What Causes Blisters When SUP Paddling And How Can I Prevent Them
What Causes Blisters When SUP Paddling And How Can I Prevent Them

Paddling through pristine waters on a Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) is a refreshing experience that allows us to connect with nature while enjoying a full-body workout. However, the unfortunate side effect that occasionally accompanies this activity is the dreaded blister.

These little skin irritations can damper our paddleboarding adventures, but fear not! In this article, we will explore the common causes of blisters when SUP paddling and arm ourselves with preventive measures to ensure smooth, blister-free rides every time.

Common Causes of Blisters


Friction is one of the primary causes of blisters while SUP paddling. When there is repeated rubbing or pressure on the skin, particularly in areas where it is in direct contact with equipment such as the paddle or board, blisters can form. The friction causes the outer layer of the skin to separate from the underlying layers, creating a blister.

Friction due to Ill-fitting Gear

Another common cause of blisters is friction caused by ill-fitting gear. When your gear, such as your paddle or board, does not fit properly, it can cause excessive rubbing and pressure on specific areas of your hands or feet. This can result in painful and uncomfortable blisters.


Moisture can also contribute to the formation of blisters. Paddling activities often involve contact with water, and prolonged exposure to moisture can soften the skin and make it more prone to friction. Additionally, wet gear or clothing can exacerbate the friction and increase the likelihood of blisters.

Repetitive Movements

You are engaging in repetitive movements while SUP paddling can also lead to blisters. When you perform the same motions over an extended period, it puts repetitive stress on specific areas of the skin, resulting in friction and eventual blister formation.

Improper Paddling Technique

Using improper paddling techniques can be another cause of blisters. This can include gripping the paddle too tightly, using incorrect hand placement, or maintaining an inefficient arm motion. These faulty techniques can increase friction and pressure on specific areas of the hands, leading to blisters.

Preventing Blisters

Choose the Right Paddle Grip

One effective way to prevent blisters is to choose the correct paddle grip. Opt for a grip that is comfortable and provides sufficient padding to minimize the amount of direct contact between your skin and the paddle. Experiment with different grips to find the one that suits you best and reduces friction.

Wear Appropriate Gear

Wearing appropriate gear is crucial for preventing blisters. Ensure your gear, including your wetsuit or drysuit, fits properly and allows for a full range of movement. Avoid gear that is too tight or loose, as this can contribute to friction and discomfort. Additionally, consider wearing moisture-wicking clothing to help keep your skin dry and reduce friction.

Break-in Your Equipment

Breaking in your equipment before embarking on a long paddling session can help prevent blisters. New paddles or gear can sometimes have rough or abrasive surfaces that can cause friction and blisters. Take the time to break in your equipment by using it for shorter periods initially or rubbing it with sandpaper to smooth any rough areas.

Improve Your Paddling Technique

Improving your paddling technique can significantly reduce the risk of blisters. Focus on learning proper hand placement and efficient stroke techniques to minimize unnecessary friction. Avoid gripping the paddle too tightly, which can increase pressure and friction on the hands. Additionally, strive for a fluid arm motion that reduces the strain on specific areas and distributes the workload evenly.

Use Protective Gloves or Paddling Socks

Using protective gloves or paddling socks can be an effective measure to prevent blisters. These accessories are a barrier between your skin and the paddle or board, reducing friction and preventing blisters. Choose gloves or socks that are comfortable, breathable, and provide adequate padding for optimal protection.

Apply Lubricants or Anti-Friction Cream

Applying lubricants or anti-friction cream to high-friction areas can help reduce the risk of blisters. These products create a protective layer on your skin, reducing friction and minimizing the chances of blisters forming. Look for products specifically designed for sports or activities involving repetitive motion, and apply them generously before paddling.

Keep Your Hands Dry

Keeping your hands dry during paddling sessions is essential for blister prevention. Excess moisture can soften the skin and make it more prone to friction and blister formation. Use a towel or chamois to dry your hands regularly throughout your paddling session, and consider using moisture-wicking gloves or socks to help keep your hands dry.

Take Regular Breaks and Rest

Taking regular breaks and allowing your hands and feet to rest is crucial for preventing blisters. Prolonged paddling sessions without breaks can increase friction and pressure on the skin, increasing the likelihood of blisters. Take short breaks every hour to give your hands and feet a chance to recover and reduce the risk of blisters.

Maintain Proper Hydration and Nutrition

Proper hydration and nutrition play a vital role in preventing blisters. When your body is dehydrated or lacking essential nutrients, your skin may become more susceptible to friction and blister formation. Stay hydrated by drinking water regularly and consume a balanced diet that includes foods rich in vitamins and minerals to maintain healthy skin.

