How a Barefoot Running Blister Taught Me about Blister Prevention and Changed My Life

barefoot running injury prevention

Getting a blister from barefoot running was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

Let me back up and tell you the whole story so you can understand why.

On my second barefoot run ever, I was so fascinated by the sensations, and so transfixed by experimenting to see the effects of different stride patterns, that I didn’t even notice I had run 5k. Now that may not sound like much to you ultra-marathon guys, but I’m a sprinter. I’d never run more than a mile before!

About 20 minutes after the run, though, I noticed that I had a big blister on the ball of my left foot, under my 2nd toe.

It wasn’t lost on me that I only had a blister on one foot. And it was particularly interesting that it was my left foot, because most of the injuries I’d been getting (the ones that inspired me to try barefoot running, with the hope it would cure me), were in my left leg.

Clearly, I was doing something with my left leg that caused the blister, something I wasn’t doing with my right leg, which felt fine.

A week later, I went out for another barefoot run, well before the blister had fully healed. I thought that I’d experiment some more and see if I could run in a way that didn’t hurt, figuring that if I wasn’t in pain I wouldn’t be doing what caused the blister in the first place.

And, I figured, if I couldn’t find a way to run pain-free in about ten minutes, I’d just stop and try again when the blister was gone.

As a ran, I kept thinking, “How can I stop doing with my left leg what I’m already not doing with my right?” But no luck. For the first nine minutes of that run I was in pain. I couldn’t find a way to move my leg, or meet the ground, that didn’t hurt.

I put my attention on my good leg, my right leg, and wondered, “How can I just do THIS, whatever that is, with my left leg?”

About a minute later, something changed.

At the time, I didn’t know what it was, all I knew is that I was able to run without my left foot hurting. I wasn’t doing whatever it was that caused the blister in the first place.

And, simultaneously, I started running easier, faster, lighter and with less effort than I ever had. I finished the run (only about 3k this time, but still…) and felt fine.

That was the last time I’ve been injured from running.

What changed? Before I answer that question, let me first explain why blisters form in the first place. Understanding that will help the rest of what I say make more sense. It will also help you start to see how you can avoid blisters in your own running.

What Causes Blisters from Running, Anyway?

Running blisters are caused by excessive friction. They occur when your skin is being rubbed in a way that damages it. Your body’s response is to gather clear fluid underneath the skin that is being damaged to protect the underlying tissues. As you know, they are painful — especially if the blister pops, exposing the raw skin underneath.

When you are running in shoes, blisters can form any time your foot is sliding against your shoe. Obviously, a blister doesn’t form immediately. But when friction occurs from repeated rubbing of any part of your feet or toes inside your shoes, eventually you’re going to wind up with a painful blister.

Note that this can happen when running barefoot, too, as I experienced. The way your foot makes contact with the ground can also generate the kind of friction that leads to blisters.

Barefoot running blisters certainly aren’t necessary; nor are blisters when wearing running shoes. The key is to prevent the friction that causes them to form in the first place.

So how do we do that?

The Running Mistakes That Lead to Blisters

When runners get blisters, it is often because they are doing one or more of these three things:

  1. Overstriding (reaching out with their foot rather than placing it under — or closer to — their center of mass)
  2. Pulling their feet towards them (which, by the way, also puts strain on the hamstring)
  3. Pushing off with their feet using their toes (instead of placing their feet then lifting them off the ground)

When it came to my own blister, I discovered I was doing the first of these. More about that in a moment.

If you think about the mechanics of how blisters form, you can see the problem here with all three.

Let’s dive into each with a bit more detail to help you avoid blisters in the future.

Reaching out with your feet:

When you land with your foot too far in front of your body you’ll be applying braking force on your feet every time they hit the ground. In other words, as your foot hits, the momentum of your body wants to continue forward but your foot is pushing back against it.

Exactly what happens next depends upon what you’re wearing. If you have nothing on your feet, your skin is likely to grip the ground, preventing it from sliding. This means stress on your tissues as lower layers essentially tug against the upper layer of your skin.

