Summer is the time to set aside your socks and boots and wear seasonally appropriate shoes like sandals and flip-flops.
But not all summer shoes are created equal. Learn more about which shoes are good choices and which ones can put you at risk for foot injuries.
Learn more: All About Ankle Sprains and Strains
Flip-flops are the worst offenders when it comes to endangering the health of your feet this summer. Not only is it easy for them to slip out of place, which could lead to an ankle sprain, but they offer very little support or cushioning. Lack of heel support in footwear is a major cause of plantar fasciitis. And if you already have plantar fasciitis, flip-flops can aggravate the problem and make the pain worse.
Flip-flops are OK to wear if you’re just headed to the pool or beach, but you should avoid walking around in them all day. It can also help to seek out styles that have a thicker sole.
Flats are better than flip-flops at stabilizing and holding your foot in place. But they can be just as dismal in providing any cushioning or support.
As with flip-flops, you can protect your feet by limiting how much you wear flats and also looking for styles that offer good support and cushioning, especially for your arches.
3. Wedges and Espadrilles
The biggest hazard with wedges and espadrilles is their side-to-side instability, which makes it easy to lose your balance and twist your ankle, leading to a sprain.
In addition, they shift your weight forward onto the ball of your foot, which can put you at risk for mid-foot pain and inflammation. This is the case with all heels. Eventually, this can even lead to stress fractures in your foot.
To play it safe with wedges and espadrilles, look for styles that are not too high and have a wider heel. For added traction and stability, seek out pairs with rubber soles.
4. Mules, Strappy Sandals, and Peep-Toes
Any shoe that lets your foot slide out of place and forces you to “grip” the shoe with your toes puts you at risk for hammertoe, a condition in which the toe-joint is abnormally bent, forcing the toe to curl in a claw-like position. This is especially true if the shoe also has a heel.
To avoid this, choose shoes that use enclosures or straps to stay secure to your foot—both front and back—so they stay in place without slipping.
If you are experiencing foot pain, switch up your footwear and use the RICE protocol to help treat your pain. If pain doesn’t improve with self-care measures after a week or two, make an appointment to see your doctor or a podiatrist.