How do I deal with blisters under the ball of my foot?
* A support email
Stephen's blister enquiry
Hi Rebecca , I have recently changed from running shoes to Luna Sandals (no socks) to run in. The first 4 or 5 runs on the flat were fine, I did a hilly run (16K) 2 days ago and could tell during the run I was going to blister on the balls of my feet. Just wondering what you would advise moving forward. Should I treat with donut pads and manage with Engo patches or should I be looking at wearing socks with the sandals. I was hoping to do an ultra marathon in the sandals end of October.
Thank you for your website & help.
My blister advice reply
Thanks for getting in touch Stephen. Wow, big change for your feet! Here are a collection of my thoughts about your options:
Socks will definitely help and if it's no trouble to wear them, I'd do it. Socks don't guarantee blister prevention, but they'll go a decent way towards it. They'll also protect your feet from abrasion (sand, grit etc).
These might work too well. If it's just a discrete area that's blistering under the ball of your foot, and you can cover this with a small or large oval, fine. But if you need wider protection in the form of a rectangle patch, we might be reducing friction too far over too large an area. More than ever, now you're in a sandal, you rely on high-ish friction levels under your foot to keep your foot stuck and relatively stationary on the shoe. Plus there's the hold provided by the upper, which has now been cut down to a few straps. So if there is significantly less friction holding the sole of your foot, I fear your foot will slide forward too easily and you'll get trouble from the pressure exerted by the straps.
Taping could be worth a try. I don't think taping reduces friction levels too much (nor do socks for that matter, but they do a little bit plus they're an extra interface which serves as protection). It could all end in tears though if the tape comes loose and folds over itself and becomes an irritant - so it definitely has its limitations. But assuming you need broad protection across the ball of the foot, I think taping might serve you better than ENGO in sandals (don't ask me which one Stephen - have a read of this if you haven't already).
Keep these up your sleeve for blister treatment, should it come to it.
To wrap up
Right now, I favour socks. If that's not enough, add taping. If that didn't do the trick, I'd add an ENGO rectangle patch and hope the straps don't annoy too much (I'm really keen to know how that would go now). And if you still manage to blister, then donut pads (plus the appropriate dressing).
What a great question Stephen. Let me know if you need any of this clarified or have anything to add. I'll be happy to help you troubleshoot.
Written by Rebecca Rushton
Rebecca is an Australian podiatrist with over 20 years experience. She has spent a lifetime dealing with her own blister prone feet in her sporting and everyday life. Rebecca specialises in helping athletes and sports medicine professionals figure out how to manage foot blisters with ease. And for kicks, she enjoys providing blister care at multiday ultramarathon events.
Rebecca is the founder of Blister Prevention and author of "The Blister Prone Athlete's Guide To Preventing Foot Blisters".