Summer has finally arrived. Along with summer comes shorts and tank tops, bathing suits and BBQs, sun and, of course, sandals. Easy to slip on and off and cool enough for the hot summer days, sandals tend to be the main choice for footwear during the summer months. Sandal styles vary, but flip-flops have been gaining in popularity in recent years. Unfortunately, along with flip-flops come foot injuries. The flip-flop style sandal has almost no arch support and little beyond the two flimsy straps on top to keep the foot on the sole of the sandal. The result is overworked tendons and an overstressed arch. Ankle sprains are common injuries for flip-flop wearers, but more chronic problems, like tendonitis and plantar fasciitis can also develop. Flip-flops are not the only culprit, many sandals do not offer much arch support, shock absorption and have little material to keep the foot on the sole. The combination of flip-flops and high heels tends to be the deadliest summer sandal choice. A nice summer evening out can easily turn into a night in the emergency room with a sprained or broken ankle.
There are many shoes and sandals available today which are comfortable, but will not compromise your sense of style. When looking for a summer sandal, following these simple tips:
1. The sole of the sandal should be larger than your foot. Your foot should not hang over the sides or the back of the sandal.
2. There should be enough material on the top of the sandal to keep your foot on the sole and to keep the foot from slipping.
3. The sole of the sandal should be rigid and not flex in the middle. If you can take your sandal and fold it in half, then it is too flexible and it will not offer enough support.
4. Keep in mind that many sandals are not made for walking, but designed purely for style. Owning one pair of sandals for walking and one pair for sitting at the beach or at a BBQ may be a good idea.
5. When buying a sandal for walking, look for a sturdy sole, multiple straps with buckles or velcro, built in arch supports or an accommodation for a custom orthotic.
The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) has a list of shoes and sandals which have been given their approval. For more information on the APMA’s Seal of Acceptance program and their list of shoes and sandals, visit their website at www.apma.org/sealofacceptance.
If you just can’t imagine the idea of parting with your flip-flops or stylish sandals this summer, then consider carrying a pair of athletic shoes or walking sandals in your car for those times when you may be doing more walking. Areas with hills, stairs or slippery surfaces are not appropriate for walking in flip-flops and could lead to injury. If you develop arch pain or heel pain while in your sandals, stop wearing them and visit a podiatrist.