Foot pain linked to lack of arch support, summer sandals

Warmer months inevitably bring the desire to wear lighter shoes. But while aesthetically they might be pleasing, your arches might not be as happy.

“A lot of people get heel and arch pain because of the lack of support,” said Lori Wilson, a Uniontown-based podiatrist affiliated with the Uniontown Hospital. “A lot of pain is due to poor footwear.”

Wilson said the main culprit is the lack of arch support, leaving the pressure on the heels. A number of painful diagnosis can follow, including Plantar fasciitis.

According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, there are a number of sandals that are the cause of foot pain, most common of which are the flats and slides. A solution, however, is to avoid prolonged wear, trying cushioned inserts for shock absorption, and selecting a sole that doesn’t twist excessively.

Other shoes like wedges, espadrilles, peep-toe sandals, gladiator and strappy sandals can lead to ankle twists or sprains, increased pressure on toes, bunion and hammer toe formations and hygiene issues.

The solution, though, is tricky due to the open nature of most summer shoes.

“The problem is, you can’t put arch supports into a sandal,” Wilson said. “That’s a conundrum for women. We want nice, fashionable sandals, but there aren’t any with arch support.”

There are certain sandals and flip flops that are better than others.

Crocs, for instance, makes a decent brand of sandal that’s ideal for the beach or pool, she said.

“It’s not greatly fashionable,” Wilson said with a laugh, “but they have a lot better support.”

The APMA also recommended that buyers look for high-quality, soft leather that minimizes the potential for blisters and other types of irritation.

“Do gently bend the flip-flop from end to end, ensuring it bends at the ball of the foot,” according to their website. “Shoes of any kind should never fold in half. Do ensure that your foot doesn’t hang off the edge of the flip-flop.”

In terms of what you shouldn’t do with your flip-flops or sandals, the APMA suggests never re-wearing flip-flops year after year.

“Inspect older pairs for wear. If they show signs of severe wear, discard them,” as stated on their website. “Don’t wear flip-flops while walking long distances. Even the sturdiest flip-flops offer little in terms of shock absorption and arch support.”

They also suggested that individuals not play sports or do yard work while in flip-flops.

Treatment

Levels of pain differ for each person, leading Wilson to suggest that it’s up to individuals to determine when they should see a podiatrist.

In general, though, Wilson recommends seeing a specialist or podiatrist if main persists more than a month.

“There are a lot of different foot types, and different types require different things,” Wilson said.

For those wanting to curb occasional foot pain, or prevent future flare-ups, Wilson suggested going to the shoe store.

“The biggest treatment for foot pain is to have better arch support controls with tennis shoes or arch supports,” she said.

In terms of particular brands, Wilson said she doesn’t have a preference. However, she said she’s favorable to shoes that allow you to pull the liner system out of the bottom.

“You can put in your own supportive measure if needed,” Wilson said, referring to specialized arch support inserts.

For those with hammer or crooked toes or bunions, she suggested looking into running shoes, particularly those with mesh that would allow for expansion around lumps.

“You also have to watch for the stitching and seams of a shoe,” she said, adding that the placement of those could cause blisters.

“You don’t need to spend a fortune on shoes,” Wilson said. “You can probably find a decent shoe for around $50-$60 that has good functional support.”

She also recommended saving the fashionable shoes for occasions like dates, dinners or church services, while saving other daily activities, housework and shopping for more supportive shoes.

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