A blog by runners. For runners.

Smooth them or leave them? What to do about calluses and pedicures

runners and pedicures

As runners, we put our feet through a lot. I don’t know about yours, but mine don’t exactly look pretty. So, I treat myself to pedicures from time to time during the summer months so my feet look a little better in open-toed shoes. Pedicures are also enjoyable to boot. What runner doesn’t like being pampered with a foot massage?

However, salon pedicures typically includes some callus work. Your aesthetician may offer to smooth your calluses with a pumice stone. But calluses protect runners’ feet when we pound the pavement. So what’s a runner to do? Avoid pedicures all sandal season?

The lowdown on calluses
Though unsightly, calluses are actually a good thing. With each foot strike, certain parts of our feet rub against our shoes more than others. As a result, our foot builds up a protective layer of thickened, dead skin to protect the area of the foot where the most friction occurs. Most runners have callused heels, for instance.

But sometimes calluses can be warning signs of an impending injury. If you have calluses on the outside of your pinky toe or any outer part of your foot, it could mean you’re rolling your foot. Overpronaters are more likely to have calluses on the outside of their big toes and ends of their toes. Getting fitted for proper shoes can help fix these problems. If one foot is more callused than the other, it may mean you’re stronger on one side or you have a leg-length discrepancy. In this case, you may need physical therapy.

Should runners get pedicures?
Does this mean you have to avoid the nail salon all summer long? Nope, go ahead and indulge in a pedicure even if you’re in the midst of marathon training.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s a good idea to have your calluses scrubbed away a bit. Otherwise calluses can get too thick and crack, which is not only painful but could lead to an infection.

Just be sure to tell your aesthetician that you’re a runner and don’t want your calluses scrubbed away completely. Or if your calluses aren’t that thick, just ask the aesthetician to skip that part of the pedicure.

Note that calluses should never be shaved, so speak up if your aesthetician takes out a blade. Shaving calluses with a blade is dangerous, and is illegal for aestheticians to do in many states because it’s considered a medical procedure.

At home care for calluses
If you want to remove part of your calluses at home, gently rub a thin layer away with a pumice stone or washcloth after a shower. Then apply moisturizer to the area.

Better yet, prevent calluses from getting too thick in the first place. Invest in a few pairs of padded running socks. The padding is strategically placed in the spots where calluses are most likely to occur, so your foot stays better protected.

Written by Jen Matz.