Foot Taping for Ultras

When I first started running long ultras (i.e. 100 miles) I suffered from blister issues. Bad blister issues.

After some trial and error, experimentation, talking to other runners,, research and so on I've come up with the following methodology, which whilst still not perfect, is a vast improvement. Whilst I still tend to suffer a bit with blisters, they're now far less severe, painful and troublesome than they once were.

Much credit I owe to Debbie Martin-Cosani from whom I picked up the basis for this, so thank you for sharing Debbie and secondly from the book "Fixing Your Feet" - well worth picking up and giving a bit of a read.



  • 1) Kinesio Tex Gold Tape - This is the tape that folk use to tape muscles and whilst it's not primarily designed for foot taping its soft, strong, stretchable and very adhesive. I've had no problems with this stuff coming loose, even after 30 plus hours. The only problem I've found with it so far is that if your feet get utterly soaked then its not terribly breathable and at Bear 100 my feet were very macerated under the tape - however after a few hours that settled down and there was little damage.
  • 2) Gehwol Footcream - The Germans swear by this stuff apparently as a general foot cream to help toughen up and "water proof" feet. I don't use it as much as I should I suspect but stick some on my feet before a 100 (an hour or two before anything else if possible to give it a chance to soak in)
  • 3) Friar's Balsam/Tincture of Benzoin - Yes, cough medicine! Basically this makes your foot sticky, apply this a minute or two before the tape to form a solid sticky base. This in combination with the Kinseo Tex Gold Tape makes a very solid bond indeed, I mean seriously, taking this off has on occasion been accompanied with toe nails!
  • 4) Rubber glove - The Friar's Balsam stains your fingers, so I wear a glove, dip my finger in the bottle, rub it on my feet and then lose the glove. Nice clean fingers! Otherwise they end up being a bit yellow!
  • 5) Scissors for trimming/cutting the tape.
  • 6) Nail clippers - For last minute trimming of nails.
  • 7) Sports Shield - An anti-blister treatment, its a pre-soaked tissue that I rub all over my feet wherever there is no tape. It's part lubricant, part anti-chafing treatment, part water proofing treatment.
  • 8) Injini Toe Socks - I cut off the outside two toes. Firstly I can just never get my little toes in these things! Secondly for some reason the little toes won't stay on my feet properly either, tends to bunch up under my toe and causes an issue, so I just cut them off. These are the thinnest liner version I can find.
  • 9) Thorlo Thick Cushioning Socks - I wear a brand new pair for each long ultra. Not the most cost effective methodology I suspect (afterwards they get relegated to marathon use), I find the "padding" effect of these thick socks diminishes fairly quickly I find, so a brand new pair offers the most protection for the long ones. After assorted experiments with socks, Thin/thick/double skinned/single skinned etc I've found this combination works the best of what I've discovered so far!


I'll trim any nails that need trimming and rub in the Gehwol Footcream, then leave this for a while, and whilst that's soaking in I'll move on to the tape cutting. If I have time I'll leave this an hour or two, but I've also done this in a quicker time frame in which case I tend to not rub any into where I'm going to tape over.

It's hard to see that I've rubbed any cream in here! But trust me, I've done that, and my feet are in fairly decent condition!

Next is to pre-cut the tape (it comes on a long roll) - handily there are markings on the back which make it easy to judge the length of tape that you need, depending on your toe/foot size it will vary and need some experimenting. I read in the "Fixing Your Feet" book that rounding off the corners makes it harder for the tape to lift up, I do this and aside from one bit of tape one time, this has worked just fine.

Here I have four bits of tape for my big toe/instep and two smaller bits for my little toe.

Where the tape is going to go is then rubbed with the Friar's Balsam/Tincture of Benzoin - I wear the rubber glove and dip a finger in, and then rub that over the bits that are likely to be taped over. Its a bit hit and miss if you're doing this yourself as if you're like me and not terribly flexible then seeing the bottom of your feet can be tricky! But basically get this stuff on your feet and let it be for a couple of minutes to go sticky. It stains your feet yellow, hence the glove to avoid doing the same to your fingers!

First bit of tape goes over the top of the big toe.

Ideally the tape goes over the middle! The tape is quite stretchy and I try not to stretch it too much. It doesn't often look good when you put it on but...

It looks rather better when the loose edges have been cut off with the scissors!

The second bit of tape goes around the big toe. If I get this right it doesn't need trimming, if its not quite right, scissors are your friend!

Next bit of tape overlaps the big toe tape just going down the instep, I've suffered blisters down this whole side of the foot before and none since starting doing this.

And a further bit down, again overlapping the bit above it. And that's the big toe/instep done.

Little toe is the same as the big toe, one bit of tape over the top, and then the second bit around and then trimmed, and eventually it looks like the photo above. I find the little toes very fiddly! The idea of the tape over the top first is that then no edges of tape are rubbing against another toe and if you're accurate you can get the edges on top of the toes rather than the side or bottom (its tricky to get it spot on though.)

Next job is rubbing the sports shield tissue all over the foot where there isn't any tape.

Then my custom made Injinji's go on.

Finally the Thorlo's go on over the top. And we're done! Typically I do this the evening before the long ultra and sleep with these on so I am good to go in the morning. This is a fiddly job and invariably takes longer than you think it will! This took me two hours (admittedly with stopping to take photos on many occasions!) It's much quicker if you have someone to help you do all this!


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