Admittedly calluses are not among the most feared running injuries. But they can be annoying and give you the sneaking suspicion that there’s something wrong. That suspicion is correct. Ditto for blisters.
It’s true that sometimes you can get blisters or–longer term–calluses from poorly fitting shoes. But if this is a persistent problem for you regardless of what shoes you wear, then it comes from your running form and is a warning sign.
You get calluses and blisters from friction. If you’re running with truly good form, there won’t be any friction between your foot and your shoe. So a recurring blister or callus points to a fault in your form that causes your foot to slide a little backwards or pivot a little in your shoe when your weight is on that spot.
This generally happens because your torso is too stiff and doesn’t shift easily off the front of your foot. This creates downward and backward force in your foot, which will feel like your foot and calf having to work harder to toe-off. You’re probably quite used to this level of work if you’ve got a callus, but you’ll be surprised how much less work it should actually be.
Torso too stiff?! Isn’t your core supposed to be tight when you run? Actually, no. There’s a specific movement it needs to do–if that’s a new concept for you, learn more here.
Also let me clarify I’m not saying that you’re not supposed to push off in running. But the push off happens earlier, as you’re moving from midstance (when you’re balanced over one foot) through late stance (as your weight moves over your foot towards toe-off). It doesn’t happen at the very last split second when only your toes are on the ground.
In this video I demonstrate how a stiff torso leads to backwards or rotational movement of your foot inside your shoe.
This is the mechanism that causes calluses and blisters on the ball of your foot. If yours is on the outside or heel of your foot, your problem is more likely occurring when you land, but the solution is the same: better core action.
Click here to get the free lesson I recommend in the video:
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Jae Gruenke, GCFP, is a running technique expert and Feldenkrais Practitioner. Known as a “running form guru,” she is the Founder and CEO of The Balanced Runner™ in New York City and The Balanced Runner UK. She has helped runners from beginner to Olympian improve their form to become pain-free, economical, and fast.