If, on the other hand, you overstride while wearing a running shoe, your foot is probably going to slide within the shoe as the shoe’s sole grips the ground securely.

Whichever happens, this repetitive rubbing can generate blisters. The location will vary, however, depending upon your foot strike pattern. If you land heel first, you’re likely going to get blisters on your heels. (By the way, landing on your heels is a bad idea for other reasons, too. It creates significant impact forces that are hard on your joints and tissues.)

If you land mid-foot or toward the front of your foot, you’re going to see blisters on the balls of your feet. This is what I was doing since, as a sprinter, I wanted to land on the ball of my foot.

The solution to this blister-causing stride pattern is landing your steps closer to under your body.

Pulling your feet

Many runners can fall into this habit because it feels like a way to gain more speed – to essentially pull your body forward with your foot against the ground. The result is just like what happens when you land with your feet too far out in front of you, only this time the direction of the rubbing is the opposite. You still end up with increased friction on the bottom of your foot and the resulting blisters.

If you stop overstriding, and land with your foot under your body, you’re less likely to pull your foot when it’s on the ground, reducing the chances of developing this type of blister.

Pushing off

This is similar to pulling with the foot, though here it isn’t pulling with a foot out in front of me but trying to give an extra push forward with a foot beneath or behind me, by flexing your toes, or what some call “toe-ing off.”

You can probably see how this puts horizontal pressure on the toes, creating more friction.

The correct motion simply involves lifting (not pushing) your foot off the ground by flexing your hip.

In other words, imagine that you step on a bee… you wouldn’t push off the ground since that would drive the stinger further into your foot. Instead, you would reflexively flex your hip, which lifts your foot off the ground.

To prevent a pushing-off blister, you want to think about lifting the foot rather than pushing off.

I could summarize all three of these things by saying you should try to run in such a way that minimizes horizontal forces applied to the bottoms of your feet. Your feet should come and go down without braking, pushing, pulling, or sliding. If you want to prevent blisters, you need to learn to run in a way that minimizes friction.

Can Barefoot Running Help Prevent Blisters?

I began by telling my own story about getting a blister when I started experimenting with barefoot running. While I’m not suggesting you run barefoot, it was certainly life changing for me.

One of the best things about barefoot running is that when you are doing something wrong in your form, it hurts. In contrast, correct form feels great. So you learn right away to listen to the feedback your body is giving you and to make adjustments.

All of the padding and support in traditional running shoes actually prevent you from really feeling what’s going on.

With barefoot running, you become attuned to the effects of your form and can use that input to coach yourself to become a better runner. It’s an ongoing process of continual improvement. I believe a better form is going to be better for your body in every way, including reducing the chances of getting blisters.

But What about Barefoot Shoes?

Given what I’ve said about running barefoot, you might be wondering what I’d say about barefoot shoes (after all, I did start Xero Shoes). Do they give any advantages when it comes to blister prevention?

One of the reasons for blisters is the foot rubbing that comes from the way you’re running, as we discussed above. Another reason many runners get blisters, however, is because of the shoes they are wearing. If your shoes don’t fit properly or move properly with your foot, you are going to have issues.

Think about it. Your feet have many bones, joints, and muscles that are designed to move as you walk or run. They are not solid, immovable objects. That means your shoes need to be able to move with your feet to reduce or eliminate friction.

Traditional running shoes fall short in this area. They are too stiff to flex naturally and usually too cramped in the toe box to allow your toes to move freely. Instead, they end up rubbing against the sides of the shoe, or against each other, both of which can be blister-causing. A still heel can also lead to blisters on the Achilles.

Barefoot running shoes are designed with a thin, flexible sole and a roomy, foot-shaped toe box. This kind of shoe is going to do three things for you. First, it is going to allow you to maintain that ground feel I was talking about earlier. You’ll be able to listen to the feedback your body gives you to hone in on your ideal form. Second, barefoot shoes will move with your feet, helping to prevent blisters. And third, the wider toe box can keep your toes from rubbing against each other.

