Sandals: The Last Resort?

It’s summer time in Oregon, which means the sun is out, the weather is nice (although maybe just a touch too hot), and people are getting outside and enjoying all there is in the Eugene area.  When it gets as hot as it’s been, people tend to start wearing different clothes and footwear, including sandals.  Which is fine.  Sandals are great!  They’re convenient for short strolls outside, they can be fashionable, and they help keep you a little cooler.  Sandals themselves are not a problem, but they can be used in ways that end up leading to issues and pain. 

One issue with sandals is that they are not meant for long distances or durations. They’re great for getting you across a pool deck, a yard, or out to the mailbox. They’re awful for hikes, long walks, or anything on your feet that takes longer than 20-30 minutes. Sandals just aren’t built to support your feet as the muscles in your feet and legs fatigue. 

Most sandals also fall short when it comes to arch support (get it?).  A majority of people have pronated (or “flat”) feet, which tends to lead to problems like plantar fasciitis or tendonitis.  One great way to help limit the effects of pronated feet is to have good arch support.

Another issue with sandals is how they affect muscle recruitment in your feet.  Wearing sandals tends to lead to increased toe flexion (curling of the toes), which can alter someone’s gait mechanics.  Prolonged increases in toe activity can also lead to tendonitis of the toe flexors. 

To be clear, sandals are not going to destroy your feet.  They’re excellent for certain purposes.  The point is that sandals have a limited use when it comes to a more active lifestyle.  If you are insistent upon wearing sandals, make sure that you’re getting a comfortable pair with good arch support.  Brands like Vionic and Merrell are 2 brands that tend of have solid arch support, but a solid pair of sandals is likely going to cost more than $50 no matter where you get them.  

A good idea for anybody wearing sandals would be to work on strengthening your feet and ankles.  Try standing on one leg for up to one minute without using your hands or other foot for balance and see how your feet feel after that.  Make sure that you’re not crunching your toes into the ground and try to keep your arch high.  Some basic calf raises are a good idea too!  A healthy person should be able to do 10+ controlled calf raises on each leg with nothing worse than muscle burn.  Our staff has also developed a group of foot exercises to help you with foot pain and balance.   

If you’re gonna wear sandals, make sure you’re being smart about it. Keeping your feet healthy is vital for long term health. So treat them right with a healthy dose of exercise, and if you’re going to wear sandals, make sure they’re comfortable and supportive.  

Got questions?  Feel limited in what you’re able to do?  The staff at Limitless Physical Therapy in Eugene, OR can show you how to be limitless. Contact us to connect with on of our PTs. Or follow us on Facebook.

***The above information, including text, images, and all other materials, is provided for educational purposes only, and not as a replacement or supplement to professional medical advice.  Please contact a certified healthcare professional or your primary physician for any personal concerns.

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1020 Green Acres Road
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Eugene, OR 97408
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