| The best ways to treat your nasty feet

Your feet endure a lot each day: You wash them in a hot shower, squeeze them into stiff work shoes, where they stay tucked away for 10 hours, and then you lace up your sneakers for a run or training session.

By evening, they’re tired, sweaty and funky as hell.

Read more: 12 genius grooming hacks from the pros

This can lead to any number of issues. Blisters and calluses, cracked heels and fungal infections are just some of the joys that result from your active lifestyle.

And since there’s no way you’re going to stop moving, you need an ongoing plan instead.

We assembled a few remedies, thanks to expertise from Dr Ettore Vulcano, a foot and ankle surgeon at Mount Sinai in New York City, and Dr Michael Swann, MD and dermatologist in Springfield, MO.

How to prevent blisters and calluses

“Blisters and calluses are both caused by a combination of friction, moisture and rubbing,” Dr Swann says.

Blisters are the first sign of any such wear. The skin swells with fluid and causes discomfort, whereas calluses are indication of chronic injury.

Calluses protect the skin from further agony by creating a thick, defensive layer over the site.

However, while the body is adept in shielding itself from further strain, blisters and calluses are both preventable.

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Dr Swann says that two things must be targeted to prevent them: better shoe fit and avoiding moisture.

“Sweaty feet are more likely to get blisters because the moisture increases friction,” he says. And, if the shoe isn’t snug (or is too snug), this also increases friction on the foot.

As for moisture, switch out your socks immediately before and after a workout, or after being on your feet all day at work.

Spray or sprinkle drying powder on your feet before tucking them away. Try the Skin Republic Foot Active Treatment (R55, buy it here) if you’re an active person.

Dr Vulcano says to stick with high-end, well-engineered shoes that are designated for your task at hand. (Especially if you’re running, be sure to buy running shoes specifically.)

And in addition to blisters and calluses, he says “minimalist shoes transmit too much stress and can lead to foot fractures, ligament tears or tendon strain.”

However, because you’re switching shoes for different occasions throughout the day, the best solution is in the insoles, since they are often customised for the arch of your foot (or lack thereof).

Dr Vulcano’s patients with flat feet often benefit from Aetrex L420, whereas those with high arches prefer Arch Rivals Orthotics.

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How to treat blisters and calluses

Dr Vulcano advises against draining your own blisters, as this can lead to infection.

“Pad the blister with thick band-aids, and let the blister pop on its own,” he says. “Use Betadine to disinfect it, then soak it in Epsom salts to help the blister dry.”

As for softening and eliminating calluses, Dr Swann prescribes acidic moisturisers like Am-Lactin, urea creams or Lac-Hydrin.

These help exfoliate the dead skin cells while nourishing and hydrating everything else.

But he urges that you should take it slow: “A good approach is to not try to do too much at one time,” he says. Try the Milk Solutions Garden Mint Refreshing Soak to rejuvenate tired feet and eliminate rough patches (R209, buy it here).

Dr Vulcano adds that for bigger calluses, you can also gently grind away on them with a pumice stone like the Titania Made For Men Pumice Sponge (R45, buy it here).

“Avoid excess scraping, which can lead to bleeding,” he says. And, before you scrape, Dr Vulcano says to soak the feet in warm water, which softens the callus and makes it easier to exfoliate the dead skin.

Read more: Add these oils to your daily grooming routine for healthy skin

Keep your feet healthy and fresh

Once your feet are free of blisters and calluses – or if you’re lucky enough to be at that starting block already – Dr Swann says it’s a good idea to deploy Am-Lactin routinely to maximise exfoliation on areas like feet that are prone to thickening.

Dr Vulcano says to use an organic moisturiser daily after soaking or showering to maximise absorption. He prefers organic products, like Dr Organic’s Manuka Honey Foot & Heel Cream (R215, buy it here) since they’re free of chemicals and gentle on the skin.

