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  • Sarah Chapman

The do's and don'ts for Summer footwear

As the weather is warming up and perhaps you're off on holiday soon, many of us will be ditching the winter footwear in favour of something more summery and cool. With the transition towards wearing sandals and flip-flop style footwear we often start to see an increase in aches and pains in the physio clinic.

Gone are our well supportive, cushioned trainers and in are our cheap, thin strapped sandals and millimetre soled flip flops! The lack of cushioning and joint support can easily aggravate foot, knee, lower back and hip pain.

Our normal gait pattern (the way we walk) changes when wearing sandals and unsupportive flip-flops, placing additional stresses and strains on our body. Most of us need a decent shoe with cushioned soles, supportive heel cups and an arch support to help the rest of the body cope with the loads we put through it - absorbing our bodyweight and walking on hard or uneven ground.

If you think about cheap, holiday flip flops - it's quite obvious there's very little support offered to our foot or ankle, and no cushioning for other joints. Our arch will flatten (feet roll inwards) as we walk and our heels may as well hit the ground each time we take a step as the thin soles do very little to cushion our heel strike. Not to mention that the foot slides side to side as the big toe grips on to the toe strap to keep them on our feet!

Summer shoes don't have to be frumpy but here's our top tips when choosing your summer footwear if you're hoping to avoid unecessary joint aches and muscle pains.

1. Walking long distance? If lots of walking is needed, trainers should still be your go to in the summer. They have a cushioned sole, full support around the foot including an arch support and the heel is held securely. If you're flying off on holiday don't be tempted to start your trip to the airport in flip-flops. You could rack-up the steps heading to departure gates and end up arriving with sore feet.

2. Walking sandals are a good option. Good walking sandals, brands such as Merrell, do provide a cushioned sole and good strap support to hold the foot securely in place. For everyday holiday wear these are a good option.

3. Ease into summer footwear. Best to wear your summer shoes in, just like any other new shoes and allow yourself and your biomecanics time to adjust. No more than a couple of hours at a time, at least to start with.

4. Keep your feet protected if you have Diabetes. Wearing open-toe shoes can make you prone to cuts and sores, it's also easier for small stones and gravel to get inside shoes that cause cuts and sores. Straps can irritate the skin so it's best to steer clear and stick to enclosed shoes for those with diabetes and peripheral neuropathy.

5. If you must wear flip-flps ;-) Then choose a decent pair! Walk past the Primark and supermarket flip flops. Look for a style with a cushioned sole, slightly raised heel, that fit securely and you don't have to grip with all your toes to keep them on your feet.

Don't forget it's never too early to seek advice for foot or joint aches or pains. Much better to be treated sooner than later as problems are much easier to get better. You can book into see a physio here or call the clinic 01932 645320 with any questions.

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