Foot blisters are a real pain. But, the blister doesn’t start as a blister. It’s much deeper than that. Blisters can differ in severity. They can also present at different times. Some appear more often and some appear less often.
In one study, three types of boot-sock systems were examined to see how the systems impacted incidence and severity.1 During a 20-km road march in cool weather, 69% off participating infantry soldiers developed blisters. 10% of these were severe enough to require medical attention. This is a widespread problem.
The goal of this article is to provide options for the military and for citizens who may suffer from this ongoing phenomenon.
The study took 357 men that were involved in the U.S. Marine recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina. Each recruit was assigned to one of three groups.
Group #1: wore the standard military boot sock composed of a combination of wool-cotton-nylon and Spandex
Group #2: wore standard military boot sock with a thin liner composed of polyester
Group #3: wore a very thick, dense prototype outer sock composed of a wool-polypropylene blend.
Recruits had lower appearances in blisters who wore the thick, dense prototype boot sock (Group #3) and liner (Group #2) than those wearing the standard military boot sock (Group #1).
Foot blisters along with cellulitis that were severe enough to call a medic occurred in the standard military boot sock group (Group #1)
The reduction of blisters was most apparent in the early weeks of military training. And the standard military with a polyester liner. I repeat. A polyester liner reduced the incidence of severe blisters.
The dense sock (Group # 3) reduced the overall incidence of blisters and the incidence of severe blisters.
The TYPE OF SOCK affected how severe and how frequent blisters occurred.
Anti Blisters Socks
Any weight bearing activity like walking or running can cause blisters. And foot blisters typically only require first aid and limitation of activity.
But, we’re talking about a military unit. During a combat situation something like a blister can lessen how effective a soldier is in combat. This may happen whether the soldier ignores it or not. As a soldier you’ll put this out of your mind. It is possible for a foot blistering may incapacitate the soldier making them unable to march for a day.
“Boots are to blame!” It’s common thinking to blame the boot for the problem.
You’ll hear people blaming their boots for their foot blisters. Boot style, fit and material have been changed with very little change in blister occurrence. A sock should also be designed to meet the needs of movement. Our feet strike the ground creating friction and shear stress.
Socks on the other hand, have made limited difference. Perhaps, it’s the type of sock being used? A regular sock does differ from an anti blister sock, as you’ll see in the next section.
Regular Socks vs Anti blisters Socks
Blisters need the right environment to form.
It’s moisture along with friction that create foot blisters. We can reduce foot blisters with a sock system. You can use a boot liner or look for a sock that comes with this built in to its engineering. In the study above, researchers used an inner sock of polyester that repelled water (hydrophobic) with a thick outer sock to control friction. By doing this, we reduce the forces on the skin and the skin’s moisture levels.
You’ll hear about sock liners. Maybe you’ve used one. A liner can be used to create a boot sock system.
How the Boot Sock System Reduces Blisters
The Boot Sock System uses two socks to reduce blisters. A thick outer layer with a thinner liner can reduce friction in two ways. Both of these socks will move moisture away from the foot. It reduces friction. Heat produced creates a temperature gradient that vaporizes sweat. The sweat passes through the hydrophobic polyester liner. The polypropylene in the prototype boot sock is also hydrophobic and moisture is moved away from the foot and up the length of the boot.
A second mechanism for reducing blisters is through frictional forces. The dense out sock can keep the foot away from the boot. It’s kind of a cushion against the rubbing force.
What to Look for in Anti blisters Socks
Look for a sock that has a unique weave. A 3-in-1 sock would be ideal because it’s multi-utility. A socks weave and fabric can form a system whereby blisters stay at bay. A sock liner can be a wool light or medium weight or a synthetic in a light or medium weight.
Activity is another thing to think about. Military combat activity is going to be harder on the feet, so there’s more demand for a friction-less mechanism. We have the boot and the foot on one side and the foot and the sock on the other. A good sock provides an interface- it supports and protects the feet from their natural range of movement.
Where Can You Buy Them
You can get them here at Care Remote. Head over to our shop page to have a look at our sock systems. Amazon has a wide selection of socks. I am not sure which ones are effective yet, you can read for yourself.
Moisture is a major factor in blister production. It may also be a major factor in blister severity. With a boot system you can reduce the severity and frequency of blisters. And blisters can result in something more serious like cellulitis.
1.Influence of Boot-Sock Systems on Frequency and Severity of Foot Blisters
Joseph J. Knapik, Murray P. Hamlet, Kenneth J. Thompson, USMC, Bruce H. Jones, MC USA Author Notes
Military Medicine, Volume 161, Issue 10, October 1996, Pages 594–598