A prospective randomized blister prevention trial assessing paper tape in endurance distances (Pre-TAPED)

Grant S Lipman, Mark A Ellis, Erica J Lewis, Brandee L Waite, John Lissoway, Garrett K Chan, Brian J Krabak
Wilderness & Environmental Medicine 2014, 25 (4): 457-61

OBJECTIVE: Friction foot blisters are a common injury occurring in up to 39% of marathoners, the most common injury in adventure racing, and represent more than 70% of medical visits in multi-stage ultramarathons. The goal of the study was to determine whether paper tape could prevent foot blisters in ultramarathon runners.

METHODS: This prospective randomized trial was undertaken during RacingThePlanet 155-mile (250-km), 7-day self-supported ultramarathons in China, Australia, Egypt, Chile, and Nepal in 2010 and 2011. Paper tape was applied prerace to one randomly selected foot, with the untreated foot acting as the own control. The study end point was development of a hot spot or blister on any location of either foot.

RESULTS: One hundred thirty-six participants were enrolled with 90 (66%) having completed data for analysis. There were 36% women, with a mean age of 40 ± 9.4 years (range, 25-40 years) and pack weight of 11 ± 1.8 kg (range, 8-16 kg). All participants developed blisters, with 89% occurring by day 2 and 59% located on the toes. No protective effect was observed by the intervention (47 versus 35; 52% versus 39%; P = .22), with fewer blisters occurring around the tape on the experimental foot than under the tape (23 vs 31; 25.6% versus 34.4%), yet 84% of study participants when queried would choose paper tape for blister prevention in the future.

CONCLUSIONS: Although paper tape was not found to be significantly protective against blisters, the intervention was well tolerated with high user satisfaction.

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