Summer fashion choices and the health of your feet are not always shuffling along on the same path. There are sensible ways to choose better, however.
Brad Anderson, D.P.M., a podiatrist at Sanford Foot and Ankle Clinic in Fargo, North Dakota, specializes in diagnosing and treating a wide range of foot disorders and abnormalities. He can point you and your feet in the right direction.
“You should start by looking at your foot pattern,” Dr. Anderson said. “People with high arches and normal arches do better in a neutral shoe. Moderately flat feet do better in a stabilizing shoe. Really super-flat feet do the best in a motion-controlling shoe.”
What exactly qualifies as a summer shoe? There are the time-honored standards like sandals, sneakers and flip-flops but also more recent additions to an ever-evolving lineup. Crocs, wedges, dude shoes, mules, slides, jellies and espadrilles are all popular summer options that, depending on the situation, may lean more toward fashion sense than common sense.
Worst: Flip-flops and heels
“The worst types for summer are normally flat flip-flops or fashion shoes – high-heeled shoes more than two inches high,” Dr. Anderson said. “If you must wear these types of shoes, do it for a short period of time.”
For instance, a long walk wearing sandals is probably not a good idea no matter what the temperature or how tastefully it complements the rest of your ensemble. Too much time in sandals or their many variations can lead to foot issues that could otherwise be avoided.
“Some of the most common foot symptoms in the summer are heel pain (normally plantar fasciitis), and ankle pain (normally tendinitis),” Dr. Anderson said. “There is also top-of-foot swelling from a stress fracture or arthritis, as well as a burning in the ball of the foot, which is normally metatarsalgia or a neuroma.”
Best: Supportive shoes or insoles
The good news is that most problems that originate with wearing the wrong kind of shoes will go away when you switch.
“Most of them are self-inflicted,” Dr. Anderson said. “They are easily treated by wearing more supportive shoes or insoles.”
There are still instances where a problem caused by wearing sandals too often does not go away when you stop wearing sandals, however.
When to see a foot doctor
“If you’ve tried to treat it for a week or more and the symptoms are not improving, it’s time to see a specialist,” Dr. Anderson said. “Many times, we can treat the symptoms with orthotics.”
Orthotics are prescription shoe inserts designed to support the foot in its current position, called accommodative orthotics. Or they can realign the foot, called functional orthotics.
All feet are different. A favored brand that delivers comfort and support for one might not do the same for someone else.
“Most reputable shoe brands these days provide adequate support,” Dr. Anderson said. “Not every brand is for every person, however. Sometimes you still have to try shoes on to find what works best for you.”
- Should your baby wear shoes?
- Your running shoes: Do they need a medical checkup?
- When your shoes might be to blame for pain