As an alternative, Dr Vulcano likes aloe vera gel like the Betta Way Aloe Vera Skin Gel (R104, buy it here) since it is “inexpensive, moisturising, elasticising and refreshing.”

But there’s more to it than just keeping the skin soft.

“Feet have a higher bacterial and fungal load than many other areas of the skin,” Dr Swann says. “Washing with soap and water, plus exfoliating outer layers and trimming toenails all help minimise areas for bacteria and fungi to flourish.”

To further avoid infection, you should never go barefoot in a public place, like the gym locker room or showers, and don’t share socks or shoes with anyone else.

Read more: 5nasty contagious skin conditions you can pick up at the gym

To keep the feet dry and fungus free, Dr Vulcano says most powders work well. But he says to not use anti-fungal powders routinely, since they are best when used to treat a condition, and can in turn have their own damaging effects on the skin when used in a prolonged manner.

Stick with a non-anti-fungal option or try the Milk Solutions Milk & Honey Refreshing Foot Spritz (R169, buy it here) if you’re looking for oil-free feet.

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Image credit: iStock | Never do these 5 things after a ride

It might seem harmless, but you could be missing some key components of a good workout and a proper recovery.

If you find yourself committing any of these post-ride faux pas, here’s how to clean up your habits and finish your ride right.

1. Stop short

If your final sprint finishes at your door, you’re missing a key component of your workout (and you run the risk of breaking your door).

“The role of the cool down is to let the muscles move without any resistance, which helps clear metabolic byproducts such as lactic acid from the muscles,” explains Philadelphia-based doctor Michael Ross.

If you skip that cooling process, not only do you let the lactic acid build up, but you risk blood pooling in your legs, which Ross says can make you dizzy or lightheaded.

2. Get too comfortable in your kit

It’s easy to come in from a ride and make a recovery smoothie, check your emails, return a call you missed or just lay down on the floor to enjoy those endorphins.

By the time you finally hit the shower, you might have marinated in your cycling kit – sweaty shorts included – for far too long, which can lead to saddle sores, infections and even illness if you’re in a hard training block and your immune system is already working hard.

Do yourself and your friends a favour; drop your shorts and jump in the shower as soon as possible post-ride.

3. Fill up on junk

If you fuel properly during your ride, holistic nutritionist Anne Guzman says that you shouldn’t be ravenous when you finish. It’s a problem she sees in a lot of cyclists: under-eating on the bike may seem like a good way to drop a few kilos, but that’s just not true…

And it usually leads to overeating anyway. If you’re worried about over-eating, Guzman suggests avoiding a meal with a lot of fat, and skipping that pastry in favour of a healthier option.

“Fat slows up your digestion and you want protein and carbs into your cells as fast as possible for recovery,” she says. “You’d be better to have potatoes and lean chicken – not a lot of fat or fibre so it’s easy to digest. A lot of people tend to think they should eat a sticky bun after the ride. And yes, that’s a good time for replacing glycogen, but you can’t forget about being healthy.”

4. Neglect your gear

Pro mechanic Taylor Near has seen a lot of bikes come through the Trek Bicycle Store in Toronto – and the ones that are in the worst shape are the ones that clearly haven’t been cleaned since the last time they came into the store.

After every ride, but especially after bad weather adventures, take a minute and assess your bike.

If it’s dusty, a quick wipe down still just takes 30 seconds. If it’s muddy, consider giving it some true TLC and a full clean so you’re ready to spin next time.

Once the bike – especially the chain – has dried, it becomes a lot harder to clean, so do it fast!

5. Skip stretching

Maintaining mobility is important for every athlete and as a cyclist you’re in a hunched position more than others. Skipping mobility work can hurt you in the long run, says Dr Ross.

He recommends spending some time before and after each ride (it doesn’t have to be a lot) just moving your shoulders – pinch your shoulder blades back, try to lift your arms over your head and windmill your arms a few times.

It’s also a good idea to make friends with your foam roller, which can help work out knotty muscles when a real massage isn’t in the cards.

This article was originally published on

Image credit: iStock