Step Into Summer with Healthy Feet

With summer fun in the sun now in full swing, millions of Americans are ditching the heavy footwear of winter months in favor of sandals, slings, and free-wheeling flip-flops. And with the sudden emergence of all these twinkling toes, the issue of foot health comes to the forefront.

The American Board of Multiple Specialties in Podiatry (ABMSP) urges people of all ages to pay special attention to their feet this summer, and to take preventive steps that will head off injuries, ailments, and discomfort.

Focus on Footwear: Bare feet are a big no-no for healthy hoofs, podiatrists warn, no matter how temptingly warm the weather. Going shoeless increases the risks for a wide range of foot woes, from lacerations, sunburns and insect bites to serious injuries or fractures. Bare feet can also be magnets for fungus, viruses, or bacteria. Skimpy sandals and flip-flops, though convenient and readily available, are not much better than bare feet. These flimsy shoes offer little protection, and their lack of support can actually contribute to metatarsalgia, which is pain and inflammation in the metatarsal region of the foot.

Feed Your Feet: Proper nutrition and hydration are a must to keep feet healthy during hot summer months, say podiatrists. High temperatures can cause foot swelling, and some foods—particularly those high in salt, sugar, or processed additives—can aggravate the problem. Be sure to drink plenty of water and to eat whole, healthful foods to avoid bloated feet.

Be an Opportunist: All the open-air foot time that summer brings can offer a surprising benefit: summer is a great time to visually inspect your feet and to watch for signs and symptoms that may be indicators of an underlying problem. Rehm says summer is a great time for patients—particularly those who are diabetic or pre-diabetic—to get into the habit of careful daily inspection of the feet. Watch for skin abnormalities, swelling, discoloration, toenail problems, or any other symptom that might signal an underlying condition. And once this healthy habit of visual inspection has commenced during the summer months, he says, patients should commit to continuing their vigilance even when the cooler temperatures approach and socks come back out of the drawer.