Take spring & summer in your stride

Take spring & summer in your stride

The end of winter is just around the corner and when the weather warms up, we can finally let our feet enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. However, although it can feel liberating to kick off your sturdy winter boots, spring and summer shoes are not always the most foot-friendly footwear.

During winter, we tend to wear stronger and more supportive footwear. During the warmer months, it can be tempting to put convenience ahead of the health of your feet. Flip flops, for example, with their no-frills design, are easy to throw on and go with almost any outfit but they were never really intended to be worn beyond the beach or pool. That’s because they don’t offer any arch or heel support and you have to grip them with your toes to keep them on. This can contribute to one of summer’s most common foot injuries, metatarsalgia. This is when the ball of the foot becomes inflamed and it can be extremely painful. Flip flops are also easier to trip in which can lead to bumps, bruises, sprained ankles and even broken toes.

If you want your feet to stay cool, comfy and protected, then a decent pair of sandals is your best bet. A healthy sandal should provide support, protection and cushioning. It also needs to have adequate width and depth for correct foot function. If warmer weather causes your feet to swell, then look for sandals with a lace or touch-fastening strap which can be adjusted over the course of the day.

Many sandals are designed with an open toe, but they may not be suitable if you have sensitive or unsightly toes.  If you want to protect or conceal your toes, there are plenty of ‘shandal’ styles around which offer the ventilation of a sandal with the protection a shoe.

If you need to wear an orthotic, it’s still possible to wear sandals. Look for styles which have a closed back and sides. The closed sides will allow you to wear a half or full length orthotic while the closed back will help to hold the orthotic in place.

Maintaining good hygiene can also help to ensure healthy feet during the spring and summer months. One of the recommendations from the Healthy Footwear Guide is to choose footwear which promotes a healthy environment within the shoe. Genuine leather shoes or sandals allow your feet to breathe and sweat to escape, whereas synthetic styles trap perspiration and don’t allow the foot to breathe. You may also want to look for sandals which have a sanitised footbed. This will hinder the production of bacteria and stop unpleasant odours from developing.

Another common problem associated with wearing sandals and flip flops is severely cracked and dry heels. When shoes don't have a back, and nothing is cupping the heel and holding the fat pad on your heel in place, it tends to splay out. The skin follows suit and eventually cracks. If you tend to suffer from dry heels, look for sandals with a closed back.