"Summer Foot" and Flip Flop Pain

I just had a friend text me and ask a very familiar question for this time of year. “Ian, my feet and shins are killing me. What can it be?” After a couple of questions back and forth trying to E-heal my friend, I simply asked how old her shoes were that she was walking in. She texted me back, “I don’t know, 3 months? Why does that matter?” I went on to explain how footwear can affect someone with a lot of walking if they get old, but her shoes were well within the realm of normal. After a little bit of a pause, she texted back again. “Um, I haven’t worn those in about a month, I’ve been wearing flats, and flip-flops to walk in.” Ta-Da, we figured out the root of the problem.

I know, I know, it’s summer time and we have all been waiting months to free our feet from the confines of shoes. Those perfect little flats that go great with that outfit. Those flip-flops that are so easy to slip on. Those bedazzled sandals that are just killer when you go out. I get it...but your feet don’t. I have started to evaluate more and more “summer foot” (that’s my phrase, not medical at all) in the clinic lately because of the nice weather. So what is summer foot and how do you fix it?

Summer foot is any pain in the foot associated with wearing horrible footwear. Some people get plantar fascitis, some get ankle pain, some get toe and bunion pain. No matter where the pain is, it is all from the same root cause - poorly supportive footwear that leads to bad alignment of the foot and ankle, and pain. You might be thinking, “Ian, not everyone gets summer foot though – why is that?” Well, not everyone has the same type of foot. Some people have a normal arch (they are the lucky ones) which allows them to wear unsupportive footwear without an issue. If you are like most of us though you have either too low of an arch (pronated) or too high of an arch (supinated).

If you have too low of an arch you will get more benefit from strengthening your foot and hip. Try these exercises:

They will help to strengthen your foot, and hip, and give you a little more arch support when you wear those summer shoes.

If you have too high of an arch, you aren’t as lucky as your low arch counterpart. A high arch means you have a very stiff bony structure. Although that is how you are built, you will still get some benefit from stretching your ankle and hip. Try these stretches to loosen your muscles and take some pressure off your arch:

 

 

The best way to make your feet feel better in the summer months is to wear those flats and flip-flops sporadically. If you do find yourself wearing them more than you should and your feet start to bother you, try the exercises. Hopefully they help you get through the nice weather with a pain free flip-flop tan.