How Switching Up Your Summer Shoes Helps Your Feet

Your guide to warm weather footwear

woman wearing flip flops

Flip flops, heels, wedges, tennis shoes and flats – summer shoe choices are endless. What is the perfect shoe for your foot health day-in and day-out?

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The perfect pair doesn’t exist, says podiatrist Joy Rowland, DPM. That’s because most foot problems are inherited. Your genes are more important than shoe styles when it comes to foot health.

“The perfect shoe for you is not the perfect shoe for me,” Dr. Rowland says. “We all have a different foot type and body habits.”

But you can avoid some foot health pitfalls by choosing wisely and switching up your shoes every day. “Mixing it up a little bit with different shoe styles is important,” Dr. Rowland says.

Even if some summer styles are not the best for foot health, you can minimize the impact they have on your foot by wearing them once in awhile or only for short periods of time.

Here’s your guide to summer foot wear, with advice from Dr. Rowland:

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1. Flip flops

Flip flops are best worn for short periods of time because they can aggravate foot problems. Flip flops are all right for a walk to the mailbox or the beach, but never wear them daily. Choose flip flops with some padding or thick bottoms to cushion the ball of your foot.

2. Ballet flats

While ballet flats are popular, they are not the best option for long-term wear with lots of walking such as a day of shopping or sightseeing.

“The arch tends to fall, which causes the legs to rotate inward,” Dr. Rowland says. “Once that knee starts to go, then your hips go, so it changes your posture.”

If you wear flats, choose a pair with arch support and cushioning on the bottom or room for an insole.

3. Heels

Slipping on a pair of heels every day can be problematic, especially if they are high. Heels shift your body weight forward and can lead to lower back pain as your spine and hip muscles adjust. The extra pressure on your knees can lead to arthritis.

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If you do wear moderate heels, try to vary the height. Wearing the same heel height all the time, the back of your leg and Achilles tendon can get tight. Or try wedge heels, which provide better support. “It’s best to mix up your heel heights,” Dr. Rowland says.

Reserve wearing high heels for special occasions. Dr. Rowland says. Pointy-toe heels, especially, are harsh on your feet.

4. Tennis shoes

Overall, the best shoe to wear daily is a good sneaker-like walking shoe. Walking shoes tend to support your whole foot. A good-fitting shoe relieves foot pain and prevents future problems.

More information

Foot and ankle treatment guide

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