Today on the Doc On The Run podcast, we’re talking about how you can fix painful calluses in a runner with what I call the strawberry stem technique.
Now, if you’ve ever run with a rock in your shoe, you know just how painful that little pebble can be and sometimes you get a callus in the skin where your skin gets thicker in response to pressure and friction, but it starts to get really hard and starts to get embedded into the skin in a way that causes a lot of pain. A painful callus really can interfere with your running because it does feel like a little rock taped to your foot.
Now, the problem with the callus is that the callus removal pads don’t really work so great and using a pumice stone to shave down the surface of this callus also doesn’t work, but we’re going to talk about why those things don’t work and how you can fix them using this simple little technique I’m going to show you called the strawberry stem technique.
All right, let’s talk about this. So when you have a callus forming on the bottom of your foot, usually it is under a weight bearing area. So it usually happens some place like right under the head of one of the metatarsals, right under the heel. But it happens in some place, usually either here, here, here, or here that you get this painful callus. And what is a callus? Well, a callus is just a thick, painful spot.
So let’s say for example, it’s right here. You have a callus, there’s a little hard spot and you can tell there’s something actually stuck or embedded in there. Well, what happens is when you’re looking at the surface of the skin and you have the ground pushing up and you have the metatarsal bone coming down like this and pushing on the skin, what happens is you start to get some irritation in the skin.
First, your body makes a little bit of an additional layer of callus that decreases the pressure at that spot. But then since that hurts, it forms a little more callus and then a little more callus and a little more callus and a little more callus. But you may notice that it doesn’t protrude like that because as you step on it, it actually gets pushed into the skin.
Then what you have is where you have that metatarsal bone pushing down and you’ve got the skin, well, the skin gets basically indented because the callus is actually now filling this thing in where it’s all stuck in the skin and so to get it out, you’ve got to remove that, but you can’t just cut it off because that doesn’t work. If you think about this, if you have a strawberry, and this is a strawberry.
This is a strawberry and you have all the little leafy parts and the stem on top. Well, if you’re in a hurry and you want to eat the strawberry, you can, of course, just flop the top off of it. But you can do that with the skin here, but that’s the equivalent of using a pumice stone. You’re basically filing down the surface and trying to get to where that whole thing’s been removed, but you can’t do that.
Now, another way to do it is to actually, when you look at the strawberry from the top, if you actually saucerize it and you cut the stem out like that using a knife and you stick the knife in, you go around in a conical way to remove a little cone that includes the stem like that, well, then you get the whole piece out and that’s what we do when we do the strawberry stem technique on the bottom of your foot.
We literally go in with a scalpel and we very slowly trim this stuff out. And what will usually happen is that you’ll get out a little thing that looks like this, and it’s hard keratin. And after you shell it out with going around in a conical fashion, about 45 degree angle working your way around, the same as you would in a strawberry stem, it actually removes that hard, painful, callus. It gets it out and then what you’re left with is yes, you do have the indentation, but there’s nothing hard in there. So then if you just keep a little bit of lotion or some antibiotic ointment or something in that little crater where the callus was removed and you keep it covered with a bandaid, that skin will soften out and it’ll flatten out.
But if you don’t do that, because the skin is irregular and because it’s been chronically irritated, it’ll start to fill back in with callus again. Sometimes you have to do this once or twice, but instead of just trying to shave down the surface where you’re just really abrading the edges of the callus, make sure you get that central piece out using the strawberry stem technique. This will help you actually remove that hard, painful spot so you can get back to running and enjoy your runs a whole lot better.
Now, if you enjoyed this, please like it, please share it, send it to one of your friends, and I’ll see you in the next training.