Posted by: Joe English | June 16, 2008

Training: Help with blisters on the arches of the feet

One of my athletes wrote me the following question:

Do you have any recommendations for me when it comes to replacing my running shoes? I was averaging about 30 miles a week this past month and now whenever I run 6-8+ miles at a time, I am getting a blister on the arch of each foot. This of course makes it tough to finish a run, heal, and keep running the next day.

Here are some thoughts on the issue:
1) First on replacing shoes: shoes should be replaced after about 250-400 miles depending on your weight. The heavier that you are, the more quickly a shoe looses its cushioning. People that run a lot (as in more than 30 miles a week) will be replacing their shoes pretty frequently –like every three months or so. So if you haven’t replaced them any time recently, it’s probably time for a new pair.

2) One of the things that could be causing blisters on your arches is that the either the shoes may have stretched out (especially if they got wet running in the winter a lot) — so they might not be fitting properly any more — or your foot may have gotten slightly bigger. If the shoe is too loose, then the foot rubbing back and forth over the arch could create a blister. Again a new pair of shoes might help or try tying the shoes more tightly to make sure that you don’t have your foot sliding around.

Make sure that when you go to buy new shoes that the person fitting you remeasures your feet to double-check your size. Runners feet often get bigger over time due to the impact on the feet, resulting in the feet stretching out slighting. Often going a 1/2 size up will help a great deal with fit issues. Also keep in mind that your feet get bigger over as they swell over the course of a long run, so take a look at your feet (or go in to the shoe store) right after a long run. If your shoes are more snug fitting at the end of long run, this is likely due to the swelling of your feet and should be taken into account when fitting you for shoes.

3) Socks are a big issue with blisters. First, make sure that you are not wearing cotton socks — cotton gets very abrasive as it gets wet and this causes blisters. Also make sure that you wear a snug fitting sock (usually thinner is better) that won’t move at all. If the sock is moving between the feet and shoe, there will be blisters.

Usually blistering can be knocked out by working on shoe fit, sock selection and lacing issues. Take the time to fix these issues early, because a bad blister can really ruin your day.

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon USA
Running Advice and News


  1. […] I actually answered the question over on the main blog site. You can see the answer by clicking here. […]

  2. Hi Coach Joe,

    Thought I would throw in one more suggestion since I used to suffer with big horrible bloody arch blisters once the weather got warm here in AZ. I am talking half dollar size monsters. Even using good socks and such I would get to about 5 miles and feel the hot spot forming. I tried lots of different products and only one solved this issue 100%. Engo makes frictionless patches which you place inside your shoe wherever the rubbing is. I put these in every pair of shoes I own and have never gotten a blister since. Not even a hot spot.

    They are a bit expensive, so I would try other solutions first as you suggested, but if all else fails the Engo patches are awesome.

    Also if your reader would like to keep running on his/her blistered arches, I used Band-Aid blister blocker patches and strapped them to my feet with flexible tape (all the way around the foot). The patch reduced the pain enough that I could run my normal mileage and the tape secured the patch in place so it wouldn’t slide around.


  3. Great input Chris! Thank you.


  4. […] Coach Joe, answering a question on why a runner is having blisters on the arch of the feet. […]

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