According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), the average person takes 8,000- 10,000 steps a day. Over a lifetime, this adds up to 115,000 miles, but those feet really were meant for walking — these intricate structures together have 52 bones, 66 joints, 214 ligaments, 38 muscles, and tendons that hold the structure together and allow it to move in a variety of ways. Little wonder, then, that there are more than 300 different disorders of the feet.

As vital as feet are to our very mobility, they have traditionally gotten relatively little respect, spending most of their day encased in nylons or socks and stuffed into often ill-fitting or worn-out shoes and high heels. Over time, the feet and ankles can be traumatized and injured. In fact, the APMA says 19% of Americans have an average of 1.4 foot problems per year, and women are four times more likely than men to develop disorders because of high heels.

That, of course, is where the nail technician comes in. While foot injuries and diseases are best left to the trained podiatric physician, the professional ministrations of a pedicurist can maintain both the health and beauty of a client’s feet. The pedicurist may also educate her on how to care for them at home with properly fitted and constructed shoes, daily warm soaks, moisturizing creams and lotions, and regular inspections of the feet. The pedicurist also can alert clients to potential health problems, as the APMA notes that symptoms of systemic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, and circulatory disease often show up first on the feet. (These include dry skin, brittle nails, burning and tingling sensations, and feelings of cold, numbness, and discoloration.)

But nobody said a pedicure has to be all business! In feet, pedicures are a booming service, and salons around the country are developing a varied pedicure menu to satisfy almost any client’s wants and needs.

Here are just a few specialized options.

Salone Nadwa and Day Spa

Foot Treatment: Time: 1 hour

Price: $48

Since the trade press first picked up on Salone Nadwa’s (Novi, Mich.) Foot Treatment, they’ve been so inundated with requests for more information and training on the service that owner Nadwa Yono is in the process of opening a spa and foot treatment service training center. The interest comes as no surprise— her spa’s three foot treatment stations are fully booked, and she’s not even sure that doubling the area (as she’s doing now) will sate demand.

Her foot care specialists also are very happy with the service, booking anywhere from $1,700-$2,300 in services during their four-day workweek. Over the next few months, Yono says they will be revamping the spa’s service menu, but one thing sure to remain is the signature Foot Treatment (which will be taught at the training center in a 1-3 day course).


Soak the client’s feet in a rosemary- scented bath to soften the skin and soothe her senses. All of the products used in the Foot Treatment are from Gewol, a French product line that Salone Nadwa imports from Canada.

Trim and shape the nails. Then, apply a skin softener to the nail plates and remove the dead skin buildup with an electric file. “We compare this to getting your teeth cleaned,” foot therapist Marcella McDougall explains. “We have to tell clients to remove their polish because otherwise it will stay on forever.”

At the same time, McDougall says they may thin down the nail plate with a special drill bit, emphasizing that they have an excellent referral relationship with a local podiatrist. “We send all clients with problematic feet to him for treatment,” she notes.

Reduce built-up calluses first with a heavy wooden file followed by a sanding disk on the electric file.

Apply Gewol’s Medsalve to the feet, and then place the feet back in the water. Both Yono and McDougall say they can’t keep Medsalve on the shelf because the salve prevents skin from cracking.

Next, apply Emulsion and massage each foot for 6-7 minutes. McDougall and her peers incorporate a little reflexology into the massage, but mostly focus on stretching, range of motion, and effleurage techniques.

“Our regular clients get six Foot Treatments a year, and they have no choice but to book in advance because we’re so busy,” McDougall says.

Serenity, A Salon and Spa

Sandals Pedicure

Time: 1.5 hours

Price: $60

Pedicure season never really ends in Longwood, Florida, where bright skies and temperate weather are enjoyed year-round. Always looking to expand its highly popular pedicure menu, Serenity introduced the Sandals Pedicure in March after months of experimentation and testing by its nail technicians.

Clients only had rave reviews for the pedicure that sets the appropriate mood for the French product line it fea­tures by starting them off with a croissant and glass of wine while they soak. “The pedicure area is set off behind curtains, and candles and aromatherapy add to the relaxing atmosphere as they soak in the whirlpool tubs,” describes nail technician Alessandra Savino-Rivera.

Because all of the spa’s nail technicians do this pedicure, often on twosomes who come together, Savino-Rivera says they are trained extensively on the Sandals Pedicure so that every­one uses the same amount of product and works at the same speed to ensure an equally enjoyable experience for all.


Let clients nibble and sip while they soak in a solution of aquamarine crystals and eucalyptus, sage, rosemary, and lavender essential oils for about 10 minutes. Remove the feet, pat dry, and trim and shape the nails.

Mix marine algae salt with a few drops of the clients’ preferred essential oil and scrub the heels and balls of the feet to remove dead skin and thin calluses.

Apply a firming treatment cream to the entire foot, paying special attention to the cuticles. Push back the cuticles and trim as necessary.

Next, apply a clay mask. Yonka, the French line Serenity uses in every step of this pedicure, has a clay mask that contains lavender, rosemary, and sage. Cover the thick day in plastic bags and then place the feet in heated booties for 10 minutes.

Remove the clay mask and massage the lower legs, toes to knees, for 15-20 minutes. “For the massage we use Lait Coeur, a milky body cream that contains coconut and almond oils as well as energizing ginseng extracts,” Savino-Rivera says. “We worked with our massage therapists to learn different massage techniques, including some reflexology, to make this a really special pedicure.”

Then, go over the lower legs again with either an energizing or relaxing aromatherapy oil — the client’s choice — and finish the nails with polish, as desired.

