Virgin London Marathon

First aid tips for runners

Tackling a long run this year? Here's some essential first aid advice to bookmark to help get you through your training.

Cuts and grazes

A cut is when the skin is fully broken, and a graze is when only the top layers of skin are scraped off. Cuts and grazes are common injuries that can easily be treated.

What you need to do:

  • • Clean it under running water or with alcohol-free wipes.
  • • Pat it dry, cover with a sterile gauze or a clean, non-fluffy cloth.
  • • Raise and support the injury. Apply pressure to stop bleeding.
  • • Remove the cloth or gauze and apply a sterile dressing or large plaster.
  • • If there’s high risk of an infection (for example, if there's dirt in the wound) or something is stuck in it, see a healthcare professional.

More information about cuts and grazes


Blisters are fluid-filled bumps that look like bubbles on the skin. They are common if you’re a runner with your skin repeatedly being rubbed against your trainers. If you get a blister, the part of the skin that is damaged leaks fluid that collects under the top layer of the skin, forming the blister.

What you need to do:

  • • Don’t burst it.
  • • Wash the skin around the blister with clean water.
  • • Gently pat the skin dry with a sterile gauze pad or a clean, non-fluffy material.
  • • If caused by something rubbing against the skin, cover it with a special blister plaster.

More information about blisters

Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is caused by a loss of salt and water from the body, usually through excessive sweating. It develops slowly and usually happens if you’re not used to hot, humid weather.

What you need to do:

  • • If you start to feel unwell with a headache, feel nauseous, have pale, clammy skin, cramps or a rapid, weakening pulse, seek help straight away.
  • • Try to cool down and drink plenty of water or isotonic sports drinks to replace your body fluids and salts.
  • • Even if you recovery quickly, you should seek medical help as soon as you can.

More information about heat exhaustion

Knee injuries

  • • If your knee is hurting from repetitive running, stop and rest.
  • • If you fall and injure your knee, lie down and support your knee in a raised position.
  • • Put a covered ice pack or a cold compress on it, for no more that 10 minutes at a time.
  • • Put soft padding around it and bandage it in place - these actions will minimise swelling.
  • • Seek first aid help.
  • • If it continues to be very painful or swollen, don’t try to walk or run on the leg or straighten the knee. Seek medical advice.


You can become dehydrated after sweating a lot during or following a long run. If left untreated, dehydration can develop into heat exhaustion, which is a serious condition caused by excessive loss of salt and water from the body, so it’s important to make sure you keep hydrated with water and isotonic sports drinks.

What you need to do:

  • • Drink fluids regularly during your run. Plan opportunities to get fluids on your route.
  • • If you begin to feel unwell with a headache, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, have a dry mouth and feeling thirsty, have dark urine and muscle cramps, drink fluids – either water or isotonic sports drinks.
  • • If you do not feel any better, seek medical help.
  • • Remember to avoid drinking excessive amounts of fluid in short periods of time.

More information about dehydration

Nipple bleeding

This is caused by friction damaging the skin.

  • • You can prevent nipple bleeding by covering nipples with plasters or petroleum jelly.
  • • If they bleed, wash and dry carefully and cover with a plaster.

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