“No pain no gain”, they say. In sports, this couldn’t be more accurate. Getting injured is just part of the life of any athlete. In whitewater rafting this is no different. The high-intensity workout you’ll receive from a trip down the river will leave your muscles sore, no doubt. In addition, the constant friction of your hands against the oar will most likely end up in a painful and annoying blister.
For most of us, the thrill and excitement enjoyed while practicing an extreme sport such as whitewater rafting is simply enough to increase your pain tolerance levels and ignore any aching sensation. Still, there are some tips you can apply in order to reduce the chance of getting a blister when paddling against the river’s power.
A blister forms as a defense mechanism, when the outer layer of your skin has been damaged. Your body collects a clear fluid called serum underneath the damaged skin. The body uses this fluid to cushion the skin underneath the damaged area to prevent any further injury. However, blisters are painful and uncomfortable. They need to be well cared for, otherwise they could end up infected and leading to bigger health problems.
The first thing that could actually help you prevent blisters from appearing is your nourishment. Believe it or not, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables containing vitamins A, B5, and C such as apples, carrots and cauliflower help to speed up the skin’s healing process while resisting infection.
When rafting, blisters are common on the thumbs and pads of the fingers where the paddle rubs against the skin. Water softens hands, and sand gets caught in these areas making the friction worse and extremely painful. Therefore, the key is to reduce friction as much as possible and paddling in the correct way will give you a good start. Follow your guide’s instructions and try to hold the paddle loosely in both hands.
Consider wearing a tape grip if you are prone to blisters. Gymnasts build tape grips by folding a piece of athletic tape in half long ways so you have a long skinny piece. Make this piece approximately 2 to 2.5 hand lengths long. Bring the two ends together and tape along the seam on both sides, leaving enough room at the top for one of your fingers. Slip the hole over your finger that is above the blister and wrap a piece of tape around your wrist. This will give you some protection, at least for a while.
Another option is wearing proper-fitting gloves or pogies to help keep hands warm and dry. Gloves should fit snugly and not have any seams along areas of friction and pressure.
Finally, and most probably the best way to prevent blisters is by building calluses and the only way to build those, is by constantly training until your hands toughen up. So, take advantage of our early promotions and get a great discount by booking your rafting trip right away. Start early this rafting season, so your hands will be strong enough the rest of the season.
Follow Mile Hi Rafting’s next post and learn how to treat your blisters once they appear. “Trust me, they will appear.”