Marathon Training Guide: Socks and Blister Management



marathon running sockstechnical marathon socks

Socks

Sock choice is absolutely vital to a successful marathon. Firstly, avoid cotton socks if you want to save your feet! When we run our feet sweat. Sweat is simply absorbed by a cotton sock, causing the skin to soften allowing blisters to form. A cotton sock is not made for running.

 

Technical Running Socks

A performance sock will not allow this to happen. Technical socks are moisture wicking so they allow the foot to breathe and encourage moisture to move away from the foot. The manmade acrylic fibres used in these socks have been shown to significantly reduce blisters. Liner socks underneath a more padded sock can also have a positive effect on blister prevention by reducing the friction on the skin.

 

At Profeet, we stock Balega and Stance running socks. Tried and tested, our Running Staff have successfully completed marathons or ultramarathons and remained blister-free using both sock brands. Hence we have confidence in these from a technical and comfort point of view.



Blister Management

Blisters are a common occurrence which can make running a miserable experience. We have enlisted our clinical supervisor Paul to offer some practical information as well as his top tips on how to reduce your chances of blistering throughout your training journey.



In its simplest term a blister is a fluid filled sac in the upper layers of the skin. Blisters occur due to shear stresses which are caused by frictional forces being applied to the skin. The force is created when the skin is in contact with an object such as socks, insoles, rough toe nails, shoes and even the ground itself for bare-footers out there.



The frictional force stops the skin from moving whilst the skeletal structures underneath continue to move. This out-of-sync motion increases the shearing stresses on the epidermis which damages the cellular layers causing a splitting between the top three epidermal skin layers and the layer known as the stratum spinosum (the layer between the dermis and epidermis). Within this cleft, fluid fills creating the bubble like appearance of the blister.



The human foot is constructed in such a way that it can withstand frictional forces for a limited number of repetitions. It is also suggested that we can adapt over time to increase our ability to withstand these repetitions however, as with every material there is a threshold. A marathon gets pretty close to this threshold!



Chafing is also an uncomfortable type of skin friction. In store we have ‘Body Glide’ which is used to help make the skin simply glide rather than cause discomfort.



Tips to Avoid Blisters

1) Applying an anti-perspirant either topical or powder based should reduce the amount of moisture on the skin and thus the amount of friction. Powders will also reduce the friction by allowing the skin to move more freely in the footwear. Be careful as too much powder or the cheaper powders will tend to form damp rough clumps in between the toes which itself increases risk of blister formation.

2) Structural abnormalities and biomechanical dysfunction increase friction as they cause more movement within the confines of the shoe. This will also influence all the other pathological factors, heat, sweat, and pressure. A biomechanical evaluation will highlight any issues of this nature.

blister foot care

3) Many people advocate the use of tape to help blister prone areas. Pre-taping will  protect the sensitive area of skin and provide peace of mind. Rock Tape, elastic, zinc oxide, moleskin etc have all been documented along with many other types. Make sure you find the right product for you before the event and ensure you practice with the application.

4) Many also use potassium sulphate to bathe their feet in order to thicken the skin. People who have higher amounts of collagen in their skin are more susceptible to blistering due to the soft nature of it. So slight firming up of the skin will make it more durable.

 

See our full blister care guide

 

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PROFEET LIMITED
867-869 Fulham Road
London SW6 5HP

APPOINTMENTS
call 020 7736 0046
email info@profeet.co.uk

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