Because each season brings with it its own set of challenges for our bodies, many of us change our health routines to reflect the change in season. In the fall and winter months the temperature drops and the air gets drier leaving us with dry skin, hair and nails. To combat this drop in temperature and humidity, many of us switch to heavier creams and maybe even shorter, cooler showers. The winter months also have their own uniform: sweaters, thermal underwear and boots to combat the snow. When the summer season starts, this winter routine is almost completely reversed. With longer days, and therefore longer exposure to sun, and higher temperatures, we use lighter creams with a higher SPF, and drink more water to prevent dehydration. As for the summer attire, well, we all know that there is more skin, more skin, and then more skin.
As we change our health routines to adapt to the changing weather, we must not forget that our foot care routines will also require some slight changes. The summer months bring specific problems for our feet that you may not be aware of. Just as you would switch your skincare regimen and wardrobe for the summer, be sure to switch your foot care regimen…or at least implement one if you haven’t already!
So you don’t know where to start? Have no fear! I contacted Dr. Weil, Jr. and he has given me some great information in order to help me create a comprehensive guide for your summer foot care needs. Follow the points on this guide and you’ll be sure to keep your feet healthy throughout these summer months.
The elevated temperatures of the summer months bring a unique set of challenges for your feet including increased sweating, which can lead to odor and fungal and bacterial infections, and exposure to the sun's harmful rays. Here are a few ways to adjust your routine to combat these issues.
- Invest in a foot antiperspirant/deodorant if you suffer from foot odor or sweating.
- Make sure that whatever shoes you are wearing allow your foot to breathe. For all of the runners and athletes out there, this is really important if you must wear closed to shoes during the warmer months. See a few options for athletic shoes here and here.
- Wear lightweight socks when you wear closed toe shoes, and change them regularly. We offer a sock on our website that you may want to check out. It efficiently transfers heat and eliminates bacteria, fungi and odor.
- If you develop excessive sweating, foot odor or any fungal/bacterial infections, be sure to contact one of the physicians at the Weil Foot & Ankle Institute for an evaluation.
- Don’t forget to put sunscreen on your feet! You can use the same sunscreen that you use for your body. Remember that feet burn easily because they are not regularly exposed to sun, so don’t increase the risk by neglecting them with sunscreen.
Just like we need to change our wardrobes for the warmer months, it is important that we make the proper changes to our footwear. Here are some things to consider when buying shoes in the summer.
- Invest in the footwear of the season: open toe sandals. Open toe sandals, allow our feet to breathe and stay dry. This prevents sweating, odor and bacterial growth.
- Make sure that your sandals provide good arch support. They should not be flat. Higher heels are better.
- Invest in sandals with a stiffer sole, which offer more support for you than flexible soles.
- Make sure the sandals provide comfort. Do not sacrifice comfort for style because you will regret it in the long run. Believe it or not, there are fashionable sandals that also provide comfort.
The ease and convenience of flip-flops make them the summer shoe of choice for many of us. Flip-flops, however, lack arch and heel support. The gripping that your toes have to do when walking in flip-flops also puts tension and strain on your shins. When buying and wearing flip-flops:
- Do not wear flip-flops when engaging in strenuous activity such as running, walking for long distances, playing sports, etc.
- Make sure that your flip-flops are made with a flexible but firm material to prevent foot injuries that may come from excessive bending.
- Make sure that your flip-flops offer good arch and heel support. A great option for a flip-flop would be our Orthaheel sandals. They are cute and supportive and were recommended by Dr. Oz on a recent video segment from his show.
Summer is the time when you’re most likely going to be barefoot. Who doesn’t like to feel the grass beneath their feet or the sand between their toes? If you do not have pain, going barefoot is ok, but keep in mind there are many problems associated with barefootedness including heel pain and metatarsalgia. When walking barefoot:
- Beware of foreign bodies and things that can injure the skin including glass, branches, cans, rocks, etc.
- Limit exposure to moist surfaces that are shared by multiple people. This includes pool decks, locker rooms, etc. This will limit the chances of fungal infections and warts.
- Be careful of hot sand, which can burn feet. This is especially true for diabetics who don't have good feeling in their lower extremities.
Common foot and ankle injuries due to increased activity in the summer include shin splints, ankle sprains, tendinitis, blisters and bruises, stress fractures of the toes or ankle, and plantar fasciitis. Make sure to take a few simple precautions to prevent these injuries.
- Build up activity progressively. In other words, don't sit all winter and go out and try to run a 5K without training properly and building up your muscles.
- Make sure you stretch properly before and after training.
- Invest in good athletic shoes and make sure to change them frequently. Athletic shoes that are in good shape will have less than 400 miles of wear.
- Invest in insoles to properly support your feet and ankles while engaging in athletic activity. We offer insoles on our site, and we also make them custom in our office. If you would like a set of our custom made orthotics, be sure to request an appointment for a consultation today!
If you develop any of the problems mentioned in this post, (foot odor, warts, fungal infection, heel pain, metatarsalgia, plantar fasciitis, etc.) make sure that you call and/or visit the Weil Foot & Ankle Institute so that one of our physicians can get you healed and have you back out enjoying the summer weather as quickly as possible. Now that you have a basic set of guidelines for ensuring your foot health this summer, go out and take advantage of the warm weather. It will be winter again before you know it!