6 At-Home Tips for Freshening up Your Runner’s Feet

Bid adieu to blisters, blackened nails, callouses and reptilian skin.

Gross toes are widely accepted as badges of honour in the running community, but extra crusty tootsies aren’t always appreciated by the greater public. Consider buffing up those blistered, bruised and calloused paws, regardless of the season – you should look after your feet year-round. Here, two experts share simple, at-home tips that will get your feet in as good of shape as the rest of your body.

Treat Discolored Toenails

Darkened nails often result from nails that are too long or from shoes that are too small, explains Quinton Yeldell, founder of foot-care company Southern Hospitality. To prevent them, clip your toenails regularly and make sure there is a thumb-width distance from the tip of your longest toe to the end of your shoe. Your shoe should be wide enough so that your forefoot rests comfortably within your shoe without making contact with either side of your shoe, says Yeldell.

But if you’ve already fallen victim to a bruised nail? Make a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar and apply it to the darkened nail with a cotton bud, suggests Nadine Abramcyk, co-founder of nail salon Tenoverten. The concoction, if administered daily for several days in a row, can lessen the discolouration.

Banish Callouses

Minimise callouses with Abramcyk’s quick, in-shower exfoliation routine: wait until the end of the shower once your feet have absorbed lots of water, and then generously apply a scrub (Abramcyk recommends Weleda Birch Scrub) to both feet. Rinse away the scrub – and your dead skin.

For rougher, more developed patches, consider an exfoliating accessory, like a pumice brush or foot file, says Yeldell, who warns that under no circumstances should runners use a blade or any other sharp object to remove calluses. Another safety tip: limit exfoliation to three times per week, as excessive scrubbing can do reverse damage by causing skin irritation.

Soften Reptilian Skin

Your feet should be moisturised daily, says Yeldell. Pay special attention to areas that are prone to callus formation, like heels, balls of the feet, and any other bony prominent areas that may be subject to friction when running. Exfoliation, when necessary, should come before moisturising, as skin that is less thick moisturises more easily and contributes to slower callus formation, he explains.

As for the prime time to moisturise: it’s post-bath, soak, or shower in warm water. According to Yeldell, the increased temperature of the water opens the pores of the skin allowing for better penetration for your favourite moisturiser.

Prevent (and Tend to) Blisters

Sweating and moisture are the most common blister-causing culprits, explains Yeldell. His preventative tips are threefold:

1. Dust your feet – and even the insides of your shoes – with a foot powder prior to running to combat excessive sweating.
2. Wear good socks, as the high-performance material wicks away extra moisture and maintains proper traction inside your shoe.
3. Purchase properly-sized running shoes to prevent slippage, although even these can become over saturated with moisture and thus should not be used daily. Yeldell advises regular runners to have at least two pairs of well-fitted sneaks to alternate usage.

If, despite your best efforts, a blister crops up, cover it with a clear, plastic band-aid that has a built-in blister pads, says Abramcyk. The cushioning pad will prevent the blister from worsening, plus “the clear bandage is far less offensive looking than a regular band aid”.

Trim Tough Talons

Clip nails straight across as much as possible, advises Yeldell, as it increases the likelihood that they’ll grow out straight and not cause nail deformity within your shoes with excessive running. If your nails are too thick to chop on your own, he suggests visiting a reputable nail salon care, or, for more severe cases, a local podiatrist.

Disguise Missing Nails

No nail? No problem. “If you’re an avid runner that loses a nail (or two), you can paint the nail bed of the toe to match the polish of your other toes,” says Yeldell, caveating that this is only a safe solution if the nail bed is undamaged. In the case of damage (think open wounds), wait for the injury to resolve before applying nail polish.

If you’re wanting something a bit more life-like, you can purchase press-on toenails and apply them to nails that have partially grown back. Yes, this is a thing, and here’s a brief tutorial that explains how to do it.


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