You might think the most common cause of blisters on tips of toes is your toe hitting the end of your shoe. Sure, this can happen, and I’ve seen many instances of it. However, the most common cause of these toe blisters is when the toes bend over and sustain weightbearing forces, step after step after step. The problem is, toe tip of the toe isn’t designed to take these weightbearing forces.
Pressure to the tip of the toe often impacts the toenails too, which can lead to blisters under the toenail. This article ignores the contribution of injury via the toenail. But please read this article for the 7 causes and 7 fixes of toenail blisters if you’d like to know more.
Pictures Of Toe Tip Blisters
Click on each picture to take a closer look.
Easy-To-Fix Causes Of Blisters On Tips Of Toes
Shoes Too Small
Ever heard of the “rule-of-thumb”? There’s a rule-of-thumb for shoes fitting. The perfect length of a shoe has a thumbs-width of clear space between the end of your longest toe and the end of the upper. Measure this standing up (your foot elongates a little when it bears weight). Any less than this and you risk not having enough room for the small amount of movement your foot needs and invariably performs as you walk, run and play. Your toes will impact the end of the shoe and toe tip blisters will be the result. The fix is getting new shoes – there’s no other way around it – unless you want to start cutting the toe of your shoes out.
Shoes Too Big
This one might come as a surprise, but it makes perfect sense. If your shoe is too big, roomy and loose, your foot will slide forward and your toes will impact at the end of the shoe. If this happens step after step, hour after hour, blisters on tips of toes will be the inevitable result. The giveaway is there’ll be a gap behind your heel. It’s the same result as wearing shoes too small. However, there is an easy fix for this without having to buy new shoes. Simply tie your laces firmer. Or use this clever heel-lock lacing technique. Laces are designed to hold your foot in your shoe – so use them! Of course, if there are no laces, Velcro or buckles, there’s no other way around it – you need new shoes.
THE Most Common Cause Of Toe Tip Blisters Is Toe Posture
The most common cause of blisters on tips of toes stems from the toe’s posture. When the toes bend over, they sustain weightbearing pressure. The problem is, they’re not designed for weightbearing forces. All that pressure and shear should be borne by the soft pulpy underside of your toes.
Structurally, hammertoes and clawed toes are toe deformities that cause this toe posture in one or more of the lesser toes (toes 2-5). These deformities can range from mild to severe, flexible or stiff. However, some of us have perfectly straight toes, but they bend downwards when we walk and run.
Either way, the aim of the toe tip blister prevention game is to stop you from walking on the tips of the toes, or at least to lessen the weightbearing forces.
How To Get The Weight Of The Tips Of Your Toes
GEL TOE CAPS: Gel toe caps can provide a lot of relief. These protectors are made from a super-cushioning and shear absorbing gel material. They’re like a little sock for an individual toe. If you’re only getting a blister on the end of one toe, try one. If it’s more than one toe on each foot, these cushions will probably take up too much room in the toebox of your shoe. Read this to learn more about gel toe caps.
TOE-PROPS: Or you could go straight for a toe-prop. They are the gold standard for any apical lesion, including toe tip blisters. Toe-props encourage your toes to sit straighter. Even if your clawed toes or hammertoes are fixed, a toeprop will allow a spreading of the load to the under-surface of the toes, so there’s not quite so much force on the tip of the toe.
Types Of Toe-Props
There are two types of toe-props: off-the-shelf and custom-made. You can find the off-the-shelf versions at the chemist or on Amazon. Some are made from foams, rubbers, gels or leather (image above). By all means try one, but different toes and different sized feet need different amounts and sizes of propping up. You never know, you might get lucky and an off-the-shelf prop is all you need. But if it doesn’t work, don’t strike toe-props off altogether! See a podiatrist who can make you a custom-made toe prop. This is the most likely toe-prop to help stop blisters on tips of toes from running, walking, basketball, football – whatever your activity. The video below is of me making a toe-prop using the putty material called Otoform K that most podiatrists have. Oh, and by the way, a podiatrist can also help to identify if there are fixable reasons why your toes are clawing.
There is one more type of toe-prop – the DIY toe-prop using felt. I’ve used this in race situations when we don’t have access to chemists and we don’t have time for the putty to set (24 hours).
The fixes for blisters on tips of toes from running, walking and side-to-side sports include:
Wearing shoes that pass the “rule-of-thumb” test
Using your laces to keep your foot at the back of the shoe
Cushioning the tip of the toe
Holding the toes straighter so the toe tips don’t have to take weightbearing forces.
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