Long distance runner Marie Romero has certainly put a lot of wear and tear on her feet. Despite having run 35 marathons and training up to 60 miles a week, Romero’s feet remain in good shape, a fact she credits in large degree to frequent pedicures. “When you’re a runner, you depend upon your feet, and pedicures are great for keeping your feet in shape,” states Romero in a recent profile in Los Angeles Magazine. The 41-year-old runner has her feet tended at Perfect Nail in La Canada, Calif., every two weeks — more often if she’s got a race coming up.
This comes as no surprise to podiatrist Johanna Youner, herself a runner. “Long distance runners tend to get subungual hematomas (blood blisters under the nail) on their second toes since this oft-times longer toe tends to smash against the end of the sneaker. The trauma to the toe can lead to the loss of the nail and trauma to the nail bed, which leads to fungal nails,” she explains. Dr. Youner advises that runners’ toenails be kept short, since even average-length nails can lacerate the toes next to it. “The second toenail needs particular attention,” she says. “A black toenail means the area under the nail has filled with blood. If it is painful, the runner should see a podiatrist to painlessly let the blood out. If it is not painful, it means the blood is dried and the nail technician can file it thinly.” Youner also advises that a certain amount of callus may be beneficial to a runner. “Trimming the calluses off completely removes the natural protection of the callus. The runner then gets sore or blistered,” she says.