It’s difficult to walk with a blister on the bottom of your foot, particularly under the ball of your foot. This is a major weightbearing area of your foot, after all. In this article you’ll learn about the anatomy and biomechanics of the ball of your foot, why it’s susceptible to blisters and the best ways to prevent them.

Different Locations of Blisters Under the Ball of Your Foot

The location is important. It gives clues as to the cause and how to fix them. You can get them:

  • Under the big toe knuckle (below)
  • Under the little toe knuckle
  • Right in the middle of the forefoot (above)
  • Less commonly across the WHOLE ball of the foot!

Why We Get Blisters on Bottom of Feet

Firstly, ball of foot blisters are just like any other blister; they’re caused by shear distortions in the skin. You can think of shear as stretching – the skin stretches back and forth with every step. These are the factors that go into creating blister-causing shear distortions:

  • Pressure: This is a weightbearing area of your foot, more so that most other parts of the foot. 
  • Moving bones: You may not be aware, but foot bones move around quite a lot under the skin, especially the bones in this part of the foot.
  • Type of skin: The skin on the sole of the foot is thicker and less mobile than other parts of the foot and this is suited to blister formation. Also, there are more sweat glands on the sole of the foot compared to other areas and this contributes to high friction levels.
  • High friction levels: It’s warm and humid in your shoe. That means high friction levels – things are clammy and sticky. What’s more, the fabric of your sock and shoe lining are made from relatively high friction materials. This is intentional and quite appropriate as it helps keep your foot stable in your shoe. It’s only a problem if we’re getting blisters. Thankfully, there is an easy way around this which I’ll explain with a video shortly.
  • Repetition: The more time the skin stretches back and forth, the more likely it is to fatigue. When the connections between skin cells fatigue, a tear occurs under the skin surface. Within two hours, that injured area fills with fluid and makes the skin surface bubble up to look and feel like what we know as a blister.

Anatomy and Biomechanics

Ball of foot anatomy

Anatomically, this is where the metatarsal heads are. These are weightbearing bones so the skin is subjected to high pressures. And as part of normal healthy foot function, the metatarsal heads move back and forth under the skin.

Ball of foot biomechanics & blisters under feet

Metatarsal heads move back and forth with every step we take:

  • During propulsion (push-off)
  • When changing direction
  • Going uphill and downhill 
  • Whether walking or running

Picture this. When the foot plants, the metatarsal heads skid forward over the skin, and then backwards during propulsion. Moving bones above, high friction levels below and weightbearing pressure compressing everything together, this creates a lot of skin shear (the cause of blisters). This is completely normal and usually below our blister-causing threshold – but not always. Watch this video to see how moving bones cause blisters.


You can imagine that as your activity increases in intensity and/or duration, shear may reach a point where it becomes excessive … more than the skin can handle. At this point, skin damage occurs. And it occurs under the surface of the skin, a few layers deep. Blister medical researcher Stanley Comaish described this skin damage as epidermal fatigue because the connections that bind these skin layers tear under the excessive and repetitive shear load. This type of injury is not as deep as the blood vessels, so bleeding or blood blisters do not ordinarily occur.

The 5 Best Strategies For a Blister on Ball of Foot

1. Taping Techniques

Preventive taping is a good place to start. Pre-taping won’t always work – be sure to read this article to understand why. But it’s a good starting point if you haven’t tried anything. In the following video, I’ll show you how. The tape I use is Fixomull Stretch but you can use another tape if you prefer.

2. Cushioned Insoles

Cushioning has a double blister prevention effect. Firstly, it reduces peak pressure a little and therefore reduces skin shear. And secondly, cushioning materials absorb shear via their shear modulus. That is, shear goes on within the material so less of it occurs within the skin. Research has shown some cushioning does this better than others, for example, peer-reviewed research shows that Spenco works a little better than Poron. It’s important to know that blisters can still form in spite of cushioning. But if you need just a little bit of blister prevention oomph, and your current insoles are old, worn or compressed, a new pair could make all the difference. Interestingly, the top surface of cushioning materials typically exhibit a high friction level! So if you’re still getting blisters in spite of cushioned insoles, add the next strategy.


spenco insoles

Spenco insoles

3. ENGO Blister Patches

This is the best way to keep friction levels low under the ball of the foot – better and longer-lasting than lubricants and powders. These patches stick onto the insole of your shoe (or orthotic) and they just stay there until they wear through about 500kms later. They make the friction side of blister prevention easy to take care of. Pictured are the large ovals. If you need broader protection, you can use the larger rectangle patches (see below). You can buy both the 4-Pack of large ovals and the ENGO Rectangle patches from our online store.