People sometimes think it is inevitable that new running shoes will hurt your feet. This just isn’t true. New shoes that actually move with your feet and have enough room for your toes can feel great from day one.

Other Tips to Prevent Blisters

Your shoes and your form are probably the most important things to pay attention to if you want to prevent blisters. There are two other things that can be helpful to keep in mind, however:

  • Moisture: Moisture is your enemy when it comes to blisters. As surprising as it might sound, moisture increases friction and can also make your skin more susceptible to damage. If you need to, you can use talcum powder (like baby powder) to help absorb moisture.
  • Running Socks: Socks are a useful way to control moisture when you run wearing shoes. We could get into a big discussion about which are the right socks (Cotton socks? Wool? Double-layer socks?), but I’ll save that for another time. Running socks are usually specially designed to wick away moisture. If you do choose to wear socks to help keep your feet dry and reduce friction, look for the thinnest socks you can find to preserve as much as possible the natural feedback we’ve talked about above.
  • Moderation: Even in the best of circumstances, your skin can only take so much, especially when you are getting started or beginning to push to longer distances. Runners sometimes resort to extra tricks like applying duct tape or an anti-chafing balm when they know they’ll be dealing with tiredness and their form breaking down at the end of a longer-than-usual run. I get it; sometimes you feel like you need to be out there, even despite your blisters. In general, though I think it’s best to take it slowly and, again, listen to your body.

To summarize, run in a way that minimizes friction on your feet, stay away from ill-fitting shoes that don’t let your feet move naturally, keep your feet dry, and be prepared to listen when your body is telling you to stop or slow down. If you do get them, treat blisters and take some time off so your body can heal.

It’s no fun to get foot blisters. But my first barefoot running blister was the best thing that ever happened to me as a runner. It taught me to listen to my body and I’ve become a much better runner for it.

The content of this post does not constitute and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have about your health or a medical condition.

61 thoughts on “How a Barefoot Running Blister Taught Me about Blister Prevention and Changed My Life

  1. Hi, I like that very much, thank you for sharing! There is hope for me to then : ) I just started running barefoot, and Í got one little blister on the ball of my left foot, right under my big toe. And in the middle, same foot, I was very sore, like if one more blister was ready to arrive in just a minute. It didn’t, I was lucky.

    I am not even a runner to begin with, I just started to learn how to run some months ago and I have not been able to run more than two minuts at a time, then I had to stop, because of such pain in the lower part of my legs – my chin, ankles and my calf muscles.
    Okay, wrong kind of runningshoes, I think, I was about to bye some new ones, when I saw something about barefoot running on the internet and I knew this was for me!!!
    First time on bare feet, I could run 7 minutes and could have proceeded if it wasn’t for the fact, that I was home by then. And the pain in my legs was all gone!!

    There was some pain afterwards, but it was just soreness and it was entirely different muscles this time.

    The second time I tried running in the rain with a tiny patch on my blister, but it went loose of course
    and it just got worse.

    Now I am waiting for my Invisible Shoes to arrive, I hoped they would help me, so I can run with my blister untill it is gone away. But, after reading this I think I will give it one more try on bare feet, so I can learn : )

  2. Thanks so much for this Steven. I also heard your phone call into the NPR station regarding similar. I just got back from my Sunday Six miler. I typically start out in some sort of shoe (VFF) until my muscles warm up and my feet start to cooperate. I used your advice and payed attention to lifting my feet and not striding out. I did my middle four miles this way and was very happy that I managed to go that long. I generally feel a burn in my feet (from scuffing) after two barefoot miles. I also noticed muscles coming into play that I don’t usually feel. Best of all, when I was done, I felt more invigorated than usual. Looking forward to future runs with your sage advice. Thanks again.

  3. […] because it will give them the comfortability when they run. Watch this video on how to lace your barefoot running shoes […]

  4. I just went on my first real barefoot run today. A little tenderness, which I expected, as I haven’t really been going barefoot much. But I noticed exactly what Steven experienced: a blister, on one foot only (the right). A few days ago, I went on my first run in months (with minimal shoes), and noticed the following day that my right lower leg was much more sore than my left.

