I love new products that promote healthy feet. And, as many of you know, I don’t like calluses. So I was happy to get a chance to test a new callus reduction product.
First, I need to say that I am not a fan of pumice stones and most of the callus files I see most commonly advertised as tools to help you reduce your calluses. In my opinion, they tend to tear the skin, leaving it rough and scaly. While they reduce callus, I don’t like the after effects on the skin. I have tried the Pedi-Egg and while a bit better, it still leaves a lot to be desired.
There’s always room for improvement. The nice folks at Silk Feet sent me a sample of their product. Here’s a bit of text from their website.
Silk Feet is the first ever Bladeless Exfoliating Microscreen. It’s designed to quickly remove dry, callused skin revealing smooth, healthy skin beneath. The oval shape and flexible design adapt to the contours of the foot for professional results in minutes.
Silk Feet is a new generation of foot care products designed to provide fast, effective treatment to eliminate dry, dead skin cells from an individual’s foot; producing the most effective smoothing results available in a single application.
The product’s oval shape and flexible design adapt to the contours of your foot and allow the abrasive to maintain continuous contact with your skin for professional results in minutes.
I found the oval shape to be pliable and easily shaped to my heels and the balls of my feet. I could hold it in the palm of my hand and rub it over the skin with as much pressure as I wanted to apply. It worked very well. In just two short sessions, my wintertime calluses were reduced dramatically. I used it on one heel and not the other so I could compare. While a bit tricky because of its size, it can also be used on toes. The oval is the same coarseness on both sides, so it can be reversed when one side starts to wear down. Wash it under running water after use.
My recommendation is to use it over a wastebasket or the side of your tub as the fine skin dust has to go somewhere – or just use it outside. It’s small enough to pack in a travel bag to take on the road. I’d suggest putting it in a baggie to keep it from snagging on other things.
At a price point of $6, I think Silk Feet is a great buy. Their website lists stores that are supposed to carry it. If you can’t find it at a local store, it’s easy to order it from their website.
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Footwear, Health, Sports, toenails
I believe strongly in prevention as a proactive measure in foot care.
Tim Noakes’ sixth law of running injuries must be heeded—any running injury can be cured only after the cause is found and eliminated. All of us who run, hike, or adventure race at some point have problems with our feet or sustain foot injuries. The prevention chapters are numerous and lengthy because many factors contribute to foot problems and injuries, and for every factor, there is a preventive measure that can reduce or eliminate it. Prevention is the key to saving your feet. Dave Scott, a good friend and ultrarunner, put the foot problem in proper perspective: “When you don’t take care of your feet during a long run or race, each step becomes a reminder of your ignorance.”
It’s very easy to relinquish our responsibility for preparedness and let someone else dictate what we should do. We tend to listen to those whom we look up to and to those who are more experienced. In many ways this is OK, and it is often the way it should be. However, only you can determine what works for your feet.
Knowing your prevention options is important. That’s being proactive. I get emails every week from athletes who are looking for answers for their feet issues.
Some have my book but others don’t. Some have the book and have gone through the chapters to find possible treatment options. Others have the book and haven’t read it – and want me to answer their questions.
I try. Sometimes it works and sometimes not. While I answer from my experience and knowledge, I don’t have your feet. And that’s important.
Your feet have your abnormalities (hammer toes, bunions, thick toenails, skin that calluses, a tendency to athlete’s foot, a tendency to blisters, etc.), your ankles, your shoes and socks, your fit (good or bad), your training base, your stride and gait, and more.
You are the best person to find what works for your feet. Others may give suggestions. Fixing Your Feet can give suggestions and I may offer a few via email or in this blog, but you need to try them on your feet to find the one that works best.
You are the key to prevention.
Please, don’t show up at a race with a bad case of athlete’s foot, holes in your socks, shoes that have outlived their support, insoles that are flat as paper, toenails that are long and untrimmed, shoes that don’t fit, huge thick calluses, blisters that are unhealed, thick nails from untreated toenail fungus.
Yes, I have seen all of these.
Again, you are the key to prevention.
Lets talk about expectations for foot care at races. I like this subject because being prepared is important. It can make my work easier and likewise that of everyone helping with medical and foot care at races. This coming weekend is Western States and there will be a lot of runners needing help with their feet.
