The sun is finally shining. The summer clothes are being unpacked from the loft and there are smiles on faces and a bounce in the step.
Unfortunately though, as a Physio, I just can’t seem to see past the shoes! The better the weather the worse the shoes! The thin strapped sandals, the ballet pumps, the flip flops and the loose fitting shoes all arrive.
Unfortunately, this is shortly followed by an increase in patients presenting with knee pain, foot pain, hip pain, back pain and many other aches and pains! Or, put more medically, Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, Patello-femoral joint pain, medial meniscus over loading, medial collateral ligament irritation, lumbar spine facet joint compression and much more.
Gone are the cushioned soles, the supportive heel cups, the arch supports and even the little necessary heel.
Most of us need our shoes to help the rest of the body cope with the loads we put through it either from walking on hard surfaces, uneven surfaces and from the weight of our body or the weight of the bags we carry around.
A millimetre of flat solid sole with a couple of thin cord straps……not only does the foot slide on the slippery sole but the arch flattens and the heel has no cushioning. There is nothing helping to soften the load through the joints, or to stop the feet rolling inwards. If the feet don’t feel this load then the knees, hips or even the back can feel the stress. It could even affect the posture so causing neck pains and headaches.
‘Good’ shoes don’t have to be ugly or frumpy, they just need to have a few key features to be comfortable for the feet and for the body.
Trainers are always going to be the ideal, never pleasurable in the sunshine, but still the ‘go to’ shoe especially if lots of walking is needed. They are cushioned, have a very slight heel, have full support around the foot including an arch support and the heel is held securely. Failing that, a pair of ‘walking sandals’, where the straps hold the foot firmly in place.
So, if you want to stop or reduce the risk of suffering unnecessary aches and pains on those lovely sunny days, just look for an open shoe with a cushioned sole shaped to support the arch and shaped at the heel to cup and cradle the heel. Then look for good securing straps that come across the middle of the foot, and ideally around the heel. A strap between the big toe is ok but only if it has plenty of other straps and is not the only way the shoe is held on.
If you need help with understanding what your feet and body need during the summer, or need help in resolving problems caused by your footwear, then please ask your Physiotherapist.