Blister prevention is key to your enjoyment and success. Blisters, chafing and pruning (trench foot) are all examples of preventable problems, here we're talking about preventing blisters caused by chafing/rubbing not the kind you get from heat, sunburn, chemicals, and some medical conditions such as chicken pox etc.
I developed GurneyGoo primarily to deal with these 3 problems.
You’ll know the frustration when your adventure, race or training session is limited, shortened or painful due to something that could have been avoided.
- Chafing : rubbing and friction from clothing, straps and equipment.
- Blisters: painful bubbles from rubbing on your feet, toes, ankles, armpits, hands...
- Pruning / trench foot: wrinkling and softening of skin from being continuously wet. Extreme pruning leads to trench foot which is debilitating and can bring your adventure to a halt.
Below are my top tips for blister prevention
Chafing and rubbing prevention
I like to think of the first step in the downward spiral of events as rubbing and chafing.
Rubbing and chafing can be caused by friction from shoes, boots, pack-straps, bra-straps, undies, shorts, clothing on nipples, kayak seats etc,
You know the uncomfortable start and the eventual pain and burning sensation when something rubs against your skin for too long.
Left unchecked the skin can rub so raw that it bleeds or forms a blister.
At a mechanical level if the friction is light rubbing or scratching, eventually the skin will be irritated, and then further rubbing may cause chafing, causing the skin to be rubbed raw and “angry”. Continued rubbing and friction can cause the skin to bleed and graze.
Blister Prevention is by far the best solution.
First step is to develop awareness, from there you can take easy steps to prevent your starter irritation from turning into blisters or worse.
This can be either from previous experience with rubbing clothing for example, or by simply developing greater vigilance. Many inexperienced athletes ignore the first signs, either justifying that they just need to toughen up, or their awareness is masked by the endorphin buzz, or “runners high”. Seasoned athletes have learned that this awareness can give a competitive edge to avoid loss of performance, loss of enjoyment and to prevent blisters and rubs from slowing them down and taking their edge away. They develop a new skill of awareness during their activity sessions.
Nipping a problem “in the bud” is useful.
- The simplest solution is to use GurneyGoo just before your session on the areas that you know give you problems.
- Next solution is to take a small tube of GurneyGoo in your pocket, hydration pack or toolkit. When, during your session, you start to develop a “hotspot” apply a liberal smear to the skin and/or offending clothing/apparatus and get onto the prevention before you have to start looking for a cure.
Alternatives are to apply tape or dressings to the area eg a band-aid, second skin, Compeed or, if the area is large, duct tape works a treat!
If the problem persists after a few weeks, it might be time to consider altering or replacing the equipment or clothing.
I’ve deliberately worn some clothing inside-out to ensure the seams and labels don’t chafe me. E.g. lycra kayaking shorts, running tops and even underwear.
Some sports clothing designers seem to miss the important points about user comfort by putting bulky seams in the wrong places and using stiff and annoying labels.
I usually cut out the labels as soon as I buy clothing, but this may not solve the problem because of the cut-off edge that is left.