You’ve booked your flights and in the planning stages of your Camino adventure. Flicking through blogs, videos and articles, there’s so much to learn from other’s experiences. One common theme you’re hearing is… foot blisters. So here’s a fusion between one walker’s experience and my advice on a good Camino packing list so you can stop blister problems in their tracks.
Alison contacted me in June 2018 in preparation for walking the Camino in September with her husband. She was having trouble with pinch blisters under her little toes at the time.
Eager to find out how the blister situation unfolded, we caught up recently to talk feet. Following is Alison’s enlightening email. It wasn’t all plain sailing by any stretch of the imagination and makes for compelling reading.
If you’re planning on walking the Camino, there’s a chance you could learn something from Alison’s experience.
Here’s what she had to say…
Pesky pinch blisters
We walked 800km (in 42 days) across Spain with very few problems. I experienced pinch blisters on both little toes, which I was prepared for and expecting, given my training hikes. On the 5th day, they became unbearable – they were filled with fluid which would drain away each night by the morning, but by the 5th day, Cam used a sterile scalpel to pop them, which was a great decision. We even watched your YouTube video twice before attempting this (see photo of Cam doing this)!
We took extra good care of my toes, which resulted in them improving. They eventually calloused up, but the hardened skin (which was always a bit detatched since popping them) came off during showers a week or so later. I kept taping my toes each day and experienced no more pinch blisters. During this time, I went to a pharmacy and got some toe separators, because this was the only thing I hadn’t tried. BIG MISTAKE!!! They just gave me new blisters between my toes, nothing serious, but I never used them again!
About 2 weeks in, I got a small left heel blister, caused by doing too many km in one day (and I didn’t listen to a hotspot, because I was too intent on ‘just getting there’). I managed this with a bit of popping, foam donut making and tape for a while. And I also used Engo patches on the heels and innersoles. I used lock lacing as well which made a big difference. It wouldn’t go away, so we went to another pharmacy and the pharmacist gave me some cream called ‘Blastoestimulina’. I rubbed this in twice per day, and within 2 days, the blister had calloused up and never again caused a problem. I continued this cream for a while and never again had a problem! Who knows what the cream actually contains – I’ll probably wake up with another head tomorrow!!
We learned a lot about daily distances for US. 20km became easy, 25km got a bit tough but doable and 30+km was very difficult (but we did this out of necessity a quite few times). Cam got no blisters or anything – lucky duck!!!
I wore injinji toe socks with icebreaker hiking socks over them. I wore Hoke One One Challenger trail runners, ½ size bigger to cater for X2 socks and swelling. The combination was amazing. My ‘after walking shoes’ were just as important – Crocs sandals with socks!!! Cam had the same sock combinations as me, but wore La Sportiva Mutant trail runners, which he loved.
Blister kit contents
I used your blister kit each day. The best things were the fixomull tape (I took an extra 8m with me then bought another 10m and went through half of it), scalpel blade, betadine wipes (I bought a small bottle with me as well), island dressings (had to buy more), toe island dressings (couldn’t buy more, had to improvise with gauze), engo patches on heels and innersoles, thick white padding (made donuts for heel around blister). I took scissors and these were invaluable too. [Click below to see the contents of the ULTRA Blister Kit that Alsion took].
Helping others on the Camino:)
I gave away a lot of materials to help others – half the camino had a fixomull (called ‘omnifix’ in Spain) addiction after meeting me, gel toe sleeves (never worked for me), betadine, island dressings etc. I couldn’t believe how unprepared some people were for blisters. We also saw a bit of inappropriate compeed use, but in their defence, the instructions on Compeed do not say to use only on deroofed blisters, they suggest that it is an all round defence against blisters. I think Compeed have a lot to answer for! [I agree Alison!].
This was really what got me over the line
In all, I am really proud that I only got 3 blisters – they forced me to do some shorter days, but they never stopped me!! For someone so blister prone, I think this is a great result! I am so grateful to you for your You Tube clips (we watched a lot over the Camino) and your blister kit – this was really what got me over the line. Thank you!
Thanks for your comprehensive account Alison! I really hope you haven’t woken up with two heads yet :)
If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about Camino walkers, it’s that they start thinking about foot care and their Camino packing list months in advance of their adventure. I really appreciate that! This is vital for building a winning blister plan. In Alison’s case, she was prepared with the right know-how and blister gear to manage whatever blister situation presented.