Men, Bare Your Soles

6 steps to protecting feet from the wear and tear of those grueling workouts.

Photo courtesy of Matthias Vriens-McGrath/Trunk Archive.

There is too often an inverse relationship between the appearance of men's bodies and their feet. The more work dedicated to toning beautiful arms, abs, and glutes, the more damage—think blisters, calluses, ingrown toenails, and fungal infections—suffered by the feet.

"Guys are a bit harder on their feet and [won't deal with] their issues until it's too late," says Natasha Ray, lead manicurist at Hammer & Nails, a nail shop for guys in Los Angeles. And yet healthy feet are the key to successful training and workout sessions. "You're not going to be able to do the things you want to do the most if your feet are not in good shape," says Pennsylvania-based podiatrist Nicholas Romansky D.P.M who works with the Men's and Women's United States World Cup, National and Olympic soccer teams. "When your feet hurt, your whole body hurts." At the height of flip flop season, learn to give your feet the TLC they need.

1. Wear the right socks

"Always go with a blend such as cotton and acrylic," says Romansky. "The cotton will absorb moisture and the acrylic will pull it away." Nike Dri-Fit contains a blend of sweat-wicking fabrics to keep feet cool and dry.

2. Be smart about shoes

Choosing the wrong fit or lacing shoes incorrectly risks blisters, chafing, and bruised or missing toenails. "Always go by fit, not by size," says Romansky. "It's also important to air out shoes and change them frequently so these issues don't arise."

3. Trim nails

Romansky says it's important to keep toenails even with the end of the toe and cut them straight across with a nail nipper such as the Tweezerman Barrel Spring Toenail Nipper. "The other nail clippers can take too much off the nail and risk in-grown toenails."

4. Address foot infections

If your toenails are more yellow than normal or your feet are itching, red, or peeling, you most likely have a fungal infection and need to treat it ASAP. Wash feet with mild soap and a washcloth and make sure to dry them well after the shower. If you suffer from Athlete's Foot, Romansky likes the over-the-counter product Lamisal AT Antifungal cream. For toenail fungus it's important to seek treatment with a podiatrist for antibiotics. Ray likes to use a drop of tea tree oil, which has antiseptic properties, on the top and under the nail daily to help slow fungus growth.

5. Soak aches away

Intense workouts multiple times a week can leave feet sore and achy. Both Ray and Romansky recommend a foot soak with Epsom salts to reduce inflammation, flush toxins and soften skin. Dr. Teal's Epsom Salt Foot Soak includes peppermint essential oils and baking soda to help banish odor.

6. Maintain with a pedicure

There's nothing wrong with a little spit and polish. "Big athletes do it all the time," says Romansky. Ray recommends a pedicure once a month to get soles sloughed, rubbed, and trimmed.

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