5 Summer Foot Care Tips

Jun 2, 2020

Summer is here again, and for most of us here in Connecticut that’s really good news.

True, this will be a summer unlike any in living memory. Concerns about COVID-19 are still going to be with us for a while yet, and that means certain social activities may be off the table, or at least heavily modified from what they were before.

Even with those caveats, though, we’re hoping you’re still going to take advantage of the beautiful weather and enjoy as much summer fun as you can—while remaining safe, of course with some summer foot care tips!

That being said, COVID-19 unfortunately isn’t the only thing you have to be careful about. You should also take some time to consider your foot and ankle health!

You certainly don’t want an unwelcome, unexpected accident or injury to keep you home any more than you already have to be. And with a little bit of preventative care, you can minimize your risk with these summer foot care tips.

Make the Right Footwear Choices

Gearing up appropriately is pretty standard advice no matter what time of year it is, or what kinds of activities you enjoy the most.

The four big things for summer footwear are to look for options that:

  • Fit your feet correctly
  • Offer solid arch support and comfortable cushioning
  • Are breathable (to keep your feet dry and limit odor or fungal infection risk)
  • Are appropriate for the activities you plan to perform while wearing them

On point one, you’re looking for shoes that aren’t too loose or too tight. You don’t want to pinch your toes or clamp your heels, but you don’t want your shoes sliding around, either. Shoot for a firm (but not tight) fit around the heel combined with plenty of wiggle room for the toes, and about half an inch of space between the longest toe and the front of the shoe.

Point two is self-explanatory, but keep in mind that this applies to sandals as well! Flip flops are just about the absolute worst and linked to high rates of foot pain and even injuries, because they don’t support your feet and even alter the way you walk. Sandals with good arch support are an absolute must. An adjustable heel strap is also highly encouraged.

On point three, good sandals are the obvious choice here for breathability (as long as you aren’t sacrificing comfort and support). If you prefer closed toes, look for shoes with mesh uppers, or those made from breathable fabrics like leather or canvas.

Point four is also somewhat self-explanatory. If you like to run a lot, for example, get some running shoes—don’t try to make do with a generic pair of cross-trainers. Sport-specific shoes aren’t just a marketing gimmick. They protect your feet from the specific threats of the designated activity.

One extra point: beware old shoes from the back of the closet! After heavy use or just a lot of time, many shoes lose their ability to properly cushion your feet. They might feel comfy to put on again, but they may not be doing much for your feet (and you’ll feel it after a long day).

Don’t Walk Around Barefoot

Of course, on especially hot days (or in certain environments) you might decide to forgo footwear altogether and walk around barefoot outside.

We generally don’t recommend this, unfortunately—especially if you’ll be out in public or semi-public locations. In addition to exposing your feet to greater risk of injury from stepping on objects, you can also sometimes pick up a fungal or viral infection (athlete’s foot, fungal nails, warts, etc.) via contact with infected surfaces.

At least a thin layer of protection is preferred for your feet. Those comfy, supportive sandals we talked about would be a good choice.

Don’t Forget the Sunscreen

Speaking of those sandals—don’t forget that the tops of your feet need some love from the sunscreen, too! Feet don’t get as much attention as the face and the shoulders—and that’s a big problem for a couple of reasons.

Number one, your feet are just as likely to burn as any other part of your skin that’s exposed to the sun for too long—and sunburned feet can be quite painful.

And number two, while the development of skin cancer is obviously a major problem no matter where it occurs, you may be much slower to notice a cancerous lesion on your feet than you would another part of your body. For serious cancers like melanoma—where early detection and treatment can significantly improve the survival rate—any delay in detection can have tragic consequences.

Make sure you get the fronts of your ankles, too, and to reapply your sunscreen after being in the water.

Keep Your Nails Nicely Trimmed

This is good all-season advice, but you may especially need to hear it now if you’re planning on getting more active this summer. Extra-long or improperly trimmed nails combined with high rates of physical activity is an unfortunately effective recipe for ingrown toenails and other nail-related injuries.

You should clip your nails straight across, short but with a tiny bit of “overhang” remaining, and keep them at about this length. While excessively long toenails can lead to injury, so can nails that are too short, especially if you round the corners too much.

Be Cautious About Starting New Activities

Now, we’re not saying that you shouldn’t try a new exercise routine at all! If, for example, you want to make this summer the one where you get serious about running, we fully support you!

What we are saying, however, is that jumping into new activities at full speed, without working your way up to that level first, can often result in increased pain and injury.

If you’re just getting active again, or trying something new, take it slow and steady at first and listen to your body. If it hurts, dial back the intensity to a level that you know you can handle. Then from there, restrict yourself to increasing the level of exercise (distance, pace, duration, weight, etc.) by no more than 15 percent per week.

That way, you give your body time to rest, recover, and get stronger week to week. By the end of the summer, you might find that you can achieve a lot more than you could at the start—and you’ll get there while greatly reducing your risk of devastating setbacks.

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Foot Care This Summer!

We’re not just saying this because we’re in the podiatric field: people ignore their foot health at their own peril. If your feet are giving you problems, it will have a negative impact on every other part of your day-to-day activity.

We hope these summer foot care tips help you keep your feet (and body, mind, and soul too!) in good health this summer. And if you do experience problems, please give us a call at (203) 876-7736. The sooner we see you and begin to address your discomfort, the sooner you can get back to doing what you love.