Summer is quickly approaching and with it comes the urge to shed your shoes. However, choosing to go without proper footwear can lead to problems for your feet and might put a damper on your summer fun. Hannibal Regional Medical Group Podiatrist Dr. Edward Cline often sees more sprained ankles and broken bones during the summer months due to sports related injuries or people being active outside doing yard work or playing with their family. Another issue Dr. Cline sees is from people who have been outside barefoot or wearing unsupportive shoes and they end up with splinters, stepped on broken glass or had another injury.
Don’t overlook the importance of proper footwear
Summer isn’t the time to dismiss wearing the proper footwear. “You really should not be going outside barefoot, at all,” notes Dr. Cline. “You don’t want to get sunburned on your feet which could lead to melanoma, or you don’t want your foot getting cut by a piece of wood or glass that could be hidden. Those are two very common problems I see this time of year.” Don’t forget to consider comfort and protection when it comes to your footwear. Some flip flops are very inexpensive, but they are flimsy and will likely lead to a foot injury.
Choose sandals that will support your feet - and if you know your feet will be in and out of water make sure the footwear doesn’t contain foam. The foam will hold water and become a breeding ground for bacteria. Dr. Cline also recommends discarding any old, worn out, beat down shoes. While it may seem like a good idea to keep them to do your “dirty” work in, they could have holes in them or the traction might be worn down which could lead to falls or cuts on your feet.
Keep your bare feet away from infections
There is an increase in bacterial, fungal, and viral foot infections in the summer months because bare feet are exposed to all of the germs, bacteria, and fungus in public places. These offenders are the culprits of infections such as athlete’s foot and plantar warts. “If you are at public pools over the summer, wear shoes with thick soles to walk around. If your kids are heading off to summer camp, pack them a pair of protective shoes to wear in shared shower areas and pools,” says Dr. Cline.
When you arrive home from your activities, wash your feet with soap and warm water and ensure they are thoroughly dried with a towel. Disinfect your gear with wipes or spray after the gym or any other sweaty location where fungus and bacteria lurk around. Consider disinfecting your feet with anti-fungal spray. “It is worth taking extra precautions to prevent infections so you can spend your summer days relaxing. If you find yourself with itchy, red, or scaly feet, it’s best to see a healthcare provider so it can be treated early,” says Dr. Cline.
Footwear choices for women
Not just during the summer, but all year around, women need to remember to choose footwear which provides support and protection. “Ballet flats are an example of what could be a bad shoe to wear - and most women don’t realize that because they’re comfortable,” says Dr. Cline. “Most flats have little to no support and provide little protection. When you are looking for flats, find something that gives you arch support and protects your feet.”
Heels and wedges could also lead to problems because it is similar to walking on your toes all day. Pointed toes are also bad for your foot health and could lead to permanent damage. “I recommend tracing your foot on a piece of paper, then tracing the outline of your shoe. If it looks like a tight and uncomfortable fit, it will not be good for your feet,” shares Dr. Cline.
Summer foot health for children
“Summer is a good time of year to have your children’s feet checked. Before they start a new season of sports, they should have any previous injuries checked. Their shoes may need to be adjusted or a brace may be needed to help support an area that has been previously injured,” says Dr. Cline. Another important thing to remember is not to put your children in hand-me-down shoes. Financially it can make sense, but allowing your children to wear previously used shoes may put them at risk for an injury. “With all the wear and tear the shoes have been through, they may no longer be supportive or protect well and could lead to bigger problems than the cost of buying a new pair of shoes for the season,” notes Dr. Cline.
If you are experiencing problems with your feet, help is only a step away. Dr. Cline sees patients in Hannibal and at outlying HRMG locations and is ready to help guide you on your journey to better health. To contact Dr. Cline’s office call 573-629-3500.