Friday, April 8, 2011

on blisters

I didn't include blisters in my "lessons learned" agenda because my feeling is that there isn't much to learn about them. The literature on blisters tends to be over-cautious, in my opinion; some authors act as if it's of utmost importance to treat them right away, to slap on that moleskin and save yourself from miles and hours of pain.

My conclusion, which I reached very early in my walk, is that blisters inevitably form in the early stages, especially if you're a big guy with a heavy pack, and all you really need to do is walk through them. Sure, they can hurt, but they don't really hurt that badly, and when you're sweating from carrying a 50- to 60-pound pack on your back, they aren't at the top of your list of worries. Pop them with something sterile and move on. Mother Nature, in the form of physics and repetitive movement, will take care of the rest.

This isn't to say that blisters are easy to ignore; when conditions are cold and rainy, blisters form readily, even on feet that have traveled hundreds of miles; they can become as annoying as the constant, subtle buzz of your next-door neighbor's alarm clock. But "not easy to ignore" isn't the same as "impossible to ignore," and the fact of the matter is that blisters will never hurt you enough to make you roll around in agony.

So when it comes to blisters, I say, "Man up!" Or "woman up!" --as the case may be. Trust me: you can walk right through them, and your feet will be the tougher for it.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The only thing I"d add on the more cautious side is, the "pop on something sterile" bit should have more emphasis. Keep the feet as clean as possible, and let them dry out periodically. What's critical is to avoid infection. And keep your eye on them--if they don't heal in a reasonable time frame, take that seriously--you don't want to end up with permanent damage. And of course start with good boots. Your feet are what's getting you there, you want to respect their needs.

I tried moleskin way back, and found it worse than useless--for about 10 minutes, it was nice and soothing--then it started to break down (it's not as tough as human skin) and ended up making the blisters worse.