Whether you’re a road or trail runner, repetitive footfalls for miles at a time can take a toll on your feet and toes. For the health and longevity of your feet and related muscle groups, it’s important to understand the best practices for foot health and strengthening – two aspects of training that sometimes go overlooked. Team Injinji Athlete Alyssa Clark is a trail runner and mountain sports coach based in San Diego, California. As a distance runner, she understands the significance of proper foot care. Check out her expert tips on caring for a blister on the trail and strengthening your feet after a run.
What is the best way to prevent blisters and hot spots?
The best way to deal with blisters is to prevent them from occurring. Before race day, make sure to test out the socks you plan to use for your race. Use them on your long training runs as this will help you to identify any pain points or possible problems before they happen in your race. I highly recommend Injinji toesocks as they help to keep my toes separate and avoid blisters on individual toes. Socks come in a wide variety of materials which can be better or worse for different environments. My favorite Injinji socks are the Trail Midweight Crew and the Ultra Run Crew.
Practice in as similar conditions as possible to your race so you can decide what works for you. If you find you are getting hot spots or blisters, you can also pre-tape or use lube to prevent these issues. On race day, you’ll be all set to conquer your miles without having to worry about your feet!
What do you do when you feel a hotspot or blister beginning?
If you feel a hot spot or blister starting, do not wait. I always carry at least a few pieces of Kinesio Tape or Leuokotape and Squirrels’s Nut Butter with me in case I need to do some quick repairs. Try to clean your feet off and then apply the tape as needed. Keep the tape as flat as possible to avoid bunching or causing other issues elsewhere.
How do you take care of a blister?
If a blister does occur, take care of it as soon as possible. I am an advocate of draining blisters if you are able to do so without the risk of infection. This means a disinfected needle or my favorite, a scalpel blade. I carry scalpel blades with me in my blister kit. Try to cut along the edge of the blister so it can drain and the skin can lay flat to protect the raw skin underneath. I then put KT tape over the blister to protect it from more rubbing. When you’re done with your race, clean the area well and let it dry out as much as possible. I also try to cut away the skin once the blister is healed so there are not extra flaps.
What are some general foot hygiene tips?
For hygiene, try to keep your feet clean and dry as much as possible during races. Especially if the weather is wet or there are a lot of stream crossings, drying your feet out and changing socks helps prevent over saturation and a particularly unpleasant foot problem called trench foot. Cut your toenails a couple of days before a race or long run so your feet have a chance to adjust to the length. If you have issues with calluses and blisters, a good pumice stone or pedicure can help prevent blistering underneath the calluses. This doesn’t work for everyone so know your feet and how calluses work for you.
What strengthening practices do you use to keep your feet feeling good?
For strength, I like to walk barefoot when I can as do a bit of light jogging on soft surfaces as a cool down. I also spend time splaying my toes and rolling my ankles and then gently using a foam roller on my arches one foot at a time. Another great way to roll out feet is by sticking a lacrosse ball in the freezer and then gently rolling your feet on it. If you take care of your feet, they’ll carry you a long ways!
Maintaining proper foot health is a non-negotiable for endurance athletes. Take Alyssa’s tips – and a pair of Injinji socks to keep your feet blister-free – and hit the trails!