Orthopedic Sandals for the Summer!
Now is the time to consider what you are wearing on your feet during the warmer months. Most people spend more time doing activities outdoors, travelling, going to the beach, etc., equating to more time on their feet. People tend to ditch the more supportive shoes and sneakers and opt for flip flops or bare feet. Once the summer ends, I am usually busier in my clinic due to people neglecting their feet and the negative impact of poor footwear choices.
One of the most common summer footwear choices is also one of the worst- flip flops! These sandals may be popular and easy to slip on, but they put people at risk of developing serious foot and leg problems. Flip flops can cause severe foot, ankle, knee, hip and low back pain due to lack of support – especially if you have alignment issues such as pronated feet (foot rolls inward). In addition, flip flops do not fit securely around your foot which can cause the foot to slide in the sandal, leading to blisters, as well as compensating by gripping your toes more when walking. Walking barefoot is another common summer practice that is not recommended as it exposes feet to sunburn, plantar warts, athlete’s foot and other infections as well as increasing the risk of injury to your feet. If you are at the pool or beach, flip flops may be worn for short periods of time to protect your feet, but they are not the option for when standing or walking for long periods of time.
So, what should you look for in summer footwear?
- Your feet will be happiest in shoes or sandals that have more of a rigid, thick, and non-flexible sole to protect the joints in your feet and prevent injury and pain.
- Sandals should be slightly larger than regular shoes as feet tend to swell in warm, humid weather.
- Shoes with a wide toe box decreases pressure on toes and can help prevent the formation of bunions, hammertoes, and corns.
- Sandals that offer adjustable strapping are recommended as you can adjust the sandal to fit your feet.
- Heel strapping helps reduce mechanical strain on joints and tendons as you do not have to work hard to keep your foot in the shoe.
- You should also look for footwear that has good arch support to help with conditions such as flat feet and plantar fasciitis.
A great option for your feet for summer months is orthopedic sandals. They are often recommended by Podiatrists for their structure, comfort, and arch support to help maintain a functional foot position. I have a lot of my patients tell me that they do not want to wear their closed-in shoes with their orthotics due to the hot weather. The good thing is that there are certain brands of orthopedic sandals have a removable foot beds or insoles that you can replace with your custom-made orthotics. Orthopedic sandals are not only good for the summer, but I also recommend my patients wear them indoors as well.
Another benefit is that they can help treat conditions like:
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Corns and calluses
- Hallux Limitus
- Hallux Rigidus
- Knee Arthritis
- And much more…
If the idea of orthopedic sandals makes your inner fashionista cringe, there are some great brands today that are on trend.
Probably the most popular are the German-made Birkenstock sandals. These sandals are fashion-forward, Podiatrist approved, and have great structure, arch support and comfort. They offer great options and styles for both men and women, and have come a long way from their traditional two leather straps.
A few other brands I recommend are:
When purchasing Birkenstocks or other orthopedic sandals, ensure you break-in the sandal the same way you would when breaking in a new custom orthotic. You should wear them for only one hour the first day, two hours the second day, three hours the third day, and so on, until you can comfortably wear them all day. This will help you avoid any new aches or pains in your legs and feet by allowing your legs and muscles to adjust to the more supportive sandals. After 1-2 weeks, you should be able to wear them for most of the day without any issues.
I would always recommend consulting a Podiatrist or Pedorthist if you have any foot or leg issues when purchasing orthopedic sandals as there are certain models that will fit and work better with certain foot types. If you are in doubt about the fit or structure of your sandals, don’t hesitate to bring them into your appointment so it can be determined whether the sandals will work well for you considering your feet and any underlying conditions.
I hope after reading this you will stop and think before putting on those flip-flops and hopefully go out to the local shoe stores to buy a pair.
My final summer foot tip is to remember to apply sunscreen to the tops of your feet and your toes.
Have a safe and fun summer and keep your feet happy!
Dr. Jason Ju, Podiatrist
If you are looking for orthopedic footwear, such as sandals, in either Halifax, Dartmouth, Moncton, Fredericton, or Saint John, then please contact the Arthritis and Injury Care Centre today!