It’s that time of year again, when the weather warms up and our toes long to be out in the open, breathing fresh air.
It’s time to ditch the socks and shoes in favour of open-toed footwear, whether we’re planning a sunny vacation or encountering warm weather in the UK.
Many of our patients tell us that they struggle to choose the right pair of Sandals to wear citing blistering, rubbing and pain as problems they have had when wearing sandals.
Sandals come in a variety of styles, but for simplicity we will refer to Sandals as strapless (mules), sling-back or enclosed.
These are the type with straps which go around the ankle and support the feet and if you are planning to walk any distance in them, these are the type that we would choose.
Strapless or Slingback?
Strapless and Sling- back sandals, although they may look fashionable, rely on relatively ineffective straps on the top of the foot or the back of the heel to secure the foot. In other words, because the heel is not secured in place on the sole with a strap around the ankle it may occasionally come out while walking.
In addition, these types of sandals may result in the development of calluses on the bottom of the foot and the perimeter of the heel. This is because the foot can move around and lacks stability in the footwear.
The Best Option?
Enclosed sandals are the most stable option for the foot as they may have many of the desirable features of a shoe incorporated. For the best stability opt for a sandal that has more than one strap across the top of the foot.
How should sandals fit?
Sandals, like any other type of footwear, should provide support as well as a stable, comfortable sole that feels good as you walk.
No part of your foot or toes should extend beyond the edges of the sandals, as this indicates that they are likely too small and will cause you many problems.
The width of your sandals should match the width of your feet. This specifically applies to conditions such as bunions. It may be optimal if the sandals’ front straps are not snug around or over the bump. This may increase friction, thereby aggravating the bunion and accelerating its progression. If sandals are too tight this may also cause the straps to cut into your skin, causing pain and restricting blood flow.
Think whether the sandals are appropriate for the occasion: don’t plan to walk too far in flip flops or other sandals which don’t fit well or provide stability. Also watch out for rubbing of the skin when you go barefoot in sandals. We wear stockings or socks most of the year which prevent the shearing stresses or rubbing which can cause blisters.
Your heels should not extend beyond the soles in the back as this causes pinching of the skin and can lead to painful calluses and cracking around the heel where it overhangs the heel counter. In addition, only a portion of your foot will be protected by the sole. The same rule applies to your toes overhanging the front of the sandal.
Wearing flip flops can be bad for your feet if they don’t fit correctly or are too flat.
Get your feet measured for the correct shoe size and width. Ensure your toes have sufficient wiggle room for a proper fit. You may not desire a great deal of wiggle room, but an additional third or fifth of an inch will go a long way. You will be able to walk for extended periods of time without foot pain or discomfort.
Try not to choose sandals that are too high or too flat as both can lead to problems when walking. Find a pair of sandals that are slightly higher at the heel than the toe and provide arch support and contour comfort concealed within the shoe.
If you are still struggling to find a sandal that fits ask one of our Podiatrists for some advice.