Worth the paper

A decade ago, Grant Lipman, MD, was treating endurance athletes around the world. Their most common complaint? Not running 25 or 50 miles a day. Not extreme cold or extreme heat. It was blisters.

“What I kept hearing was, ‘Doctor, I’d be doing so well, if only for my feet,’” says Lipman, clinical associate professor of emergency medicine.

So Lipman and colleagues tested inexpensive surgical paper tape, available at drug stores, on 128 runners in a 155-mile, six-stage ultramarathon. They taped especially blister-prone areas on one of each athlete’s feet and checked them for blisters after the race. The tape was highly protective: 98 of the ultra-marathoners developed no blisters in the taped areas. In contrast, 81 had blisters arise in untaped areas. Lipman is the lead author, and University of Washington sports medicine physician Brian Krabak, MD, is the senior author of the study, published online in April 2016 in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.