What should I do to prepare my feet and limit damage?
We are not all equal. Some runners can go on for hours and days without having the slightest friction pathology, while others will suffer repeated blisters despite having taken all the necessary precautions to safeguard their feet… Tanning exists to repair these injustices and permit runners with a fragile skin to limit the risk of blisters. This is a prevention protocol increasingly used by endurance runners, particularly trail runners. The goal is simple: harden and strengthen the foot base to better cope with the aggressions that the foot suffers during a race (rubbing, sliding, pressure, soaking).
According to the distance of the race, start 2 weeks to a month before the race. The tanning process consists in 2 daily sequences of a few minutes, permitting your feet to fend off the skin aggressions during the race. Two products are necessary:
– A tanning product: including acid, this will harden your plantar base. Several products exist, the oldest used is lemon (citric acid); brush your feet with a lemon cut in two each morning.
– A moisturizer
If you use only the tanning product there is a risk of burning skin, which would then be fragilized. Therefore, we recommend using, every evening, an anti-friction cream like NOK®. Based on shea-butter, the cream will moisturize the skin hardened by the lemon.
Watch out for calluses and excessive sweating !
The famous hard skin on the feet (calluses, hornies…) is the sign of hyper pressure that will become an irritated zone during the race and easily cause blisters. We advise you to go for a pedicure to remove this hyperkeratosis between a week and 10 days prior to race day. Avoid last-minute treatments, your skin will not have enough time to regenerate!
In the same way, hyperhidrosis (excess sweating) is a factor predisposing the formation of blisters by weakening the skin, making it more vulnerable.
It is useful to regulate perspiration using a suitable treatment. Ask your chiropodist or dermatologist for advice.
A trick for D-day
Before the race start, but lots of NOK® cream on your feet! The first kilometers might feel a bit awkward but being generous with the cream will allow your socks and the sole in your shoe to absorb the x-tra cream and gradually “give back” the cream to your feet during the race.
During an ultra-trail it’s useful to bring the cream with out, and use if/when necessary…
Avoid band-aids !
Unless you have an existing injury, the advice is to not use band-aids as a preventive measure. Indeed, they are often misused, but they are not a trail runners’ best friend. A corner often comes loose, particularly after crossing a humid zone or after a downhill; a pill will appear and cause a friction in the shoe…and often a blister! Do use your anti-friction cream. Used in sufficient quantities and you will not need any band-aids.
A few minutes per day ! That is all your feet need to save you from additional pain during the race…. A tanning product, some cream, common sense and the desire to “prevent rather than cure” will allow you to race with less problems. Don’t hesitate to contact your sports chiropodist, he/she will be of excellent advice for your preparation.