Treat a blister under foot with ENGO Blister Prevention patches

ENGO large oval patches under the ball of the foot reduce friction levels.


ENGO rectangle patches on the insole under the ball of the foot


4. Biomechanical Alterations

Blisters under the ball of the foot are often associated with structural and biomechanical issues. There is a lot that a podiatrist or sports medicine professional can do to alter your biomechanics to reduce the incidence of blisters under the metatarsal heads. This could involve paddings, insoles, orthotics, stretches (especially calf stretches), joint mobilisations and modifications in your gait or running style. Seriously consider seeing a podiatrist if you have ongoing blister issues here in spite of using the above three strategies! In the meantime, get started on calf stretches. Technique is everything with these, so get some advice if you’re not sure you’re doing it for maximum effect.

calf stretching technique

5. Donut Pads

Donut pads can be a bit bulky and cumbersome when used as a prevention. They come into their own as a ball of foot treatment though. If you have a blister, you’ll need to take the pressure off it. The best policy is the thicker the material the better the pressure relief. I use 5mm podiatry felt, sometimes 7mm. But the thicker the material, the more room they take up in your shoe. I’ve written at length about donut pads here. However, if you get prevention right, you won’t need these.

Take Home Messages

  • The ball of the foot is inherently susceptible to blister development due to its skin properties, bone structure and important biomechanical functions.
  • Taping, cushioned insoles and an ENGO blister patch must be tried. And don’t forget calf stretches. These strategies will prevent the majority of ball of foot blisters.
  • Consult a podiatrist if you continue to get blisters in this area so they can assess your foot structure and function and find the root cause of your sore balls of feet. They can advise on the best possible blister care and prevention for your feet.

Get Started With ENGO Blister Patches

USD $12.99ENGO Blister Patches Rectangle Pack contains 2 ENGO Rectangle Patches

ENGO Blister Patches Rectangle Pack

ENGO Blister Patches Rectangle Pack contains two rectangle patches. Provide protection for large blister areas under the foot and around the ankle in boots.


Rebecca Rushton BSc(Pod)

About The Author

Rebecca Rushton BSc(Pod)

Podiatrist, blister prone ex-hockey player, foot blister thought-leader, author and educator. Can’t cook. Loves test cricket.

USD $12.99ENGO Blister Patches Rectangle Pack contains 2 ENGO Rectangle Patches

ENGO Blister Patches Rectangle Pack

ENGO Blister Patches Rectangle Pack contains two rectangle patches. Provide protection for large blister areas under the foot and around the ankle in boots.



  1. Belinda McNab 21 October 2014 at 2:49 am - Reply

    Thank you for this article Rebecca. It is very informative as I thought I was the only one who got blisters on the balls of their feet. Now that I actually have blisters, and am waiting on my Engo patches to arrive, what do you suggest is the best course of action to help my feet feel better and heal without re-blistering the new skin where the old blister top has lifted? I play netball about 3-4 times a week, and unfortunately nothing I am doing is helping to stop them from hurting or re-blistering/lifting the new skin off. Is it just a matter of resting them until they heal, or some topical treatment I should apply? Any suggestions would be welcome. Thanks for this website, it is a fantastic resource!!

  2. Rebecca Rushton 22 October 2014 at 1:14 am - Reply

    Cheers Belinda. The ENGO Patches are going to help like nothing else can. Until then, assuming you don’t have the option of a week without netball, I would apply a dressing or tape (Compeed might be a good choice – you can leave it on for several days). Make sure your insoles are nice and cushioning. And if you can see your podiatrist, they’ll have a material they can use to take pressure off the area. I hope this helps!