Select Adequate Paddling Routes

Choosing adequate paddling routes can also contribute to blister prevention. Avoid rough or challenging routes that require excessive force or put undue stress on your hands and feet. Opt for smoother waters or routes, allowing a more comfortable and controlled paddling experience reducing the risk of blisters.

Addressing Friction

Use a Proper Paddle Grip

Using a proper paddle grip is essential for addressing friction and preventing blisters. Ensure that your grip provides sufficient padding and support to minimize the pressure and friction on your hands. Experiment with different grip styles and materials until you find the one that works best for you and reduces discomfort.

Use Correct Paddle Length

Using the correct paddle length is crucial for addressing friction and reducing the risk of blisters. A paddle that is too long or too short can result in improper hand placement and increased friction. Invest in a paddle that is the appropriate length for your height and paddling style to ensure optimal performance and reduce the chances of blisters.

Check and Adjust Foot Placement

Checking and adjusting your foot placement can help address friction and prevent blisters. Ensure that your feet are correctly positioned on the board, with the balls of your feet aligned with the board’s centerline. Avoid excessive pressure on specific areas of your feet, leading to friction and discomfort.

Maintain Optimal Stance and Balance

Maintaining an optimal stance and balance while paddling is crucial for addressing friction. Improper posture or balance can increase pressure and friction on specific areas of your body, leading to blisters. Focus on proper body alignment, distribute your weight evenly on both feet and engage your core muscles to maintain stability and reduce friction.

Optimizing Gear Fit

Choose the Right SUP Board

Choosing the right SUP board is essential for optimizing gear fit and preventing blisters. Ensure that the board is the appropriate size and shape for your skill level and paddling style. A board that is too small or too large can lead to improper posture and increased friction, increasing the risk of blisters.

Select the Proper Paddle

Selecting the proper paddle is essential for optimizing gear fit and preventing blisters. Consider paddle length, weight, and materials when choosing a paddle. A well-fitted paddle will reduce the likelihood of blisters by minimizing friction and pressure on your hands.

Ensure a Properly Fitted Leash

Ensuring your leash is correctly fitted is crucial for optimizing gear fit and preventing blisters. The leash should be secure and snug but not too tight to avoid excessive rubbing and pressure on your ankle or calf. An adequately fitted leash will allow for a full range of movement without causing discomfort or blisters.

Managing Moisture

Wear Moisture-Wicking Clothing

Wearing moisture-wicking clothing is an effective way to manage moisture and prevent blisters. These types of clothing are designed to pull moisture away from your skin and promote quick evaporation, keeping your skin dry and minimizing the risk of blisters. Look for clothing made from polyester or merino wool, known for their moisture-wicking properties.

Consider Drysuits or Neoprene Gear

Consider using dry suits or neoprene gear to manage moisture and reduce the risk of blisters. These items create a barrier between your skin and the water, preventing moisture from saturating your clothing and gear. Drysuits and neoprene gear also provide insulation, ensuring your body stays warm even when in contact with water.

Dry Your Gear Thoroughly After Paddling

Drying your gear thoroughly after each paddling session is essential for managing moisture and preventing blisters. Moist gear, such as wetsuits or booties, can retain moisture and increase the chances of friction and blisters. Hang your gear in a well-ventilated area and allow it to air dry completely before storing it.

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Jake Walker
Hi, I'm Jake Walker, a passionate outdoor sports enthusiast and SUP Board expert. With years of experience in the field, I have gained extensive knowledge and expertise in all things related to SUP Boards. I am dedicated to providing valuable tips and advice to help fellow enthusiasts make informed decisions when it comes to choosing the right SUP Board gear. Throughout my journey in the SUP Board community, I have been recognized for my contributions and have received several prizes and rewards for my expertise. These accolades have further motivated me to continue sharing my knowledge and helping others navigate the exciting world of SUP Boarding. I believe in the transformative power of outdoor sports and how they can enhance our connection with nature. My writing philosophy revolves around inspiring individuals to embark on their own SUP Board adventures and embrace the thrill of exploring new waters. When it comes to my writing style, I strive to inject a personal touch into every piece I create. I want my readers to feel like they're having a conversation with a friend, providing them with relatable and practical advice that they can apply to their own SUP Boarding experiences. I am excited to be a part of SUPBoardGear.com, where I can engage with a community of like-minded individuals who share the same passion for SUP Boarding. Connect with me on this platform, and together, let's explore the world of SUP Boarding and make unforgettable memories on the water. Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or need assistance in choosing the perfect SUP Board gear for your next adventure. Let's embark on this incredible journey together!