Beat the Heat & Care for Your Feet

Summertime injuries due to flip flops and flat sandals often occur in both males and females and all age groups.

By: Value News | Category: Health & Fitness | Issue: July 2011

Patrick F. Kelly, D.O., OSU Medical Center Orthopedic Surgeon.

Patrick F. Kelly, D.O., OSU Medical Center Orthopedic Surgeon.

Unfortunately, with the summer fun in the sun comes many injuries and problems of the feet. The most minor injuries range from stubbed toes to glass cuts, puncture wounds, torn nail beds, direct trauma to exposed toes and broken toes. The more the foot is exposed (as in wearing flip flops or going barefoot) the more often the incidences of injury or problems occur.

Additional injuries include tendonitis, sprained ankles (which can involve many feet muscles, too), arch and heel pain, toe injuries from lawn mowers, weed-eaters, shovels and using aerators. Snake bites, severe insect or spider bites and skin cancer are other summer feet problems, as is arch and heel pain due to over-flattening of the foot from going barefoot or wearing shoes with little or no support. Remember to apply sunscreen to your feet while exposed to help prevent skin ­cancer such as melanoma.

Summertime injuries due to flip flops and flat sandals often occur in both males and females and all age groups. Flip flops are fun and fashionable, yet they are not meant to be worn around the clock. Common and popular during the summer, flip flops should be worn for just a few hours at a time. They give you basic protection to the bottom of your feet and are ideal for walking around poolside or on a ­surface that may be warm. They can help you prevent from catching athlete’s foot or plantar warts in public showers as well.

Flip flops never should be worn when playing sports, ­hiking or for many hours at a time. Wear proper sports shoes. I’ve treated many people who ran or jumped in flip-flops and suffered sprained ankles, ­fractures, and severe ligament injuries that required surgery. Flip flops are not meant for ­playing Frisbee, backyard football or a soccer game. They don’t offer you the support that an athletic shoe would.

Unsupported feet take a lot more stress than supported feet. If you try to use your flip flop as an athletic shoe, you’re asking for trouble. They do not offer arch support or shock ­ absorption. Potential injuries to the foot and ankle can occur. For those with diabetes, any foot injury can become serious, even leading to amputation. Shoes that are lightweight with a ­covering on top may be a better option.

Another problem that can occur while wearing flip flops is impaired driving. Often times, the flip flop can come off the foot and become lodged under the brake or gas pedal. This can be dangerous to you and other drivers, and can injure your foot or body if an accident occurs. If you do suffer from an injury, soaking your feet is one of the most soothing things you can do. You can use a bucket or a foot bath and use Epson salt. Often times, soaking helps ­ healing along.

Nearly all foot pain can be grouped into one of these ­categories: ill-fitting shoes, certain medical conditions that cause a disturbance to the way one walks (diabetes, leg and feet deformities or neurological disorders) or high-impact exercise (jogging or strenuous aerobics or running, for example).

Most patients who complain of plantar fasciitis experience the pain more acutely when they are wearing flats, so I recommend anyone suffering from this problem wear a low-heeled shoe with arch supports. The arch support will take the stretch off the plantar fasciitis and help the foot feel better.

Also, there are ­recommended footwear options for certain conditions. If you have bunions, corns or calluses, try wearing wide-boxed shoes; cushions under the ball of the foot and insoles are often helpful. For ingrown toenails, sandals help, as do open-toed shoes. For a condition called Morton’s ­neuroma, try wide-boxed shoes and insoles that offer relief to the stressed area.

For a condition called Metatarsalgia, try wide-boxed shoes and gel cushions. If you are recovering from a stress fracture, low-heeled shoes and those with stiff soles are best. For Achilles tendinitis, try insoles, a tendon strap and heel cups. For a condition often affecting women called “pump bump” or Haglund’s deformity, try soft shoes, heel pads and shoes that do not press on the back of the heel. Heel cups also help those with bursitis. For a condition affecting the ball of the foot beneath the big toe (Sesamoiditis) try a low-heeled shoe with a stiff sole and padding inside.

If you have Tarsal tunnel ­syndrome, specifically designed orthotics for shoes will help relieve some pressure. Sometimes people with flat feet or high arches also need ­custom orthotics to relieve ­pressure and pain. 


For more information, contact

Patrick Kelly, D.O.


OSU Medical Center
802 S. Jackson, Ste. 110
Tulsa, OK 74127
(918) 631-8130

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