Our feet kinda do a lot for us. They keep us upright and help us ambulate. We don’t often think about just how much we require of them, but if you’ve ever had a foot injury then it becomes apparent pretty quickly.
This is why it’s important to take care of them.
In addition to all the ways to keep your feet in tip (toe) top shape for performance and injury prevention, caring for them in a luxurious kind of way will prevent unpleasant occurrences like fungus or ingrown toenails. So go ahead, and treat yourself!
Why Athletes Need to Care for Their Feet
Athletes are often unabashedly pretty gross. They spend several hours sweating profusely collecting dirt and bugs as they move along. On multi-day excursions, they’ll often rewear the same clothes, hoping they’ve had ample time to let the sweat dry overnight. Blood isn’t an uncommon sight, nor is snot or spit.
What does all of this have to do with our feet?
Well, as gross as athletes are, they also tend to be pretty healthy people, eating nutritious meals, fueling appropriately during exercise, getting enough sleep each night, but they often neglect their sweet feet who do the bulk of the work.
Spending several hours in the same sock and shoe over and over again can develop some pretty gnarly feet. Calluses, blisters, and black toenails are pretty common among athletes or those just getting into a new sport.
So let’s see what we can do about all the gross aspects of enjoying long bouts of exercise, shall we?
7 Ways Athletes Can Care for Their Feet
Love them or hate them, feet are an important part of our bodies and if we neglect them, well, they’ll let us know. Here are some simple ways you to care for your feet on a daily or regular basis.
Wear Shoes that Fit Appropriately
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again (you know, since we make pretty sweet shoes and all), wear shoes that fit your feet appropriately. Most conventional shoes are designed to taper at the toe box, purely for fashion purposes, which can lead to a number of foot problems, like bunions and hammer toes.
When the feet are free to spread out in a shoe designed to accommodate them, then these problems tend to go away.
Equally as important is wearing the right sized shoe. It might seem kinda silly, but many of us are walking around wearing the wrong sized shoe. This can lead to calluses, bunions, black toes, and blisters. Ouch!
Next time you buy a new pair of shoes, be sure to have your foot sized.
Keep Your Feet Clean and Dry
Wash your feet with a gentle soap daily and dry them fully afterward. Keeping your feet clean will help stave off bacteria that can lead to fungus and bacteria like athlete’s foot.
If it’s not too cold, avoid putting socks, shoes, or slippers on while your feet are still wet.
Remove Calluses and Corns
Calluses are a hot button topic among some athletes. Some swear that they’re essential for performance and others, well, don’t.
Here’s the deal.
Calluses and their more painful cousin, corns, are a hardened protective layer our skin creates when it repeatedly rubs against a surface. When a callus builds up over time, it can crack and cause infection, pain, and bleeding.
So, get yourself a pumice stone and at the end of your shower, when your feet are nice and soft, file down your calluses and corns to that goldilocks state, where they’re not too thick and not too thin.
Follow up with a nice foot moisturizer before you get into bed each night.
Treat Yo’ Self (Get a Pedicure)
Pedicures are more than just about getting a massage and having your nails painted, they serve a hygienic purpose, too! Pedicures clean the feet, trim the nails to an appropriate length, and remove or reduce calluses (you make the shots though, read above about too much callus removal).
Besides, isn’t it nice to feel taken care of every now and then? The feet are pretty awkward places to reach on yourself sometimes, so having someone else fancy them up is definitely a treat worth splurging on.
Take Your Shoes Off
If your job or lifestyle requires you to be in shoes most of the day, be sure to give your feet a break when you get home. Even if you’re not spending hours training and creating a sweat lodge environment for your feet, there is still sweat and trapped air going on inside those socks and shoes.
So kick off those shoes and give your feet some breathing room!
Keep Your Nails Trimmed
Cut your nails regularly, just make sure they’re not too short, otherwise it can lead to painful ingrown toenails. The best tip is to cut the nail straight across the top and file down the sides.
This is good to do right after the shower because the nails have softened a bit and are easier to cut.
Change Socks Daily
When our feet sweat, the moisture gets trapped against our skin by socks. Moisture-wicking socks, (we love Injinji) are key to reducing the amount of moisture that gets stuck.
Wear a clean pair of socks daily and change them throughout the day if necessary. If you’re on a multi-day adventure that requires reuse of socks, your best bet is to bring at least two pairs of breathable socks and rinse them out at the end of each day, drying them overnight.