Footcare Scotland - The Foot & Ankle Experts

How to prevent blisters

Blisters are often trivialised but they can be very painful.  They are a common source of foot pain especially with runners and walkers.  Blisters are the result of increased shear stress affecting the skin.  Where there is excessive or prolonged shear stress, blisters will form.

Here are some simple but effective ways of preventing blisters:

Shoe fit:

  • Your shoe should be the perfect length and width
  • Always measure your shoes while standing
  • A basic rule is to have the width of your thumb between the end of your shoe and your longest toe (bear in mind that the longest toe isn’t necessarily the big toe!)
  • If your shoe is too roomy, your foot will slide around causing shear and friction.
  • If your shoe is too small, it will lead to increased pressure and rubbing


  • Optimising your lacing is a great way to make sure your foot fits snuggly in your shoe without moving.
  • If you find that your foot is slipping around in your shoe, try the ‘lock lacing technique’.  Below you’ll find a video of how to do this at home




  • Socks are an extremely useful tool in blister prevention
  • High skin moisture causes high levels of friction and therefore blisters
  • Moisture wicking socks absorb moisture and transport it to the shoe upper, allowing it to evaporate
  • Be aware that, dependent on the perspiration levels, the absorption capacity of the sock can be exceeded leading to increased moisture levels. If you are out for a long walk, changing socks can help with this.


  • Allow your skin to adapt to the stresses that is being placed upon it by slowly increasing training
  • Train in the socks and shoes and on the terrain you plan to walk/run on
  • This will allow the skin to adapt to the shear stresses being placed upon it

Cushioning insoles:

  • Cushioning has been shown to effectively reduce peak pressure and absorb shear, both of which contribute to blisters.
  • Over the counter cushioning insoles such as Spenco may help reduce the formation of blisters.

Some further points to consider.  Vaseline has been shown to reduce friction in the short term; however after an hour of application the friction levels increase.  It is also extremely messy and can cause a pretty slippery feel when running/walking; for those reasons I generally do not advise Vaseline to prevent blisters.  Taping can be an effective way of reducing blisters, however there are a few precautions to take.  Perspiration will compromise the adhesion of tape, if the tape becomes unstuck it can contribute to blisters.  Try using Compound Benzoin Tincture to maximize adhesion and make sure that you apply the tape without any folds or wrinkles.


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