Blisters are one of the lesser running injuries yet they can occur easily and cause surprising discomfort that is sometimes debilitating… but they are ultimately avoidable.
How blisters occur
Poor-fitting footwear causes rubbing and friction leading to blisters on heels, toes, balls of feet and more. Moisture and heat make blisters worse as they escalate friction. Increased distance is also a culprit as the feet experience prolonged exposure to all of the above. Once you’re into a race scenario there’s only so much you can do to manage the situation so prevention is better than cure.
Wear the right shoes
In the first instance, it’s important to make sure you’re wearing the correct running shoes for your feet.
- Foot size
Running shoes are worn typically a half to one size larger than your everyday shoe size allowing about a thumb width of space between the end of the toes and the front of the shoe. This is because your feet swell as they warm up. A properly fitting running shoe should feel snug in the heel and midfoot, with room to wiggle the toes.
- Gait type
As you run your feet should roll straight through from heel-strike to toe-off. However many people find that either their ankles roll in (known as pronation), or roll out (known as supination). A foot with good alignment generally requires a ‘neutral’ shoe whilst a tendency for ankles to roll in or out usually indicates the need for more support or a ‘stability’ shoe. You can often tell what your foot type is by looking at your old running shoes to see where they are most worn. Excess wearing on the edges is a tell tale sign of an unstable foot.
N.B. This is, however, quite a simplistic statement as there are a multitude of other affecting factors. Biomechanical Analysis at our Running Lab can reveal your true patterns of movement allowing us to select and fit the right shoes for you. Profeet custom insoles enhance fit, comfort and performance.
Believe it or not there is more than one way to lace a shoe. In fact there are many variations to help adjust fit to suit your foot type.
- Wide forefoot
Leave the first eyelets nearest the toes unlaced and start lacing from the 2nd eyelets taking pressure off the forefeet.
- High arch
High arches and volume feet can be constricted by a regular lacing technique leading to pain or loss of circulation. The solution is to create a window in between eyelets 2 – 4 to create some space to allow the foot to flex comfortably. See our video guide for details.
- Narrow heel
A narrow heel can benefit from a racer’s lock or heel lock. There are 2 additional holes in the ankle cuff of running shoes, one each side. A loop can be created and used to thread the lace to create greater hold around the heel. See our video guide for details.
BALL OF THE FOOT
In all cases, please use prudence and if a blister is severe seek medical assistance as soon as possible. It’s tempting to want to continue running, but without treatment, this will very likely make matters worse. If you’re planning a marathon or ultra run have a blister strategy ready in advance:
- Get your shoes fitted and wear them in, sufficiently, in advance (never race in new shoes!)
- Consider custom insoles for a bespoke solution
- Choose quality running socks
- Check your feet for hotspots
- Create a first aid kit
We wish you happy blister-free running.