  3. Cindy from va 13 May 2015 at 5:46 am - Reply

    I have been looking up stuff for a few days when I came across your article. I have started back walking about 3 weeks ago. Last week I walked 4 miles one morning. I now have a blister on the ball. The top pulled off last night and now I have two raw spots. i am going on a beachfront vacation Saturday. I am resting it and putting neosporine on it and when I have to go out placing gauze and elastic tape on it. It is painful since I can’t put my weight directly on it. Any suggestions

  4. Rebecca Rushton 13 May 2015 at 7:52 am - Reply

    Yes Cindy.

    The dressing you need for a deroofed blister is called a hydrocolloid – read this

    And the blue patches I spoke about in the article you just read – read this

  5. Paula 11 September 2015 at 7:05 am - Reply

    Hi I love walking for fitness but whatever footwear – boots or trainers – I wear I always end up with blisters on the balls of my feet and in between my big toe and the next one. Any advise please?

  6. Rebecca Rushton 12 September 2015 at 10:46 am - Reply

    Well yes Paula. I have four options for you, as you’ve read in this article. Is none of this helpful?

    You can also read about how to treat a blister here:

  7. Kristel M 24 September 2015 at 4:08 am - Reply

    Hi Rebecca,Great article! I have a large blister on the pad of my foot under the big toe. It was so painful that I cut it open to drain it. It went a lot deeper than expected and in order to help keep it dry I cut away a chunk of the dead skin. I put a compeed patch on it to help keep it clean, but it keeps swelling under the patch and remains painful. Any suggestions?

  8. Rebecca Rushton 24 September 2015 at 6:37 am - Reply

    From the sound of it Kristel, you haven’t done anything about pressure or friction levels yet. It’s no wonder it’s still sore and weeping. The article tells you how to address both. And have a read of this article for more info: Of course, if you’re still unsure what to do and how to do it, see a podiatrist.

  9. Claire Kluever 22 October 2015 at 3:04 am - Reply

    Thank you for the information about Engo patches! Having recently developed a large and painful blister on the ball of my foot due to 5-6 mile walks daily, I needed help on treating and preventing this from happening again. Thanks to your advice, I have now ordered all of the Engo patches that I will need to treat and prevent this painful occurance from hindering my workouts. Much appreciated, Claire Kluever

  10. Rebecca Rushton 22 October 2015 at 11:36 am - Reply

    It’s a pleasure Claire. All the best!

  11. Dave 7 December 2015 at 2:25 am - Reply

    Hi Rebecca,I have a walking routine that l have followed for the past year and have been walking 6 miles a day 3 days a week. Because of a possible stress fracture on the top of my left foot my doctor advised me to rest the foot and stop the walking for a month. A few weeks after stopping all the accumulated foot callus had peeled off the bottoms of my feet and now having resumed my walking have developed a blister under the ball of my right foot.I wear Saucony Triumph ISO and belaga Hidden comfort socks and with this combo have never before had blisters. Should l continue my routine or wait for the blister to dry up?Many thanks and happy l found your site.Dave

  12. Rebecca Rushton 8 December 2015 at 3:41 am - Reply

    If it was me Dave, I’d put an ENGO Patch on the insole of my shoe where the blister was. That would give me the best chance of continuing to walk without recurring damage to the resolving blister. In the absence of an ENGO Patch, I’d wait for the blisters to resolve and then build up gradually to your usual 6 miles. This will give your skin the time it needs to adapt to the shear stresses that you were previously used to, but that are now causing a blister. Have a quick read of this: Does that help Dave?

  13. Matthew 7 January 2016 at 7:49 am - Reply

    Hi Rebecca, I developed a blister this past weekend after a long day of basketball in poor shoe choice. The blister is on the ball of my foot, its not painful but can noticeably feel that its there. Its a darker color and still seems to have a liquid feel to it, is there any cause for concern if its not causing me any pain? Thanks

  14. Rebecca Rushton 8 January 2016 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    You should always be cautious about a blister, particularly a blood blister, because the last thing you want is for it to get infected. You should be doubly cautious if you have sensory neuropathy for any reason eg: diabetic neuropathy. If you need advice on treating it Matthew, read the articles tagged "blister treatment". If in doubt, get it checked by your podiatrist or medical practitioner.

