aquaphor. If you have a lanolin allergy, opt for Vaseline over Aquaphor.

Why am I getting blisters from running? ›

Blisters commonly pop up during races or long runs when mileage is increased and friction occurs without intervention. Your body responds to this friction by producing fluid, which builds up beneath the skin that's being rubbed.

What do athletic trainers use for blisters? ›

One of the more common products used to cover blisters is moleskin. Moleskin is a thin piece of felt product with an adhesive backing. It can be purchased in square sheets or by roll. Moleskin is an effective product because of its adhesive backing and the process by which it is applied.

What do athletes use for blisters? ›

A blister plaster is designed specifically to act as a second skin. Make sure they are warm and the foot dry before applying, but once they are on properly they should stay in place for 24 hours and be very effective.

How do you make blisters heal faster? ›

To treat a blister, dermatologists recommend the following:
  1. Cover the blister. Loosely cover the blister with a bandage. ...
  2. Use padding. To protect blisters in pressure areas, such as the bottom of your feet, use padding. ...
  3. Avoid popping or draining a blister, as this could lead to infection. ...
  4. Keep the area clean and covered.

What is the best practice for blisters? ›

The best treatment for small, unbroken blisters is to leave them alone. They will heal naturally on their own. However, if a blister breaks it should be cleaned often with soap and warm water. Antibacterial soap, betadine, and hydrogen peroxide can all be used to clean the area.

Does elevating a blister help? ›

DO Elevate and Ice Your Blister. Elevating a blood blister will help reduce swelling and minimize its size. The sooner you can do this after a blister develops, the more effective it will be.

Is it OK to pop athletes foot blisters? ›

Blisters that appear on the sole or instep of your feet may be a symptom of athlete's foot. You should never pop an athlete's foot blister, as that removes the protective barrier, which will make it more likely to become infected.

How do you prepare blisters for running? ›

How to Treat Blisters
  1. Cut a hole the size of the blister in the middle of a piece of moleskin.
  2. Place the moleskin over the blister and cover with gauze.
  3. Let the blister dry out and heal on its own, or try covering the blister with a waterproof pad.
May 20, 2022

What is the best tape for blisters when running? ›

If you always develop blisters when running or hiking, you can use ZINC OXIDE TAPE or KINESIOLOGY TAPE as a blister tape to prevent blisters from forming. Both tapes work by preventing your shoe or sock from rubbing directly against the skin. ZINC OXIDE TAPE is softer to the touch, so is more comfortable to wear.


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