Warmer weather often means more outdoor activities, and let’s be honest – cuter shoes!
But grabbing those cheap flip-flops the next time you head out the door could put you at risk for problems down the road. Podiatrists at Baptist Health tend to see more patients suffering from foot injuries and pain during the summer. Why?
Dr. Spencer Mortensen says that feet come in various shapes and sizes, meaning there’s no perfect sandal or shoe for everyone. “Flip-flops can be very convenient, but the inconvenience of the pain and problems they bring later isn’t always worth it.”
In addition to being a trip hazard to all ages, extended wear of flip-flops or any thin-soled, strappy sandal that causes you to grip with your toes can lead to strained or overextended tendons, shooting pains and plantar fasciitis.
“Sandals or open-toe shoes can also lead to excessive drying of the skin, callus formation and even fissures,” said Dr. Mortensen.
So, take advantage of the lotion and moisturizers this summer, Dr. Mortensen added. He also strongly urges his patients not to go barefoot, especially those with diabetes. Cuts, scrapes and other wounds from stepping on things like glass, thorns, rocks and other objects outdoors are also more common in the summer.
A Shoe that Fits YOU and Your Day
Feet come in a variety of shapes and sizes, meaning there’s no perfect sandal or shoe for everyone, Dr. Mortensen says. That’s why it’s crucial to find a shoe that fits your summer lifestyle and your foot. That’s where places like True Grit Running Company in Fort Smith come in.
“We’ll take a look at your feet, how you move, and talk to you about what you want to do while wearing the shoes—whether that’s training for a 5K or going to Disney for a week,” said Melissa Vitale, owner. “We will find something that will provide the appropriate support, fit well around the foot, and feel good while you’re using them.”
It’s important to choose a shoe that fits your activity for the day, such as sandals and shoes made for water, clogs for gardening, boots for hiking and athletic shoes specifically for sports like running. Dr. Mortensen said “support” should be your main priority regardless of the activity you’re participating in.
“Look for a summer shoe or sandal with a good arch and stiffness through the sole,’ he said. “Avoid shoes with excessive cushion or that are super flexible.”
If you can fold it in half, don’t wear it. Are flip-flops the worst choice? No. According to Dr. Mortensen, they’re OK for a quick trip to the mailbox or the beach but should not be the shoe you wear daily. “Use them sparingly, if you must,” he said.
When it comes to sandals, Melissa Vitale, owner of True Grit Running Company, in Fort Smith, recommends brands like Aetrex, Spenco, Chacos or Teva sandals.
“At least something with a supportive strap along the back of the foot and that holds the foot in place,” she said. “For lighter activities or to relax later, I would recommend OOFOS, HOKA, or Powerstep. They offer cushioning and/or arch support. When I go home, one of the first things I do is change into my OOFOS slides.”
Choosing a heel strap or heel counter shoe to provide rearfoot stability will also reduce your risk of injury and make activities more comfortable. In the summer, you can often find athletic shoes made with breathable materials like performance mesh or knit upper. Cotton canvas shoes are also breathable.
“Forego shoes made with leather or nylon,” Vitale recommends during hotter months.
True Grit Running Company’s Top 3 Tips for Summer
1. Wear performance running socks. Cotton socks will only absorb moisture and hold it against your foot, which can lead to blisters. Even if the sock packaging says, “athletic,” check the contents to ensure there is no cotton.
2. Wear shoes that are the correct size. During activity, your feet swell. If you’re wearing shoes that are too small to start with, you’ll be extremely uncomfortable at the end of the day. If shoes are too big or too long, you may trip over the toes or have too much movement inside the shoe, which causes friction and can lead to blisters.
3. Wear protection. Blister and chafing prevention products are very popular during the summer months. Blister Shield is a powdered wax you put into your sock and it melts with your body heat, forming a protective barrier around your foot. Sport Shield is an anti-chafe product, so if you have any “hot spots” on your feet or other places on your body, apply this to avoid pain later on. If your feet tend to sweat a lot, remove sweaty socks and shoes once you are at home. It will allow your feet to breathe and prevent fungus.
Baptist Health Foot & Ankle Clinic-Fort Smith
Dr. Mortensen and Dr. Scott G. Bird are accepting new patients at Baptist Health Foot and Ankle Clinic-Fort Smith located at 5428 Ellsworth Road. They are professionally trained and are dedicated to helping you live a healthy and functional life on your feet. They treat many conditions including foot and ankle fractures and sprains, ankle instability, tendinitis, neuromas, congenital deformities, ingrown nails, bunions and hammertoe.
If you’re experiencing problems with your feet or ankles, talk to your primary care provider about a referral to a podiatrist, or call the clinic at (479) 573-7905.