5 Summer Foot Care Tips to Prevent Injury
Don’t Walk Around Barefoot (or In Flip Flops) All Day
When you’re wearing proper footwear (more on that later), your feet will get a lot of extra support and shock absorption to deal with the daily stresses. Take the good shoes away, and muscles and bones have to contend with those heavy impacts and hard, flat surfaces all on their own.
Perhaps this is something you’ve already noticed during months of quarantine. Most people don’t wear shoes much in their own home. So if you’ve been stuck inside most of the spring, you might have noticed your feet already starting to ache.
Going barefoot has some other problems in summer, too, especially if you’re walking around in public or shared spaces. These surfaces can harbor micro-organisms that can spread athlete’s foot, fungal nails, or warts to your feet.
We strongly recommend that you always wear supportive shoes or sandals if you plan to do more than a trivial amount of standing, walking, or athletic activities, and consider wearing shoes indoors for even a few hours per day if you’re experiencing pain.
Flip flops (which offer no support for your feet whatsoever) are okay only to add a thin layer of protection to your skin if your plan is simply to lounge around a beach or pool or briefly use shared facilities. (We know most beaches and public pools are closed due to COVID-19, but this advice still applies in a private or semi-private setting like a hotel pool or small gathering on someone’s private property.)
Make Sure Your Shoes and Sandals Are Up to Scratch
Of course, it’s not enough to simply avoid walking around barefoot all the time. If your shoes or sandals don’t fit, don’t deal well with moisture, or aren’t giving your feet the support they need, they might be doing you more harm than good.
If you’re not sure how to find and fit a comfortable pair of shoes for your feet, check out this blog post we wrote last year—there’s a lot of great info there.
Beyond the basics of shopping and fitting, you’re definitely going to want something breathable for the hot and occasionally humid Kansas City summers.
Sandals are the obvious choice, but once again avoid flip flops, or any other sandals that flop around or are severely lacking in the arch support and cushioning departments. For closed-toed shoes, look for upper fabrics that breathe, such as canvas or leather, and moisture-wicking socks.
Also, make sure you have sport-specific shoes if you plan on specializing in a specific activity—running, for example. They really do make a difference, since they are designed to specifically address the kinds of stresses and risks associated with particular movements.
Don’t Go Too Hard, Too Soon
After being cooped up all spring, it’s not surprising that you might want to throw yourself into exercise and activity as fast and hard as you can.
While that’s understandable, it’s a great way to injure yourself—especially if you haven’t maintained your conditioning as well as normal during the early stages of “stay at home.”
When starting new activities or exercise routines, it’s important to go slow at first. Don’t push yourself to the point of pain, but go at a pace that is moderately challenging yet still within your level of ability.
Then, as your body adjusts to the new activities, you can increase the difficulty (whether that’s measured in weight, distance, duration, etc.) by 10 to 15 percent per week at the most. This will help you build slowly and safely toward your goals, with much less risk of a bad injury that forces you to start all over again.
Mix It Up
One great way to make sure you don’t over-strain any one muscle group or part of your body, while still getting out and moving as much as possible, is to cross-train.
For example, going for long runs 4-5 days per week might be fun at first, but if you keep up that pace without enough break time in-between, the risk is very high that your feet will start to fail you and chronic pain will set in eventually.
You can help prevent this by deleting a few days of high-impact exercise from your weekly schedule and inserting different kinds of exercises instead. Strength training is an excellent choice. You might also consider low-impact cardio alternatives like cycling or swimming.
Protect Your Feet From the Sun
If you do choose some comfortable, supportive sandals for your outdoor activities, be sure that you don’t forget to protect your exposed skin from the sun.
The tops of feet are just as susceptible to sunburn as any other part of your skin, and can obviously be extremely painful if they do get burned. And, in the worst-case scenario, you might be less likely to catch a severe problem on your feet (such as skin cancer) at an early stage than you might if it had appeared on your face or shoulders.
Remember to read and follow the instructions on the bottle of sunscreen. Most recommend you apply at least 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply every few hours (or immediately after swimming.)
Experiencing Foot or Ankle Problems? Get Them Checked
While we certainly hope the above summer foot care tips will help you prevent any needless foot and ankle injuries or pain this summer—and they can definitely help lower your risk—there’s no such thing as being perfectly protected.
And if you do develop troubling issues with your feet—whether that’s an ankle sprain, chronic heel pain, an ingrown toenail, or anything else keeping you from living your best life—please call us right away. In almost every case, it’s far better we address these issues early, before they have a chance to get worse. You’ll feel better, spend less time in recovery, and be back to your activities sooner.
Rest assured that we are continuing to take all necessary steps and precautions to keep you and your loved ones safe during the continuing COVID-19 outbreak, and going above and beyond the state and CDC recommendations and guidelines.
You can request an appointment online, or give us a call at (816) 455-1155 to schedule at any of our Missouri or Kansas locations.