Since I’ve switched over from my super control, super stable Saucony Omnis to Skechers Stradas, still a stability shoe but more on the neutral side, I’ve developed a callus, then a blood blister (sorry – gross) on the ball of my left foot. I thought developing a callus was just a natural part of running and my adjusting to a new shoe. But I’ve realized that calluses can be sign that something is off. Calluses, thickened areas of skin, develop from repeated pounding or rubbing in one spot. Since I developed the callus on just my left foot, I thought it was most likely due to an excessive overpronation and imbalance problem.
Flash back to my calf strain(s) July and August of 2013. Since they occurred (same calf) at the beginning of marathon training, I had to be pretty careful increasing my mileage while working on building up leg strength. I experienced problems on my left side throughout training, I think, attributed to my calf strain and the lack of time to really heal (calf strains take so long to heal!). From tendonitis to SI joint inflammation, I continued to see a physical therapist on a regular basis during the Fall 2013 to help build up the strength on my left leg. But after the marathon, I didn’t continue working on left leg strength and imbalance issues. I did more strength training but not specifically focused on some of the areas I probably should have worked on more.
Fast forward to today. I think I’m experiencing some of the imbalance issues that I never fully addressed in 2013 and early 2014. During the Tar Heel 10 Miler, I was sick and I think my form suffered, as a result. I developed a blood blister underneath my callus and had trouble putting any weight on it and, therefore, I had trouble walking the next couple of days. I had to do something about it. Do I buy another pair of Saucony Omnis and give up on the Skechers? But that would be ignoring the underlying biomechanics issues. Plus, I like my new Skechers!
For the short term, I knew I wanted to get in a short run or two during the week after the Tar Heel 10 Miler since I had another 10 Miler the following weekend (not the best planning). To take pressure off my blister while running, I cut holes in moleskin and layered them over my blister/callus hybrid. After a 4 mile run, my foot didn’t feel great but I got through it while also developing another small blister where the moleskin attached.
I needed a better solution. First, I yanked out the very much glued in inserts in the Skechers Stradas. I’d been hesitant to take them out because they were SO glued in. I did end up tearing up some of the shoe but it was worth it to get my Superfeet inserts in. Superfeet inserts provide additional support and stabilization. I notice a big difference!
Then, I got a pedicure. Ok, this wasn’t really planned and I’m not sure it was the best decision for the day before the GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler. But I do think it helped to relieve some of the pressure and my feet felt fine the next day during the race!
Next, I googled “how to fix overpronation.” I figured I could start incorporating exercises a few times a week to help fix the muscle imbalance and avoid future injuries and foot pain. During PT in 2013, we did a lot of work on the Bosu ball. Since Bosu balls are fun to use but also help with muscle isolation, I decided to start off using the Bosu to help with excessive overpronation on my left side.
– Duck Stand. With this exercise off the Bosu ball, you stand with your heels together and rotate your legs outward. It helps build gluteal strength.
– Big Toe Pushdowns. So simple – just stand on the Bosu ball and push your toes down. I think this is probably best done barefoot to get the most range of motion. Not only are you engaging leg muscles and strengthening the big toe muscle to help with overpronation but you’re also engaging your core for balance. Bonus!
This website describes a few other Bosu ball exercises to help with muscle imbalance that can lead to excessive overpronation. The other exercises include lunges to the side, front and back. I did this series yesterday and feel pretty sore, especially on my left side, today. It’ll be interesting to see if I notice less callus-building on my left foot with the combination of strengthening exercises and Superfeet inserts. Stay tuned!