Sharecare Top 5: Summer Shoes That Wreck Your Feet

Who doesn’t want to spend the summer in flip-flops or a sexy pair of sandals?  While flip-flops may seem comfortable – and strappy sandals give you a flirty chance to show off your legs — these warm-weather pleasures can give you foot problems and pain if you’re not careful.

Here are five smart tips for style and comfort before you hit the sizzling shoe sales of summer.

1. Look for flats with sole support.
Who doesn’t love a pretty­ ballet flat with a skirt or a pair of capris? Foot doctors, that’s who. The paper-thin soles on many flats and loafers can lead to heel pain. Thin soles let you tread softly – but doctors say they don’t provide enough support for the arch of your foot. Over time, the ligaments on the bottom of the foot can stretch and develop micro-tears. The result can be plantar fasciitis, starting with a sharp pain under the heel that can spread to the arch of your foot – especially in the morning. Try these easy stretches to relieve that pins and needles sensation.

Not sure what to wear instead? The good news is you don’t have to give up on style. Learn how to find flats, wedges and other stylish shoes that pamper your feet in this video with Dr. Hilary Brennar.

2. Don’t flip for flip-flops.
A lazy Saturday afternoon at the pool or beach is a great occasion for flip-flops, but don’t spend much more time in this flimsy footwear. Flip-flops are a perfect storm of bad-for-your body forces. Your toes curl under to hold them on. Your stride becomes short and choppy. Worn for the entire summer (and beyond!), the health risks of flip-flops can run from your soles to your hips. But you don’t have to chuck these “shoes” altogether. Here are better bets for flip-flops that won’t leave you stumbling.

3. Beware strappy sandals.
Thin straps show off your feet – not to mention your pedicure – nicely, but if they don’t hold your feet securely, you could slip and twist or sprain an ankle, damaging ligaments in the outer ankle. While ankle sprains are common, they’re not necessarily a minor injury and need to be treated. Before you buy, give sandals a good test run in the store for beauty and stability.

4. Give yourself pretty, healthy feet.
Summer footwear is all about showing some skin, so be sure yours is looking good. Simple steps can keep your feet soft, odor-free, moisturized and free of calluses. Treat and prevent cracked heels. They’re unsightly and can hurt, too!   Protect yourself from the itchy, scaly skin of athlete’s foot by wearing your flip-flops in public showers and damp pool houses.

5. Skip sky-high heels.
At the top of this pain-inducing list are – you guessed it – high heels. They can kill your knees. They can cause unsightly bunions. From three inches up to Lady Gaga heights, high heels throw your knees, hips and back out of alignment and may even lead to arthritis.

For a special occasion, there are ways to protect your feetin high heels, starting with short appearances, then switching to heels that are 2 inches or lower for walking.  Trendy platform sandals or wedges can give you height without pain. They support the foot pretty well. Just be sure the heel doesn’t rise more than 2 inches above the toes and look for a wide base to prevent wobbling.

Poor soles are another contributor to back pain. Getting special inserts or doing gentle stretches may help prevent and ease an aching back. How much of your back pain can be due to your shoes?  Take the Sharecare back pain assessment for a better idea about what makes your back hurt.