With nice weather, it’s tempting to stick your toes in the sand on vacation or feel the cool grass on your bare feet. But podiatrist Edward Cline sees many injuries this time of year due to the different shoes coming out of the closet...
What kinds of foot problems do you see most frequently in the summer?
I see a lot of sprained ankles and broken bones due to sports or people being active outside — doing yard work or playing with their kids. However, I also see a lot of people who have gone outside barefoot or just wearing thin, unsupportive shoes that have gotten splinters or stepped in broken glass, etc.
With summer fast approaching, are there any precautions that people should be taking with regards to their feet?
You really should not be going outside barefoot, at all. For example, if you are cutting grass make sure you have on a supportive shoe that covers your whole foot, not just sandals. You don’t want to get sunburned on your feet which could lead to melanoma or lead to your foot getting cut by a piece of wood or glass that could be hidden. Those are two very common problems I see this time of year.
Also, think of shoes in terms of comfortability and protection; those $1 flip flops are flimsy and just waiting to cause problems. If you are wanting to wear sandals, make sure they have support for your feet. Also, if you know you will be in and out of water, don’t get shoes with foam in the soles — they hold a lot of water and that could become a breeding ground for bacteria.
I would also recommend getting rid of any old, worn out, beat down shoes as a precaution. Those shoes may be what you regularly do your "dirty" work in, but they could have holes in them or the traction may be worn down, which could lead to falls and/or cuts to your feet.
For women, summer is a time for wedges, ballet flats, and sandals — how do these shoe choices affect women’s foot health?
For all shoes, you want both support and protection. Ballet flats are an example of what could be a bad shoe to wear and most women don’t realize that because they are the "comfortable" dress shoe. Most flats have no support and little protection. When you are looking for flats, find something that gives you arch support and protects your feet.
Heels and wedges could be very bad for your feet as well because you are essentially walking on your tiptoes. Also, if it hurts, don’t wear it! It could cause you to have a lot of foot problems in your future.
I also want to mention that pointed toe shoes are very bad for your feet health! They squeeze your toes and could cause permanent damage in the future. I recommend you trace your foot on a piece of paper, then trace the outline of your shoe - if it looks like a tight and uncomfortable fit, it will not be good for your feet.
Due to their condition, diabetics often have foot related issues; how does the summer months affect them differently from the rest of the year?
For diabetics, it is hard to remember that even though the seasons change you shouldn’t always change the shoes you wear as the weather gets hotter. By switching to sandals you lose that extra protection to your feet and can get cuts or sores that you may overlook that could then become infected and possibly lead to amputation. Your first thought when it comes to shoes is to protect your feet, no matter how hot it gets. Also, be aware that your feet may swell and can cause your shoes to become too tight, so find a shoe which can comfortably accommodate that swelling.
What do you recommend for kids who are in sports during this time of year?
If you are a kid who has had a sports injury before, get that injury evaluated prior to starting a new season of sports — you may have to adjust the shoes you are wearing, or find a brace to help support that previously injured area. Another thing I would like to address is hand-me-down shoes. Even though that may seem like a great financial idea, you could be putting your kids in harm’s way by letting them wear worn-down shoes.
With all the wear and tear the shoes have been through, they may no longer be supportive or protect well and could lead to bigger problems than the cost of buying a new pair of shoes for the season.
This article originally appeared in the May 2016 Better Living Missouri section published by the Courier-Post.