Summer is here, time to let those feet have some air!
For Podiatrists, summer brings a myriad of different foot pathologies to the clinic.
Shoe, activity, weight and behaviour changes all contribute to foot challenges that we encounter in Summer.
Most of all, people (including us!) wear thongs and sandals more than closed- in shoes when hot weather strikes.
Thongs and sandals are generally less supportive than runners, boots and sneakers. In turn, feet and legs, knees and hips can become very sore if walking regularly in less supportive, summer shoes.
It is important to keep up the strength and support of your feet when the hotter weather presents to reduce unhappy consequences such as pain, reduced mobility and increasing risk of falls and injuries.
Keep reading to discover some really easy ways to strengthen your feet in summer!
Good quality thongs and sandals exist, with brands such as Frankie4, Naot, Revere, Vionic, Dr Comfort, Archies and Orthaheel combining style with comfort and compatibility for multiple foot types. Good quality sandals and summer shoes are vital in ensuring that during the hotter weather, feet are still supported.
Strengthening feet for the summer months when you will be mainly in thongs and sandals means not only investing in good quality footwear, but changing footwear when possible and keeping up strengthening and stretching regimes for your whole body.
Stretching means that our muscles are able to adapt to changes and become strong in a controlled way.
Calf stretching such as gently hanging your heel off a step, or pulling your foot towards you with a towel when you are sitting with straight legs on the couch.
Extensor stretching involves gently pulling your toes and foot down so that a gentle stretch can be felt along the top of the foot.
Rolling your foot on a spikey ball or tennis ball can stretch the 4 layers of muscles which exist under your arch!
Massage of the legs and feet with hands, from a friend or with a massage gun is vital for improved circulation and muscle function.
Move your big toes through their range of motion gently to ensure no pain is present and your toes can stay healthy!
Strengthening for your feet and legs is vital to keep you pain free when wearing summer shoes by keeping your feet supported by muscles and tendons.
Calf raises/heel raises are an easy exercise to complete which strengthens all of. the muscles in your legs. This exercise involves slowly progressing your weight onto your tippy- toes, then slowly back down so your heel rests on the ground. There are double or single leg calf raises, the latter being of greater difficulty. Aim for 30 repetitions of double leg raises before attempting single leg raises.
Arch scrunches: Imagine there is a small golf ball under your arch that you are trying to pick up! Aim to squeeze your arch until your feet feel tired, relax, and repeat for at least 2 minutes. This exercise targets all of the smaller muscles in your feet that are vital for balance, particularly when not wearing supportive, wintery shoes!
Walking barefoot through grass or sand very carefully, activates the smaller muscles in your feet and the larger ones in your legs. These muscles are important to maintain stability and increase proprioception (This is where your brain knows the location of your feet and legs are when you're not looking at them). Stability and proprioception are vital in prevention of falls and general lower limb strength.
For long term strength, these simple exercises can be completed throughout the whole year!
3 top tips for healthy, strong feet in summer
1. Wear good quality supportive thongs (yes ones with a small arch and doesn't flop off) and sandals with straps that hold onto your ankle if possible.
2. Stretching regularly as we use the muscles more for support when wearing unsupported shoes
3. Complete strengthening exercises to prevent fallen arches or overuse of your toes to claw onto the shoes.
If you have any questions or queries about strong feet, or pain in your feet please give us a call here at Foot Body Sole, or come in- store for a footwear fitting with one of our footwear specialists to be fitted with some foot friendly summer shoes!
It is vital in summer that our feet are strong so that conditions such as plantar fasciitis or achilles tendinopathy do not cause you trouble in 2021, because to be honest, 2020 has been challenge enough!