Friday 28 October 2016

A cheap and easy fix is found for one of sport's great aches - blisters

Dean Gray

Published 13/04/2016 | 08:19

Runners running in marathon race in city
Runners running in marathon race in city

It has taken 40 years of research but scientists have finally found an easy way of preventing blisters … and it has been available in the local chemist since the 19th century.

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Runners should throw away their expensive blister plasters and lubricants if they want to prevent painful rubbing and switch to cheap surgical tape.

Stanford University has discovered that binding the feet with sticky tape is the most effective way to stop blisters from forming.

When tested on endurance runners just 24pc developed blisters in the taped areas compared with 63pc in areas which had been left untaped.

Dr Grant Lipman, of Stanford University, has worked as an emergency doctor for many ultramarathons and said despite the harsh conditions and extreme exercise, people complained most about blisters.

"What I kept hearing was, 'Doctor, I'd be doing so well, if only for my feet,'" said Dr Lipman, clinical associate professor of emergency medicine. "Their feet were getting decimated."

Surgical tape was originally invented in 1845 by surgeon Horace Day. Today's tape is mostly made of sticky microporous paper. Although it is meant to be used for wound treatment it has the benefit of only being mildly adhesive so even if blisters do occur it does not tear them.

In 2014, Dr Lipman and recruited 128 runners participating in the 155-mile, six-stage ultramarathon event that crosses deserts around the globe.

Paper surgical tape was applied to just one of each of the runners' feet. The untaped areas of the same foot served as a control zone. The tape was applied to either the participants' blister-prone areas or, if they had no blister history, to randomly selected locations on the foot.

For 98 of the 128 runners, no blisters formed where the tape had been applied, whereas 81 of the 128 got blisters in untaped areas.


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