Are you taking a trip to Disneyland? The Grand Canyon? Even if you are just trying to get your 30 minutes of walking in each day, it is important to think about your feet! Long summer days and exciting vacations often mean more time walking, standing, and exploring. The high temperatures also mean you might be wearing sandals or flip flops more than any other type of shoe.
While these shoes are stylish and comfortable in the heat, they are often lacking in support – putting you at risk for injury including plantar fasciitis, knee pain, and even back pain. Yes, even your footwear can affect your spine!
Let’s break it down – there are three main types of feet (primarily looking at the arch of your foot). If you want to get an idea of what kind of arch you have, get your foot wet and step onto something that will show the mark – dry pavement if you’re lounging by the pool or even a paper bag works well. Now look at your foot print – you should see all your toes, the ball of your foot, a curve that is about half as wide as the ball of your foot (arch), and then your heel.
- If this is what your foot looks like – you have a normal arch. Look for a shoe in the “neutral” category – it will give you a little cushion, a little arch support but nothing extreme.
- If you barely see any curve or arch – you have a high arch (supinated) foot. This means you need to look for a shoe that gives you some more cushioning. The arch of the foot is designed to be a shock absorber and if you have a high arch, you lose some the natural shock absorption and need to make up for it with your shoe. Pick a shoe from the “cushioned” category. You may have “shin splints” or low back pain when walking or running if you aren’t wearing a cushioned shoe.
- If you see a very wide arch or a flat foot – you have a low arch, flat (pronated) foot. This means that you need more support from you shoe, because you aren’t getting it from your foot. Look for a shoe in the “stability” category. If you are wearing the wrong shoes, you may have hip or knee pain when walking or running.
If you love hiking or walking in sandals, make sure you purchase a pair with some support! There are many different kinds of “sport sandals” that are designed for those of us who want to get out and walk without sneakers. If you do plan on doing a lot of walking or hiking, avoid flip flops! Yes, they are perfect for the pool but often are lacking the kind of arch support you need for more sustained physical activity.
Not sure what shoes or sandals are best suited for your needs? Have you been having foot or back pain? Our physical therapists are trained to evaluate your posture and feet to determine what type of sneaker or sandal will give you the best support for all your summer fun!