Hi everyone. Normally you would be reading an article on nutrition from me here, but recently on Facebook, I asked for some questions and got some great ones, some around the nutrition topic, some not. But as someone who has had plenty of experience in this area, I thought I would be more than qualified to answer this one.
The question is from Amber Ericksen who is having a few issues with blisters. Or should I say blisters on her 15 year old son’s feet. I don’t think there is a runner who wouldn’t be able to sympathize with your son, Amber. Blisters are a real pain in the butt, or should I say foot.
I suffered with blisters on various parts of my feet for years before finding the right sock and shoe combination. Over the years I have worn everything from Asics, Nike, Brooks, Montrail and Salomon. There are probably others, but they probably aren’t worth a mention. The problems I suffered with them were blisters on the heels as they didn’t hug my heel correctly regardless of how I laced them. I had blisters on the pad just behind my big toe from the shoes being too narrow for my forefoot, blisters between my toes from the toes rubbing together and I have even had blisters under my arches from too much arch support. Not to mention the lost toenails!
For years, the only way I could combat this was to tape my feet up. All I would do, when I got a new pair of shoes, I would go for a 10k or so run in them and see where the blister points were and tape them up every time I went out for a run. Quite frustrating, not to mention costly with all the tape I went through! The other problem was during long runs, such as ultras, the tape would start to lift causing other problems all together. There were times I was ready to throw in the towel.
What’s the solution? The combination I have used for the last couple of years that has left me blister free. Let’s look at socks first. I used to use any old sock that was in the draw, but recently I have become just as picky with my sock choice as I have with my shoes. For anything longer than an hour, I will not even think of using another sock other than the injinji’s. Have you seen the socks with the individual toes? They’re the ones I use for all my races and long runs.
Regardless of which shoes I wear, as it is an anatomical thing, I have a toe where the nail rubs on the side of the neighbouring toe. After 40-50+ K of this, the blisters can be quite horrific. Many a time I have had to drain these things after a race. With the injinji’s, it hasn’t happened once as the only bits that rub together are the sock against itself. The socks really hug your feet well, so there doesn’t seem to be any movement or hotspots with them at all. There aren’t any runners I know that have tried them and not had a good experience with them. Just make sure your sizing is correct.
Finding the right shoe is also very critical. Most of you are probably well aware that I will only run in zero drop shoes as they allow you to run in a more natural stride. But that aside, the only one I have found that works for me is the VIVOBAREFOOT. Their whole design is around allowing the foot to move freely where it needs to and holding it in a few key areas. That combined with minimal inner seams, a low height, a generous sized toe box and a design that seems to hold the foot really nicely. I have not had a single blister with these things, no hot spots (even behind the big toe like every other brand has done to me) and I have been wearing them for nearly 2 years now with numerous races under my belt in them.
They have a great range of road shoes, trail shoes and I even have my daughter wearing their school shoes. Most kids at school take runners for sports day, but my daughter still wears her school shoes as she thinks they are so comfortable she has no problem running in them. So it’s not just me!
If you are hesitant at getting your son into the minimalist/barefoot style shoes, my advice would be at his age, he will adapt to them very easily and may even end up preventing some injuries down the track. Getting the shoes professionally fitted to suit his feet is essential as the wrong size shoe will be terrible regardless of the brand. Depending on where you live, Amber, there is a store in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Hampton called Soled, who will look after you, especially if you mention Shaun and I.
I obviously can’t guarantee they will work for your son as I don’t know his foot, but after years of suffering with blisters myself, I have found what works for me and you can only try it for yourself. Best of luck!