Warm weather is here, which means we’ve officially traded pants for shorts, coats for t-shirts and boots for sandals for the next few months, all in an effort to stay more comfortable in the summer sun. But, while they may be more comfortable, flip flops and sandals aren’t exactly great for your feet. In general, they don’t have the arch support, padding or heel support that you find in other types of shoes, plus they leave your feet and toes open to various injuries depending on the type of activity you may be doing. This is why it’s critical to spare a thought for your feet this summer.
Podiatrist Dr. David Franklin from East Tennessee Medical Group says he sees many more foot and ankle injuries in warmer months. “This is, of course, mostly due to the change in footwear,” Franklin said. “What’s important to remember is that we need to wear the appropriate shoes for every activity we’re doing this summer. 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 outside, remember to change out of those flip flops and into a pair of athletic shoes. Playing any active sports in flip-flops or sandals definitely should be avoided as it can be a direct cause of sprains, fractures and stress-related injuries,” he explained. “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.
And it’s not just the potential for foot injuries that we need to be aware of this time of year. “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 it’s important to keep in mind that our feet have to last us our entire 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.