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Home > Foot and Ankle Injury Risks Associated with those Cute Summer Shoes

Foot and Ankle Injury Risks Associated with those Cute Summer Shoes

Jenny L.F. Andrus, MDJenny L. F. Andrus, MD 

Ah – summer is here!  And the season calls for lighter, breathable, and really cute footwear options. However, the desire for style and comfort can sometimes outweigh considerations for foot and ankle safety. As a physician who treats chronic pain, I know my patients don’t always make the best decisions about the type of footwear they choose, especially when the beach is calling!

This article examines the potential risks associated with flip flops, sandals, clogs, open-toed shoes and jelly shoes.   We’ll also discuss the common foot and ankle injuries that can arise from wearing non-supportive, loose summer footwear or what happens when you transition too quickly to summer footwear.  But it’s not all bad news. There is summer footwear available that provides support, stability and fits well that won’t send you to the ER.

Common Foot and Ankle Injuries Linked to Summer Shoes

Sprains and Strains

Improper support and stability provided by flimsy sandals, flip-flops, jelly shoes and clogs can increase the risk of ankle sprains or strains. Limited arch support and inadequate cushioning may lead to ligament tears and muscle strains when walking on uneven surfaces.  Trips and falls can be caused by flimsy soles which slip and slide under the foot while walking.

Blisters, Calluses and Corns

Many summer shoe styles have minimal coverage and friction-inducing materials, leading to blisters and calluses. Open-toe shoes expose the toes to potential hazards, such as stubbing or impact injuries. Making a quick transition to summer shoes from winter boots can cause blistering, calluses or corns due to excessive rubbing on skin from shoes.  This is common with open-toed shoes, thong sandals or straps on heels.  The bottoms of the feet and tops of toes are also susceptible to rubbing and pressure which can lead to calluses and corns.

Plantar Fasciitis

Flat and unsupportive summer shoes can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis, an inflammatory condition affecting the ligament connecting the heel bone to the toes. Insufficient arch support and lack of cushioning can strain the plantar fascia, causing pain and discomfort.

Safer Summer Footwear Alternatives

Supportive Sandals

Opting for sandals with sturdy soles and adjustable straps can provide better support and stability. Look for features such as arch support, cushioning, and a contoured foot bed to distribute weight evenly and reduce pressure points.

Athletic Shoes

Consider wearing athletic shoes designed for warm weather conditions. These shoes offer increased cushioning, stability, and shock absorption, reducing the risk of foot and ankle injuries during summer activities.

Water Shoes

When engaging in water activities, water shoes offer protection from sharp objects, rocks, and potential injuries. Their quick-drying materials and traction soles enhance safety and comfort around wet environments.

Breathable Footwear

Choose shoes made from breathable materials to promote air circulation and reduce moisture buildup. This helps prevent bacterial and fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot.

Enhancing the Safety of Summer Shoes

Proper Sizing

Wearing shoes that fit properly is crucial for foot safety. Ill-fitting shoes can lead to blisters, calluses, and foot deformities. Get professionally measured and choose footwear that accommodates the natural shape of your feet.

Custom Orthotics

Individuals with specific foot conditions or anatomical abnormalities may benefit from custom orthotics. These inserts provide personalized support and can be used in conjunction with summer footwear to improve comfort and stability. Adding arch supports or orthotic insoles to summer shoes can enhance foot alignment, cushioning, and stability. These can help distribute pressure evenly and reduce strain on the feet and ankles.

Regular Foot Care

Practicing good foot hygiene and self-care can help prevent summer-related foot and ankle issues. Regularly moisturizing the feet, trimming toenails properly, and inspecting for signs of infection or injury are essential habits for maintaining foot health.

Gradual Transition

When transitioning from winter footwear to summer shoes, it is important to allow the skin, feet, and ankles time to adapt. Gradually introduce new footwear styles to minimize the risk of discomfort or injury. You may want to wear your summer footwear around the house for a few days to get your feet used to the unfamiliar straps and materials.  Moleskin or Band-Aids can provide cushion over pressure points before a problem, like a blister, develops.

Invest in Quality

Finally, like pretty much anything, you get what you pay for.  If you think you are going to get a pair of great, supportive sandals for $7 at the Dollar Tree, I have some oceanfront property I’d like to sell you in Oklahoma!  All kidding aside…invest in your feet, and buy quality, supportive shoes.  You’ll have fewer accidents; less foot and ankle pain and your feet will thank you for it!  Enjoy your summer!

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