Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Day six of August pre season training tips: boots and blisters by David Clarke
August 5, 2010, 10:23 pm
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August 6

Boots and blisters

A look at the causes, prevention and cure of a common sporting injury.

When to use boots
Hard ground often means that players get blisters and sore ankles before the season even gets under way. Stiff boots from last season and new boots with long studs are the worst offenders. If your players cannot stretch to buying moulded studded boots or hockey astro boots then you need to think carefully about the type of training you are going to embark on.

Do all warm ups in trainers – players can then be suitably stretched and supple to take on the jarring effects of boots.

Have a good supply of plasters, corn plasters and Vaseline. Few players think ahead – sometimes you have made progress if they have remembered to bring their boots!

It is worth increasing the time training in boots from session to session.

A player’s guide to blister prevention
When trying on boots, be sure to wear the same socks, insoles, or orthotic inserts that you wear when playing. Try on boots in the afternoon or evening, because feet tend to swell during the day. Walk or jog around the shop before buying them.

Socks can decrease friction between the feet and shoes.

Layering of socks or special double-layered socks can minimise shearing forces. Wear socks made from polypropylene or other new synthetic materials which can wick moisture away from the skin more effectively than wool or cotton, further decreasing the likelihood of blisters. You can also carry extra pairs of socks to change into if your socks become too damp.

Another preventative measure is to use padded insoles to decrease friction in a specific area. Drying agents can also help.

A thin layer of Vaseline (petroleum jelly) can also be applied to the feet to decrease friction. Conditioning the skin by gradually increasing activity tends to lead to formation of protective calluses rather than blisters. Finally, you can apply cloth tape or electrical tape over areas prone to blistering before you train or play.

If you get a blister, you’ll want to relieve your pain, keep the blister from enlarging, and stave off infection. Specific steps depend on the size of the blister and whether or not it is intact. You can treat the vast majority of blisters yourself and need to call a doctor only if blisters become infected, recur frequently, form in unusual locations, or are very severe.

Playing rugby with small blisters
Wear additional padding; ring-shaped pads made of felt will protect small blisters. And be careful to check blisters after the game for infection.

Blister buster
Signs of infection include pus draining from the blister, very red or warm skin around the blister, and red streaks leading away from the blister.

Small, intact blisters that don’t cause discomfort usually don’t need treatment. Nature’s best protection against infection is a blister’s own skin, or roof. To protect the roof, this type of blister can be covered with a small adhesive bandage if practical.

Larger or more painful blisters that are intact can be drained, but this process needs to be undertaken very carefully and with the right equipment. Consult someone with some medical expertise.

Better Rugby Coaching


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