Are Your Feet Ready for Summer Fun? Dos and Don’ts
Now that we’ve hit our first real heat wave of the year (at least by Michigan standards, anyway), it’s fair to say that summer has officially returned! We hope you’re already taking full advantage and enjoying the nice weather.
When the sun’s out, the last thing you want to worry about is painful, injured, or sunburned feet keeping you from maximizing your fun on the trail, at the beach, on your bike, or whatever it is you love to do. Unfortunately, we see a ton of people who have to come in for an appointment after having their plans derailed by a (usually preventable) incident.
While we’re happy to help, we’d rather you keep your feet in top shape to begin with. So, here are some key tips to make the most out of what promises to be another great Michigan summer!
DO NOT: Wear Flip Flops All Day
Flip flops may be cheap to buy and convenient to slip on and off, but if you try to spend all day walking around in them, you’re probably going to have a bad time.
Typical flip flops offer absolutely no arch support or cushioning. On top of that, they force you to dig in your toes, shorten your stride, and pretty much change your entire gait mechanics just to keep them from flying straight off your feet. As a result, they can cause not only foot and arch pain, but pain throughout your knees, hips, and back, too.
If you plan to do any significant walking and want to wear open-toed shoes, choose a style that offers some built-in arch support and doesn’t flop around on your feet so much. Speaking of …
DO: Consider Archies Arch Support Flip Flops—Available at Our Office!
We know the convenience and casual style of flip flops can be hard to give up, so of course we wanted to make sure we can offer our patients something a lot better to wear, while still being inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to slide on and off.
Archies is that solution! Designed to turn some of the worst attributes of conventional flip flops into strengths, Archies offer great features like:
- Built-in arch support
- Elevated (and comfy!) heel cups
- Closed-cell foam construction that molds to your feet
- Tight straps that keep your flip flops on your feet (and keep your toes from digging in)
- Super durable construction
Pick up a couple of pairs from our office waiting room, and you’re probably never going to want to go back to flimsy traditional flip flops again. So if you love this style of footwear, it’s pretty much a must buy in our opinion.
DO: Wear Sunscreen
We don’t have to tell you how important it is to apply sunscreen regularly to exposed skin. But too many people apply the sunscreen to their face, shoulders, arms … and then just sort of leave it at that.
If you’re planning to walk around in sandals, make sure you don’t forget to hit the tops of your feet, too. Being a whole 5 feet or so further from the sun than your nose isn’t going to offer much of a reprieve, and sunburn on feet can be extremely frustrating and painful.
And, unfortunately, we also need to talk a bit about skin cancer. It’s not a secret that too much sun exposure without adequate protection raises your risk of cancer, and it’s also not a secret that treatment for skin cancer (particularly melanoma) has a much higher success rate if it’s caught early. When cancer develops on the feet, you might be less likely to notice it right away than if it appeared on your arms or face.
DO NOT: Go Barefoot
Walking outdoors without appropriate protection for your feet not only increases your risk of accidental cuts, scrapes, and physical injuries, but also increases your risk of exposure to microorganisms that cause warts, athlete’s foot, fungal toenails, and other unsightly infections.
Wearing shoes or supportive sandals at all times is highly recommended. The aforementioned flip flops, as noted above, are okay if you’re walking around the pool deck or taking a quick trip to use the public facilities. (Even so, a pair of water shoes would be even better.)
DO: Wear Fitting, Sport-Appropriate Shoes
A lot of people really only have one or two pairs of generic casual “athletic” shoes, which they use whether they’re relaxing around the house, going for a jog, playing a few sets of tennis, or whatever the situation calls for. Unfortunately, that’s not usually a good call, except in the most casual of circumstances.
If you are planning to commit to a new activity, always choose sport-appropriate footwear. There’s a reason running shoes and basketball shoes look nothing alike; they are designed to support and protect your feet from the specific threats that each activity poses.
Make sure the shoes fit your feet and are in good repair before you put them through their paces. We recommend shopping in person and testing out the fit yourself, making sure that the shoe feels firm (but NOT tight) around the heel and balls of the feet, and has about half an inch of space between the front of the shoe and the longest toe. Walk around and make sure they feel comfortable.
Another pro tip? Shop later in the day, when your feet are likely to be a little swollen already. That way, you know your new shoes will still fit comfortably even after a hard day of play.
DO NOT: Throw Yourself into New Activities with Reckless Abandon
Great weather inspires a lot of people to take up new hobbies or restart old ones. Maybe you’ve been thinking about training for your first 5K or half marathon, or just trying out a new sport or exercise routine. We certainly don’t want to discourage you from setting (and achieving) new goals!
What we are saying, however, is that it will take your feet (and the rest of your body) a little time to adjust to new activities and higher levels of stress. You have to build up your endurance slowly and steadily, or else you run a high risk of pushing yourself beyond your limits, stretching or tearing (or breaking) something, and losing all your progress.
If you’re starting a new exercise routine or sport—especially if you’ve been relatively inactive recently—always start slow, at a pace that pushes your body without causing pain. If it hurts, dial it back. Once you establish this baseline, increase the intensity of your activities by no more than 10 to 15 percent per week.
By taking a gradual approach, your body gets enough time to recuperate (and come back stronger) by your next exercise session, rather than being overwhelmed by the stress and breaking down entirely.
DO: Keep Your Feet Dry
Feet tend to sweat a lot anyway, and that’s especially true in the hot summer months. So keeping them dry can be a challenge. But it’s a challenge worth conquering, because walking around all day in damp, waterlogged shoes and socks will make your feet a target for warts and fungal infections.
Sandals are generally a good choice—provided you’re avoiding flimsy and unsupportive varieties and applying your sunscreen, as directed above. If you need or prefer to wear socks and shoes, be vigilant about swapping them out when they get damp, even if you need to do so in the middle of the day. Shoes should be rotated daily to give each pair at least 24 hours to dry.
DO NOT: Keep Nail Polish on Indefinitely
Nail polish may look cute, but it can also keep your nail bed from “breathing” properly and leave you more susceptible to developing fungal toenails and other infections in and under the nail plate. This is true even for clear nail polish.
If you like to wear nail polish, we generally recommend leaving it on for no more than two weeks at a time, and then giving your nails a two-week break afterward.
DO NOT: Try to “Play Through the Pain”
We get it.
You’re outside, enjoying your physical activities, and just trying to have fun. A little heel or shin pain shouldn’t hold you back, right? Who wants to quit what they’re doing and visit the podiatrist?
Unfortunately, that line of thinking has a bad tendency to get people in trouble. Pain should always be considered a clear warning sign that something is wrong. And if you don’t take steps to address it, and keep pushing yourself through it, there’s a good chance you’ll just end up hurting yourself even worse—and ultimately spending longer recuperating.
So, if you hurt your feet or ankles while you’re enjoying your summer, stop playing and start RICE therapy. If the pain doesn’t go away within a few days (or it’s immediately clear that this is a serious injury), give our office a call. We specialize in sports injury care, and we even have a variety of advanced non-surgical treatment options (such as laser therapy and Go 4-D orthotics) that are perfect for active folks looking for fast recovery times and lasting results.
To request your appointment, give us a call today at (248) 360-3888, or contact us online.
It's Time To Leave Foot & Ankle Pain Behind!
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9640 Commerce Rd Suite 102 Commerce Township, MI 48382
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