I think I have FINALLY figured out the whole “blister issue” I’ve been having while running.
Let me fill those of you in if you haven’t heard before:
I started running my junior year of college. I finished my couch-to-half marathon training and was pretty hooked on the 13.1 mile distance. First race was no problem, maybe a blister or two, but things only got worse from there. No matter what I tried, my blisters would keep coming. Any planned run over 3 miles resulted in at least one blister- per foot! Half marathon times were ruined due to the sheer pain of running on raw skin. The worst half was when I finished with 8 blisters on each foot.
I thought that time would fix my problem, maybe my feet are still getting used to running? But one of my clients, whose an avid runner, kept telling me I didn’t have to just deal with it. “There is a solution to this problem”.
A few weeks ago during a 5am desk shift, I was perusing shoes and saw I saw an ad for a local running coach. Let’s start there!
Sam has been running for years, doing all sorts of distances in crazy time. I could only dream of finishing my half marathon in 2 hours flat, while his FULL marathon was a little over 2 hours. He and I met in the back of a physical therapy place in downtown Burlington, where I told him my running history and my blister issues. He told me to get my feet fitted for the right running shoe and have them video tape me while running to watch how my feet land. I’ve been fitted before but never recorded. Most shoe/ running specialty stores will ask you to take your shoes off and have you walk so they can see how your foot naturally wants to land, and then see how shoes can help it if there are any issues. Dramatic pronation is the biggest and most common issue they see, and most running shoes are designed to help manage that. They then have you try out a few pairs of shoes and let you run a little in each so see how your foot compensates in the orthotic (because in this day and age almost all running shoes have some sort of orthotic property).
I’ve done this at least three times at different places, and have usually ended up in my Asics. I thought maybe my toe box was too small, so I ordered 8.5 instead of 8. Sam told me to find a place, even bring my current shoes, and see what it looks like when I run. Surprisingly, this time I went and the girl helping me didn’t even bring out Asics. Instead, she brought out Muzimos and Brooks- which tend to have a little more of an arch support than Asics. From my experience, Asics generally have no real arch in them, and is referred to a “neutral” shoe. I decided on the Brooks, and took them home to try out.
I did one or two short runs, and noticed some foot cramping. I chalked it up to “wearing in the new shoe”. Then took them out for a 4.5 mile spin and immediately figured out the problem I’ve been dealing with for two years- I have weak arches! The blisters I got after 20-30 minutes of running must have been coming from my arches getting tired and losing their form. It explains the big toe rubbing no matter what I tried and the odd cramping my feet were having. I also began to see this in my yoga, where certain positions I would notice most of my weight going into my arch instead of the outside of my foot where it has more stability. I researched some simple arch exercises (one of which I’m doing now while I type) and hope that over time I can finally run blister free!
Runner’s World Arch Enemy exercises:
- Calf raises– raise to the balls of your feet and slowly lower down. I’ve been doing this for a while so I challenge myself with one foot at a time for balance or more weight or trying it pigeon-toed. You can also do this on a step, so that your heels don’t touch the ground when you lower- this can also just be a nice stretch.
- Doming– This is a yoga technique (the one I noticed I need to work on) for anything that requires a grounded back foot, you want to have a strong balance and even weight distribution. standing with your feet apart, try to put even amounts of weight in your toes and heal while thinking of lifting your arch without actually doing so. Your foot should automatically take weight from the arch. Hold for a few seconds and release. If you want to apply this to your practice, try warrior 1 and 2 and concentrate on your back foot being flat to the ground. If your foot falls in towards your arch, make your stance smaller and focus on the arch staying off the floor.
- Squeeze/ Spread: The spread-taking a toe separator (like when you get your nails painted) or a thin sock/tie/something. Separate teach toe from one another, then try to squeeze them together and release. The squeeze– taking a resistance band (or if you don’t have one pretend you do haha) and wrapping it around your toes, then work hard to spread them apart and release. If you don’t have a band, try to get all your toes to separate and widen against the wall or the floor.
- Toe curls: take a small towel or thin article clothing and stand on top of it (one foot at a time). Curl your toes in, taking the cloth with them, then release.
- Massage: This one isn’t included in the article, but I like to do it anyways-especially after a run. Find a small ball/canned food/ bottle and roll your foot over it. Don’t press too hard! If it doesn’t feel strong enough, just play around with different sized/textured objects.
I am so excited to be in less pain during and after a race! »♥«