Fairfield Physiotherapy & Sports Injuries Centre Logo 2

Summer Footwear Tips

Summer is finally here and most of us are welcoming the warmer weather and longer days with open arms and smiling faces. Ditching the winter clothes and winter shoes can feel a bit liberating – it’s nice to get into lighter and brighter summer styles. But before you jump straight into your summer sandals, check out our tips for choosing your summer footwear.

  1. Don’t go cold turkey

As far as your feet are concerned, they’ve been tucked up nicely in socks throughout winter. This means the skin on the bottom of your feet have been protected from constant wear by those trusty socks. As we welcome in summer, too many of us are too quick at throwing those socks into the draw (“good riddance till next winter!”) and throwing on a strappy pair or sandals or favourite thongs. This year, don’t be too quick to turf those socks and winter shoes for your sandals. Giving your feet time to acclimatize to wearing sandals by alternating between your winter and summer shoes will help the skin under your feet build up to allow for the unprotected ground traction.

  • Minimize flip-flop wear

As convenient as it might feel to thrown on that trusty pair of flip flops as you rush out the house, it’s probably no surprise that they’re actually not that good for your feet. While it’s quite clear that flip-flops offer very minimal support, the problems they can cause to your feet and body go far beyond that.

First off, the design of flip flops includes a small strip of material (usually rubber) that sits between your two toes. In order to keep the flip-flop in place, the toes must grip the sole of the shoe which if done continuously through summer can lead to overuse of the muscles in the toes, eventually ending in tendonitis. Stress fractures in the bones are also not uncommon in serial flip-flop wearers as the shock absorption and cushioning received from a flip-flop is substantially less than most other shoe types.

Have you ever worn flip flips for a long period of time and woken up the next day with particularly sore arches or heels? This pain is caused from overuse of the plantar fascia which attaches the heel bone to the ball of the foot. Ongoing wear of flip flops can worsen this and lead to inflammation of the plantar fascia – a condition known as plantar fasciitis.

Furthermore, and possibly the worst symptom of flip-flop wear, is that wearing them – even for 2 minutes, actually alters the biomechanics of your walk – or your natural gait cycle. When compared to walking in shoes, walking in flip-flops increases ground reaction force and decreases the stance phase of the walk. The centre of pressure is also shifted more medially (towards the middle of the foot).

In summary, flip-flops do require the muscles in the feet to work much harder than when wearing regular shoes. This can cause painful conditions not only in the feet, but also pain that extends up the leg and into the lower back.

  • Choosing your flip-flops

Avoiding flip-flops completely through summer can be a difficult task as they are convenient and easy to slide on and off when visiting places like the beach. However, you can help your body a little by making sure your flip-flops:

  • Are the right size – make sure it correctly fits the length of your foot and that the toes or heel does not extend past the base of the shoe.
  • The flip-flop bends at the ball of the foot, not in the middle.
  • Have some form of arch support – this will help give that fascia a little support.
  • Are made from a soft leather rather than rubber to reduce friction, and therefore reduce blisters.
  • Replace them as they show wear.
  • Keep that fresh feeling

We’ve all been there – a day in closed toe sandals or heels without socks which result in a terrible odor come the end of the day! Enclosed flats, canvas loafers and closed toe heels are all culprits that come to mind. To help reduce this, keep an eye out for special socks that are designed to wear under some of these styles. Alternatively, baking soda insoles can be worn inside the shoe to absorb the odor and leave you with fresher smelling feet!

  • Give your feet some love

If you are left with some tired feet, we can help get them pampered and feeling good again! Whatever the pain may be, come in for an assessment and we can help can your feet back on track and feeling good again.