Keep Your Feet Healthy and Happy this Summer

May 31, 2023 / Podiatry

By Robert Greene, DPM
Division of Podiatry

Warmer weather often means we are on our feet more than other times of year with activities such as yard work or long walks. Although the extra activity is healthy, it can cause or aggravate foot issues. While foot care is important all of the time, it’s particularly important to choose footwear wisely during the summer season in order to avoid potentially painful problems that could affect you all year long.

Physically, we are all built a little differently, especially when it comes to our feet. Your foot type and size, body shape, weight, posture, and how you like to move will affect the support and comfort your footwear provides. For this reason, it’s important to select shoes that work well for your particular feet, rather than choosing shoes just because they are trendy or stylish. With footwear, it’s good to think about function over form.

Here’s some tips on choosing comfortable, problem-free footwear:

Don’t wear the same shoes all the time
Since typical summer footwear, like open-toed shoes and sandals, can be hard on your feet, it’s important to mix things up. Wearing different styles of shoes each day for shorter periods of time can help reduce the impact of repeated abrasion points on your feet. During the summer especially, allowing your shoes to dry out fully between each wearing helps prevent problems such as toenail fungus and athlete’s foot.

Wear flats sparingly
Flats can be stylish but it’s not a good idea to wear them all day long, especially if you are doing a lot of walking. The arch in flats tend to fail and this can cause the leg to rotate inward which can affect your posture. If you are going to spend a few hours wearing flats, choose a pair with arch supports, some cushioning, and room for an insole.

Save flip-flops for the beach
Since they don’t provide much support, flip-flops can aggravate foot issues and cause pain and discomfort in the heel, arch or ball of the foot. So be sure to only wear flip-flops for short periods of time. It helps to choose flips-flops with some padding and bottoms that are thick enough to cushion the ball of your feet. Searching for flip-flops that provide some arch support can also be helpful. Seniors should avoid wearing any flip-flops, especially if they have balance issues. Flip-flops can cause instability and lead to tripping.

Don’t go barefoot
It’s tempting on a warm summer day, but going barefoot can expose your feet to a greater chance of serious injury, as well as athlete’s foot, plantar warts or bacterial infections while walking in common areas. And don’t even think about mowing the lawn barefoot, as this could lead to a serious injury. Be sure to wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes that protect your feet.

Mix up your heel heights
Heels, especially high heels, can shift your body weight forward and lead to lower back pain as your spine and hip muscles adjust. This can cause extra pressure on your knees and lead to arthritis. In addition, wearing the same heel height all the time can cause the back of your leg and Achilles tendon to get tight. Wearing wedge heels instead of traditional high heels can help provide more support. The American Podiatric Medical Association recommends sticking to heels and wedges that are two inches or lower. It’s best to save high heels for special occasions (especially those with pointed toes) as these are unlikely to be comfortable for long periods of time.

Sneakers are a good choice
Although they may not be suitable for every business or social occasion, sneakers are your best choice for comfort. Sneakers typically support the whole foot and have more cushioning than other shoes. They are also more breathable, which helps your feet stay drier and more comfortable when you are active. Although they cost more, sneakers and athletic shoes made of high-quality materials that fit your foot well can enhance your comfort all year long.

Keep Your Feet Healthy and Happy this Summer

About Robert Greene, DPM

Having plantar warts as a teenager helped inspire Dr. Robert Greene to become a podiatrist. “I had some trouble getting rid of warts when I was a teenager,” he explains. “Fortunately, I went to see a podiatrist and he had a successful treatment. The podiatrist golfed at the country club I worked at and I became good friends with him, even working for a time at his office. He really got me interested in podiatry as a...

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