Finally, the promise of warm weather is here…and you know what that means! It’s time to put away our puffer coats and haul out those cute summer shoes we’ve been missing all winter. But here’s the thing: not all warm-weather shoes are created equally—at least when it comes to foot support. With that in mind, here’s seven shoes you should avoid this spring and summer. No matter how temptingly cute they are!
1. Cute sneakers that aren’t athletic shoes
It’s fine to slip on those Vince sneakers and run a quick errand, like school pick up or a Target run. But beyond that? Just say no. These slip-on sneakers, and others like them, are comfortable, sure. But they aren’t designed to support your foot through rigorous exercise, or even through a whole day of walking. Limit the amount of time and types of activity done while wearing these fashionable kicks and you’ll be fine. Try to take them out of their realm, however, and you’ll be facing foot pain at best, and an athletic injury at worst.
2. Flat sandals
By now, you probably know that flip-flops are beach-and-pool wear only. Their thin soles leave your feet to absorb all the impact of the hard ground. Their flat design offers no arch support. Their open tops leave your feet vulnerable to scrapes, dirt and germs, and their thongs force your toes to grip in an unnatural manner. Perhaps not surprisingly, flat sandals are also a problem. Even though they are less flimsy than flip-flops, the flat design still leaves your feet without enough support and cushioning. Wear them for walking, and your feet will likely be in a lot of pain.
3. Espadrilles that aren’t lined
Espadrilles, with their light uppers, rope soles, and easy slip-on style are the quintessential spring and summer shoe. But if their inner lining is rough and unfinished, that can spell major discomfort for your feet. Especially since these shoes are designed to be worn without socks, the rough lining will rub against your skin over time, leaving you with blisters, corns and callouses.
4. Tall wedges
As podiatrists, we preach that women should choose wedge heels over stilettoes. And, while this rule still holds true, some wedges are better than others. If you put on sky-high wedge heels, the awkward angle and stiff sole will throw your balance off, leaving you vulnerable to falls, trips and ankle sprains. If you’re going to be out and about in wedges, keep heel heights below three inches and try to choose materials that have a bit of give to them. That way, your forefoot will be able to move a bit, allowing you to enjoy a more natural stride as you walk.
5. Ballet flats
While ballet flats are better than flip-flops, thanks to their closed toes, that’s really the only difference between this delicate shoe and its beachier counterpart. Ballet flats are…flat. And thin-soled. And therefore present your feet with all the same problems as flip-flops and flat sandals. Plus, they often are designed with tightly-gathered backs that tend to rub against the delicate skin of your heels. If you can find a style that’s a bit more cushioned in the sole, or at least have some arch support—great. Otherwise, leave your ballet flats for the dance studio and look for a more supportive walking style.
One final thought on spring and summer footwear. Even if you find a great pair of supportive shoes, try not to wear them every day—especially if you’re skipping the socks this season. When you alternate your shoes on a daily basis, your feet won’t get pinched or pressed against in the same spots each day. And the shoes get to air out, helping prevent the growth of fungi that can infect your feet and toes. So, in closing, remember these warm-weather shoe rule: Avoid flats, seek out support, and always be rotating. Here’s to a happy, warm and foot-friendly Memorial Day Weekend!