Blister Control & Prevention

One of the most common problems encountered by marathon paddlers is blisters on the hands.  This is totally preventable.  I have paddled 2000 km in 5 weeks on the Murray River and did not have a mark on my hands (see image, below left).  Please see image below (right) of hands that did not follow my protocol, resulting in blisters and general discomfort.

Bill's hands

Bill's hands

Blistered hands

Blistered hands

How to do it: I strongly advise  to use this technique to prevent blisters and you should start from Day 1. However, it can also be used to treat blisters and stopping them getting worse.

There are 2 components to my system:

1) Cohesive  5cm wide bandage.  Commercial brands are Co-Plus or Coban which can be obtained from pharmacies, however I have been able to source a generic brand which is much cheaper and and just as good as the major brands. I used it last year and had no problems—- The cost is $5 per roll which is good value.  Apply lightly to the fingers to cover the moleskin padding. This is very important as if you put it on too tightly your fingertips can swell.  Always ensure that the bandage is not stretched or under tension before you apply it. Squeeze the bandage after applying to make it conform and adhere to itself—it does not stick to your skin and is not affected by water. These bandages are non-adhesive to the skin and conform to the shape of your hand.

2) Gill Pro Fingerless Sailing Gloves.  This brand is by far the best and I strongly recommend them. They last for years and thousands of kms. Wear these gloves on top of the above mentioned bandaging/padding.
[Fingerless paddling gloves such as Sea To Summit Eclipse Gloves are also good for blister prevention - ECK]

  1. Apply the cohesive bandage, but with only very slight tension—If it is too tight your fingers can swell. Squeeze the bandage firmly after application to make it conform.
  2. Bandage squeezed firmly to conform.
  3. Put on the glove.