Blisters & Chafing: Preparing for Ultra & Trail endurance events

FlindersTour2016Team trail-walking events such as the Kokoda Challenge, the Oxfam Trailwalker, and the Coastrek 100 are becoming increasingly popular. All have some elements in common, i.e., the need for adequate preparation and planning. As the old saying goes, a failure to plan is a plan for failure. For such events, preparation and planning must occur at both the individual and the team level. Each team member will have different specific needs, while the team has overarching needs to give each team member to opportunity to get to the finishing line.

So, what do you have to consider in you planning? There are the usual things such as team logistics and support, nutrition, hydration, injury prevention and management, clothing, socks and footwear, as well as other equipment, e.g., trekking poles, lights, rain/wind/cold weather gear. Indeed, the event guidelines may even prescribe the gear necessary for participation. While this is not intended to be a comprehensive list, it will provide you with a starting point for your planning.

Chafing & Blisters: Ultra & Trail endurance events chafe & blister injuries

BorneoTrailIn addition to the physical challenges of the event, participants face the risk of injury, including skin chafing and foot blisters. However, participants can take some precautions to minimise the risk of these uncomfortable, performance reducing injuries from occurring. In an ideal situation, you should discontinue your activity, but you will often find this difficult when participating in events such as these, e.g., the challenge itself, not wanting to let the team down. This means that you should take steps to protect yourself from chafing and blister injuries before you set out.

Chafing can be caused by physical activity that involves the continuous rubbing of skin against skin and/or clothing material. This is described in more detail in about chafing. Common areas for chafe, or chafing, include inner groin, thigh, under and between breasts, between buttocks, under arms, under specialised sporting equipment, and the feet. It means you should use pre-event testing and/or past experience to select appropriate clothing and skin chafe protection products for the event.

Blisters also form as a result of friction. The friction gives rise to a hot spot and ultimately a blister forms. This process is described in more detail in about blisters. Shoes and socks are potential contributors to foot blister formation. You will find that selecting the right shoe is critical. You may have to ask yourself, or your shoe specialist some questions, e.g., are they the right size and style for your feet? What about the foot width and length? Do they allow for foot expansion during prolonged activity? What is the best lacing style to secure the shoe onto your foot? It is also important that you test the socks in your selected shoes, as well as your foot blister protection products.

Chafing & Blisters: Ultra & Trail endurance events recommended protection

For these events, Striderm recommends the following products for foot blister and skin chafe protection:

Striderm Anti Chafe Extreme Roll On covers your skin with a clear, colourless coating that you hardly know is there. It should be applied to all those areas on your body that are subject to chafing. It can also be used on the feet for blister protection

Striderm Anti Chafe Extreme Sachetprovides you with an easy to carry version of the product that you can carry ‘just-in-case’ in the same way as you do with a gel or food bar.

Striderm Ultra Pace Foot Balm lets you apply the protective coating to your feet to your desired thickness. It is water resistant and will help to moisturise the feet.

Striderm Ultra Pace Anti Friction Foot Powderis a talc-based powder that reduces friction and makes your feet feel drier for longer.

However, remember that it is your responsibility to look after your skin in those areas of your body and/or feet hat are prone to rubbing. It follows that it is important to use an anti-chafing product, and/or an anti-blister product every time that you exercise so as to minimise damage to the surface of the skin and/or feet. It is critical to test everything out when train for the event.