Over the years I have seen everything at 100-mile races. Runners with holes in their socks or socks so worn you can see through the material, severe Athlete’s Foot, long and untrimmed toenails, huge calluses, no gaiters, the use of Vaseline as a lubricant, the use of Band-Aids on blisters, existing injuries that have not healed, shoes that should have been tossed out, huge blisters caused by not treating hot spots, and lots more.
I see runners with crews that manage everything for them – including foot care. These are typically runners who have experience in longer races. They also seem to have some degree of foot care expertise. They will come through an aid station and meet their crew and all is well. If they need foot care, they have the supplies and they or their crew knows how to use the materials. They are prepared.
Other runners are less prepared. They might have crews, but they don’t have the foot care supplies, much less the expertise in how to do what they needed. They count on someone being there to fix their feet.
Many of these runners expect a lot from the podiatrity staff – sometimes, they want a miracle. There are four issues to get past. First, many times there are no “official” podiatrity people at the aid station. No podiatrist anyway. Second, what they get is someone who is maybe a nurse, paramedic, EMT, or even a full-fledged MD, who is volunteering as the aid station’s medical person. Third, often this person(s) has limited skills in fixing feet. And finally, fourth, often they have limited supplies.
So what do you get? You get a person who really wants to help but may be hindered by their limited skills and resources. Don’t fault them if the patch doesn’t work or it feels wrong. You might try and give them directions on what to do – with limited success.
What’s wrong here? Your expectations are wrong. You cannot expect every race to have podiatrity people at every aid station, with supplies to fix hundreds of feet. Some races have medical staff while other races have none. A majority of races do not have podiatrist on hand. Is it their job to provide it? Only if they advertise such aid.
This means you should be prepared at any race you enter, to have the foot care supplies and knowledge to patch your own feet – or have crew that knows how. Does that sounds harsh? Maybe so, but you entered the race. You spent money on travel, a crew, food, new shoes, lodging, new shorts and a top, water bottles, and more. But did you spend a few bucks on preparing a good foot care kit?
Why take a chance that I or anyone else is there to fix your feet? I find lots of runners who have my book (Fixing Your Feet) but I am amazed at the large numbers who haven’t heard of it.
Many of us don’t mind fixing your feet. In fact I love to do it. But we can’t be everywhere – at all aid stations, at all hours, and at all races. Can you do me a favor? Tell some else about Fixing Your Feet and this blog. Make their life a bit easier and help them finish their race with happy feet.
I’ll be in the medical area at the Michigan Bluff aid station. In back of the scales and food tables. If you need me, I’ll be there.
Making a Foot Care Clinic video is one of my major objectives for 2012. I had the whole project laid out and wanted to know what others wanted to learn. Of course, I have my own ideas of what to teach, but I value the input of others. So a while back, I asked for suggestions. Here a summary of what I received.
Three Topics – I can think of 3 video topics that I would like to see covered. I’m always referring runners to your book. My experience at aid stations and answering runners’ questions tells me there are many runners that neglect basic foot care. While many runners are expert at caring for their feet, there are also many that are getting by but with the grace of God. I think a video as basic as demonstrating foot washing might be needed.
