Long distance runners and hikers have a variety of ways to deal with blisters, but a new study out of Stanford suggests that the best method might be cheap paper surgical tape. Photo by US Army Africa.
The study, published in Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, found that paper tape reduced blisters on marathon runners by 40 per cent. The study followed 128 ultramarathoners along a 249km, six stage ultramarathon in 2014. Researchers randomly selected a foot on each runner, then taped over blister-prone areas. At the end, 98 of the 128 runners didn't develop blisters under the tape. 81 of those 128 did get blisters in untaped areas.
It's not exactly rocket science how this works either. Paper tape is thin and smooth, which decreases rubbing on what's underneath, thus reducing the chance of blisters. Of course, this study is relatively small in the big scheme of things, but considering the fact that paper surgical tape is extremely cheap, it's well worth trying for yourself. All you need to do is tape over your blister prone areas before you hit the pavement. Everyone's prone to blisters in different spots, but the back of the heel, toes or arches are a good place to start.
Paper Tape Prevents Foot Blisters: A Randomised Prevention Trial Assessing Paper Tape in Endurance Distances [Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine via NPR]