David Ellsworth, DPM

Guest blogger Dr. David Ellsworth, a podiatrist, offers advice for keeping your feet pain free this summer.

One of the most common questions my patients ask this time of year is, “Are flip flops really bad for my feet?” The simple answer? It’s complicated.
At the end of each summer, many patients visit my office with the same complaint: “My feet are killing me!” When I ask what type of shoes they wore over the summer, I hear a resounding, “Flip flops.” We create a treatment program, get them into some quality supportive shoes and their pain goes away.
But there’s more to the story. Keep reading.
There are different types of flip flops on the market. Generic flip flops with flexible straps are essentially pieces of plastic that protect your feet from glass or thorns. They are typically flimsy and do not offer much, if any, foot support. In fact, they place extra strain and force on your feet, setting you up for injury.
When you select footwear, choose shoes made with sturdy materials that offer good support and feel good on your feet. And, make sure they aren’t too narrow or too short. Quality shoes typically cost more than other shoes because the manufacturers use better materials that contribute to support, comfort and stability.
So … should you wear flip flops in the summer?
Maybe … if you can find sandals that meet the above criteria.
Fortunately, there are some well-made high quality sandals on the market today. Here are a few I recommend:

Spenco (available at the Fine Foot Care Center)
Vionic Group

All of these have the American Podiatric Medical Association’s Seal of Acceptance/Approval. (It’s like buying a toothbrush with the American Dental Association symbol on it.)
Finally, replace your sandals when they are worn, and wear footwear appropriate for whatever activity you’re engaged in, be it yard work, hiking or playing sports. If your shoes or sandals rub your feet or cause blistering, redness, bruising, or inflammation, take them off and treat the affected areas. Seek medical attention if needed.
One note of caution: If you have diabetic neuropathy or severe deformities in your feet, please use your best judgement when deciding whether to wear sandals, but know they are most likely not the shoe for you.
As we approach the summer time get out, put some shorts on, get some exercise, go out to the lake, and enjoy the beautiful area we live in. Just don’t forget the sunscreen, but that’s a topic for another day.

David Ellsworth, DPM, is a podiatrist with the Fine Foot Care Center, located on the North Kansas City Hospital Campus.