"If the shoe doesn't fit, must we change the foot?"
April 8, 2011 4:34 AM   Subscribe

I've recently started long distance running (5 months). I purchased a pair of running shoes two months ago and I've noticed that my left shoe is rubbing the back of my achilles tendon. Does anyone know of any type of product that will cushion the back of my running shoe and prevent it from rubbing against my tendon in this way? I can still run at the moment but there is some strong soreness where that part of the shoe hits the back of my foot.

I'd rather avoid purchasing another pair of shoes. I believe that it might have something to do with the way I run, my stride/form. But it is odd that it only recently started to happen. I wear socks that are specifically made for running. Any advice or suggestions about this would be appreciated. I run on average 3 or 4 times a week. I at least 5 kms or more. I have started to increase my distance and at least once a week I run a lengthy distance of 10 km or more.
posted by Fizz to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Scissors - modify the shoe.

However, since you say you think you are running with poor form, you can try to update your motion. The running community has been encouraging a midfoot strike more and more lately. This may be of some help.

I was once told to think about a postage stamp sized spot just behind each big toe, and to think about keeping it a little lower to the ground, and to set that spot down gently with each strike.

You may also want to try thinner socks, or even just a thinner sock on that one foot. Not all feet are symmetrical as pairs, and sometimes you can adjust for this with socks. You could also try swapping out insoles, perhaps some heal lift would help move that spot.

Also, consider having a second pair of shoes that you rotate with your current set. I rarely run in the same shoes two days in a row.
posted by tumble at 5:04 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you tumble. Those are all excellent suggestions. I will definitely look into a few of those.
posted by Fizz at 5:09 AM on April 8, 2011

Response by poster: Scissors - modify the shoe.

Regarding this suggestion: Would cutting the top of the left shoe effect the way the shoe holds onto my foot. I considered doing this earlier in the week but I worry that I might mess up how the shoe stays on my foot.
posted by Fizz at 5:11 AM on April 8, 2011

I use an older model of these: Bauerfeind Achillotrain Pro Achilles Tendon Support

They've helped a lot when I was still competing (track); but may not be exactly what you're looking for since a pair is probably more expensive than a new pair of shoes; but maybe something similar and less expensive exists in your area.

I had a very bad experience with Adidas running shoes, to the extent that I think their shoes are partially responsible for some of the achilles tendon trouble that I had; and was much happier over the years with various Asics and Mizuno running shoes.
posted by ckemp at 5:14 AM on April 8, 2011

Certain shoes do this more or less than others... the age old wisdom about this is, "if your shoes hurt, change 'em."

That... and the application of Bodyglide or vaseline can help as well to deal with rubbing point.
posted by ph00dz at 5:25 AM on April 8, 2011

+1 for Bodyglide - it's a great product.

After thinking about this a little longer - I thought I'd add this: I often find that adding padding to a sore area can add bulk to the spot that's rubbing, which can cause further restriction and worsen the problem. Depending on the shoe, perhaps you can do some forcible bending of the riser around the achilles - stretch or bend that part of the shoe overnight with some tape or a stack of books or something that MacGyver would be proud of.

With all that said - I typically try to retire a shoe after about 300 miles. It may just be time for you to go to your local running specialty store and have them help you find a new pair that you will love dearly.
posted by tumble at 6:09 AM on April 8, 2011

Response by poster: The shoe up until this past week has been great and it's relatively new, I've only about 124 km on it. So it is not a question of poor quality or breaking down or anything like that. It may be an issue of the design but still odd that it only now is happening. I will try the tape thing tonight and see what I can do with it. Also, bodyglide will be purchased soon. Thanks for all the input. Love my mefites.
posted by Fizz at 6:17 AM on April 8, 2011

I get this problem all the time with shoes. Wearing wool socks (as opposed to cotton or a blend) will also fix the problem; the wool sticks to your foot and takes the chafing for you, whereas cotton sticks to the shoe and redoubles the chafing.
posted by LN at 6:22 AM on April 8, 2011

I'd try bending the back before cutting.

You might also try lacing the shoe differently. I tend to lace tightly by the arch and loosely by the toes and ankle.
posted by advicepig at 6:45 AM on April 8, 2011

A little bit of moleskin might help.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:45 AM on April 8, 2011

I get this with almost every pair of shoes I buy, to the point where I always joke that there must be something wrong with the shape of my feet. A couple things have worked for me. One is to get an insole for the shoe - sometimes that raises the height of my foot in the shoe and somehow changes the fit enough that it doesn't rub anymore.

The best thing though is preventative moleskin. It's waaaay stickier than a bandaid (in fact, it will stay on through showers and stuff for a couple days. It completely prevents any blisters or rubbing. I'm a huge fan, even though it's not the best solution for dressier situations where you don't want people seeing it on your food.
posted by misskaz at 6:49 AM on April 8, 2011

Gah, typos. Food=foot. Must be hungry. Also go ahead and mentally close that parenthesis.
posted by misskaz at 6:50 AM on April 8, 2011

I agree with the suggestion of wool socks. smartwool makes some nice stuff. Don't cut the back of the shoe off- it'll make the shoe move around on your foot even more, and movement=rubbing=the exact same problem you currently have.
posted by Bunge at 6:53 AM on April 8, 2011

The experts at my local running store recommended this Lock Lacing technique for heel slippage.
posted by CathyG at 7:42 AM on April 8, 2011

Duct tape. Over moleskin if the area is still sensitive. Seriously. Works wonders. No cutting of shoes or special accoutrements necessary.
posted by elendil71 at 9:51 AM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]

Get yourself a steel shoehorn (one like this) and tape it to the back of your foot, right against the skin. Add socks and put on the shoes - you might want a few tries to get the fit right. This is going to feel really weird and prevent you from pointing your foot; I wouldn't recommend running like this. Pretend you're wearing a spur and just hobble around the house or do errands this way for 4-8 hours. The pressure will deform the heel to match your foot better, and you shouldn't have the rubbing problem again. Make sure it's a steel shoehorn; plastic ones may be crushed in the process.

New dress shoes especially will dig into my achilles enough to eventually draw blood. Over the years I've tried varying sock thickness, wearing heavy duty band-aids (works for a few hours until the material breaks down), and cutting a little V wedge out of the shoe (great for sneakers, runs the risk of developing a split in leather). One or two shaping sessions like this are the best solution I've found.
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:21 AM on April 8, 2011

Seconding duct tape. Ask a hardcore hiker...
posted by stenseng at 10:26 AM on April 8, 2011

Dumb question, but is it possible your left foot is slightly bigger than your right foot?

I've been told that feet can swell while running, so maybe your left foot -- if slightly larger than the right foot, and swolen from running -- is slightly too small for the shoe?
posted by subgenius at 10:46 AM on April 8, 2011

Response by poster: UPDATE: I added some insoles and it seems to have raised the foot to a point where the back of the left shoe is not striking the heel/tendon area. I've also ordered some moleskin just to be on the safe side. Thanks for all the input.
posted by Fizz at 6:05 AM on April 11, 2011

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