    It’s clear to me that whatever I’m doing with my left leg, I need to be doing with my right. I did spend a little time trying that today, without success. I’ll keep trying. And I’ll also do some non-running exercises to strengthen and stabilize the right lower leg.

  5. Hey Steven!
    Thank you so much for posting this! I have been having this same problem, only with both of my feet. I get big blisters underneath my second toes on the ball of my feet. I am pretty sure now, that it must be from pushing off when I walk and run. My strike is pretty good now, I’ve been working on it for a while. But I hadn’t realized how I was pushing off. Learning how to walk correctly is sure a work in progress for me. I am so glad I am keeping my toddler in minimal shoes and sandals! I just got him his first pair of invisible shoes. I have yet to make them, but I plan on taking pictures or video when I’m done. It may be a bit of a task because I’m not sure if the cord will even be narrow enough for his little toes…ha ha…
    Thanks again!

  6. I did my first “barefoot” 4 miles the other day and had the exact same blisters that you describe here. I knew there was something that I needed to change in my form, but I couldn’t figure out what. This gives me hope that things will improve as I listen to my body.

  7. Thanks for the tips. I just dont know what my body is telling me sometimes but now i have some things to listen out for and hopefully this will move me to blister free running

  8. How about if I just walked for 30 minutes in them and got a sore spot below my second toe on my left foot which feels like the start of a blister? this is my first pair. I was thinking I still haven’t figured the proper tightness on the tying.

    1. It’s not going to be tightness. It’s going to to be form.

      Notice that you didn’t get the same thing on your right foot. The odds are good that the tension is the same on both, but that your form is different.

      Pay attention to the “good” foot and you may notice the “bad” one adjusting.

      1. well, tried several things, adjusted how I walk, don’t make any noise, redone the laces, walked around a for few days practicing. Today I took another 30 minute walk and about two-thirds of the way I could feel blisters developing behind the second toe on both feet. No adjusting worked. I’m definitely not over striding. By the time I got home, really bad. I’m hobbling around the house. I think these are nice for short walks like to the car, but definitely not for extending walking or running. At least for me, I’ll look for something else for exercise.

        1. Keep in mind that there are tens of thousands of people who can walk or run for as much as 100 miles at a time without a blister. There’s no reason you can’t do the same, I assure you.

          One thing: 30 minutes is clearly too much to start with (or, from what you said, 20 minutes). We often recommend starting with as little as 200 yards.

          The blister you’re describing is not uncommon in barefooters (with or without huaraches) and is always from either overstriding or pulling your foot towards you after landing (depends on how you land).

          I know you *think* you aren’t overstriding, and maybe you’re not. But if I had a dollar for every time someone ASSURED me they weren’t doing something that, upon looking at video, they were in fact doing… we’ll I’d have a lot of dollars 😉

          As I like to say: excess horizontal force = friction = blisters … and isn’t an intrinsic part of being barefoot or in Xero Shoes. Knowing this, wonder, “Where might I be applying extra force/friction in that area?” and you’ll probably discover the answer.

  9. Very insightful! I tried my xeros for the first time yesterday and got a little blister. I’ll try to apply this tomorrow. Thanks Steven.

  10. I walk, run and workout barefoot and I get all sorts of blisters only on the ball of my right foot (it is also the foot I sprained my ankle on 7 months ago while playing tennis in shoes). I really want to figure out why my good foot is smooth and happy while my other foot is riddled with patches of missing callous skin. I guess I’ll just have to really think about it while I’m running next time.

    1. It’s kinda simple: You’re creating friction with your “bad” foot and not with your good foot. Now the question is: How am I creating friction?

      And the answer to that is almost always the same: Either “over striding” (reaching out with your foot too far when you land), or pulling/pushing your foot when it’s on the ground.

      Like I suggested, pay attention to your good foot and see if you find/feel anything from that awareness.

