Summer may seem like the perfect time to let your toes breathe, but there are a lot of hazards, obvious and not so obvious, that could affect your feet.
Dr. Lori Weisenfeld, a sports podiatrist in New York City, said that foot issues fluctuate with the seasons and one key thing people forget in the summer is that feet are susceptible to sunburn too.
“We walk around in the sun all day… I’m talking about walking around the streets all day in our sandals with our feet exposed and many people do get sunburns on the tops of their feet,” she said.
Sun damage can occur anywhere on your body, Weisenfeld said.
“If you’re walking without socks on, in open shoes, put some sunblock on the top of your feet,” she said.
Open shoes, especially strappy sandals can also cause blisters or abrasions, and Weisenfeld recommends that if you’re walking for any extended period of time, switch to sturdier athletic shoes.
“Blisters are caused by friction,” Weisenfeld said, “when those little straps start digging into your skin, it can cause a problem.”
There are anti-friction balms or patches that can help reduce the instances of blisters, but keeping shoes on your feet is always preferred.
Weisenfeld said she would not recommend walking around barefoot outdoors because of the risk of bacterial and fungal infections, as well as hidden dangers on the ground.
“It’s a romantic notion; it’s best to always have something protective on your feet,” she said.
In thinking in the longer term, Weisenfeld said many of the summer shoe fashions that tend to be flat-soled may not have adequate support for optimum foot health.
“Podiatrists don’t tend to recommend shoes that are extremely flat or unsupportive,” Weisenfeld said. This, she said, includes many flip-flops that are so popular this time of year.
Better flip-flops have some arch support and a slightly thicker heel. The American Podiatric Medical Association does issue a seal of acceptance for certain brands of flip-flops.
Overall, Weisenfeld said there are different problems that can occur in different weather. Weisenfeld said doctors tend to see more sports related injuries in the spring and summer. Also, when people wear the flatter shoes that are favored in warm weather, Weisenfeld said she sees more strains of the Achilles tendon and more people with arch pain.
So this summer, pay attention to your tootsies.