Summer Shoe Safety Tips to Protect Your Tootsies
It’s time to kick off those fur-lined boots and slip into your summer shoes and wiggle your toes. Before you head out the door for the beach, work, shopping, or just a walk in the park, here are some summer shoe safety tips to protect your tootsies and the rest of your feet as well, including some recent research on sandals.
Are your feet ready for summer shoes?
Your feet have been hiding for months inside socks, closed shoes, and boots, so when was the last time you took a real good look at your feet? Summer shoes typically include sandals, flip flops, and other lightweight, minimally supportive footwear that can provide little to no foot protection. Therefore:
- Inspect your feet. Use a mirror if you have difficulty seeing the bottom of your feet, or have your partner or spouse help you. This is especially critical if you have diabetes, which means you should observe specific footwear tips.
- Look for any abnormalities on the skin of your feet: cuts, bruises, abrasions, redness, blisters, or anything else that could worsen and result in an infection.
- Check your toe nails. Be sure they are well trimmed and smooth, without any splits.
Now you’re ready to put on those summer shoes!
Tips on choosing and wearing summer shoes
Wearing sandals and flip flops may be a sign of summer, but they also can leave you with signs and symptoms you don’t want, like heel pain, aching arches, twisted ankles, and blisters. Here’s how to choose safe summer shoes.
Look for stable sandals. The cute no-support, tiny-strap sandals may look dynamite on your feet, but you may pay the price in aching arches and calf muscles. A recent study published in Gait and Posture looked at the impact of unstable sandals (Skechers Tone-Ups, Reebok Easy-Tone, FitFlop, and Masai Barefoot Technology) and one type of stable sandal (Earth) on the gait in healthy women.
Using electromyography and kinetic data, the reviewers found that each of the unstable sandals was associated with different stressors and levels of instability related to the design of the sandals. If you will be doing more than a minimal amount of walking, it is best to leave your cute unstable sandals at home and wear a sandal that provides more support.
Leave your flip flops home (or in a bag). Yes, I know they are easy to slip on and off and you may even like the funny sound they make when you walk, but they are not safe. Flip flops are best for around the house or tucked into your gym or beach bag so they are handy when you are in the shower. After you dry off your feet, put on a stable summer shoe for the rest of the day.
Look for ankle support. To help avoid ankle and lower leg aches, choose summer shoes that provide some ankle support to help hold the shoe in place.
Opt to arch support. Many summer shoe designs—even flip flops—provide some arch support, but if your favorite pairs do not, you can buy arch supports specifically for sandals to add to your shoes.
Look for heel support. To help stabilize your heel and foot, look for summer shoes that have a slightly deeper heel cup, which will hold your heel in safely and snugly.
Go wide. On the straps, that is. Wider straps across the top-middle of your toes, across your ankle, and behind your heel provide much more support and stability than thin straps.
Crave canvas. Sporty shoes for the beach, boat, or walking can include breathable canvas. Naturally, look for canvas shoes that provide good arch support, or be sure to add your own inserts.
Diabetics, beware. If you have diabetes, you are extra susceptible to foot injuries, so it may be best for you to avoid wearing flip flops and sandals. Check with your healthcare provider about the best summer shoe footwear for your specific needs.
At the end of the day, inspect your feet. In summer shoes, your feet are open targets for all types of assaults, from too much sun to thorns, bites, cuts, and other abuses. Otherwise, don your summer shoes and wear them safely throughout the coming months.
Price C et al. The effect of unstable sandals on instability in gait in healthy female subjects. Gait & Posture 2013 Jan 25 Epub ahead of print