  15. lbill 29 March 2016 at 2:41 am - Reply

    Wish I would have read this before I went to Disneyworld!

  16. Caitlin 26 April 2016 at 2:45 am - Reply

    I just got a blood blister on the ball of my foot the size of a silver dollar. I am running a half marathon this weekend and can’t really walk on it right. Would getting it drained in order to run my half marathon, then letting it heal later be a good idea? I am going to take off until then, but I am on campus all day walking around.I just want to be able to run my race!

  17. Rebecca Rushton 26 April 2016 at 4:04 am - Reply

    You’d do best by seeing a professional about your blister Caitlin. Your podiatrist or doctor will be able to treat it and give the best advice based on what they see in front of them to get you in the best shape for your half marathon.

  18. Leeta 20 May 2016 at 2:36 am - Reply

    My 10 year old daughter developed a blister across her entire left ball and bottom of toes. But it’s only the one foot! She had complained a little and then it just took over. We’re going to try the moisture wick socks and pads. Any ideas why it would be one foot?

  19. cindy 19 June 2016 at 9:45 am - Reply

    Rebecca, I ave a quick question and unfortunately need a quick response. I play tennis and have had several crucial matches that have been played on hard courts that are extremly hot. The lateral movements and conditions have caused me to develop a large deep blister on the ball of both feet, about an inch wide. Of course, I know rest would be best but I have State matches this weekend in which I may have to play four matches in two days. Can I heal these quicker by draining them even though these are deep. I can order the prevention patches but they will not arrive in time I fear. Any info on participating in these matches safely!! Thank you. Cindy

  20. Rebecca Rushton 19 June 2016 at 10:17 am - Reply

    Contact me here Cindy and I’ll be in touch later today:

  21. Jack 21 July 2016 at 9:18 am - Reply

    I get these pretty commonly from skateboarding. Not fun because my leg is sore along with the blister.

  22. Jaymi Devans 4 September 2016 at 3:11 am - Reply

    Rebecca, thank you for your article. My blister is deep to the foot pad on the ball of my foot. My skin surface is fine. It feels like my foot pad is shearing from the underlying tissue. Walking barefoot on tile is the worst. Walking barefoot on carpet is the easiest. Do you have any suggestions for me? Thank you!

  23. Jodie 9 September 2016 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    Hi, my son has started a new job and in aquatics teaching and under his big toes he developed a big blister under each foot. They have burst and bled. What is the best treatment and prevention in future for him while teaching. He is very flat footed so no doubt that’s why it has happened? Is thefe a waterproof dressing he can put on to help treat/prevent more and also on ball of feet?

  24. John Henry 28 September 2016 at 3:28 am - Reply

    you never mentioned the ways to treat and heal a blister already there, and that was what I was trying to find out.On the ball or on the sides …that is one thing…but in the middle, and it can take a month to heal on its own! after all you have to continue to walk every day!

  25. Tammy 6 October 2016 at 1:11 am - Reply

    What do you think of using duct tape for the ball of foot and heels?Too slippery or stiff?
    Isn’t the overlapping seam in your technique for taping the ball of the foot going to cause a Ridge and therefore a blister?

  26. Rebecca Rushton 6 October 2016 at 1:54 am - Reply

    THE GOODDefinitely stiff Tammy, so a shear load spreader.Definitely low friction (good if used in a targeted way).
    THE BADThe adhesive isn’t medical grade and so you shouldn’t have it on your skin.If used over too big an area, the low friction property will be bad, for the reasons outlined in the article.

  27. Karen 14 December 2016 at 8:04 am - Reply

    Great article Rebecca! I started to use the treadmill for it is too cold to walk outside now, and started to get a blister between my big toe and the ball of my foot. Tried different shoes. Took 5 days off treadmill to rest foot. Today after being on treadmill for 2 days, now have blood blisters forming in same place!

