Take steps to protect your feet this summer
Dr. Marc Claydon
Foot and Ankle Surgeons of Northern California
150 Catherine Lane, Suite B
Grass Valley, California 95945
Whether your summertime footwear choice is flip flops, hiking boots or bare feet, it’s important to care for your feet while you enjoy the warm weather.
Grass Valley podiatrist Marc Claydon, DPM, Foot and Ankle Surgeons of Northern California, reminds us that while summertime is a great time to enjoy the outdoors, there are some risks that come with certain activities.
“In my clinical and personal experiences, I have encountered many different injuries resulting from summer activities, ranging from foot lacerations from sharp rocks to even first and second degree burns from ambulating [walking] on hot ground,” says Dr. Claydon. “I especially remember my high school friend who suffered second degree burn to the bottom of his foot, just after a short walk from the road to the river when going to Bridgeport on the Yuba River. The burn turned into full thickness bullae (blisters) and required serious medical attention.”
Dr. Claydon says those types of burns from walking on hot pavement can be avoided by investing in supportive water shoes or a sandal with thick soles.
The American Podiatric Medical Association also encourages limiting the amount of time spent walking barefoot. The APMA points out that barefoot feet are at higher risk for sunburn, plantar warts, athlete’s foot, ringworm, and other infections – not to mention injuries due to slipping and falling.
The APMA recommends wearing shoes or flip flops around bodies of water, in the locker and even in hotel rooms, to prevent injuries and limit the spread of any bacterial infections.
While flip flops can be helpful in communal locker rooms or around bodies of water, Dr. Claydon points out that the very thing that makes them so easy to wear, can also make them problematic for your feet.
“Flip flops are easy to slip on and off your feet and may especially be useful when you are around the lake or the river,” Dr. Claydon says. “However, its ease of use can also be its Achilles heel – flip flops just do not provide the protection and support that a pair of closed-toe shoes provides. This puts people at risk for various types of foot pain and possible injuries to the feet.”
Flip flops and sandals also contribute to another problem Dr. Claydon sees often in summertime – cracked heels.
“Heel fissures (cracks) are caused by high heat and low humidity like we have during the summer here in northern California,” says Dr. Claydon. “The issue is also exacerbated by footwear that leaves the heel to be exposed to the environment. Heel fissures can be painful and can be a source of infection in immune-compromised patients like those with diabetes.”
An easy way to avoid this painful and potentially dangerous problem is to wear supportive closed-toe shoes. Dr. Claydon also recommends moisturizing the feet daily.
When you are at the pool or lake, remember that if your feet are exposed, they need sunscreen too. The APMA points out that the tops of the feet and the fronts of the ankles are often neglected during sunscreen application and can be the site of serious sunburn.
If you deal with occasional, minor swelling in your feet, the APMA urges you to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
Dr. Claydon says regardless of what your summertime activity of choice is, you (and your feet!) should enjoy the season and all that our region has to offer.
“As an avid hiker, mountain biker, dirt biker and carpenter myself I appreciate getting outdoors and enjoying all that Northern California has to offer,” Dr. Claydon says. “Being active will lead to a happier, healthier life overall and injuries are unfortunately a part of that. Wearing shoes that are supportive and protective will keep you doing what you love and doing it longer, especially as we age.”
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