How to be spring and summer shoe smart

When warmer temperatures set in, we set our feet free. But once we’re liberated from covered shoes, our feet also become vulnerable to the elements – and to the lack of proper support, which flimsy flip-flops and skimpy summer sandals often can’t provide.

What’s the flap over flip-flops? Flip-flops are the go-to summer shoe for many people. They’re cheap and easy to take on and off when you’re at the beach or the pool. But flip-flops provide little cushion or support for the heels or arches and may cause you to alter the way you walk, which can lead to leg pain. Walking too long in flip-flops may also trigger inflammation of the Achilles tendon or pinched nerves. And exposing so much foot invites toe stubs, cuts, and scrapes, not to mention bacteria that could cause infections. Save flip-flops for quick jaunts – not for long walks on the beach.

Flats may fall flat. Heels are known to hurt, but flats can, too. Sandals, slides, and other flat shoes offer little to no cushioning or support for your feet. Walking too long and too flat to the ground can lead to achy heels and arches. If shoe style allows, add cushioned inserts. If not, minimize your time spent in those chic kicks.

Know how to manoeuvre in “mandals.” Men have reclaimed the sandal, but with a masculine twist – the “mandal.” Like flat sandals that women wear, mandals may lack proper support and lead to foot and heel pain and even to stress fractures. Choose manly sandals with supportive soles and padded straps.

Strappy, wrappy shoes = unhappy feet? The straps and wrapped material of strappy or wrap-around sandals can irritate the areas between your toes and rub calluses and blisters on the back of your heels. If you really want to go “gladiator”-style, opt for softer shoe materials, like soft leather, and make sure the shoes fit well.

Living on the wedge? The jute-rope soles of espadrilles look so fresh and cool. Add in a wedge heel and you’ve got a summer classic on your feet. Be careful, though, as the wedge can be unstable and trigger ankle twists and sprains. Stay low and look for soles with added traction.