1. The Daily Routine: What the ultra runner should be doing every day to keep feet healthy and race ready.
2. The Race Routine: Preparing feet race morning or the evening before.
3. Race Emergencies: The emergency race supplies to be carried or stored in drop bags that allow the participant to be independent and successful with race foot care. Include special weather conditions. ~ Todd Baum
Blister Care – Definitely blister care, small ones to the nasty, start to finish when athlete rolls in, hows its done, tools, tricks, when to leave them alone, when to advise them to consider oh no stopping. ~ Wayne Kehr
Toe Blisters – I’d like to see a picture of toe blisters and how to tape them. The tape always seems to fall off from the toe, especially if it is the little toe. ~ Kris Martinovich
Taping – Taping would be #1–preventative. Various shoe lacing techniques to reduce pressure on tender top of the foot (skipping holes, etc.) would be helpful for hikers. ~ Susan Alcorn
Blister Popping – I’d like to see the correct way to pop a blister. ~ Patricia Carroll
Callus Care – I would very much like to know the proper treatment for reducing calluses on the ends of my toes and the balls of the feet. I’ve tried scraping, cutting, and the Ped Egg, no luck, they keep coming back, and they hurt. ~ Margie Withrow
Hydration – A section explaining why managing hydration and electrolytes can help avoid issues in the feet! ~ George Miller
Toenail Care – How about proper nail trimming and filing of the nail tip “forward” so there is no ridging to catch sock? ~ Rocky Shon
Taping, Blister Care, Toenails and Calluses – I really love the idea of a Foot Care Video. Obviously, as you mentioned, various taping techniques are a “must” when it comes to the content. I would also like to see proper treatment of blisters both on the trail and after the run at home. Another topic could be best preparation of toenails as well as calluses for ultra events. I am sure that you had those topics already on your list, but I just wanted to make sure that they are indeed covered. ~ Harald Vaessin
Specific Taping Techniques – I’d opt for some demonstration of how to properly tape one’s feet with Leukotape. I taped some sore areas early on the John Muir Trail last August, found I couldn’t remove the tape a couple days later and ended up tearing, cutting holes in my toes to get the damn tape off! I successfully completed the trail in 17 days but did suffer because of my apparent taping errors. ~ John Cusick
Plantar Fasciitis – Information on how to deal with plantar fasciitis. ~ Ed Werner
Honestly, a few of the ideas were ones that were not on my list. I envision this as a tool to teach athletes stuff that is hard to describe in print. Taping is a prime example. It’s hard to fully grasp the concept of taping toes without a series of pictures. That’s where a video will shine.
As this project evolves, my readers will receive updates and will have more opportunities for input. If you have not sent me you idea and want to be heard, please comment below.
Well, not nasty in that sense. Nasty in how they look, smell, or feel. I could have put an image on this page showing nasty feet. Believe me, Google has lots that would turn your stomach. I choose not to make you gag. Instead I have some solid advice.
Some athletes struggle with nasty feet. Years of running and pounding that pavement or dirt with these valuable appendages, quick showers, no showers, sticky socks, calluses, ingrown toenails, long untrimmed toenails, Athlete’s foot, new blisters, old blisters that haven’t healed, scars from deep old blisters, and more.
On top of that, add the possibility of hammer toes, Morton’s foot, flat feet, bunions, and scars from scrapes and puncture wounds and you have quite a challenge.
Here are a few tips on avoiding nasty feet.
Get a foot brush to use in the bath or shower. These are good to rid your skin of dirt and dead skin, especially around your toes and heels.
Get a high-quality toenail clipper. Preferably a flat edged one. Trim your nails as short as possible without exposing the skin at the corner of the nail. Trim straight across. Try and do this once a week.
Get a good nail file. These come in cheap emery board styles or more substantial long lasting files. Use one after trimming your nails to rounds the edges and smooth the corners so they don’t catch on your socks. The clippers show here are high quality. They can be purchased through FootSmart.com for about $12.00. If your nails are thick, you need more than the usual drug store clippers. I recommend these or a similar one.
Get a callus file, PedEgg, or a similar device to keep your calluses under control. Use it after showering when your skin is soft. Avoid going too deep. If you have thick calluses, it will take a while to get them under control, and
Get a high-quality foot cream to apply after you have done all the above.
If you have Athlete’s foot or toenail fungus, treat it. It’s that simple. Don’t treat it and you’ll be heading for more problems down the trail.
By sticking to an easy-to-follow regiment of foot care, your feet can avoid the nasty look.
This past spring I discovered the Heel Smoother Pro made by Artemis Woman. I called the company and talked to one of the owners about the product. They make several versions of the Heel Smoother and after learning about each; I ordered the Heel Smoother Pro and a spare set of their DuraCrystal tips.
Over the past months, my wife and I have used it to control calluses and keep our feet smooth. I also took it to Badwater this past summer and used it on several runners’ feet. The DuraCrystal tips do a fantastic job of reducing hard callus. I have shown the Pro at the clinics and promote it whenever possible. In my opinion, it works better and faster than a file or pumice stone and with the two different shaped tips, works well on any part of the foot, including toes. Is it for everyone? If you have calluses, especially stubborn hard-to remove thick calluses, or dry, cracked skin, then “Yes” – it’s for you. It gets my first five star rating.
