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Preventing toe blisters in a specific spot?
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Sharon Bingham
(lithandriel) - F - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Preventing toe blisters in a specific spot? on 02/29/2012 13:14:43 MST Print View

I did a quick search for toe blister prevention and didn't see a post that addressed my specific issue, so I'm hoping someone might have similar issues and be able to offer some advice.

I had bunion surgery about 20 years ago. My bunions caused my big toes to lean in on and apply pressure to my second toes (as a result, I often had pressure corns occur between those two toes at the first joint down from the nails). The surgery largely relieved this for day-to-day walking activities.

However, on long trail days the pressure between the two toes is still an issue. It eventually manifests as a long skinny blister that runs the underside, inside length of my big toes. Effectively, my second toe seems to be stepping on and pinching the softer flesh of my big toe (which is kind of ever-so-slightly pushed UNDER the second toe's path by it's inward leaning position).

This happens independent of the shoes I'm wearing, and more toe space doesn't help, since this is the natural position of my toes even barefoot.

I've tried taping just my big toe to try preventing the "squish" which puts that little bit of flesh under my second toe. And I've tried taping the big toe to the second toe to better control their positions (i.e. taping them so their undersides are flush, and so the big toe — in theory — cannot work its way UNDER the second toe.

The first approach is a bit more successful than the second, but neither works particularly well.

I haven't tried Injinji socks or anything like Hydropel yet, and I wonder if either of those might help?

Anyone else have experience with something similar and might have suggestions?

Sharon Bingham
(lithandriel) - F - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Found this other thread that might be relevant... on 02/29/2012 13:27:24 MST Print View

Someone suggested looking at, and I found this, which might be helpful:

I'd be a little worried about the spacer pushing my OTHER toes out of position and therefore just causing problems elsewhere...

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Found this other thread that might be relevant... on 02/29/2012 13:39:52 MST Print View

Can you share the brand shoes you are using? That might be helpful. I would still explore different shoes as the first solution... other things are a "band-aid," but might be your only solution.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: squished toes on 02/29/2012 13:40:25 MST Print View

Sharon, I have something comparable happen with my smallest two toes. Years of wearing climbing shoes, though my case doesn't sound as severe as yours. I found toes socks like Injinji to be my silver bullet.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
injinji socks on 02/29/2012 14:09:55 MST Print View

i have injinji's, and while in my case, that are not the cats asp for walking, they are just what the doctor ordered for sleeping.
because, they keep my favorite toesies separated and nice and dry and not touching and rotting in the moist heat all night.
so in the morning, i get up, and i have nice good rested toes. that's a fine thing.

toe socks are kind'a weird for walking any distance in though. i think they made a blister or such, so i only tried it a couple of times.
keepers as sleep/camp socks though, #1 good.

hydropel = a good thing.

it is not as oozie as it first might seem. be brave. go for it. i have not had it muck up my socks. although, it threatens to at every turn.
later on, the foot issue has passed, and it's later in a trip, i still goop 'em and it feels nice.
is like the feets heal faster... or something.
but it does take a leap of faith (desperation ??) to slather that first load of goo onto your feet, and thence into your socks, being as we are out in the sticks and no method of properly cleaning the very rare and irreplaceable socks exists.

hydropel sort of lubricates the sliding. at first, this feels like it makes the issues worse, but later on.. is all ok.

for what trips cost, and for as thoroughly as bad feet can destroy them. hydropel is a Cheap chance to take.
i pack a little vial of scouring powder as well, occasionally to use as bleach to wash my feet. it kills everything bad.

Paul Johnson
(johncooper) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: re: squished toes on 02/29/2012 14:21:22 MST Print View

I have a similar issue with my feet. I've worked with both tape and Injinji's over the years. My symptoms are highly mileage dependent. For my highest mileage days and when I can't afford any foot issues, I do the following.

Pre-tape with Duct tape for good adhesion, low friction and low elasticity. Tape each toe with a half width of tape. This protects my big and small toes that are problematic. The tape on the middle toes avoids having tape to skin contact on these toes.