      1. One more question. So I ran again, this time paying close attention to any difference between my feet and this time I had much less friction on my bad foot. Unfortunately, this time I was getting some pressure/pain the side callous of my big toe of both feet! Does that mean I’m still stepping off the toe too much instead of the ball? Or should I have more of an up and down motion?
        Thanks for your help!

        1. Without seeing a video, it’s hard for me to comment… but think about the *principle* here: a) blisters/callouses come from too much horizontal force (which produces friction); b) You can only get a blister/callous on a place that’s in contact with the ground (I’ve had more than my share of people with abrasion on their heels who ASSURE me they don’t heel strike 😉 ); c) that much horizontal force isn’t necessary (those of us who spend a lot of time barefoot don’t have blisters/callouses).

          So, the key is to figure out where during your stride the blistered/calloused part of of your foot is touching the ground in a way that then gets more friction than is necessary.

          It could be during landing, during the contact phase (pulling/pushing too much), or during lift off (scraping your foot).

          During landing, you can get friction from overstriding as well as from landing on a part of your foot that doesn’t want to be landed on 😉 (in other words, ignore “instruction” about where/how you should land and EXPERIMENT and find what works for you).

  11. I tried my first pair of xero shoes today and they held up very well for my 5km run in 38 c weather. I have been gradually adjusting to minimalist running for several months. In addition, I grew up in a beach area as a child and rarely wore shoes for most of the year. After my run today I have no issue with my left foot but my right foot, on the heel, is quite badly blistered. Now I am not blaming the shoes, but I am curious if anyone has had the same issue. It is curious that only one foot is affected, perhaps I am heel striking on the right foot to cause a plantar blister? I have been told that I ‘lurch’ when I walk. Any advice would be appreciated as I think this might be the right time to fix my stride:)

    1. The only way you can get a blister is if you’re putting force/friction on that spot. So if you got a blister on your heel, you’re probably landing on it.

      Like this article says, pay attention to what your “good” foot is doing and try to get your “bad” foot to match.

      I LOVE “unilateral” problems… because you know that it’s possible to do things correctly since your “good” side is, well, good.

      Then just get the “bad” side to stop doing what caused the problem in the first place.

  12. I’ve been in Zeroshoes for the last 3 weeks, walking 7km per day, apart from sore feet (while my feet strengthens up) one odd blister whilst flattening the knot, no real problems.

    I did my first half marathon yesterday in my Zeroshoes. I got looks, ridiculous comments, extremely rude remarks from the older running folks and a healthy interest from the younger people. I referred a number of people to the South African Zeroshoe distributed – I was a true Zeroshoe ambassador.

    Planning to walk it I got so excited and started running, without even checking form or shoes. I did however had to stop twice to re-tie my shoes.

    My Zeroshoes were slapping and shifting – I was stopped at 17km with severe blisters on both feet and had to opt for mizuno’s..and the remaining 4km.

    Can’t wait for my feet to heal to go running 😉

    Any advice healing blisters?

    I don’t have any pain after yesterday – first time in my life.

    Thank u for developing Zeroshoes!

    1. Most importantly, it’s great to hear you’re pain-free.

      Secondly, the only thing that heals blisters is TIME 😉

      Third, both slapping and “shifting” are symptoms of the same issue: a form problem (almost always: overstriding). See for more info.

      Keep us posted, and thanks for the kind words!

      1. Good Morning Steven,

        I have figured out what’s giving me blisters. Its the knot under foot.
        Is there a video showing how to make the knots smaller/flatter?

        The knot’s flatten quite a bit in the last 3 weeks but I got blisters when I started running in my Zero’s.

        Have anyone else reported blisters or sore feet caused by the knot?

        Marna Marie’
        Cape Town, South Africa

        1. a) Look at the video on this page for the “lace bead” —

          b) I hope this doesn’t sound rude, but now that I’ve dealt with tens of thousands of huarache runners, I’ve never had a time where someone’s idea that the knot caused a blister was correct.