The Heel Smoother Pro ($29.99) is a two-speed battery-operated callus remover and a revolutionary pedicure appliance that smoothes calluses and removes dry skin on heels and toes in seconds, without the use of harsh chemicals or dangerous blades. The Heel Smoother is the only pedicure device that stops when too much pressure is placed on the foot. This built-in safety feature prevents over-exfoliating which can damage the foot. It comes with a free full 1 oz jar of the exclusive Healing Gems’ Topaz Foot Butter, with rich, nourishing shea butter, purifying aromatherapy essential oils, and uplifting Topaz crystals to soften and revitalize feet and revitalize the spirit! Includes:
- The battery operated Heel Smoother Pro (2AA batteries required, not included)
- Two Duracrystal Power tips (large rounded tip for heels, small thin tip for toes
- One jar of Topaz Foot Butter – 1 oz
Glossy Pink, a blog, did a review and said, “While ultimately the same smooth effect can be achieved with traditional foot files, this product saves the user a lot of elbow grease, and has some other tricks up its sleeve as well. Here, I’m referring to this product’s ability to more easily maneuver around the contours of the foot (especially the baby toes). Plus this tool smoothes feet in one step (versus traditional rough callus removers which leaves jagged pieces of skin that must then be filed down). And besides, with a standard tool, you’re just filing, but with this baby, you’re power sanding.”
The DuraCrystal Power Tips are made with the same crystals (aluminum oxide) used in professional microdermabrasion treatments, to safely, quickly and effectively remove dry dead skin from the heels and feet.
Here’s a short video from Tampa Bay Channel 10 where they review the Heel Smoother Pro.
The basic Heel Smoother, unlike the Pro model, is not waterproof and does not come with their Topaz Foot Butter. Its price is $14.99 and it comes with two tips.
The rechargeable Heel Smoother Optimum is available for $39.99 and comes with four tips.
Replacement tips are available. A set of three pairs of DuraCrystal Power Tips (large rounded tip for heels, small thin tip for toes) for a total of six tips is $5.99. Other replacement tips combination are offer on the website.
Artemis Woman’s Topaz Foot Butter is made with finely ground Topaz gemstone crystals, combining the ancient healing art of Gem Therapy with the invigorating aromatherapy blend of bergamot, tea tree, and lemon essential oils. Blended together with rich moisturizing shea butter, Artemis Woman Foot Butter will not only soothe and nourish your hard-working feet. $7.99 for a 1 oz jar.
The Heel Smoother is the only pedicure appliance of its kind to receive the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance. Artemis Woman also makes products for hands, skin and eyes. As far as the name, Artemis Woman, this product is great for anyone, not just women.
The Heel Smoother Pro deserves a place in your foot care bag. It gets five stars as the best callus tool I have seen. Get it for yourself and buy one for a friend for Christmas.
But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s an email from Anthony C. “Woofie” Humpage, one of the volunteers on the Badwater medical team. He posted this to one of the ultra lists.
“When I was at Badwater this year, working on the medical team, I had the opportunity to chat with John Vonhof about foot care issues and specifically, getting rid of calluses.
I have two problems with calluses, one on my heels, where, if I wear sandals without socks, my heels crack. That can be quite troublesome as it is sore. But from a treatment point of view the calluses that form on the tip of my #1 toe – I have Morton’s Foot – are the hardest to deal with from a maintenance point of view. Things are made worse because I also have the habit of clenching my toes during non-running exertion – cycling hard up a hill for example, and I quickly build up thick layers of hard skin on the tips of my toes, under which blisters will form. The tips of these toes are just hard to work effectively with a foot file or emery board. As a consequence I am not as diligent as perhaps I should be in dealing with them. According to John, and I believe him, getting rid of calluses is one of the best things you can do as part of a blister prevention problem.
As I was mumbling my excuses about how hard getting after the toe calluses is, John said: “Let me show you this!”. He pulled out a Heel Smoother Pro. I ordered one as soon as I got home and it is the business! I think of it as a $30 Dremel tool for feet. The Heel Smoother comes with two tips – a larger one that is meant for working bigger areas like heels, and a smaller one that looks like a small Christmas tree. The tips are mildly abrasive and quickly grind away hard skin. The smaller tip is great for toes. It’s as painless a procedure as filing, but much quicker. You can also be more precise with the small tip. So far, I have not had to replace the batteries in mine.
