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The question of how to prevent foot blisters is an ongoing one for athletes and weekend warriors alike. Painful blisters can derail your workout regimen or seriously limit your ability to explore on vacation.
So what to do? We stumbled across a ridiculously simple blister prevention hack that works better than anything we’ve tried.
The miracle preventative: simple, cheap paper tape! Back in 2016, a Stanford study found that applying a single layer of paper tape to blister-prone areas of the foot was more effective at preventing blisters than any other method.
No surprise that the study didn’t exactly make national news, but runners have been passing this secret weapon on to each other for years, and we’re doing our duty to spread the word.
I can personally vouch for the supremacy of paper tape. I’ve tried “blister resistant” socks, blister prevention Band-Aids, powders, new shoes, and more. Out of all of those, the paper tape works best, with the Band-Aid blister guards coming in second. The huge advantage of paper tape is that it works with most shoes and socks, and isn’t as messy as the blister guard Band-Aids, which tended to peel off during longer days of walking or long runs, leaving sticky residue on my socks.
A roll of paper tape is easy to toss in my suitcase or gym bag, and tears from the roll easily for application. I’ve found that it adheres surprisingly well to my feet, and is fairly breathable.
Applying paper tape is simple: Make sure your feet are clean and dry, then peel a short length of tape from the roll and smooth a single layer onto blister prone areas of your feet.
If you’re not sure where to apply the tape, the balls of the feet and sides of the feet closer to your toes are common problem areas. It can also be helpful to take a walk in new shoes to identify areas of friction before they turn into blisters.