Applying paper tape (aka surgical tape) can reduce the risk of blisters among ultra runners by up to 40%, according to a team of US researchers at Stanford University. They followed the blister progress of 128 runners participating in the 6-stage Racing The Planet ultramarathon series that crossed 155 miles of deserts around the world, including Jordan, Mongolia and Madagascar.
The researchers applied paper tape in a smooth, single layer before the race to participants’ blister-prone areas or randomly selected locations on the foot if there was no blister history. They then monitored whether blisters were more or less likely to appear on taped or untaped areas of the foot. In total, 106 (83%) participants developed 117 blisters, and paper tape reduced blisters by 40%, report the scientists in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.
“The best way to make it to the finish line is by taking care of your feet,” said Grant Lipman, clinical associate professor of emergency medicine at Stanford, adding that paper tape is “kind of a ridiculously cheap, easy method of blister prevention. You can get it anywhere.”