I have seen a lot of ho-hum gizmos and gadgets over the years but this isn’t one of them. It will probably pay for itself fairly quickly if you currently visit the nail salon for pedicures – that’s the men, anyway, as I don’t guess they their toenails painted.”
Anthony C. “Woofie” Humpage, CSCS, USAT Triathlon Certified Coach, Masters Athletic Performance, Scottsdale AZ
Over the past weeks, I have shared much of my thinking on calluses. If you read the last post and went over to my Fixing Your Feet newsletter for August, you read about how calluses affected the Badwater race of Jon, a runner from Australia.
Lest you think that what happened to Jon is an uncommon occurrence, I want to share an email I received from an adventure racer named Matt. He wrote:
“I completely agree with your position on calluses. Certainly, they represent a natural response the body is making to an irritant but they should be managed. I’ve participated in multi-day adventure races and 24-hour Rogaine events and found my teammates that had calluses as protection from blisters had the worst blisters. I’m fortunate that I read and learned your thoughts on the subject or I’d been right there with a huge blister problem. While I can’t say I’ve not had a blister since I started managing differently, I’ve certainly lessened the potential cause. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom.”
The key to what he wrote is: “… my teammates that had calluses as protection from blisters had the worst blisters.”
I have seen this time and time again. Calluses can offer a bit of protection against blisters, but the tradeoff is when you do blister with calluses, the blisters are bad. Often times they are larger and deeper since they are under the callused skin.
Thanks Matt, I appreciate your comments. Thanks for the 2nd opinion.
Some of you may think I am taking this callus thread too far. What motivates me is the knowledge that I have seen many athletes who have suffered because of their calluses. To bring that point home, I’d like to ask a favor.
If you are not a subscriber to my Fixing Your Feet newsletter, click here to go to the August edition. I managed to squeeze it out on August 30th, with one day left in the month. (Some months are like that, you just run out of time).
The August newsletter has my short editorial, Are Calluses Really Bad. The feature article is My Best Blister Patch Job Ever. Please take a few minutes and read the two pieces. They go hand in hand. They are about calluses. One is my opinion and the other is a real life story of what happened because of calluses. True, it is an extreme case, but it could happen to others – and I want you to be informed. Here is one of the pictures from the article.
My goal, as always, is to help you to happy feet.
For the past five weeks or so I have been working on reducing my calluses. Now, truth be told, I do not have thick calluses like some people I have seen. My running has gone to zip, nada, nothing with my health issues, so my feet don’t get trashed. With luck, in a year, I will be back to running and working my way back to ultras.
So my usual routine has been to use my callus file every evening, followed with an application of a lotion. Some days, I apply the lotion in the morning and again in the evening. During this time, I have spent quite a bit of time in flip-flops.
My heels have gone from rough to smooth with this simple exercise. Next time, I will talk more about the lotions I used. Today though, I want to stress the importance of continued care. The last five days I have been busy and have not taken the time to file and apply the lotion. Tonight I checked my heels and noticed they had become rougher with the obvious edge of a small callus starting to form. Much of these five days I have been barefoot and in flip-flops.
So, out came the file and lotion. In 60 seconds I had filed the rough spots and in another 60 seconds had applied the lotion. Two minutes is all it takes.
If you want the skin on your feet to be soft and supple, that’s about what it takes. Two minutes in the morning or evening.
In June I patched feet of adventure racers at the Raid the North Extreme in northern BC Canada. In July I patched feet of ultrarunners at the Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley, CA. One common denominator on many athletes’ feet was their calluses.
Those of you who have followed me for a while know I am not a fan of calluses. Over the years I have patched too many blisters underneath calluses, and been unable to patch many more. The reason is that calluses are hardened layers of skin, caused by friction, often from poorly fitting footwear. Calluses also are quite common in the summer when people use sandals, flip-flops, or go barefoot.
These calluses can crack, and these skin cracks, called fissures, have to heal from the inside out – and can be painful. The skin inside can easily become infected.
Over the next month, I will be trying several callus creams, callus remover, and other skin repair ointments. I am enlisting the help of several friends, including my wife, to also try some of the products.
One-by-one, I will talk about these products and share how they worked. I will also share a few stories, including one horror story of calluses, how they affect athletes in their sports, and a bit on how I patch them. Stay tuned.