Sharon Bingham
(lithandriel) - F - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Preventing toe blisters in a specific spot? - Shoes I've tried on 02/29/2012 15:55:53 MST Print View

I have a pair of traditional Asolo hiking boots, which I never had the problem in - but I had other issues with (black big toe-nail from carrying WAY too much weight, and not having cut my nail short enough). By and large though, those boots did not allow for much foot agility, and so my toes were not bending and flexing as much in them (very stiff, heavy sole), and I think that this reduced the friction and opportunity for the one toe to step on the pinch of the other.

The ones I've had issues with were all of the lighter weight ones. I have tried these three:

Merrell Pace Glove (10.2 oz/pair)

Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra (26.6 oz/pair)

Salomon Techamphibian (22 oz/pair)

The Merrells seem to do the best of the three, and barefoot seems to do better than wearing very thin socks with them, which I find odd - maybe a roominess issue (since they are intended to be worn barefoot)? But it still eventually becomes an issue - just not as quickly as with the other two. The difference is maybe a matter of 8 miles vs 14 miles before a blister starts forming.

If the Asolo's weren't 42 oz, and SUPER hot, I'd stick with them...

And I haven't tried duct tape, only athletic tape and (I think) Leukotape. I just stuck some duct tape on the big toe to try it out. It might be stiff enough and slick enough to prevent the issue - IF it will stay in place. Other tapes haven't done well.

Edited by lithandriel on 02/29/2012 16:13:39 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Preventing toe blisters in a specific spot? - Shoes I've tried on 02/29/2012 16:12:48 MST Print View


I am not a shoe expert, other than I have bought a few pair over the decades I have hiked.

The fact the boot does not cause the problem, may indicate it is a shoe size problem.

What I would do is get a larger size light shoe (width or length or both) and try that. I suspect it might fix the problem. The other fixes are time consuming and aggravating. If just buying a larger shoe fixes the issue, you will be thrilled!

One thing I can tell you is that not all shoe sizes are the same, they vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. The hiking boots I had bought in the past were normally size 10.5 or 11. Never had any foot issues other than the initial break-in period blues.

A few years ago I bought a pair of running shoes from a specialty running store. I was surprised with the size 12 they sold me, and they were much roomier in the toe box than any shoe I had ever purchased, but the heel fit securely. Since then, all my running and hiking shoes have been size 12 runners and I have not had a single blister or problem, other than an impact injury from a pair that did not have a rock plate.

It sure would be worth a try. If there is a competent running shoe store near you, it might be worth the time and cost to get a pair of shoes fitted.

Good luck.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Preventing toe blisters in a specific spot? on 02/29/2012 16:37:18 MST Print View

You may want to try tincture of Benzoin -available at Amazon , and at certain herbal shops. It toughens areas . It is also widely used to improve the adhesion of tapes. I actually used it before hiking where I developed pain on the upper surface of my big toe and combined it with Body Glide after the benzoin dried( almost instantly). Result-no more problem.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Preventing toe blisters in a specific spot? - Shoes I've tried on 02/29/2012 18:04:45 MST Print View

Hi Sharon

The shoes you list are not-very-wide (about D), and that is a problem for so many walkers. It pushes the big toe against the next one. This is a VERY COMMON problem. It is aggravated by the way many shoes companies do not even list the shoe width.

I suggest you try some 2E or 4E width shoes. Not so many brands available, but New Balance have a wide range (if you will excuse the pun).

With a shoe that is wide enough, you toes will tend to separate when your foot flexes under load. That eliminates the problem.


Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Preventing toe blisters in a specific spot? on 02/29/2012 18:27:06 MST Print View

While my toe issues are different, Injini's solved all my inner toe blisters. It is all I wear when hiking. $16 to try them.....can't hurt!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Preventing toe blisters in a specific spot? on 02/29/2012 18:39:01 MST Print View

"Injini's solved all my inner toe blisters. It is all I wear when hiking"


Seth Brewer
(Whistler) - MLife

+ 1 Injinji's and Wider Shoes on 03/01/2012 08:01:57 MST Print View

Used Salomon XA Pro Mesh Trail Running shoes for the whole A.T last year and coupled them with Injinji toe socks. Found that by doubling them up I actually got much longer wear time before they wore out. Over 3,000 miles with the toe socks and NOT A SINGLE BLISTER since I've adjusted to them. They will feel a bit weird for a few days, but it quickly passes.