          I’d need to see a photo of where your blister is to verify this, so feel free to send a photo to [email protected]

          Here’s why I don’t think the knot is your problem:

          The knot is between your toes and in front of the ball of the foot. If you overstride and end up landing on the knot, then the real problem is overstriding, not the knot. If you’re not overstriding, then all blisters are friction related, and the only other way to create excessive friction is pulling/pushing with your feet rather than placing/lifting.

          Again, try the lace bead, but send me a picture for better diagnosis.

  13. I’ve been running for 13 years now and went from Brooks, Mizuno to ZEMGEAR, LEMS and Xeroshoes. I started training up for the GoRuck challenge (Las Vegas) in the Sensori’s while running with a 20-30lbs pack. I noticed the friction is indeed in the placement of the foot. I realized that while wearing a ruck sack on my back and running caused less friction than running without a ruck sack. So I agree with Steven’s response on the whole blister issue. I do get lots of attention at 130lbs running with a ruck sack and now with Sensori’s it just changes the whole dynamics of running.

  14. I just bought a pair of 11s, I’m in between a 10 & 11; I got a blister on my left foot where the thong meets the sandal between by big toe and 2nd toe. Could this be a striking problem, or are my shoes too big?

    1. Hard to tell for sure without a photo. Send us one — [email protected] — showing where the blister is, and your feet in the sandals (from a few angles).

      Odds are, though, that it’s a foot striking issue… notice that you didn’t get a blister on your RIGHT foot (similar to my story). That’s almost always a sign of something related to form.

      1. Steven,

        Thank you for such a quick response! I’ve attached a picture…I’ve also experienced knee pain (upper calf and behind the knee), could this , again be a foot (heel maybe?) striking problem (I also could be over-doing it) ?

        I love these shoes!! They feel so great to run in…

        1. Pictures

        2. a) Again, if the issue you’re having is on one side only, that’s almost always a sign of a form glitch (otherwise it would happen on both). Like I say in this article, pay attention to the “good” side and experiment to see what you can change on the “bad” side.

          b) You’re pulling the lace a bit farther to the outside of your foot than I would. I’d change the tension so the toe strap goes straighter back toward your shin. I’d also try moving the knot down toward you toes about 1.5″ (better geometry that way). See what that does.

          c) Calf/knee pain is most likely going to be from either landing too stiffly (bend your knees a tiny bit more), overstriding, or even heel striking. Or… if it’s really mostly calf pain, overstriding or pushing off the ground rather than LIFTING your foot off the ground by flexing the hip.

          d) All of the above can also happen if you’re simply doing more time/distance than your body is ready for

          1. Thank you Steven! This helps a lot.

  15. The odds are extremely high that the cause was how you handled the downhill sections. Most people run downhills by overstriding, extending their feet out in front of them, and applying braking forces.

    Instead, you want to continue to keep your feet “underneath you” and let your cadence (faster) be your throttle… or simply FLY down the hills! 😉

  16. Totally consistent with applying braking forces on the downhill… see my new video about this at

  17. Hi Steven, I have some blisters past two runs with xeroshoes and I was wondering what I should do in my situation. I got my xeroshoes last Sunday and I have been excited to run with them, but soon after I start running, I start to have sharp blister pain on my foot. As a result, I finish my run with barefoot and I do not have any issues running barefoot and I can finish my run.

    Blisters are located on an odd part of my foot. They are between my ball of the foot and toes (I never had blisters there in my life). I am new to xeroshoes and I am thinking of few different options for this issue.

    1) trying different tying method – I used the basic tying with double hitch knot as demonstrated in the video.
    2) trying different running style – I am not quite convinced that I should change my running style since I have no problem with barefoot (barefoot of course, I have some trouble with sensory overload on rough surface, but still no blisters on asphalt or grass).
    3) trim the outsole to fit to my feet more closely – as of now, I trimmed some but I was afraid of trimming them too much.
    4) flatten more of the toe hole knot – I feel them running/walking they are not a huge hinderance to my walk/run but I do feel them. They are about 2 mm.

    What would you suggest me to do or are there other suggestions?

