Facing the classic conundrum of comfort versus style when picking out shoes, consider that the wrong pair can do more than just cause foot and heel pain, it can also lead to plantar fasciitis or flat feet.
Finding a shoe that has good arch support, looks stylish and does not cause foot or heel pain can be hard. This is especially true for women going for cute and true for everyone during the summertime, when sandals are an easy go-to option and outdoor activities are increased.
There is a time and place for all types of shoes. Flip-flops are great to reduce the chances of athlete’s foot and warts when walking around a public pool, in the locker room and at the beach. But they might not be the best option when you are planning to walk around for long periods of time.
It is important to know that flimsy footwear increases the stress on the arches because you’re not getting the necessary support. This can cause a lot of problems, not only for your feet but also for your knees and hips.
When buying shoes, I recommend you look for four things:
- Arch support.
- Stiff soles that cannot fold in half.
- Cushioned heel.
- No or low heel.
But don’t worry, you do not have to toss out all of your favorite shoes if they do not meet that list. Below are some key tips to reduce pain and foot & heel damage, while still being able to wear this seasons’ top sandals.
Reduce the risk of heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis & flat feet
Plantar fasciitis is caused by an inflammation of the thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the toes. This can cause foot or heel pain.
To reduce the chances of getting plantar fasciitis or lessen the symptoms if you already have it, you should look for shoes with good arch support and a cushioned heel. You can also add these features to your favorite pair of shoes with insert arches or heel pads. These can be purchased at a local store or you can have them custom made specifically for your foot.
Another common condition made worse by bad shoe choices is flat feet. This is a condition that lowers the arch of the foot causing discomfort, foot pain and uneven shoe wear.
Similar to those concerned about plantar fasciitis, people suffering from flat feet should look for shoes with good arch support. You can add medical insert supports, but these can be difficult for shoes without a side like a sandal, which can’t hold the insert in place while walking.
Make the summer sandals strappy
On top of the four things I look for when buying shoes that I mentioned above, there is another one that is key with summer sandals and that is, they need to have straps.
Flip-flops make your feet work twice as hard because your toes are trying to keep your shoes from sliding off. But if flip-flops are a must, I recommend the FitFlop because of the added arch support. I also like brands like Birkenstock and Teva. Birkenstock shoes offer a cork sole that provides good arch support.
Fun footwear is nice but keep your feet pain free
Like many things in life, “fun” footwear should be enjoyed in moderation.
There is no specific amount of time that it takes for shoes to cause issues. I have some patients who can wear their favorite flip-flops for hours before causing them pain, while for others it just takes minutes. I advise my patients with the simple motto, “If it hurts don’t do it; if it doesn’t hurt, do what you want.”
It is important to have a change of footwear available during long events or work days. This can be helpful in preventing the development of prolonged pain that can be caused by one particular shoe. Just because it does not hurt now does not mean that it will not hurt later.
How you, and we, can alleviate foot and heel pain
If you do develop plantar fasciitis, flat foot or are experiencing foot pain, one way to help alleviate it is by freezing a water bottle and rolling your arch over it.
Another activity to reduce foot and heel pain is doing calf stretches. Here’s an easy way to stretch your calf using a set of stairs.
- Stand on one stair.
- Hold the rail for safety.
- Lower the heels as far as comfortable.
- Hold it there for 30 seconds.
- Then rise onto your toes for five seconds.
- Repeat this three to four times a day.
If these do not work for you, talk to your doctor or a physical therapist. There are multiple options to reduce foot pain prior to needing surgery. But if surgery is necessary, our surgeons are the ones you want.
Final takeaway on summer footwear
If you walk away with only one point from this blog, I hope it is that you remember your shoe choices can make a big impact on how your feet feel after a day of walking or standing. It is never too late to start wearing a shoe with better support.