STRONGLY agree with the posts regarding having your shoe width and size looked at again. Most people get 1/2 size to small recommended to them - and since many stores don't stock wide widths in a lot of things the salesmen will push the regular width shoes on you.

John Jensen
(JohnJ) - F

Locale: Orange County, CA
Re: + 1 Injinji's and Wider Shoes on 03/01/2012 08:59:18 MST Print View

I love my Injinji. I'm also using wider shoes. I have some Nikes and some Columbias that feel almost floppy to me (after my old favorites, Asics) but it's weird. I "hate" them, but my feet are really good.

Re. blisters specifically, I did a summer of wet-foot fly fishing. I swear that a summer of walking around in wet shoes pretty much got my feet in shape. Since then blisters are rare.

Philip Delvoie
(PhilipD) - MLife

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Injinji's on 03/01/2012 09:05:39 MST Print View

Ok...for those that use Injinji's or other toe you struggle to get them on? I picked up a pair to try and I think it took me 5 minutes+ to put them on. Perhaps a case of practise makes perfect or the sock loosening up as I wear them but my first thought was that I would hate to take them on or off during the day. Wondering what others experience are with these?

I generally expect, and am, blister free. Just the odd trip that I have developed a blister between two of my toes that I would like to address in advance of some longer trips I have planned.

Edited by PhilipD on 03/01/2012 10:24:27 MST.

John Jensen
(JohnJ) - F

Locale: Orange County, CA
Re: Injinji's on 03/01/2012 09:28:47 MST Print View

I think it's a combination of the sock taking your shape and getting the technique, but putting them on is quick and pretty stress free for me (I've worn out 2 pair, so I guess I'm an old-timer).

(Get each toe started and then grab the sock half-way back the foot and pull.)

Edited by JohnJ on 03/01/2012 09:29:44 MST.

Sharon Bingham
(lithandriel) - F - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Skeptical that it's a shoe issue, but I'll bite... on 03/01/2012 09:44:14 MST Print View

I hear all of the suggestions to have foot width and shoe size checked. I mean, I suppose I can look into it again, but I really am very careful with these things because of the surgeries I've had on both feet. I don't let sales people push me into shoes that I don't think fit, and I've been professionally fitted a number of times by multiple sources.

I think the issue here is that my toes are naturally in this position even barefoot because of my bunion history/surgeries—and potentially due to improper healing after surgery (I was supposed to wear toe separators during the healing process and my first surgeon didn't tell me that, and THAT is the foot I have the most trouble with).

Some things I am going to try:
- Keep an eye out for roomier toe boxes to see if that helps (I have a pair of Asics I love that I don't normally use for hiking because of all the foam padding everywhere—they'd take forever to dry if they got wet)
- The tincture of benzoin, and/or duct tape to stiffen that side wall of my toe so that it can't slip under the other (idea here being that duct tape is a lot stiffer than althetic/Leukotape and so might reinforce the side of my toe better
- failing those things, try the Injinji socks (or similar, i.e. like Smartwool's version)

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
bunion stretcher on 03/01/2012 14:03:46 MST Print View

there is made device known as a Bunion Stretcher, this very useful tool can make a bit of extra room about anywhere you it want in a shoe. it's not a problem.
they can be had off ebay and amazon for around 30 bucks.
you only need buy one once. you're not going to wear it out.

is a fine thing to have if your feet hurt, because now you have a tool to make the pain stop. sometimes.

peter made a stretcher that uses the pack stays and adds only 1.8oz to the load so he can modify boots on long trips.


Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Injinji's on 03/01/2012 17:38:37 MST Print View

You get used the socks and you get faster at getting them on :-) Practice makes perfect lets just say - even my husband with his odd toes got used to them - although I often put them on for him. I take mine off and on pretty easy during the day if cooling off my feet.

Only downside? The socks are thin so with high cut boots you might be loose up there where you won't be with regular hiking socks. Since all I wear now is low cuts it isn't an issue.

I might add I went to Keens a couple of years ago due to the wider toe box. Love those.