We see a dramatic increase in people complaining of foot and leg pain at this time of year, and there’s one main reason why!
Last week, 50% of the new injuries we treated were related to poor footwear.
Let’s be realistic…those trusty rubber thongs and sandals we all love are great in summer for keeping cool; they’re easy to throw on and they come in thousands of different styles. But if we’re honest, they’re also pretty terrible for your feet. Especially at this time of year when we have a sudden change in footwear due to the hot weather. When we suddenly switch to thongs from more supportive shoes (such as work shoes, runners and boots), our muscles and ligaments are not yet conditioned to working harder in this style of footwear, and this leads to pain and injuries.
Why is that? I’m glad you asked. When you walk in flat rubber thongs, it’s highly likely you are subconsciously clawing your toes to ‘hold on’ to your thongs. Especially if they are well loved, it’s likely the foot strap has loosened to a point where they no longer hold your foot in place. This, combined with a completely flat sole that does not support the arch, leads to overwork within the small intrinsic muscles of the foot and arch. This is the perfect recipe for tightening of the calf muscles, shin pain, heel pain (eg plantarfasciitis) and tendonitis.
We’re not about to tell you not to wear thongs, because honestly you’ll find most of us in them all summer! But if you are going to, here’s a few things to look out for when deciding what summer shoe is best for you:
- Buy thongs with a firm strap across the top of your foot to avoid clawing the toes. If yours have stretched to a point where you can see daylight under the strap, it’s time for some new ones!
- Look out for some with arch support – even the smallest inbuilt lift can create the world of difference for your feet. If you wear orthotics normally, this is essential!
- Be aware of the completely flat sole – a slight heel can take pressure off already tight calves.
When you do wear your beloved flip-flops, make sure you follow these easy steps to minimise your chance of developing foot pain:
- Build up to wearing them – don’t go cold turkey from enclosed shoes to thongs. Aim for 30mins a day to start.
- Don’t wear thongs too long, even if you’re used to them! Thongs are not designed for walking long periods of time or long distances. If you’re heading out for the day, not just to the beach, don a pair of more supportive shoes.
- Spend a little more on good quality shoes and change them regularly. Our top brand suggestions (that don’t look like you stole your grandmothers shoes) are Archies (available in clinic), FRANKiE4 and Birkenstock.
If you have had a sudden onset of foot pain in the last few weeks, or a flare up of old pain, don’t leave it all summer to get worse. Come and see us today!