Friday, December 12, 2008

Blister prevention for running

A large shadow cast over our front entry indicated the presence of a large box that had been delivered to our doorstep. I wrestled the box into our kitchen and opened it to find about a zillion pairs of drymax socks for our evaluation. It seems Michelle's ability to grow blisters practically by mind control caught the attention of the marketing folks at drymax. They contacted her and she was able to get some samples for me as well. I had two large tasks ahead of me. First to build a separate piece of furniture to contain the multitude of socks that were submitted for testing that would separate the socks by specified use such as golf, work boot, men's dress, tennis, walking, trail running, cold weather running, hot weather running, and many other sport variations. Second to give these babies a test and find out if I liked them or not.

As an engineer I can appreciate the primary design and technology that is used in all the categories of socks listed above. The dual layer drymax inner layer and moisture attracting outer layer helps keep your feet dry. The toes are sewn such that they are sort of duck-bill like in nature that helps prevent putting a squeeze on your toes thus eliminating the possibility of blister causing friction between your toes. The dual layer is probably the most important feature because it keeps your feet as dry as possible which for me anyway is the leading cause of blisters besides unending very steep ball-bearing like downhills in ultra racing. The layers may also help with this by reducing friction and adding some cushioning.

My history of blisters is fortunately a short story. Typically I don't get blisters during road marathons but did get the mother of all blisters on the ball of my foot last year during the 125KM Canadian Death Race. That blister was caused by moisture from the bogs we ran through and some long steep downhill sections. I've been wearing SmartWool socks with good results regarding blister prevention but very poor wear properties.


On my recent triple I wore the standard 1/4 crew low running socks. The first marathon was a 27 mile trail run. I wore my Brooks Cascadias. I had prepped my toenails well before the race but had neglected to stone down my calluses before this first run. Generally this creates a hot spot for me and creates a blister under the callus. I suppose the drymax socks did their trick because while I did feel a bit of a hot spot during the run no blister as expected formed.

I ran the next two marathons in the same pair of Brooks Adrenalines. I tested the waters by not stoning down my calluses. At the finish of the Seattle Marathon my feet were in great shape and blister free. Not only that the socks showed no signs of holes or wear as is typical with the SmartWool socks I have been wearing.

So if you are looking for a solution for blisters you might try drymax socks as a possible cure to your problems. They even have a Teflon fiber version that provides a very slick and non-abrasive protection for your feet. I've started wearing the hiking socks and work socks during the day and find them to be very comfortable as well. I'd say drymax has a winner here.


Anonymous said...

I"m thinking I may have to try these babies out. Thanks for the review. :)

Colorado Trailrunner said...

I've found that the sock is less important then the actual shoe and whether or not I Vaseline my foot. Although it is weird to put a sock on your foot after it is all slick, it does help prevent blisters.

Bob from said...

Good review, thanks Eric...Bob from Drymax and I been having conversations and have a good gameplan going into 2009 season... I am heading up north (NJ/NY) for the Holidays and will test out the various kinds of drymax socks.

I agree with the above comment to a point... yes a good fitting trail shoe plus the socks is important but what I have learned from Lisa Bliss and Jamie Donaldson is that you have to let the Drymax socks do it's work and not counteract it with lubes or powder... If I can get my blisters under 30% I will be stoked :-)

Happy Holidays !!

Danielle in Iowa said...

I'm glad I am not the only one who gets holes in her smart wools! everyone loves them, so I thought I was freak or something!

Journey to a Centum said...

Just for fun today I pulled a brand new pair of Brooks Adrenalines out of the box laced them up and ran the Ghost of Birch Bay Marathon in them. I wore the same style 1/4 Crew Running Sock as I did for the three marathons. Guess what? No problemo folks!

Colorado Trailrunner - Vaseline may work for you but I'm not a fan. Tends to act as a trap for sediment and dirt which over time becomes an abrasive grit capable of polishing diamonds and raising monster blisters. Drymax warns runners that lubricants reduce the effectiveness of the socks. Fabric softeners are not to be used on the socks either as it leave a residue that can tear your feet up.

Darrell said...

I realize that it could be seen as such a lot of marketing hype, but it is pretty cool that people at Drymax have taken an active interest in blogger/runners and are offering their product as a solution to an age old problem. Good luck to them and thanks for the reviews.

Now how about Michelle? There's the real test.

Joe said...

Nice review, Eric...this engineer understands your analysis.

May be the next purchase for me.

And, as my buddy Darrell said, it is cool the company a) paid attention to bloggers and b) offered some solutions and let you write freely about them.

Gotta Run said...

Thanks for the review!! I may just try a pair or three of these.

Also, thanks for the track workout idea. We will be giving it a shot.

Best of Luck at the Duma Ass ...50k. Love the name!

Donald said...

I love, love, LOVE my Drymax. It doesn't surprise me that you had a great experience with them.

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