Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Footwear, Sports
In my last post, I talked about four ways to reduce shear and the likelihood of blisters. To recap, they were fit, cushioning, moisture management, and socks. Today’s post will cover a fifth way by using ENGO Blister Prevention Patches.
Tamarack Habilitation Technologies is well known for providing healthcare professionals and clients with innovative, value-added orthotic-prosthetic componentry and materials. Their ShearBan product is similar to the ENGO Blister Prevention Patches reviewed in this article. ShearBan is used in the orthopaedic and prosthetic industry on prostheses at amputation stump sites to reduce the incidence of skin breakdown.
Introduced in 2004, ENGO Blister Prevention Patches have radically redefined the way hot spots, blisters and calluses are treated. As a preventative measure, ENGO patches provide peace-of-mind that blisters won’t become a painful, debilitating problem. If a blister has already formed, applying patches to footwear, corresponding to the blistered area eliminates painful irritation and further skin damage, allowing continued activity. Friction forces are reduced by more than 50% when you apply an ENGO Patch to your footwear.
The patches are made from an ultra-thin Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) film and are 0.015 inches total thickness – a very slippery surface. They are very durable, lasting four to six weeks in most applications. The aggressively sticky patch peels away from the backing and is applied to dry shoes or boots. The PTFE ENGO Patch reduces the ‘stickiness’ between the shoe and sock so they can glide over one another. The foot, inside the sock, glides over the patch shear distortion and friction are reduced, and blisters can be averted, in spite of pressure.
Avid runners, hikers and sports players rely on their feet to reach performance goals; from day hikes to ultra marathons. But quality footwear and socks alone don’t eliminate the skin trauma your feet can experience from repetitive rubbing — building friction forces to levels that cause hot spots, blisters and calluses. While I use these patches in runners’ footwear at races, they can also be used in ordinary every day shoes to reduce calluses.
Similar to Tamarack’s ShearBan material, ENGO patches are applied directly to footwear and equipment, not to the skin. Outcomes of this unique application include ease of use, long-lasting and guaranteed friction relief.
ENGO Patches are made in several sizes and types:
- A large oval – 2 ¾ x 1 ¾
- A small oval – 2 x 1 ½
- A rectangle – 3 ¾ x 2 ¾
- Back of the heel patch – 3 ¾ x 1 ¾
- A cushion heel wrap – 3 ¾ x 1 ½
When I work a race I always have a bag with different sizes of ENGO patches. I have applied the ovals and rectangles and the back of the heel patches. The patches are applied to the shoes and insoles – not to your skin. This means wherever you are going to apply a patch has to be dry. My advice is to apply patches before your race when your shoes are dry. I have used them inside the shoes in the sides, in the heels, and on the insoles.
Typical problem areas in footwear are under the heel and forefoot, and at the side of the heel. An oval patch can be applied to overlap the side of the heel counter and the insole as seen is the photo. I often use a rectangle or large oval under the ball of the foot or an oval under the heel – applied directly to the insole. The patches are useful over stitching or seams in footwear that are rubbing the wearer. If necessary, a patch can be cut to shape for where it will be applied.
The patches will reduce shear and friction; provide relief from hot spot and blister pain, and can be used in any type of insole or orthotic and footwear, from sandals to running shoes, and any type of hiking or ski boot.
I like ENGO patches because they work. The patch is thin and does not alter the fit of the shoe. When properly applied to dry footwear, they stick.
Rebecca Rushton, a podiatrist in Australia, strongly recommends ENGO Patches. She discovered the patches after getting blisters herself and now represents ENGO in Australia. She has written several free reports on blister prevention available on her website, Blister Prevention.
If you are unclear about shear and blister formation, here’s a link to my article An Introduction to Shear and Blister Formation.
The Technical Stuff
JM Carlson, in a 2009 report wrote, “The measurement of friction is the ‘coefficient of friction’. The coefficient of friction (COF) is a number that represents this slipperiness or stickiness between two surfaces and is generally below 1.0. Within the shoe, the COF between the foot, socks and insole can range from 0.5 – 0.9. In contrast the COF between a sock and a polished floor is around 0.2.” Tests have shown PTFE patches to reduce the coefficient of friction (COF) in the shoe by up to 80%. The COF is in approximately 0.16, which is significantly lower than all other in-shoe materials. Importantly, the low COF is maintained even in most and wet conditions inside the shoe.
Check out GoEngo.com for more information about ENGO Blister Prevention Patches. They also offer a money-back guarantee.
Disclaimers: I support ENGO Patches and am supplied with whatever I need for the events I work. I am an affiliate of Zombierunner and make a bit of any sale made through the link above.
This post came about because of a Backpacker magazine article about skills. One of the items was about endurance and was for, “Blistered feet during a high-mileage trek.”
The tip was to, “… protect against hot spots by applying a skin lubricant like Vaseline to high-friction areas…”
I’m sorry, but I think Vaseline is a bad choice.
