Foot pain: An inevitable consequence of roller derby?

Muy delicioso!

Muy delicioso!

Yup, that’s my nasty foot. I suffer from perpetual blood blisters on the ball of my foot and my big toe, the occasional bonus on the arch if my other padding slips and starts rubbing the wrong way. I have been skating for almost a year and I have had bad blisters the entire time. I thought buying skates that fit would fix this issue (I had been wearing skates 1.5 sizes too big for the first 8 months), but I am still getting the rub. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, so typically I can make it through practice, but it’s often painful enough the next day that I can’t walk normally. It also makes back-to-back practices very difficult because my feet don’t have enough time to heal.

Over the past year I received a lot of roller derby wisdom regarding how to treat them–pop them, drain them, cut them off, tape them, pad them, smack it up flip it rub it down oh noooooo!–with some of that advice working better than others. I must have spent $100 on different types of insoles. Nothing worked totally, though, so I gave up and decided to go see a pro. Here is some of the advice the podiatrist gave me. Mind, this is one doctor’s opinion, and of course everyone’s feet are different, so find what works for you:

1. If you have blood blisters, pierce them with a sterile needle and drain them.
If they are clear, leave them alone or use a blister treatment pad.

2. Never cut your calluses off with nail scissors, clippers, hedge trimmers,
your teef, etc. Wear them down a little once a week with a pumice stone.

3. Occasionally skaters will complain about a cramp on the side of the foot for the length of the foot. The doc says this is probably a consequence of skating–because you are lifting something heavy with your foot, the foot’s natural tendency is to activate the muscles and curl the foot up a bit. Because you can’t really relax the foot back and spread your foot flat in the skate after that tension when you’re skating hard, the foot can seize up and cramp. He said the best thing to do is when you come to rest or a normal skating position (not turning, which is when this is most likely to occur) try to flatten your foot in the skate, spreading your toes, or rub the top of your foot through the skate.

4. Finally, if you are padding a spot on your feet and it’s not working, be aware that it could be causing an imbalance elsewhere and thus causing other unpleasant symptoms. I had been putting thick padding (a big, squishy Bunga pad and/or cosmetic sponges) to protect the inside balls of my feet, but that was causing my foot not to rest flat in my skate, thus aggravating other parts of my foot, causing it to curl up unnaturally whenskating, and causing cramps and blisters elsewhere. That instability actually worsens the rubbing and the resultant blister. Instead, consider padding the non-aggravated area around the wound to keep the foot stable and make sure it rests evenly in the skate.

Anyway, I hope some of this information is useful for those of you who are out there suffering. If you’ve got another tip, be sure to share in the comments!



Filed under Roller Derby

8 responses to “Foot pain: An inevitable consequence of roller derby?

  1. Yowie! I’ve been really lucky on the foot front. Are you wearing good socks? I got some Under Armor sweat-wicking sweeties that are pretty great. Not cool or fashionable at all, but for a hard practice, just what I need.
    I hope your tootsies feel better soon!
    Oh, and can’t wait to come see you guys cream the OC tomorrow night!!!

  2. gunmoll mindy

    I have the exact same blisters on the exact same spots and have been skating on them for nearly two years. Have you found anything that works? I’ve gone through pretty much everything (blister bandaids, orthotics, a bazillion types of socks, tape, blister cushions, silicone things) and feel resigned to a life of brutal mangy foot. Am considering some of the Bont heat-molded boots. . . .would like to hear if you’ve found something that works though!

    • retoxfox

      Sigh! I wish I had better news for you, but alas, after the off-season break I am back to blisery (blister misery). By our second practice, I thought, “Hmmm, my feet sure are sweaty,” only to find at the end that it was blood, not sweat, that was soaking my socks. Arrrrrgh.

      I did find a (mostly) happy place at the end of the season. Bunga pads would never stay in place and my professional orthotics gave me foot cramps and blisters in other places. I removed the orthotics and am using over-the-counter sports insoles; since they are squishy they unfortunately absorb some of my power/speed, but I find the softer surface more forgiving. Right now I just consistently tape my feet around the ball/front pad of my foot, and also around the arch. This worked once everything had healed and callused up at the end of the season. Now that the blood blisters have redeveloped I’m using a cosmetic pad at the ball of my foot as well; once they heal I should be able to go back to just relying on tape.

  3. Shear Chaos

    I have the same problems, its starting to annoy me bad,,,ive tried everything. My arch support was rubbing the wrong way giveing me bad blisters so i took em out than the elastic thing that holds the toung on started rubbing so i put on mole skin…than the edges of that started rubbing worse than ever…i literally cried when i took a shower and couldnt sleep through the night cause it hurt so bad…ive doubled socks, tried blister pads, foot powder, tape (sticks to blister owwww) everything seems to get to wet from sweat…I just dont know what to do. i seem to be the only one on my team with this problem so i just dont know anymore, guess i gota deal with it cause i love me some rollerderby 🙂

  4. I’m still Fresh Meat, and for a few weeks I had the same problems – I used to get blisters over the top of blisters. I thought it was from my feet rubbing inside the skates, so I tightened my laces. The blisters got WORSE! Then someone in my league recommended I use two sets of laces – looser down the toes end, and then tighter around the ankles. That’s TOTALLY worked for me – no more blisters!

    I also find that the foot pain is the worst when my wheels are either too tight, or the bearings are dirty. Or when I bunch up my toes – I tend to do that when I’m stressed, and as Fresh Meat, I find Derby pretty stressful… 😉

  5. philosofury

    try doubling socks but turn the outside pair inside out. it will leave the slick parts rubbing against each other and the sticky parts sticking to stuff. it was a miracle when i played basketball

  6. Izzy

    Hi. I have exactly the same problem. I’m not a skater like you, but I like to get my roller-blades out sometimes or go ice-skating with friends. Every time I do, I get nasty blisters just like yours (not on the big toe though). I think it’s to do with the fact my arches are flatter than most people’s. I have this funny bone in the middle of the inner side of my foot and it rubs against the skates causing pain and blisters. It does not cause me pain when walking or running (I get a blister in a different place after running). I might go to the doctor’s and get them to check my feet. Maybe I need some corrective insoles or something.

  7. I am the foot freak I guess. As a freshie I had tremendous amounts of foot pain and wondered how it was that anyone managed to ever skate at all if they all suffered the way I did. I tried every type of insole on the market short of custom insoles (which I was planning on doing next) to no avail. If anything the padded gel inserts seemed to make my foot pain so much worse. One particular style of doctor scholl’s was so awful I only made one lap before throwing myself to the ground and ripping them out of my skates…and I am glad I did. I spent the rest of practice skating with no insole, not even the thin little factory one…with no foot pain! For me, skating pretty much just standing on my trucks solved the problem…I guess either because it keeps my feet flat or because the vibrations numb my feet, lol. Oh…and thin socks only. When I tried the thick socks or doubling up my socks it made it worse as well.

    As for blisters the few that I have gotten (mostly from breaking my skates in)
    I managed with a big square bandaid covered by wrapping the offending area of my foot with medical wrap and tape for about a week while the skates softened.

    So I guess my point is to just try everything and hopefully you will find what works for you as all of our feet are different. That and loosen your trucks! and I know a lot of girls on my team do the double lace idea Hexadeathimal suggested…works for them.

    Good luck and derby love!

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