    Best wishes,
    Simon Oh

    1. I am replying to myself on this posting. I tried different methods of tying the xeros from Randy Kreill and it worked amazing. I think the major problem was the heel straps that gave too much room for wiggle and vibration. Also a bad habit of kicking off on the ground too much. I guess my feet were too exited about the new protection allowed the bad habit of kicking back instead of lifting the foot.

      Now I run blister free with xeros. I have picked up a new form that helps me to run better in both xeros and barefoot because of the blisters. I can see why blisters are great things; they are great running trainer.
      I love xeros and I can’t see how I will run without them. Thank you for making these great shoes.

  18. I am also a sprinter…when ever i try getting into a running trot my ankle protests, whatever I do I havent found out how not to aggravate the ankle…

    1. Sadly, there’s not much I can do to help you based on a one sentence description of a problem. And, really, the only way I could offer anything meaningful would be to see you run. Without that, the best I can say is: a) Experiment and see what you discover, or; b) If it hurts, don’t do it. 😉

  19. So I just got my new xeroshoes (cloud) and went for my first run in them. Being a long distance runner I decided to go for a run. Being a first time sandal running user, I found these to be very delightful and so easy to use.

    I intended to go for a 6 mile run but decided to go the long route since these sandals were such a delight to be running in that I went 12 miles.

    I was told that I should not be doing a long run for a first time user.

    Well my issue that came up was blisters. i had one on the tip of my middle toe and one on the ball of my foot in between my toes and the ball. What’s odd was that it was only my left foot and although I had some discomfort on the same locations on the right, it was no where near as bad as the left foot.

    I had transitioned from vibrams and alta one’s so I was hoping that I would not run into issues. I guess I will have to learn to make some corrections. Time to pull out the bodyglide and toe socks (with toe guards) while I learn to correct my gait and/or stride.

    1. Personally, I wouldn’t use anything to “fix” the problem while you FIX the problem ;-). That is, using socks and/or Bodyglide can mask the issue you’re trying to feel and discover.

      The GOOD news is, like my story, you have a unilateral issue… so you know at least one leg is doing it correctly! 😉

      Check out the video I made at to see what it says about your OTHER leg is doing.

  20. I just ordered a pair of the clouds and this up coming week we are going to the palo duro canyon. We go quite often and I normally take some 4-5 mile trails. I’ve been using the Chaco sport sandals, and I know you kinda have to break those in. I’m new to barefoot wear/minimalist shoes so I was wondering can I go and hike my favorite trails in these xeroshoes with out breaking them in?

    1. Xero Shoes don’t require any break in period. But YOU may need a bit of time to get used to walking/hiking in them.

  21. Can you elaborate on what you mean with number 2: pulling your foot towards you? I always have thought hamstrings (though I have them even when I haven’t been running) and any info helps. Thanks

    1. When your foot is on the ground in the proper position, the hamstrings work isometrically. Your foot placement should more like “placing and lifting” than “pulling/scraping”.

      If you land with your foot too far in front of your body, you have to pull your foot toward you, and you do that with your hamstring overly stretched… which isn’t ideal.

      Make sense?

      1. Yes! Thank you for the clarification. I think this is what I was doing while simply walking, and also somehow in sitting because my hamstrings were tight for months. Last week (after finally having started to run a bit after recovering from an unrelated surgery) I was compelled to go 12 miles in my huaraches on a whim, and suddenly my hamstrings weren’t as tight while my quads were pleasantly sore. Thanks again!

  22. Hi. I have a question about barefoot running. I am 53 years old and new to barefoot running. I am currently making the transition from maximal shoes to barefoot, as well as the amuri venture sandal. I think I’ve got the forefoot landing dialed in and I’m not overstriding. Where I’m struggling is with toe off. I can’t seem to unlearn the habit of pushing off with my toes and it’s giving me blisters on the balls of my feet as they do a little skid backwards on every step. I don’t get blisters with my ventures, but I can hear a little squeek on every step that lets me know I’m still pushing off. I can’t get my head around how to move forward without pushing off the ground. When I just lift my foot, I feel like I’m not going anywhere and my pace slows to where I feel like I’m marching in place. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks! Brian

    1. If you’re getting blisters on the ball of your foot, the odds are extremely high that you’re overstriding. “Toe off” blisters tend to be, well, on the toes. Regarding “toe off” the “secret” is:

      a) Wonder how you can relax your calves and ankles more and use less effort
      b) Think about lifting by flexing your hip rather than pushing off your toes… and definitely don’t think about “scraping” your foot to get it off the ground.

