Tale of the Tape: A Cheap, Easy Way To Prevent Blisters

The most common injuries at OCS which derail candidates’ performance are shin splints and foot blisters. A combination of excessive running and marching, sweaty or wet feet, and adjusting to combat boots lead to the perfect storm for blisters.

Luckily there seems to be real progress made by science on solving this issue–pioneered by Standford scientists who work with runners covering over a marathon per day. If it works for them, it will work for you!

Stanford trial shows paper tape can help prevent foot blisters

Stanford University Medical Center

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Ten years ago, Grant Lipman, MD, an emergency medicine physician, was working as a doctor for endurance athletes who were running 25 to 50 miles a day in various parts of the world, from China to Antarctica to Chile.

Despite the harsh conditions and extreme exercise, the most common complaint that Lipman heard from the athletes was about the pain and debilitation caused by foot blisters, the same kind that plagues lots of people, from hikers to women in heels…

In a new study, Lipman and colleagues report that inexpensive paper tape, the kind available at most drugstores, when applied to blister-prone areas prior to exercise, successfully prevented both the incidence and frequency of foot blisters. The tape, commonly referred to as surgical tape, is used for wound treatment. It is only mildly adhesive — an advantage because it doesn’t tear the blisters if they do occur…

Testing the tap on a 155-mile run

In 2014, Lipman and his colleagues recruited 128 runners participating in the 155-mile, six-stage RacingThePlanet ultramarathon event that crosses deserts around the globe, including the Gobi Desert and deserts in Jordan and Madagascar.

Paper tape was applied to just one of each of the runners’ feet. The untaped areas of the same foot served as a control. (Which foot got the tape and which didn’t was chosen at random). The tape was applied by trained medical assistants to either the participants’ blister-prone areas or, if they had no blister history, to randomly selected locations on the foot.

The paper tape was applied in a smooth, single layer before the race and at subsequent stages of the race, Lipman said.

The medical assistants followed the runners for 155 miles over seven days.

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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Stanford trial shows paper tape can help prevent foot blisters

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