We’ve all been there: you get home from a long run or an epic training session at the gym, and collapse onto the couch, feeling accomplished and exhausted. You lean down to untie your shoes so you can put your feet up and take a load off for a minute — and then it hits you: the overwhelming stench of your stinky sneakers. We’re here to answer the question of why athletes’ shoes smell so darn bad, and what kind of tips, tricks, or shoe deodorizer you need to get rid of the stink.
First, let’s look at why feet, in general, smell bad. There are a few culprits, but the main reason that things like shoe deodorizer exist is because of one simple thing: sweat. Your feet have about 250,000 sweat glands, producing an average of a pint of sweat per day. The average person has around 2 million sweat glands over their entire body, which means that about 12.5% of your sweat glands are on your feet — that’s a huge percentage!
This much sweat alone would cause some smell issues, but it’s compounded by the fact that there’s nowhere for all that moisture to evaporate. Think about all the other sweaty parts of your body: armpits, hands, face. Your face and hands are generally free and exposed to the air, and while your armpits might be covered up, it’s usually with something breathable, like a t-shirt or button-down. Feet, on the other hand, are most often encased in a thick layer of material all day long. Even sandals mean that the entire bottom of your foot is covered up without any room to breathe.
Such a lack of ventilation combined with all that sweat creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which multiplies by eating your sweat and dead skin cells (gross, we know). In that process, they produce isovaleric acid, which stinks to high heaven.
So if more sweat means more stink, then it makes perfect sense that athletes would be even more in need of a shoe deodorizer. After all, the kind of sustained physical exertion required to train for a marathon or an Iron Man definitely produces a heck of a lot more sweat than sitting in an office all day.
There’s another reason athletes might have smellier shoes: stress. Stress causes people to sweat more, but it also creates a different, more foul-smelling sweat. Athletes who compete in high-stakes races or games are certainly not strangers to stress, so this might contribute to even stinkier shoes.
Of course, all of the above doesn’t mean that you should stop training (or work out barefoot!). There are some simple steps you can take to help prevent your shoes from getting stinky.
But the fact is, even the best foot and shoe hygiene can’t prevent stinky sneakers for most athletes who train regularly, and for most truly stinky shoes, you need a shoe deodorizer. Lots of shoe odor eliminators are available, and each has its own features and methods: some mask the smell with another, some absorb moisture, some temporarily neutralize the odor.
2Toms Stink Free Shoe & Gear Odor Eliminator Spray works through a technically-advanced formula that cleans out the pores that trap odor in shoes and gear. Unlike many shoe deodorizers on the market, it contains no perfume, and so leaves behind no smell once it dries (bonus: it also gets rid of any unsightly sweat stains that may have popped up). This lack of a fragrance is a major bonus, since nobody wants to blast the locker room with the smell of fake lavender or vanilla when they open up their gym bag!
When you’re training hard for an upcoming event, you have a lot to think about — your diet, your workout schedule, your sleep, any aches and pains — and stinky shoes is not something that should be taking up space in your brain. Luckily, armed with the info above, you have the knowledge and strategies you need to squelch shoe odor quickly, so you can keep taking steps toward your goal.
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PLEASE NOTE: The information on this website and article is for information only and should not be used as a substitute for consulting your doctor. Consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and rehabilitation