Botanica Day Spa

Prophylactic Pedicure for Problem Feet

Time: 1.5-2 hours

Price: $45-$85 Canadian

In Ontario, Canada, the lack of licensing requirements for nails has resulted in a “buyer beware” beauty market However, salon owner and licensed esthetician Yvonne Kreuzwiesner is working to raise the standards, not only through her one-year-old Botanica Day Spa (Woodbridge), but as the instructor at the Botanica Institute of Advanced Esthetics, where she offers certified diploma courses with no more than four students to a class.

Kreuzwiesner, also licensed in Washington where she has taught many seminars, says she first learned the Prophylactic Pedicure at the hands of a Czechoslovakian nail technician 12 years ago. “They do these pedicures in spas and sanitariums all over Europe,” she explains.

While some of the procedures and products she incorporates into her pedicure are legally beyond the scope of nail technicians in the United States, other aspects are well worth examining with an eye toward developing your own rendition of the Prophylactic Pedicure.


First, soak the feet in an herbal solution. Kreuzwiesner prefers Pevonia’s foot care line. In this step have clients soak in the herbal disinfectant for 15 minutes.

Assess the condition of the feet. “If they have bad calluses or dry, cracked skin, we apply a glycolic peel that contains both glycolic and salicylic acid because the two exfoliants really loosen up the dead skin,” she notes. After applying the peel, she wraps the feet in plastic booties for 10 minutes.

Next, evaluate any other problems and take the appropriate (and allowed) actions. For example, Kreuzwiesner uses special implements to lift out the hooks on ingrown toenails* to trim them, and applies tea tree oil to athlete’s foot and toenail fungus.

To further reduce calluses and remove cracked fissures, Kreuzwiesner prefers a Credo blade and electric file. “We use the grinder to thin thick toenails by setting it at the lowest setting and spot grinding to avoid any heat buildup,” she explains.

Next, soften the cuticles with cuticle remover and loosen the dead skin attached to the nail plate with a Hindu stone. When necessary, Kreuzwiesner sparingly uses nippers to remove excess cuticle.

Rehydrate the nail plate and surrounding tissues. Kreuzwiesner applies a salve comprised of essential oils, letting it soak in for approximately 10 minutes while proceeding to the next step.

Apply an all-natural aromatic oatmeal scrub with essential oils and dead sea salts to further exfoliate the skin, softening and smoothing both the tops and bottom of the feet as well as the calves.

Remove the scrub with a hot, damp towel, rinse the feet in the soak, and proceed to the massage. For a massage cream, Kreuzwiesner recommends choosing one that comes in different formulations geared to clients’ different needs. For example, she utilizes a line that offers a massage cream for dry, cracked feet, one for sweaty feet, and one for tired feet.

*Before trying any of these procedures in your salon, check your state board regulations as some of these practices may be either banned outright in cosmetology regulations or are considered in the purview of a licensed physician.


Top 10 Foot Problems




Achilles Tendonitis

Irritation and inflammation of the tendon that attaches to the back of the heel bone Achilles tendonitis can be caused by improper exercise war m-up or over-training,

Treatment: Can be treated with ice, rest, aspirin, or anti-inflammatory medications. Chronic pain or any swelling should be professionally evaluated.


Misaligned big toe pints that can become swollen and tender; causing the first joint of the big toe to slant outward, and the second joint to angle toward the other toes Bunions tend to be hereditary but can be aggravated by shoes that are too narrow in the forefoot and toe.

Treatment: Surgery by a podiatric physician is frequently recommended to correct the problem.


A condition, usually stemming from muscle imbalance, in which the toe is bent in a claw-like position. It occurs most frequently with the second big toe often when a bunion slants the big toe toward and under rt. but any of the other three smaller toes can be affected.

Treatment: Selecting shoes and socks that do not cramp the toes will alleviate the aggravation.

Heel Spurs

Growth of bone on the underside, forepart of the heel bone Heel spurs occur when the plantar tendon pulls at its attachment to the heel bone This area of the heel can later calcify to form a spur.

Treatment: With proper warm-up and the use of appropriate athletic shoes, strain to the ligament can be reduced.

Ingrown Toenails

Nails whose corners or sides dig painfully into the skin. Ingrown toenails are frequently caused by improper nail trimming, but also by shoe pressure, injury, fungus infection, heredity, and poor foot structure Women are 50% more likely to have ingrown toenails than men.

Treatment: Can be prevented by trimming toenails straight across, selecting proper shoe style and size — not too tapered orshallowand paying special attention to foot pain.


Enlarged benign growths of nerves, most commonly between the third and fourth toes. They are caused by tissue rubbing against and irritating the nerves. Pressure from ill-fitting shoesor abnormal bone structure can create the condition as well.

Treatment: Treatments include orthoses (shoe inserts) and/or cortisone injections, but surgical removal of the growth is sometimes necessary.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis (or heel pain) is commonly traced to an inflammation on the bottom of the foot

Treatment: A podiatric physician can evaluate arch pain, and may prescribe customized shoe inserts called orthoses to help alleviate the pain.


Sometimes known as the “ball bearings of the foot” the sesamoids are two small bones found beneath the first metatarsal bones They can inflame or rupture under the stress of exercise.

Treatment: Sesamoiditis can be relieved with proper shoe selection and orthoses.

Shin Sesamoiditis

Pain to either side of the leg bone, caused by muscle or tendon inflammation, It is commonly related to excessive foot pronation (collapsing arch), but may be related to a muscle imbalance between opposing muscle groups in the leg.

Treatment: Proper stretching and corrective orthoses for pronation can help prevent shin splints.

Stress Fractures

One of the various types of fractures, stress fractures require vastly different treatment Stress fractures are incomplete cracks in bone caused by overuse.

Treatment: With complete rest, stress fractures heal quickly. Extra padding in shoes helps prevent the condition. Note: Stress fractures left untreated may become complete fractures, which require casting and immobilization.

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