How to cope with blisters in ski touring boots… -

This article first appeared in Fall Line Magazine, where Profeet Ski Lab manager, Janine Winter, is their resident boot doctor:

Q: On day tours and hut-to hut tours I develop blisters really easily.  This happens with my own boots and hired boots.  Help!
If you’ve suffered the pain of blisters in the past then I’m sure you’ll understand that prevention is really the key to ensuring happy feet – once blisters have developed, the healing process can be long and incredibly painful!

Blisters occur when frictional forces are increased on the foot.  These forces prevent the skin from moving whilst the underlying skeletal structures continue to move.

This out-of-sync motion increases the shearing stresses which damages the cellular layers causing them to split and fill with fluid.

Moisture and heat – both hard to avoid when touring – have also been proven to increase frictional force on the skin and therefore increase blister formation.

So what can you do to eliminate your chances of developing a blister? 

Having a good fitting, breathable ski sock that will wick away moisture from the foot is essential.  Socks containing merino wool are great at regulating body temperature and keeping the foot dry.

Ensuring the boot shell matches the shape of your foot will prevent excessive pressure building up.  If you do feel pressure in a specific area, it is important to take the boot into a boot-fit store to get it stretched or ground to even out pressure around the foot.

Although it is important to ensure the boot is fitting nice and snug to eliminate as much movement as possible, the foot will swell when touring so there must be sufficient length so that you are not continuously slamming into the front of the boot, as you will end up with blisters on end of your the toes.

Adding a footbed or custom insole into the boot will stabilise the whole foot and limit movement. Most touring boots will provide laces for the liners, so it is important to use these whenever touring to restrict the heel from slipping.  Drying the boots out at night with a boot dryer will prevent too much moisture building up in the liners.

The challenge of hire boots
The problem with hired boots is that they are typically sized too big and they do not match the foot shape of every customer. This again creates movement and pressure in the boot, so it is not uncommon to see blisters develop in rental boots.

Ski boots should be sized precisely to the foot so that your toes comfortably contact the front to restrict sliding and allow good control.

How to deal with a blister…
If you feel irritation developing on your foot, try and stop as soon as possible and deal with it before it gets any worse.  The sooner you address it, the sooner it heals!

However, if you are unfortunate enough to develop a blister then be prepared: clean the area with an antiseptic wipe; using a sterile needle pierce and drain the blister without removing the roof; wipe around the blister with compound tincture of benzoin and leave to dry; tape firmly and securely over the blister.

This video relates to treating running shoe blisters, but the principles are the same.  There are many other helpful videos on our YouTube channel.

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