Living Well: Don’t let the wrong summer footwear harm your feet
After keeping our feet prisoners throughout the long cold-weather season, many Coloradans are excited to set their feet free in the summertime without considering health and safety.
If you must wear flip-flops, here are some tips for choosing them safely:
- Do shop for a flip-flop made of high-quality, soft leather. Leather minimizes the potential for blisters and other types of irritation.
- Do gently bend the flip-flop from end to end, ensuring it bends at the ball of the foot. Shoes of any kind should never fold in half.
- Do ensure that your foot doesn’t hang off of the edge of the flip-flop.
- Do wear a sturdy pair of flip-flops when walking around a public pool, at the beach, in hotel rooms and in locker room areas. Walking barefoot can expose foot soles to plantar warts and athlete’s foot.
- Don’t re-wear flip-flops year after year. Inspect older pairs for wear. If they show signs of severe wear, discard them.
- Don’t ignore irritation between toes, where the toe thong fits. This can lead to blisters and possible infections.
- Don’t wear flip-flops while walking long distances. Even the sturdiest flip-flops offer little in terms of shock absorption and arch support.
- Don’t do yard work while wearing flip-flops. Always wear a shoe that fully protects feet when doing outside activities such as mowing the lawn or using a weed-eater.
- Don’t play sports in flip-flops. This practice can lead to twisting of the foot or ankle, as well as sprains and breaks.
Podiatry services at MRH
Memorial Regional Health provides comprehensive podiatry services for all of your podiatry needs, from routine foot and ankle care to simple and complex surgery, at its Steamboat Springs and Craig locations. Dr. Derek Harper treats conditions of the foot and ankle for individuals of all ages, no matter the cause.
To schedule an appointment, call 970-826-2465.
Despite this need to let our feet breathe, flip-flops aren’t always a great option if you’re also trying to prevent foot pain or injury.
Flip-flops are recommended to protect the feet in certain situations — such as in locker rooms, public showers, around the pool and in hotel rooms to lower the risk of contracting bacterial infections — but they offer no arch support, heel cushioning or shock absorption, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association.
This lack of support can lead to foot pain, tendinitis, sprained ankles if you trip, or other foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis, which is an inflammation of the tissue connecting the heel bone to the base of the toes.
Flip-flops in moderation
Some flip-flops have an official American Podiatric Medical Association seal of approval, but that doesn’t mean these shoes are appropriate for all occasions.
It’s OK to wear flip-flops for errands around town or when you won’t be doing much walking, but if you’re heading out on a long walk or hike, or heading to an event that requires a lot of walking, it’s better to choose a shoe for support rather than breathability.
To prevent injury risk or foot pain, the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society recommends limiting the amount of time spent in flip-flops or sandals and instead choosing shoes with built-in arch support, a low heel and adequate padding for the ball of your foot.
When to see a podiatrist
If you have severe pain or swelling in your feet, it’s time to see a podiatrist. Other reasons to see this specialty foot doctor include open wounds that won’t heal, signs of infection such as redness, warmth and tenderness in an affected area, or you have a fever over 100 degrees, according to Memorial Regional Health.
If you can’t walk or put weight on your foot, or you have diabetes and have wounds that aren’t healing or are deep, red, swollen or warm to the touch, a podiatrist can help. Memorial Regional Health offers podiatry services in Craig and Steamboat through Dr. Derek Harper, a podiatrist with a background in complex foot and ankle surgeries, as well as treatment of many common foot and ankle issues.
Physical therapists at Memorial Regional Health are taking part in The American Physical Therapy Association’s annual campaign, “ChoosePT,” to educate the public about the benefits of physical therapy.