      What moves you forward is not the small amount of horizontal force that happens as you lift your foot off the ground.

    2. Check out this book I found it very useful. Keith has some great drills tho help you concentrate on hip flex instead of toe off.

    3. I also found strengthening toe lift with a light weight whilst watching TV was helpful. Small dumbbell weight 500g was plenty; put toes under it and lift it up, try not to end up using quads. Keeping knee bent and relaxed even heel on the ground initially will help with this.

      1. Thanks for the helpful suggestions. As I write this, I have ice packs strapped to the top of both feet due to pain at the front and just to the side of my ankles. I think I need to back off this barefoot running thing for a while until I heal up. As I try and fix one thing, I injure new things. Extremely frustrating, but I guess a lifetime of incorrect running form can’t be overcome in a few weeks (six, to be precise, since I started this.). Brian

        1. Definitely learning to listen to the body and adjust is the biggest and sometimes the hardest lesson to learn from your bare feet? I’ve been going 3 years now and I still sometimes forget to relax and enjoy?

          1. How long did it take until you could run decent distances without pain or injury using this forefoot strike running technique?

          2. Pretty well straight away (first attempt was a10k race on sand) but bare in mind that the heel must also still kiss the ground on each foot placement (no foot strike in barefoot running). The elastic return from each compression should be through the whole foot on the ground so that the calf muscle works in compression as impact absorption not as prime mover. Leave that for the elastic return after compression through the whole leg, lastly the larger leg muscles (glutes) that’s their job.

            Swing knees/upper leg from the hips and relax the lower leg and ankles so they can passively get out of the way in time.

          3. If you consciously try and forefoot land you are in danger of reaching forward and overstriding. Upper leg swing and hip flex to move your weight forward is more important the feet will then take care of themselves and end up directly under your centre of weight. Check this out

          4. It’s not that you’re “in danger” of reaching forward… it’s that you want to pay attention so that you don’t 😉

          5. I see, run with your legs and not your feet. Thanks

          6. It’s different for each person, so I’m hesitant to talk about my experience as if it’s typical.

        2. Yep listen and recover. 3 years and I’m still learning it’s part of the deal. Can be frustrating at times but worth persevering….

    4. To reduce pushing off, im thinking about pressing down heel to maximaly strech achilles as last move. Rest heppens automaticly.

  23. Hello!! Firstly, I love these shoes to the core. Me and my wife have been running in the DIY 6-mm since more than an year now. The only problem I face is when I walk long in them, it gives me blisters (pretty bad ones !!) under my feet, between my toe and index finger. I am almost certain I am doing something wrong, but just cant figure out what. Any suggestions? It would be really nice if I could fix this, somehow.

    1. I would hope that this article would be helpful for you (the one you’re commenting on).

      Other than that, check out the first video at which also talks about blisters, their cause, and their cure.

  24. Interesting! Check this out…
    Similar effect called the mirror trick for fixing niggles I the run….

  25. Interesting! I went to Brazil with my home kit xerosandals and got heaps of blisters on one of my feet but only a little hot spot on the other after walking around in them all day on hilly uneven city streets. I shelved my sandals after this thinking they were just not suitable for hills (its possible the lace that came with it was partially to blame though since it has a rough texture). But this provides a different perspective! Sadly I may still have to shelve the sandals, my gait problems are connected to a leg malformation so my ability to compensate for my feet is limited to situations when I can bring intense focus onto how I set my foot, and tends to result in pain farther up the leg. 🙁 But I will still keep trying, if only because I HATE wearing normal shoes. xD

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