When I ran my first ultra, back around 1982, there was not a huge choice in lubricants so Vaseline was commonly used. But I learned very quickly that its stickiness helped it collect dust and grit, sand and dirt, and other things that found their way into your socks and shoes. Once absorbed into my socks, it also became stiff. I looked for an alternative and discovered Bag Balm, which I used for years.
Over the years, Vaseline has been surpassed by lubricants that are slicker without attracting “stuff’ that can cause hot spots and blisters, that last longer, that don’t cake up on your socks, and that are much more effective.
So, here’s my choice for a bad lubricant: Vaseline.
And here are my choices for good lubricants:
- Solid Stick
- Pocket Slick
- The Original Anti-Chafe Balm
- FootGlide Foot Formula
- Ant-Chafe with SPF 25 Balm
- BodyGlide Anti-Chafe for Her
- Liquefied Powder
- WarmFX Anti-Pain Balm
- Anti-Chafe Stick
- Anti-Chafe Stick, Sensitive Formula
Hydropel Sports Ointment
Many of these are available through ZombieRunner. Click on “Anti-chafing & Skin Care.” I you are looking for a new lubricant, or want to try one of these, check them out through ZombieRunner.
Disclosure: Clicking through to ZombieRunner and making a purchase credits me with a few pennies to support this website.
I have held a pretty firm position on moleskin for many years – I don’t like it and I don’t use it.
Here are my reasons. It doesn’t stick. It doesn’t shape to the foot’s curves. And it’s too thick.
I have no objection to other athletes using it, but I don’t touch the stuff.
Several years ago, I worked provided foot care at the 3-day Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Walk in San Francisco. They had a pretty good supply of powder and Vaseline – and boxes of moleskin. Everyone sat around and cut the stuff into small, medium and large ovals. Hundreds of moleskin ovals. It didn’t take long for the rest of the medical staff to figure out the stuff sucked. They quickly learned that I had my own supply of tapes – and they wanted some.
Well, even an old dog can learn new tricks. Pamela Cress, the VP of Marketing for ProFoot (New York), emailed me about trying a pair of their insoles. I agreed and when the package arrived, inside I found a packet of their “special” moleskin. It’s called “VelvetexTM Moleskin.
Reluctantly I took it out of the packet. I my mind, it was moleskin – pure and simple. But I wanted to give it a fair test. I cut an oval, peeled off the backing, and applied it to my heel, right over clean skin without any tape adhesive. It stuck extremely well and stayed on for two days. It’s not thick and is very soft so it formed itself to the curves of the side of my heel.
This evening I took another piece and put it on my heel and a piece of a different manufacture’s moleskin on the other heel. The ProFoot moleskin was superior and stuck better than the other brand. The ProFoot moleskin is shown in photo #1. It is softer than any other moleskin I have seen. It’s stickiness is better than everyone else’s too. After wearing it for two days I found it did not stick to my sock. It stayed in place.
The other brand is shown in photo #2. It’s much coarser in feel and easily comes off. If you look closely, you’ll see the far left edge lifting off the skin. That comes from it’s inability to form to the curves of the foot.
Here’s what ProFoot’s webpage says about their moleskin: “Velvetex is a unique breathable material that is softer and more durable than ordinary moleskin, it also performs better under pressure. The unique Microfiber texture moves with your foot to help reduce friction, further protecting your sore spots. It soothes, relieves, and prevents blisters, calluses, corns, sore spot, and red tender skin. It’s also latex free.”
I can honestly say I like ProFoot’s Velvetex Moleskin. I will be purchasing some to keep in my foot care kit for cases where I want something thicker than tape – probably for the balls of the feet and heels. I will use Compound of tincture of benzoin to help it stick even better. ProFoot has a winner in their moleskin. You can easily add a strip to your kit.
The Velvetex Moleskin is packaged with two 3.25” x 5” sheets to a pack. The ProFoot web page has a button to buy from Amazon, Walgreens, and other online websites. Amazon has it for $3.11 per pack.
Fair disclosure: ProFoot sent me their Moleskin to test. I have no financial investment in the product or company.
Today I worked the medical aid station at mile 20 of the Oakland Marathon. Saturday I restocked my foot care box, adding supplies that I had depleted during the past events. I also cleaned up my Baggies of patches, and other small items.
One of the things I noticed I was short was tape. I added a roll of Leukotape and some Kinesio Tex. The Leukotape was out of a box off my shelf. I knew it had been on the shelf for while, but was unsure how long.
A short time into the race, I had several runners come in for some taping over hot spots. I cleaned the skin with an alcohol wipe, assessed the problem, and peeled off a bit of Leukotape. The first strip stuck okay. But after that, I could tell the tape did not have its usual stickiness.
I unrolled more and more, but the tape was bad. It would not stick.
Thinking about it, I think the tape was several years old. Maybe even three years. I am pretty good about checking my tapes – but this one slipped by me. So my advice is to check all your tapes before a race.