Taking care of your feet should not end during the summer when the amount of attention (or lack thereof) that you give them is bared for everyone to see. Travel Nibble asked Emily Slipchal, Ph.D., D.P.M., a podiatrist, human movement specialist, and global leader in barefoot science and rehabilitation, for her tips on how to ready your feet for the spotlight all year long.
Model: Georgiy Soltanov
FIRST THINGS FIRST: YOUR FEET NEED TO BE GROOMED, PERIOD.
Ask any guy you know how often he washes his feet in the shower, and the pretty disgusting answer usually is, “whenever I don’t forget.” Worse, he probably thinks that the sudsy water that drips to his feet as he rinses off already constitutes washing them.
At their most basic, men and women require the same amount of care, according to Dr. Slipchal. “[Both] need…basic skin care.”
BRING THE CLEANSE-MOISTURIZE HABIT ALL THE WAY DOWN THERE
Like other parts of your body that tend to get rough and flaky, such as your elbows and knees, your feet would benefit from some good TLC one to two times a week. Soak them in warm water for a few minutes then “address any dry skin with [an] exfoliant,” says Dr. Slipchal. Pay attention to where build-up of dead skin is more common. Go for scrubs with finer grains if your feet generally feel smooth all over. More substantial grains are better at sloughing off tough skin, especially in the heels, but they might leave scratches elsewhere. After drying them with a towel, apply a nourishing lotion.
You’ll see—more appropriately, feel—the difference after only a few weeks of sticking to this two-step routine. And this is important: When the skin of the foot becomes hard and callused, “it often starts to cause pain,” cautions Dr. Slipchal.
PRACTICE PREVENTATIVE CARE
Outside of the bathroom, there are a number of things you can do to ensure your feet look their best. The daily spraying of tea tree oil-based products can help protect them from foot scaling and athlete’s foot, which, according to Dr. Slipchal, are two common ailments plaguing men’s feet. Sanitizing your shoes, especially those that can remain moist for long periods of time, will also kill the bacteria, virus, molds, and other nasty buggers that cause various foot problems.
Ingrown toenails can be avoided by using a different type of nail clipper than the one you use with your fingernails. The wider surface means a straighter cut, which is what you want.
Foot-strengthening exercises are not only relaxing, they also help train your feet to properly absorb the impact you put in them daily. “I recommend rolling each foot with a golf ball or RAD Rounds for five minutes, in the morning and in the evening” says Dr. Slipchal. Finish the session with movements that challenge your balance, such as standing on one leg, or a workout that involves your legs and feet such as yoga or pilates.