Oh, blisters. Nothing makes preseason worse. The double sessions and conditioning practices are hard enough. But adding to that a nasty blister from your brand new cleats? The worst. 

So are blisters avoidable? No. We can’t promise that. Injuries are never fully preventable and yes, blisters fall into the injury category. But here’s some info on what causes them, how to minimize the risk of getting them, and ways to treat them should they appear. 

Related: Shop IDA’s Women’s Specific FG Soccer Cleats

What Causes Blisters

  1. Friction → slipping and sliding within your footwear creates friction and heat. This can lead to hot spots that eventually turn into blisters. It’s your body’s way of protecting the irritated skin, but can lead to painful blisters!

  2. Pressure → even if you’re not sliding in a pair of shoes, your heel or toes could simply be pressing up against the shoe (or a bunched up sock) in a way that can cause a blister. All feet and shoes are different, so proper fit is important!

  3. Moisture → intense sweating and excess moisture can cause blisters as well. So consider light training in your new cleats before you jump right into the literal heat of preseason. 

How to Protect your Feet from Blisters

  1. Footwear → if you’re wearing cleats designed for a male foot shape (you probably are, since most “unisex” cleats are actually designed for men!), then you might find yourself slipping, sliding, and stepping out of the heel cup since women’s feet are shaped differently! IDAs are designed for a more triangular foot shape than a men’s/unisex boot, to ideally give you enough space for your toes while still being snug and secure at the heels. Every foot is different though, so it’s most important to find a cleat that fits for YOU regardless of brand.

  2. Socks → if you feel like there’s a little bit of rubbing and sliding in your cleats, experiment with different sock thickness and cushioning to fine tune your comfort and fit. If your match socks are too thick, consider wearing a training sock underneath for a little extra cushion. If you’re wearing new cleats in a high heat or high intensity play, you might even consider moisture-wicking socks to help combat excess sweat that could lead to more rubbing.

  3. Material → If you find that you are highly susceptible to blisters, you might want to consider leather cleats. Leather shoes are known for molding to your foot, and it’s no different with soccer cleats like the IDA Classica.

  4. Break-In Time → Sometimes a soccer cleat falls apart and you’re forced to break-in a new pair right in the middle of a season. Not ideal. While not always feasible for players to own multiple pairs of cleats at a time, it’s good practice to gradually phase out the old and phase in the new pair simultaneously. Essentially that means buying a new pair of cleats once your current pair looks to be nearing the end of its life. You can start to use the new cleats in lighter or solo training sessions to break them in, so that once your current cleats bite the dust, you have your backup pair already broken in and ready to hit the field.

How to Treat Blisters from Soccer Cleats

  1. Hot Spots → These are blisters before the bubble forms. You can feel them, you know they’re there, but you probably ignore them until they get worse. If you notice a hot spot, you can switch to a more broken-in backup pair if you have them, or you should start to tinker with sock thickness or first aid bandages to add some extra cushioning before it becomes a bubble.

  2. The Bubble → Some players swear by draining blisters to reduce the pressure, but it’s not recommended because you risk infection. If in the presence of an athletic trainer, they can advise on draining blisters and ensure the area remains clean and needle is sterile. Ultimately though, if you’ve developed a bubble blister, you’ll want to cushion it. You can cut a hole in moleskin padding to sit around the blister and prevent it from making direct contact with your shoes. You can also cover blisters with a sterile adhesive bandage that completely covers the area to prevent it from sticking to the irritated area. Wrapping pre-wrap and athletic tape around the heel and foot can provide extra support to your bandage and prevent it from slipping.

  3. Popped Blister → If the blister pops, you should gently wash the area with warm water and soap, and leave the skin that remains over the blister if possible. Apply an antibiotic ointment over the area, and then loosely cover the area with a sterile bandage to keep it clean. It’s important to use a loose bandage to allow for airflow that can dry out the blister. Some even prefer to remove the bandage at night while sleeping to help dry them out over a longer period of time.

  4. Time → this is not what any player wants to hear, but avoiding the footwear that is causing the rubbing is the most effective way to allow your blisters to fully heal. Once they are healed, you can slowly return to your cleats in light training to see if they just need a little more time to break in. If you return to those cleats slowly, and you start to notice the area being aggravated again, it could simply be down to fit and you need to find a cleat that better fits your foot shape. 

When to Seek Further Medical Care

  1. If the blister starts producing pus (yellow or green)

  2. If the area becomes swollen/ inflamed

  3. If you suspect the blister has become infected

It’s never fun to have a blister keep you on the sidelines, especially if you’re feeling strong and fit otherwise! That’s why it’s so important to 1) break in new footwear as early and as gradually as possible and 2) focus on comfort and fit when shopping for a new pair of soccer cleats as well as when tinkering with training and match day socks. 

Struggling with your soccer cleats slipping and rubbing at the heel? It might be time to explore a women’s specific fit! 

Shop IDA’s selection of FG/AG cleats and indoor soccer shoes here.