Can Runners Get Pedicures?

Justin Sullivan

"I'm training for my first marathon and I have a lot of calluses on the bottom of my feet. Is it OK for me to get a pedicure?"

Taking care of your feet is very important when you're training for a marathon. It's important to keep your toenails short to help prevent black toenails. Getting a pedicure can also be a great way to treat yourself after a tough, long run or as a reward for reaching a running goal.

So, although toenails trimming and painting is safe for marathon runners, you should definitely not let the pedicurist remove your thickened, callused skin with a razor or emery board. The callused skin serves as blister protection for your feet, so if it's removed, you'll be more at risk for blisters.

Make sure you let the pedicurist know that you're a runner (if your feet are anything like mine, she'll be able to tell immediately!), so she knows to leave your calluses alone. Instead of removing your calluses, ask her to spend some extra time massaging your feet and calves, which may be tight and sore. It will feel great!

How to Prevent Blisters on Your Feet

While calluses can serve as protection against painful blisters, there are other measures you can take to avoid getting blisters.  Try these tips:

  • Make sure your shoes fit properly. Your running shoes should be at least a 1/2 size bigger than your regular street shoe size. Some runners even go up a full size. Your feet swell when you run so your toes will be rubbing up against the front of your shoes if you don't size up.
  • Buy socks specifically made for running, such as WrightSocks. Look for socks made of synthetic fabrics (not cotton!) such as Teflon or CoolMax, which wick moisture away from your feet, preventing the sock from bunching up and causing blisters.
  • Also, buy socks with no seams and a smooth surface. Some runners wear double-layer socks created to deter blisters. The idea with those socks is that any friction occurs between the two sock layers instead of your skin and the sock.
  • Some runners also put moleskin or athletic tape over "hot spots" on their feet that are prone to blisters, as a preventive measure. If you do this, just make sure the moleskin or tape is applied smoothly (no wrinkles) and not too tight. Don't use regular Band-aids, as they tend to move around too much and could end up causing more blisters.
  • You can also spread BodyGlide or Vaseline on problem areas. But be careful not to overdo it: Too much and you'll be sliding around in your shoes.

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