Conquering the Oxfam Trailwalker 100km: A Podiatrist’s Guide to Blister Prevention

Embarking on the Oxfam Trailwalker 100km is no small feat (pardon the pun). This challenging endurance event not only tests your physical strength but also pushes the limits of your mental resilience. One common hurdle that participants face during such demanding kilometres is dreaded blisters. These painful annoyances can turn a thrilling adventure into a painful ordeal. To help you conquer the Oxfam Trailwalker blister-free, we’ve enlisted the expertise of our podiatrist Sam, to provide you with essential recommendations. This will keep your feet in tip top shape!

Sam’s knowledge not only comes from being a Podiatrist, however she has completed the Oxfam Trailwalker 5 times over the years, along with being number 1 support crew. Preventing blisters is one of her favourite parts of the job and if you have a consultation with her you won’t just get blister advice. Anything from planning, food, gear and the best way to conquer Oxfam as a team.

Understanding Blister Formation:

Before delving into preventive measures, it’s crucial to understand how blisters form. Blisters typically arise from friction between the skin and footwear, creating a hot spot that, if left untreated, develops into a painful bubble filled with fluid. The repetitive motion and prolonged pressure on the feet during a 100km walk make participants particularly susceptible to blisters.

Podiatrist Sam’s Recommendations to prevent blisters:

Choose the Right Footwear:

The foundation of blister prevention lies in selecting the right footwear. Prioritise comfort, support, and a proper fit over aesthetics. Visit a specialty store where professionals can analyse your foot type and recommend suitable shoes. Ensure you break in your footwear well before the event to minimise friction.

Our top picks for picking the right footwear include:

Moisture Management:

Moisture is a blister’s best friend. Choose moisture-wicking socks made of synthetic materials or merino wool to keep your feet dry. Bring extra pairs of socks to change during the event, especially if you encounter unexpected rain.

Proper Sock Fit:

Avoid socks that are too tight or too loose. Ill-fitting socks can lead to increased friction. Opt for socks that provide adequate cushioning and support, especially in high-friction areas like the heel and ball of the foot. Ideally a sock that has moisture-wicking properties.

Make sure you have multiple changes in case your feet get sweaty, or that dreaded puddle pops out of nowhere.

Our favourite brand of socks include:

Taping

One of the best ways to prevent blisters is to pre-tape your feet to avoid hot spots. Using a tape such as fixation tape or hypafix is perfect to prevent friction and stop the skin becoming irritated. Tape each toe separately to prevent friction between the toes and then any other hot spots. Having a consultation with a Podiatrist the night before to have it taped can help make preparation easier.

An image of taping to prevent blistering
Image: An example of taping the feet to prevent blisters

Nail and Skin Maintenance

Trim your toenails before the event to prevent them from rubbing against the front of your shoes. Long toenails can contribute to blister formation, especially on downhill sections.

There is a fine line between taking off too much callus before an event like oxfam. If you have too much callus and get a blister it can become deeper and more painful. It’s best to see a Podiatrist to have this removed to an appropriate level.

Lubrication

Some people may find this more appropriate for their feet than taping. Apply a thin layer of anti-friction lubricant to potential hot spots before you start the trek. This can significantly reduce the chances of friction-induced blisters. Products like Body Glide or petroleum jelly work well for this purpose.

Foot Care Kit

Pack a foot care kit that includes blister pads, moleskin, and a small pair of scissors. If you feel a hot spot forming, address it immediately by applying blister prevention products to reduce friction.

Regular Foot Inspections

Take short breaks to inspect your feet. Address any hot spots, redness, or discomfort promptly. Ignoring these early warning signs can lead to more severe blistering.

The most important thing for blister prevention:

Make sure you practise everything before the event. Do not trial or change anything for the event day. The more walking you do, the more you will know where you are likely to have issues and you can have them addressed with a Podiatrist before the event. 

Conquering the Oxfam Trailwalker 100km requires meticulous preparation, and paying attention to your feet is a crucial aspect of that preparation. By following these recommendations from a podiatrist, you can minimise the risk of blisters and ensure that your focus remains on the incredible journey ahead. Remember, a blister-free adventure is more enjoyable!

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