How to deal with summer foot problems

Sandal weather is well and truly here. But looking after your feet during the summer months isn’t just about making them look presentable.

What you wear on your feet is one of the biggest concerns, since according to the College of Podiatry, footwear is the biggest cause of foot problems in the UK.

“When it comes to summer footwear, be aware of wearing flip flops day in and day out,” warns consultant podiatrist Emma Supple.

“Flip flops provide the feet with almost no support and you’d be surprised how many people injure themselves by tripping in flip flops. For everyday wear, or if you’re walking around a lot, try to opt for a summer sandal with a strap to hold your foot in place such as a gladiator sandal.”

College of Podiatry experts recommending swapping flip flops and other flimsy sandals or ballet pumps with more supportive sandals or trainers that provide arch support. If you’re buying new shoes this summer, here’s some of their advice:

  • Buy shoes in the afternoon, as this is when feet are at their biggest as they swell throughout the day.
  • Try on both shoes and walk around the shop to check if they pinch or rub.
  • Make sure there is 1cm between the longest toe and the end of the shoe.
  • Buy shoes styles to suit the shape of your foot. There are three main shapes: tapered (big toe is the biggest), rounded (the second or third toe is longer than the big toe) and square (all toes of equal length).

Heel height is also an issue for women, with College of Podiatry experts recommending heels 3cm or lower for everyday wear. Some people – depending on the amount of mobility in their feet – are also more natural heel wearers than others, explains Emma.

“Take off your shoes, sit down and hold one leg straight out in front of you, relaxing your foot. If your foot sits naturally at a right angle to your outstretched leg then you will be more comfortable in flat shoes than in high heels. If the top of your foot falls forwards in a straightish line following your leg, you are a natural heel wearer,” she explains.

Meanwhile, here are some of the other things to be aware of at this time of year:

Paddling It’s easy to cut your feet on sharp shells, pebbles or even broken glass in the sea. To avoid injury, wear flip flops, pool trainers or other lightweight waterproof shoes, even when you’re paddling.

Foot odour According to the College of Podiatry, a young adult’s foot produces about an egg cup of sweat on a summer’s day. So give your feet time to air. Wear open but supportive sandals as often as you can, and don’t wear the same pair two days in a row as they need time to dry out. Change your tights or socks at least once a day (cotton socks will keep your feet cooler than socks made from artificial fibres) and wash your feet at least once a day.

Also ask your pharmacist to recommend over-the-counter products that can help tackle foot odour (find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder).

Blisters Wearing shoes or sandals without socks during warm weather can make your feet more prone to blisters. As blisters are caused by skin rubbing against shoes, try using a foot balm to protect your skin from chaffing. And if you’ve bought new shoes to wear this summer, try to wear them in first by walking around in them indoors while you’re wearing socks or tights. Your Careway pharmacist can recommend special foot plasters that may help if you do develop a blister.

Sun protection Many people neglect to put sun cream on their feet, says the College of Podiatry. But your feet are just as vulnerable to the effects of the sun’s rays as the rest of you, so don’t stop at the ankle when you’re applying SPF. Make sure the tops of your feet, including the toes, are protected, as well as the soles.

For more information on keeping your feet pretty this summer, read our article How to have healthy holiday feet.