Common foot care questions and solutions for runners

After Dam to Dam, we started seeing more pedicure and massage clients in with black toenails, a curse of distance running!  I’ve personally been upping my mileage for the first time training for a half marathon and can see the importance of good socks, great fitting shoes, blister management and keeping my toenails short.

Based on the experience of our team and friends, we’d like to share solutions to help runners address common foot issues.

Fleet Feet Des Moines Women's Running Group
Fleet Feet Women’s Running Group (photo by Andy Roat)

1. Black Toenails: Many experts recommend making sure your running shoes are about a half size bigger than you everyday shoes, especially in hot and humid weather when feet expand.  Keeping toenails short can also help.  Downhill and distance running are the biggest culprits in causing black toenails that will eventually fall off.  Pedicures can help keep your nails properly trimmed, but start getting them early in your training, not the day before a big race.  If you have black toenails, you can still get a pedicure and polish, but be sure the nail technician is properly trained and treats the nail gently.

2. Calluses: These are a GOOD thing!  If you are training for a race, you need your calluses to prevent blisters.  If you get a pedicure, be sure to tell the nail technician you want to keep your calluses and ask that the time she’d normally be spent softening them go toward lengthening the massage…which you really need!  At our spa, the best choice for runners is a Wellness Pedicure.  The EV Signature Pedicure features a callus softening heel treatment which you don’t want and the Eco Dry pedicure doesn’t include a massage which you need.

The Clarisonic Callus buffer is a gentle way to soften calluses and we use it for clients who want light callus work.
The Clarisonic Callus buffer is a gentle way to soften calluses and we use it for clients who want light callus work.

3. Blisters:  If you have a blister, please tell your nail technician or massage therapist ahead of time so she knows to avoid the area.  Good socks make a world of difference and our friends at Fleet Feet have socks meant to prevent blisters.  I personally started getting blisters during triathlons this summer because of putting my shoes on with wet feet.  I found that soaking my foot in a shallow dish of hot water, a handful of oats, and a few drops of tea tree or lavender essential oil (optional) zapped the pain and helped them heal quickly.  You can cut a moleskin adhesive (found at any drugstore) to pad around the blister too.  Just cut out a round or square piece and cut a hole out of the center so you aren’t sticking it to your blister.  This works like a charm!

4. Foot pain:  If you are experiencing foot pain from running, there could be many causes.  First, make sure you are wearing the right shoes and visit a business that can do a professional evaluation and fitting.  You can also try approaches like podiatry, massage therapy, or chiropractic (or a combination) if the pain is limiting your ability to run.  Our therapists can help address issues in the foot, but also tense muscles in the hips and legs that can contribute to foot pain.  If your foot pain is new or you just want to try a short service, book our Therapeutic Foot Massage.  If your foot pain is accompanied by back, hip, leg, and knee pain, you’ll need a longer treatment and we recommend trying the 60 or 80 minute Athletic Edge Sports Massage.

Therapeutic Foot Massage is a deep massage focused on reflex points and areas of tension.
Therapeutic Foot Massage is a deep massage focused on reflex points and areas of tension.

Our goal is to not only help you keep running, but to ENJOY the journey!  If we can answer questions, offer treatments, or refer you to other health professionals like podiatrists, physical therapists, chiropractors, or experts at shoe fitting, don’t hesitate to ask!

Author: Cassie

Licensed Massage Therapist for 9 years, business owner since 2007.

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