By Christa Sgobba
Applying tape can prevent the development of painful blisters, new research from Stanford University School of Medicine suggests.
The researchers found that covering parts of ultra-marathoners’ feet with paper surgical tape—which you can buy in the first aid section of any drugstore—before their race began reduced blister development by 40 percent.
In fact, only 23 percent of the runners developed blisters underneath the taped area of their feet, compared to 63 percent who developed them underneath the un-taped areas. (The remaining 17 percent were lucky enough not to acquire any at all.)
Blisters occur when your skin cells become damaged and separate, due to friction from another object—like your shoes—rubbing up against them.
But the slickness of the paper tape reduces this friction, likely minimizing the irritation of the skin underneath it, says study author Grant Lipman, M.D.
While the study looked specifically at ultra-marathoners, the results apply to any guy who’s prone to developing blisters, whether it’s after running a couple miles on your lunch hour or trying out a new pair of shoes.
“I slapped some paper tape on under my ankle last week, as the dress shoes I was wearing otherwise always gave me a blister in the same spot every time,” Dr. Lipman says.
Your move? Cover your blister-prone areas with 1-inch pieces of paper tape every time before you run or hike. Do it when you break in a new pair of shoes like slipons, Oxfords, or sandals, and stop once they start feeling comfortable.
If you’re not sure which parts of your feet are most susceptible, try taping your toes, heel, instep, or outstep—the most common locations for blisters in the study.
Moisturizing your feet with lotion to keep the skin soft, filing down your calluses, and keeping your nails trimmed can also help stop blisters from popping up, Dr. Lipman says.