Here’s how to find the best open-toe shoes that will keep your feet happy.
With summer just around the corner, people are ditching socks and shoes and wearing sandals, flip-flops, and other open-toed options. What could be better than the breeze between your toes and the opportunity to show off that new pedicure?
Open-toed footwear is definitely more breathable than closed-toed shoes, and may feel more comfortable. But they can pose some dangers for your feet. Here are some of the reasons why podiatrists often recommend avoiding flip-flops or other open-toed styles:
- They don’t protect your foot from injury as well as regular shoes
- They often have extremely poor arch and heel support, inflaming plantar fasciitis
- Most flip-flops offer little in the way of cushioning, which can lead to foot, knee, and back pain
- Open-toed shoes can shift or catch on objects during activity, causing injuries like ankle sprains
- Wedge-type sandals, like any high-heeled shoe, can increase pressure on the foot and inflame bunions or interfere with a healthy gait.
If you have a pre-existing injury, or a condition like diabetes that makes foot injury more likely, it may be best to avoid open-toed shoes altogether. If you’re planning on any vigorous activity, or even walking a moderate distance, your best bet is a closed-toe shoe that will provide the correct amount of cushioning and support.
Likewise, if there’s any chance of being in an area where your feet could be injured by broken glass or sharp rocks, use common sense and leave the open-toed shoes at home!
What to look for in an open-toed shoe
If you can’t give up open-toed shoes, find a pair that addresses common shortcomings and dangers. You’ll be looking for the following qualities:
Protection & Durability
Many flip-flops are made of a cheap foam material that not only fails at support, but wears out quickly and won’t protect your feet from being injured by a sharp object. If your flip-flops are worn out, you’re even more likely to injure your feet. Replace them with a pair made of a durable, denser material.
Most flip flops are little more than a chunk of flat material. Most lack any type of arch support, and this can lead to tendonitis and strained ligaments in your feet. The flat design also allows the foot to slide around on the sole, which can lead to injury or discomfort. Look for a design with arch support and a heel cup, which will keep your foot positioned more securely.
The upper of a shoe can make a big difference in comfort. Sandals with wider straps can help distribute the pressures from walking and keep the shoe more secure and correctly positioned. Many “hiking” styles of open-toed shoes use a system of several straps to aid fit. However, if you’re doing serious hiking, a supportive closed-toe hiking shoe will protect your feet far more than any sandal.
What brand is best?
If only it was that simple! Several brands, such as Aetrex or Oofos, try to incorporate arch support in every design. Brands like Chaco and Okabashi have supportive, durable options — but like many brands, some of their models may be less supportive than others. For this reason, and because every foot is different, you may want to see your podiatrist for a personalized recommendation. Your podiatrist can provide recommendations for different types of weather conditions and seasons, too.
See Your Podiatrist
Remember that your feet deserve to be happy! If you’re going to wear open-toed shoes, it’s worth the effort to find ones that are supportive, protective, and won’t hurt your feet.
Your podiatrist is a foot specialist, and they can help you find the right footwear for any situation. This includes addressing any injuries or concerns you have. Make an appointment and find out how to keep your feet happy!