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Blistering Performance

Blistered hands are the calling-card of rowers everywhere. Managing them can become an athlete’s obsession.

Blister; a rounded elevation of the skin containing clear fluid, caused by a separation either between layers of the epidermis or between the epidermis and the dermis.

A simple sentence describing a rather vague bubble-like lesion between the upper layers of the skin, this benign sounding bubble affects every rower on the planet. While most blisters are just irritations that require no medical assistance, more serious or chronic blisters have the ability to cause severe pain, irritation, infection and even end a performance in extreme cases. At this year’s Australian Open Tennis Championship an incredible run of wins from newcomer Chung Hyeon was ended as he pulled out of his semi-final against Roger Federer due to serious blisters – the crowd booed as Hyeon limped off the court but anyone who has felt the wrath of an aggravated blister will sympathise. “I row, therefore I blister,” is an accurate synopsis.

Blisters commonly result from pressure and friction on sites such as the palms of the hands or soles, heels and toes of the feet. In most cases they are created when friction causes an upper skin layer to move back and forth over an underlying skin layer or when prolonged direct pressure impacts the skin enough to break it. Blisters may also occur as symptoms of contact dermatitis, viral infection, or an auto-immune disease. We are focusing here on friction or contacttype blisters.

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About Row360

Welcome to Row360, the world’s only global, independent rowing magazine. Row360 brings you features from around the world, profiling the best athletes, coaches, and others from the whole rowing community – Olympic, adaptive, college, club, ocean, and more.