  28. Christina 23 March 2017 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    Are the engo pads you suggested reusable or one time use only?

  29. Rebecca Rushton 23 March 2017 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    Hi Christina. The Engo patches are applied one time only but last about 300 miles. Please note, you apply them to your shoe or insole, not your foot. More info here:

  30. Julie Page 27 May 2018 at 8:08 am - Reply

    Hi, so glad I found this. I’ve been getting blisters nearly every time I walk. Could you tell me what type of tape you use please? I’m in the uk. Thanks Julie

  31. Rebecca Rushton 27 May 2018 at 8:21 am - Reply

    I’ve used Fixomull Stretch 5cm here Julie. Truth be told, I’m not the biggest fan of taping. It might help, so definitely try it. But don’t be too surprised if it doesn’t work. Take a look at this article (esp the first video from 14mins):

  32. Nick 1 June 2018 at 7:14 am - Reply

    Thank you for taking the time to post this. Great information.

  33. Luke K 3 February 2019 at 11:42 am - Reply

    I’m experiencing blisters under the balls of my feet while running workouts or races on 200m indoor tracks. Hot spots develop and flare into blisters sometimes in as little as 800m into a race. The tight turns seem to be a major problem for my feet. I am a forefoot striker, and I have tried multiple types of footwear (from cushioned trainers to road racing flats to several types of racing spikes) along with multiple types of socks and placements of ENGO patches. Do you have any recommended treatments, or does this sound like cause to make an appointment with a podiatrist?

  34. Rebecca Rushton BSc(Pod) 4 February 2019 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    Hi Luke. Sorry to hear your blisters are proving to be so stubborn. The ENGO patches would have taken friction levels out of the equation, so this sounds like a pressure issue (related to your foot structure and/or function). I think a visit to the podiatrist is warranted. If that proves unsuccessful, join me here and we’ll chat more:

  35. Martha Montgomery 26 February 2021 at 5:28 am - Reply

    Fantastic article! The first picture is my blister and it is great to get some guidance. Thanks so much!!!!

  36. Henry Kriegel 3 December 2021 at 1:12 pm - Reply

    Awesome article Rebecca! I think I’m going to try those ENGO patches but I have to wait and I play soccer 3-4 times a week and I get blisters on the balls of my feet a lot. I tried tape and that didn’t really work any suggestions?

  37. Lorena 19 July 2022 at 11:49 am - Reply

    Hi Rebecca. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. This information is so useful! I am left wondering about the clues that the location of the blisters give (mentioned in your first paragraph). Mine are below the big toe knuckle. How can I find out more about what movement changes to make to address the root cause of these blisters on the ball of the big toe?
    Thanks a lot

    • Rebecca Rushton BSc(Pod) 19 July 2022 at 4:56 pm - Reply

      It’s not so much what movement changes you need to make, it’s more about how therapeutic interventions (stretches, orthoses, mobilisations) can minimise pressure and bone movement to effect less shear. For the big toe knuckle, it’s impossible to tell without seeing a podiatrist who can assess your foor structure and function. This article actually delves a little into it.

  38. David Cadell 29 August 2022 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    I am training for a marathon; I mostly power walk, interspersed w/ 1/8 to 1/4 mile jogs every mile (14:00 min/mile pace). I’m overweight (225 lbs; 5’8″ high). I am getting blisters constantly. My feet normally sweat a lot; this is combined w/ the fact I am training in a very hot and humid climate (Tampa, FL, USA in Summer); I have tried engo patches and they have helped some. I’ve tried taping and the tape just loosens from sweat. I have bought double layered socks (supposedly “blister-proof”) tried different shoes,

    Any tips for ball of foot (2nd metatarsal head) which developed after 6-7 miles only.

    • Rebecca Rushton BSc(Pod) 30 August 2022 at 8:45 am - Reply

      Yes David. Your foot function (and sometimes structure) is extremely relevant to blisters under the 2nd metatarsal head. See a podiatrist – they will be able to help you get on top of these blisters.

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