Summer is a grand adventure of freedom and fun in the sun for all who choose to enjoy it. Kids wander around barefoot in the dirt, dragging their favourite toys with them while adults slip on a pair of their favorite summer shoes and go about their day.
It sounds like all it takes is a comfy pair of flip-flops or sandals to relax comfortably in the heat. However, the long-term effects of wearing what most consider summer shoes can have quite an uncomfortable effect on the body, especially the spine.
Your feet require structure
Just because summer lacks structure doesn’t mean your shoes should. For some reason, many shoe manufacturers ignore the important role supportive shoes play when it comes to maintaining a healthy spine. Fashionable shoes have become a trend, and that trend has taken a toll on our bodies.
Here are 4 types of summer shoes you should avoid wearing:
Flat shoes of any kind don’t provide shock absorption for your feet, and wearing them could result in stress fractures in your feet and toes. Stress fractures are small cracks in the bone; in this case, they are caused by the repetitive force that occurs when your feet land on the ground without proper shock absorption.
Cracked heels are also a potential danger
Wearing flat sandals regularly makes you more susceptible to stress fractures and can also lead to cracked heels. Sandals lack the heel support that would normally hold your heel’s fat pad in place as you walk. Since there is no support surrounding it, your heel squishes outward with every step, causing your skin to stretch out and eventually crack. Given that the summer is usually hot, if your skin is dry, you’re more likely to develop heel cracks because your skin won’t be as elastic as it should be.
Heel cracks can lead to bacterial infections
Heel cracks might not seem like a big deal when they’re small, but anytime you have an open sore, no matter how small, it’s an invitation for bacteria to get inside and create illness in the body.
Bacteria that infects cracked heels can lead to cellulitis, warts, and even athlete’s foot. Having any kind of bacterial or viral infection in your feet can be extremely painful, and can make it hard to function on a daily basis. Routine tasks that require walking or standing can become painful, and if you rely on being on your feet for work, you may end up missing some hours.
Tips to avoid cracked heels and infection
If you can’t bear the thought of leaving your beloved sandals behind, look for sandals that offer some kind of heel support or straps that wrap around your ankle. If that’s not your style, consider trading in your flat sandals for a different style that provides full support for your feet – the support you’d find inside of a tennis shoe.
If you do end up with a fungal infection, remember that fungal infections are contagious and can spread to other parts of your body. Be sure to keep your feet dry and don’t wear shoes that will provide the dark, damp environment fungus thrives in.
You can also apply a soothing peppermint and lavender balm to your heels in the morning before you start your day to increase the elasticity of your skin and keep your heels moisturized. You don’t even need to buy an expensive balm. You can make your own with a few drops of essential oils in a carrier oil like coconut oil, add some cocoa or Shea butter, and have a good supply on hand for future use.
There’s a reason they’re called flip flops – that’s the sound the thin strips of rubber make when they reconnect with your foot after each step. Just like flat sandals, flip-flops don’t provide any shock absorption for your feet.
If you have sciatica, avoid flip-flops completely
When walking in flip-flops, you have to slightly curl your toes to keep them from sliding off your feet when you walk. Walking with your toes curled shortens your stride and reduces the amount of time your feet spend in contact with the ground you’re walking on. Walking this way puts more pressure on your lower spine and can increase your sciatic pain.
Tips to avoid flip-flop induced back problems
Never run in flip-flops. Running in flip-flops should be avoided for basic safety reasons, but it’s also hard on your feet and can cause stress fractures.
If you have to wear flip flops, find a pair with a thicker, contoured sole that will prevent you from walking with your toes curled.
Think twice before wearing a pair of clogs to work if you need to walk more than a few yards from your car to the office. Clogs are unstable and can worsen the symptoms of osteoarthritis in the knees.
A 2010 study on the effects of footwear on osteoarthritis of the knee concluded that wearing clogs increased the load on a person’s knees by up to 15% compared to regular walking shoes and even flip-flops. This means clogs are worse than flip-flops if you have arthritis in your knees.
Tips for avoiding painful feet with clogs
If you’re going to wear clogs, carry a pair of sneakers in your car, just in case. You’ll be glad you did!
Who hasn’t owned a pair of Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers at some point in their life? They might be fashionable for summer but, unfortunately, they’re absolutely flat and provide no support for any part of your feet.
Tips for increasing support in (almost) any shoe
If your favorite shoes are on this list and you’re not ready to part ways, consider using custom orthotics in your Chucks or other regular shoes (even boots).
Custom orthotics are superior to over the counter supports purchased in the store because they’re tailored to your personal needs. Custom orthotic foot braces are designed to control abnormal foot function, re-establish proper weight distribution when you walk, and improve your overall biomechanics.
Book your assessment today for personal, custom orthotic supports so you can get back on your feet more comfortably in your favorite pair of shoes.