THE BLOG

Summer Means It's Sandal and Flip-Flop Season

06/29/2011 12:12 am ET | Updated Aug 28, 2011

It's summertime ladies, so take out your summer sandals/flip-flops and let your toes enjoy the freedom they have been waiting for all winter. For nine long dreary months your feet were held hostage in closed shoes or boots in order to survive the cold and wet weather. This probably caused the formation of painful corns, blisters, red irritated skin lesions on your feet and arch cramps. The reason those foot problems occurred is because of abnormal pronation and friction the foot experiences when sliding or moving around in a closed shoe.

Many people have either hammer toes, bunions or both, which are genetically predisposed. So yes, you can blame these annoying, often chronic foot problems on mom or dad.

Corns do not grow; they form because of a very common bone problem called a hammer toe. They develop over a period of time due to constant rubbing of the skin over a prominent boney surface on the toe in a closed shoe. This results from the toe box of the shoe being too shallow and there not being adequate room for the toes to wiggle around comfortably.

Hammer toes develop because of abnormal foot pronation. As the arch of the foot begins to collapse during normal walking, the tendons in the top and bottom of the foot become unstable and imbalanced resulting in the toes attempting to grab the ground during walking. The toes begin to curl downward buckling at the middle toe joint causing a bone to pop up, hence the name hammer toe. Blisters, red irritated skin lesions or a hard thick painful corn can form on the top surface of the toe because of friction, and can make shoe choices a nightmare.

Bunions can also be a challenge when wearing closed shoes. They too are caused by abnormal pronation. The muscles in the bottom of the foot become weakened due to the arch collapsing when standing, walking or running. This causes a muscle imbalance in the foot. The muscles attached to the big toe fatigue allowing the toe to drift and rotate laterally forming a bunion or boney prominence at the head of the first metatarsal bone. They can get red, swollen and painful limiting shoe wear.

Arch cramps are another byproduct of abnormal foot pronation. The muscles in the arch of the foot fatigue, and eventually go into spasm because of overuse. This painful cramp can occur when the foot is at rest while in bed or when you're performing normal daily activities. This can be relieved by getting out of bed and rolling your foot over a soft tennis ball, standing up on the floor or messaging out the muscle spasm.

The solution to eliminating shoe irritation and friction caused by wearing closed shoes is to break out your flat, casual and dress sandals or flip flops.

However, there are few things women must remember about wearing sandals and flip flops. One must be careful about the straps in some sandal styles and make sure they do not irritate the lumps and bumps on the toes. Also, many sandals and flip flops are not designed to support the arch or ball of the foot properly. So adding an arch or metatarsal support to your sandals is a good idea. They will help reduce abnormal foot pronation as well as prevent foot slippage, arch cramping, ball of the foot pain and take pressure off the great toe joint or bunion.

There are now products available either through the internet or at shoe stores and drug stores. These products can be placed in your sandals, and make them more supportive and comfortable. The products are usually made out of soft gels or foam materials. Instant Arches® for sandals and metatarsal pads are just a few of the products that can help make keep your feet happy.

So if you're kind too your feet this summer, they will forgive for the torture they endured all winter.