Blisters between ball of the foot and toes

Discussion in 'Barefoot & Minimalist Running' started by tsdh, Apr 22, 2014.

  1. tsdh Barefooters
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    Hi all,

    I'm running barefoot/minimalist for about half a year now, and basically I'm doing well. Since I'm mostly running on sharp, coarse gravel, I'm running about 90% of my weekly ~50-60km with Luna sandals, 5% with Vibram FiveFingers, and the rest barefoot.

    When I started, I couldn't run barefeet for more than 1km no matter what surface, but in the meantime my soles toughened up quite a bit, and now I can run fine up to 5km on asphalt or not too coarse gravel.

    Right now, I'm preparing for my first marathon (which I won't run barefoot, at least not yet). Thereby, I run at least every second day, and on every weekend I do at least one run above 25km.

    When I do those long runs, I frequently suffer from painful blisters that develop between the balls of the foot and the toes, right at the corner where the hard and thick ball skin and the soft and thin toe skin meet. Have a look at the attached picture where I've drawn a border around the area.

    I'm not exactly sure if those are "real" blisters. From this sunday's run I had a blood-filled blister between ball and big toe (which I sterilized and punctured), but the surrounding area also aches when being pressed without any clear visual sign.

    I think I much more likely to get those blisters on hilly runs. At least I've run several half-marathons that were flat, and then I had no such issues. Oh, and I'm also much more likely to get them on my right foot.

    Did someone else suffer from such a problem? If so, is there any cure to it?

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  2. johan131 Chapter Presidents
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    Is it possible you're pushing off instead of lifting your feet? Have you tried avoiding touching the ground firmly/lifting your toes? Maybe obvious but just trying to help.
  3. tsdh Barefooters
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    I'm pretty sure I don't push off too much, but probably I'm doing the opposite: "breaking" while going downhill. The "simply let it roll" trick doesn't work for me. At some point I need to step that quick that I have to break...

    With respect to toes: yes, I lift them a bit when landing. Should I avoid that?
  4. johan131 Chapter Presidents
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    Keep lifting your toes when landing! You will feel why if you don't: but above all listen to your soles, they're the best running coach you can get.

    About rolling downhill: it needs a lot of practice, try bending your knees even more (resulting in a longer stride) to avoid overtaking yourself. Try it slowly first, it demands a lot of flexibility in the knees and hips etc. You can maybe practice the Pirate Walk (read Ken Bob or check his site for it).
  5. tsdh Barefooters
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    The problem with my soles is that they tell me it has been too much only after I've stopped running for some time. ;-)

    Thanks for the downhill tips. I'll try to practice with that in mind.
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  6. johan131 Chapter Presidents
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    Ditch those shoes, start from zero, even on the gravel and slowly build it up... you'll be on your old mileage before you know it with twice the fun;)
    tsdh likes this.
  7. Sid Barefooters

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    When you say hard and thick, do you mean callused, hard, and inflexible? Or do you mean tough, but flexible like the skin on the palm of the hands?
  8. tsdh Barefooters
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    Pretty hard and inflexible. It also usually starts to fray out every week or so. Then I can pull off whole square centimeters of old skin.
  9. Sid Barefooters

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    http://m.runnersworld.com/injury-treatment/owners-manual-healthy-feet-happy-feet
    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/RunningBarefoot/conversations/topics/16080
    [IMG]
    Barefoot TJ and NickW like this.
  10. Sid Barefooters

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    I've found calluses to be very informative. My Vibrams were causing calluses, similar to the semicircular pinch callus under the ball of your big toe, so I ditched them. Although, I initially had a variety of calluses on my right foot during transitioning, they are mostly gone, and my right foot looks similar to Ken Bob's. On my right foot, I have a bunion and forefoot varus, and developed an uncomfortable callus pattern. I'm working on resolving them, by focusing on form, strengthening, and flexibility.
  11. tsdh Barefooters
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    Hi Sid. Since about a month its warm enough here in Germany and I've dropped shoes completely and go barefoot all day long including work, but I don't think the skin on my feet has changed too much since then.

    But really, I'm not too sure if I don't already have good "barefoot skin". Probably, we simply have different assumptions about what "flexible" means. When I read Ken Bob's quote above I'd definitely say there's nothing "crusty" on my soles. And they aren't dry, hard, or rough. And the skin is flexible in so far that you can push it in selectively, but it's very inflexible when it comes to tensile load.

    Now of course, it's still callus, i.e., about one millimeter of dead skin evenly distributed over my balls of the feet. Do you really suggest to do a "hard reset" and rub it off completely after having a shower?
  12. johan131 Chapter Presidents
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    Why would you rub it off? Your skin takes care of itself. You aren't peeling pieces of your hands either? Some 'loose ends' at most? Getting the dirt off should be all in my opinion...
  13. tsdh Barefooters
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    Yeah, that was my feeling, too, but the Runner's World article Sid cited suggests otherwise.
  14. johan131 Chapter Presidents
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    Yes, it needs some patience for your feet to adapt. It will smoothen itself before you know it (you're body already knows;))
  15. Sid Barefooters

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    I'm no expert, so I'm not suggesting or recommending anything.
    http://m.runnersworld.com/injury-treatment/owners-manual-healthy-feet-happy-feet
    I personally found this to be the case in my situation.

    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/RunningBarefoot/conversations/topics/16080
    This is may true, too.

    http://www.tamaracpodiatrist.com/resources/foot-ankle-library/calluses-corns/
    I file down my calluses so that they are even with the surrounding skin, so that they are no longer hard and inflexible. This seems to keep them from tearing, peeling, or blistering. If they grow back, then I figure that I'm still doing something wrong biomechanically and try to make changes.

    In general, I strive for an even thickening on the pads of my feet, as Ken Bob's feet appear. For instance, the skin on my heels are nice and thick, and never crack, blister, or peel. If the rest of my feet are that way, then I'd be pleased. It's like that on my right foot, but not the left, so I still have some work to do there.
    Bare Lee, johan131 and migangelo like this.

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