by Dr. Emily Splichal, DPM MS
Supportive shoes and orthotics are perfect in cooler months, but warmer weather always leaves those with foot pain searching for options. If you have flat feet, plantar fasciitis, or find that your feet fatigue easily then below are the features you want to look for when buying summer sandals.
Feature #1 – Slight Heel
Have you ever noticed that supportive sneakers typically have a slight elevation to the heel. Referred to as heel to drop, this elevation of the heel puts the foot in a more stable position.
A sandal such as the Aetrex Jillian integrates a slight heel to support a neutral and stable foot.
Feature #2 – Medial Arch Support
Similar to how an orthotic supports the medial arch, so can a sandal with a built up medial arch. Dropping arches puts excess strain on the muscles and soft tissue of the feet and is one of the most common contributors to arch pain and plantar fasciitis.
The Malibu by Orthofeet provides the perfect amount of arch support to the tired or flat foot.
Feature #3 – Ankle Straps
One feature of sandals that is very important but rarely focused on is the ankle strap. When a sandal is not connected to our foot, it inherently changes the way that we walk. People tend to either drag their feet, swing the foot around, or curl the toes to hold onto the sandal. All of these compensations lead to unnecessary stress on the foot which can increase foot fatigue and pain.
The Naboso Trail by Xero Shoes has a unique z strap system that helps the shoe fit snuggly to the foot and ankle while ensuring optimal comfort and minimizing rubbing.
Feature #4 – Cushion
No shoe review is not complete without talking about the soles of the shoes. The cushion is one of the most sought-after features of footwear to ensure comfort. Cushion in sandals can help minimize impact forces and joint stress further up the chain.
Having said that, not all cushion is created equal. The best cushion is one that has a recoil to it and doesn’t completely compress under load.
Sandals such as Oofos have made a name in the industry for recovery sandals with their main feature being cushion.
As you transition from your orthotics and sneakers to foot-friendly sandals, remember it is important to still incorporate daily foot recovery and foot strengthening. Supportive sandals are just part of a healthy foot program.