Save my feet from blisters
August 7, 2008 8:24 PM   Subscribe

[GrossFootStuffFilter] I just started walking (a lot more than I used to) and I'm constantly developing blisters all over my toes. Help!

Just switched from a Suburban, drive-everywhere lifestyle to an urban, walk-with-occasional-subways one. My (New Balance 811) shoes never bothered me before... but now that I'm walking 2-4 miles a day, I'm getting painful blisters - nearly all of them where skin rubs against skin, not against sock/shoe.

It's even stranger because with shoes that fit pretty much the same, (also NB, different model) back when I was in college, I walked just as much (or more!) with no ill effects. I can wiggle my toes around in the shoes; they've got a breathable mesh and are meant for running (though I never run, just walk.)

I've never had to pay attention to my feet before, so this is both weird and frustrating - please help me stop getting blisters, both in the short-term and long. What might be different about my current shoes compared to my old ones?
posted by Tomorrowful to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Probably nothing. This happens to a lot of people who change to a walking lifestyle. The good news is that it goes away, usually in just a few weeks. Don't stop walking, and eventually you will adjust naturally.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 8:34 PM on August 7, 2008


Worked wonders for me when training for a marathon.

To your question - feet swell a little when moving around more, granted not so much when running a marathon, but you're still subjecting your feet to more friction than they're probably used to. Give the bodyglide a shot.
posted by matty at 8:35 PM on August 7, 2008

I think rather than becoming reliant on some kind of expensive medicinal cure or prevention or whatever, and if you're serious about this being a long-term thing (I hope so, because taking a long aimless stroll, wherever and whenever, is just a great thing to do, for any number of reasons), you might want to sort of grin and bear it for the first few weeks until your feet toughen up a bit. In other words, what Dee said.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:53 PM on August 7, 2008

Try some different socks -- something synthetic or with Cool Max type wicking fabric? If Bodyglide doesn't work or you don't have any laying around, you could always just try some Gold Bond powder or just regular powder and see if it helps wick some moisture, and the powder also lubricates, although differently than a gel (think very small ball bearings or why you flour a pan before you bake a cake)
posted by sararah at 9:01 PM on August 7, 2008

Swabbing tincture of benzoin on your likely-to-blister spots (but not open/healing blisters -- it'll burn!) will help to make your feet less blister-prone. You should be able to get it from most pharmacies.
posted by thisjax at 9:10 PM on August 7, 2008

You blister from the heat/humidity/sweat. Swipe deodorant on the spots that have been running. I swear it works wonders!
posted by radioamy at 9:40 PM on August 7, 2008

Have you tried wool socks? When I hike they're the only thing that saves me from the blisters. Smartwool makes fabulous ones, but I'm pretty happy with REI's house-brand merino socks too.
posted by chez shoes at 9:58 PM on August 7, 2008

I've read that running shoes aren't ideal for walking, but I walk everywhere in a pair of Asics and so far so good. . .
posted by yort at 10:25 PM on August 7, 2008

I'm a big walker, but here in Florida I have to be very, very careful about what sort of shoes I wear in the summer. For a long time that meant properly fitting sneakers and white athletic socks. Sometimes, when it was really hot, I'd still get blisters, despite walking about three miles a day--so much for building up resistance. My feet are fairly nicely calloused, for what it's worth.

Then, a few months ago my sister gave me an old pair of Merrell athletic sandals that she didn't want anymore--it seems like they've been discontinued, but the style is similar to these North Face sandals. They're amazing. Because the straps are lightweight, there are no pressure points or uncomfortable rubby spots. My feet dry out quickly and I'm no longer plagued by the blisters in odd places (like between my big toe and the next one over--ouch!). I do have odd tan lines now in the shape of the straps, but otherwise my feet are ecstatically happy. So I'd highly recommend giving comfy sandals a try!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:28 PM on August 7, 2008

Definitely try toe socks. They separate the toes and pad (via fabric) in between. They don't have to be the rainbow-striped, knee-high ones that teenage girls wear...

I just got a pair from Injinji that are low cut and I love them. It takes a while to get used to having your toes separated; wearing them really makes you notice how restrictive shoes are (though NBs are better than most) in the toe region. I'm even considering splurging and buying enough pairs to wear every day of the week.
posted by PixelatorOfTime at 11:36 PM on August 7, 2008

Firstly, go get yourself a pair of new shoes. As well as the usual fit and cushioning, try to find some with breathable mesh. I live in a very hot, humid climate (at least in Summer) and if anyone should have foot-rot, it'd be me. The mesh will allow your feet to breathe, keep drier and also keep cooler.

Secondly, and this is sort of similar to the first point, get your feet professionally fitted for the shoes. If you're getting blisters between your toes, I'd be interested to see if a slightly wider shoe would help. As a woman who has man-size feet, I used to get blisters everywhere when wearing womens shoes. Switching to mens shoes (which are wider), I found that - even as fat and as sweaty as I get in hot weather - I could be on my feet for nearly 12 hours with nary a problem (and, baby - I am as unfit as you get).

Lastly, I will repeat the above comments about getting woollen socks. Find runners or general athletic socks. Cheaper is not good - you should be looking for a wool or wool-blend sock as the fibres wick moisture away from your feet. Coupled with breathable mesh, you'll feel drier and cooler.
posted by ninazer0 at 11:38 PM on August 7, 2008

Don't just get woolen socks, go to an outdoors store and drop a bunch of money on good socks. I spend about $35.00 on a good pair - expensive yes, but they last a long time, wick away the sweat and offer some padding. If I was wearing cheaper socks I would be suffering, and I buy less than one pair a month while walking a LOT in them.

I also used to get chafing and pains in my feet, then discovered that I had been buying shoes that were too tight for years.
posted by tomble at 1:31 AM on August 8, 2008

I'd strongly suggest trying bigger shoes. I tend to wear a full size bigger in running shoes than I wear in everyday shoes. They may feel fine when you're in the store and doing a little walking, but having some extra room is critical if you are going to walk or run for a longer period of time.

Good socks and shoes with mesh are also going to help, but not nearly as much as the right size.
posted by advicepig at 6:50 AM on August 8, 2008

Seconding bodyglide. It's what I use when running (on all body parts that rub together), and it definitely helps keep my toe blisters at bay).
posted by iguanapolitico at 9:21 AM on August 8, 2008

I had a ton of problems with blisters when I started walking a lot in the heat. I found changing shoes a lot, like having three pairs and alternating them helped.
posted by Melsky at 7:20 PM on August 8, 2008

If you've got between the toe blisters - Injinji. They're wicking and toe protection is fantastic. Mr. 26.2 swears by Two Tom's BlisterShield. It's really good, but I don't use it since I've found the Injinji. I've raved about the other Two Tom's roll-on product on mefi before, but I don't think it's perfect for blisters.
posted by 26.2 at 11:55 AM on August 11, 2008

Response by poster: Incidentally, it looks like the culprit was an onslaught of 'legitimate' blisters caused by spending two days straight on my feet lifting/moving heavy things, followed by a few days of wearing too-tight and/or too-old socks. Having switched entirely to newer socks, I haven't had any more problems.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:33 PM on August 12, 2008

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