Were you like me, sitting through winter and praying for warmer weather? But now that it’s here, and we’ve seen temperatures topping 100 degrees, maybe you’re thinking all that snow and ice wasn’t so bad?
For me, as a podiatrist, the heat is more than just a sweaty, frizzy nuisance. It can take a toll on my patient’s feet—maybe it’s happened to you already. Have you noticed that, as the days get hotter, your feet are starting to swell?
Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. High temperatures often affect our feet. Why is that? When your body heats up, your skin’s blood supply increases. That increase in volume pulls fluid out of your vessels and into the surrounding tissue. And, since your feet and legs are the lowest points in the body, the built-up fluid will follow gravity and naturally begin to settle in those areas. That’s when you’ll start to notice swollen, puffy feet. While not dangerous, per se, this problem can be painful and make it tough to fit into all those cute summer shoes we’ve finally got a chance to show off.
Now, that’s the bad news. But here’s the good part: this problem is usually temporary, and will resolve on its own once your body cools down. But if you’re facing a day of fun in the sun, or have a great night out planned, and you need to speed up the deflation of your feet, never fear: there are ways to fight off heat-related foot swelling, and ways to make sure they don’t cause any lasting injuries to your feet.
How to Deal with Puffy Summer Feet
In order to help prevent feet from swelling in the first place, make sure to up your water intake on hot days. While this may seem strange, since swelling is caused by built up fluid, staying hydrated combats puffiness by keeping your blood from flowing towards the surface of your skin.
If you’re out all day in the heat, you can also keep swelling at bay by taking frequent sitting breaks. While you’re off your feet, give them a quick massage to get any built-up fluid moving out of the area. You could also do ankle exercises during your breaks, rotating your feet in circles a few times in each direction. This movement will also get fluid moving away from your feet.
At the end of a long, hot day, lie down and put your feet up as soon as you get home. This can help fluid flow out of your feet and ankles, keeping you from waking up with swollen feet the next morning.
If you’re into gadgets, you may want to pick up a pair of Amazon’s freezable slippers to pull on after a day on your feet. These slippers are gel-based, and after two hours in the freezer, they can help cool your feet and reduce any existing inflammation. They work pretty well, are literally the coolest new product everyone is talking about, and can even come in handy when winter returns—if you stick them in boiling water, they transform into toasty avenues for heat therapy and cool weather coziness.
Should I Worry about Swollen Feet?
Swollen feet look scary, that’s for sure, but on their own, they aren’t a major concern. Where I do see problems is in the effect on the fit of your feet in your shoes. If summer foot swelling is a persistent problem for you, consider purchasing your footwear at the end of the day, when your feet have already expanded.
While the shoes may only fit well on a hot day, I’d like to see you with one pair that accommodates expanded feet. Why? When you try to cram your swollen feet into shoes that are too tight, you can start to experience problems like blisters or even ingrown toenails, as your toes get hammered into the hard edge of your shoes. I always think it’s better to invest in one new pair of shoes than to deal with the discomfort of squeezing into a slightly-small summer pair.
Enjoy the rest of your summer and call if your feet are getting in the way of this!