The #1 cause of barefoot running injuries is GOING TOO FAR TOO FAST. You can’t just run the same distances barefoot as you did with shoes. You WILL INJURE YOURSELF. Watch the Video in my “How to Run Barefoot” to get started SAFELY.
Here are three of the most common Barefoot Running Injuries and How to Treat Them. (Site Disclaimer)
Monster Blood Blisters
I’ve had blood blisters before, but nothing like the ones I got the first week when I started running barefoot. They looked like purple marbles shoved deep into my toes.
What causes them? A combination of heat, friction, pressure, and moisture form blisters. So, running barefoot on a treadmill is a fantastic recipe for blisters. Luckily, as the skin on the sole of your foot thickens, blisters are less of a problem.
Blisters can talk. Heel blisters, for example, suggest heel striking or over-striding. Blisters under your toes or the ball of your foot at the base of your toes imply a tendency to “push off” with each stride.
Clean the blister with soap.
I let nature choose whether my blisters pop or not. Sometimes they break other times they don’t. The fluid or blood is there for reason; so, I just let it do its thing. I don’t pick at scabs either. I trust my body.
But if you’re determined to conduct minor surgery on yourself. At least, buy a box of tattoo “liner needles”. These are single use sterilized needles. Get a small grouping 3 or 5 tight liners will work great. Don’t GET MAGs, Flats, Double Stack Mags, or Round Shaders. Those needle groupings are way too wide. You want a LINER, better yet a TIGHT or SUPER TIGHT LINER. (BTW, placing a sewing needle in a flame/hydrogen peroxide will NOT STERILIZE THE NEEDLE. You can give yourself a staph infection if you break the blister with dirty instruments.)
Use moleskin to prevent further blistering. Just cut a hole the size of the blister and stick the moleskin around it. MOLESKIN is USELESS for SMALL BLISTERS UNDER TOES. Blisters are common to shod runners. As a barefoot runner, I no longer get blisters.
Top Foot Pains and Aches
My wife had this, not me. She described it as a dull ache on the top side of her foot. Pain on the top of the foot is usually from the anatomical changes occurring in your foot. The new stresses of splaying your foot forces your foot to change. Overworked muscles, stretched tendons, and ligaments cry out for relief. Pain on the top of the foot can also result from the stress placed on the metatarsal bones (metatarsalgia).
Treatment for Top Foot Pains and Aches
Treatment is simple: RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). If the pain becomes moderate level or you experience sharp, shooting pains, stop running until the pain subsides. If you keep running on it, you can bust-up your metatarsal bones. Do that, and you’ll be on the couch for months.
Achilles Tendonitis & Calf Pain
Barefoot running puts a lot of stress on your lower leg. The calf muscle and front of the leg become sore quickly. This pain is from the lengthening of the calf and Achilles. You’re going from a raised heel shoe to a zero drop (heel and forefoot are the same height). Your lower leg, ankle, and Achilles are actually put to work. Some Achilles and lower leg trouble results from bad barefoot running form. YOU MUST LET YOUR HEEL TOUCH THE GROUND. JUST DON’T LET IT HIT THE GROUND FIRST. WHEN YOUR HEEL TOUCHES THE GROUND WITH EACH STRIDE, IT UNLOADS SOME STRESS PUT ON THE ACHILLES AND CALF. A lot of beginners overstress the Achilles by running on their toes. The heel NEVER touches the ground. a HEELESS stride will over stress your calf and Achilles.
Treatment for Achilles & Lower Leg
If you’re Achilles aches, STOP RUNNING. If you experience sharp, shooting pains, stop and do not run again until the pain subsides. If you rupture your Achilles, you will need surgery, you’ll be in a cast and you won’t be running for a good long while. Take a break from running, let it heal.
Rest Ice, Compresses, and Elevation will heal the injury.
These Ankle Wraps are awesome. You can freeze or heat them. They’re great injury aids.
Once it’s healed STRETCH AFTER runs. Then use a Rolling Pin to Massage your Lower Leg. The Rolling Pin Massage will break Up scar tissue, increase circulation, and help your Achilles out tremendously. I have an entire post devoted to My Achilles Tendon Injury Recovery.