The warm weather we were pining for during those snowy days earlier this year finally has arrived, and with it comes the need to shed layers of clothing to remain comfortable. For most of us, that will, of course, mean short sleeves, shorts and some form of cooler footwear. But, just because those flip flops and sandals are more comfortable, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best thing for your feet. Think about it for a second: most flip-flops don’t have nearly the arch support, heel support or general padding that your sneakers or boots have. It stands to reason, then, that they’d be a tougher on your toes.
Podiatrist Dr. David Franklin from East Tennessee Medical Group says injuries also become more common in warmer months. “I see more foot and ankle injuries, in general, during the summer,” he said. “This is, of course, mostly due to the change in footwear. Remember, it’s always important to wear the appropriate shoes for every activity. It sounds simple enough, but wearing the wrong shoes can lead to a host of problems with your ankles and feet. For instance, if you’re playing sports outdoors this summer, remember to put on athletic shoes. Playing any active sports in flip-flops or sandals definitely should be avoided,” he explained. “This can be a direct cause of sprains, fractures and stress-related injuries. If you want to choose a better shoe for your foot, consider visiting a specialty shoe store where you actually can have your foot measured,” he added.
“Skin infections also occur more frequently during the summer,” Franklin said. “These usually are secondary to a trauma, but also can be the result of a skin fungus. Heel pain also is quite common during warmer months, again a result of the footwear we choose, but I also see issues such as ingrown toenails and plantar warts on a daily basis during the summer. Nearly all of these issues typically respond well to the appropriate treatment,” he said. “Also, feet tend to get ignored when we’re using sunscreen, so remember to apply some to your feet, as well, to avoid sunburns,” he added.
Franklin says we must remember that our feet have to last us a lifetime. “Most Americans will log around 75,000 miles on their feet by the time they reach age 50,” he said. “Regular foot maintenance can help make sure your feet can handle that job. Unfortunately, most people tend to ignore their feet until they have a problem. The role our feet play in our everyday lives definitely is something we take for granted. A podiatrist can help you treat most any foot or ankle pathology. However, they also can provide education based on your particular foot structure and function that can aid in preventing any problems you might be prone to,” Franklin explained.