Runners Information


Blisters: Avoiding Der-Feet In Der Desert. Mds 2013 Foot Care Experiences! – By Guy Pitcher


A little pathophysiology:
Blisters are the product of shear forces exerted on the skin such that its connection with deeper tissues is broken and the consequent cavity fills with fluid. This overt tearing is preceded by lesser disruption through shearing at the skin-tissue interface which one can feel and see as a ‘hot spot’.

The shearing which leads to blistering is due to friction. Anything that increases friction in the running shoe will increase the likelihood of blistering. Moisture is the primary agent causing friction.

My foot preparation:
I was all too aware that the two things most likely to prevent me from completing the MDS were problems with nutrition/hydration and having serious blisters. Having researched advice related to the prevention of blisters, my foot preparation during the 18 months of training in the UK prior to the MDS included:

  1. Reading ‘fixing your feet’ by John Vonhof.
    Foot care “bible” but only moderately helpful as too many different permutations and combinations of treatments were suggested and many of the products discussed are not readily available in the UK.
  2. Applying NOK cream over a period of months. This is designed to make the skin compliant – i.e. durable but supple, and was recommended by Doctor Fred, the head of Doc Trotters, at the 2012 MDS Expo in London.
  3. Using ‘Blist-O-Ban’ foot powder. This absorbs moisture from the surface of the skin.
  4. Using two pairs of socks:
    Injinji toe socks prevent direct toe-to-toe contact and so reduce friction. Outer ‘wicking’ socks (either Bridgedale X-Trail or Wigwam) aid transfer of moisture away from the foot.
  5. Running shoes.
    For over a year I ran in shoes 1.5 sizes bigger than my foot size without any issues at all. Indeed, following a total mudfest, I put the shoes through the washing machine and forgot to put the insoles back in for over a month without any effects on my feet.
  6. Regular visits to a podiatrist for nail care and management of calluses.
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© 2015 Guy Pitcher MA VetMB CertVR CertSAO CertSAS MRCVS