After an interminable winter season, the days are getting longer and the weather’s getting warmer. And while this is a source of delight and serotonin for those of us who have been craving long walks on sunny days, there is one downside to sandal season: summer footwear that wreaks havoc on our hardworking feet.
There’s no denying that certain sandal styles can cause various foot and ankle issues. Much to our chagrin, they are often the most stylish ones.
Dr. Priya Parthasarathy, a podiatrist at U.S. Foot & Ankle Specialists, explained that wearing the wrong sandals can cause serious problems, including Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, pain in the big toe and even stress fractures. Finding the right sandal can prevent foot pain in the long run.
She told HuffPost that she sees the most people coming into her office in late August and September, which she calls “plantar faciitis season.” It’s the result of wearing unsupportive sandals, usually flexible flip flops, all summer long. It’s imperative to have shoes that are supportive during the active summer season.
Avoiding soft, flimsy sandals is key, Parthsarathy noted, even if they feel comfortable: “A completely flat sandal is equally as bad as a high heel. Another red flag is a sandal that you can bend in half, or one that is not wide enough for your feet. The width of the sandal is important to accommodate your foot and any ailments such as bunions, neuromas and hammertoes.”
Unfortunately, there are certain people who should avoid sandals in general. If you are actively treating a foot injury, tendinitis or a fracture, then now is not the time to be slipping on a pair. If you aren’t sure, Parthasarathy recommended speaking to your podiatrist.
Look for the following features when sandals shopping:
Built-in arch support. Bonus if the shoe has removable arch support that allows you to slide in your own orthotics or additional arch support if necessary.
A slight wedge to take pressure off the Achilles and plantar fascia.
An adjustable ankle strap that stabilizes the foot and reduces the chance of a sprained ankle.
Now that we know exactly how to keep our feet healthy during the busy and active summer months, it’s time to do a bit of shopping. Keep reading for Parasarathy’s favorite walking sandals for men and women, so that you can spend the summer in style, safely.
Birkenstock Arizona sandals
You can’t go wrong with an iconic Birkenstock sandal. Adjustable straps, a soft footbed with a cork layer and durable EVA outsoles provide the perfect amount of support and comfort. They are Parthasarathy’s favorite summer walking sandals.
Vionic Brielle sandal
The on-trend platform tread makes this sandal as beautiful as it is functional, walkable and sturdy. Ankle straps, wedge heels and cushioned soles keep your feet secure and comfy, while aesthetic details elevate the overall look.
Oofos Ooahh Slide Sandal
Dansko Season sandal
Dansko shoes are beloved by people who work in fields that require a lot of walking and standing around, like restaurant employees and flight attendants. These lightweight leather sandals feature shock-absorbing foam midsoles, a wedge heel and a forepart insert for additional cushioning. These are Parthasarathy’s go-tos when she wants a bit more height.
Aerosoles Willosbrook sandal
How cute are these chic feminine heels? They’re perfect for summer weddings and more, and feature a supportive ankle strap, wedge heel and cushioned sole.
Hoka Ora Recovery Sport slide
Hoka’s lightweight slides are ultra-supportive and can actually aid in injury recovery. The contoured cushion footbed feels like a dream when you’re hitting the pavement. They’re another great Adidas alternative.
Tevas Original Universal sandal
Tevas are hot right now, and their very first sandal style remains as popular as ever. It’s famous for its comfort-level, making it perfect for long summer days spent walking around festivals, the beach and even hiking. Made of recycled plastic and eco-friendly recycled poly webbing, it’s supportive and durable. Two adjustment points ensure a proper fit, while ample arch support keeps your foot healthy and safe.