It’s around May-June every year when kids in school finish up and excitedly come home to embark on all kinds of summer adventures. Some may be staying at home, playing outside and going out for activities with parents and sitters and friends. Others may be signed up for a variety of camps to keep them engaged and occupied during work ours. Whatever the plans for summer are, the shoes and sandals that our kids where should not be an afterthought. All of us (kids and adults alike) love to take the opportunity to give our feet some freedom from boots socks and shoes, but there are a lot of summer activities that require better protection than a flip flop.

If you’ve looked through our website before, you may have run into articles about lawn mower injuries that can cause some pretty gruesome injuries to our feet. Not all injuries to feet are from lawn mowers though. We’ll cover some of the more common activities that the summer brings and talk about the shoes that are most likely to keep your kids out of urgent care and in these activities.

Swimming: Of course, when the temperatures are rising and humidity makes it uncomfortable in the yard many of us will bring our kids to the pool. It’s a great way to get out that energy and cool off at the same time. At the pool, when in the water, shoes are not part of the gameplan. That being said, walking around the pool deck may require more protection. From hot pavement to pepples to broken glass, just a simple sandal can provide protection from burns or foreign bodies. Flipflops do not provide any support for the feet, so if you’re walking to the pool, kids Merrell sandals tend to be the best bet. Sandals that have enough straps to secure the foot also helps to reduce the likelihood of sprained ankles and tendinitis. Don’t forget the sunscreen too! Our feet are so infrequently exposed to sun that the likelihood of developing sunburn and skin damage is much greater. Be sure to apply about 30 minutes before getting into the pool – so basically before you leave the house.

Riding Bikes: Just as helmets are important to protect your child’s head, shoes are vitally important when riding bikes. Bare feet and sandals don’t allow the necessary support for mounting and dismounting the bike or pedaling. If your child gets on a bike to ride with barefeet and their foot slips, the skin and toenails are subject to some pretty painful injuries. At our office, we have had the unfortunate experience in treating young children who may have bumped into a curb  or fallen off their bike and the resulting injury was a fractured toe and/or an avulsed toenail (ie. Their toenail was ripped off). These injuries in some cases often require emergency care and surgery as well as long term antibiotics to ensure proper healing. A pair of shoes can prevent these types of injuries.

Going to the Zoo: Going to the zoo for me requires the same attire as when I go for a run. I know that I’ll be chasing my kids, climbing stairs, pushing a stroller or pulling a wagon, carrying said children as they fight with all their might to get out of my grip…hopefully you get the idea and I’m not the only one in this situation. This is a lot of work for us as parents and it’s because our kids seem to have endless energy – no matter how picky some can be about eating (where does the energy really come from?). Kids will want to climb on statues, play on the playground and there’s a lot of walking. Athletic shoes help to reduce fatigue in our feet and legs and as described above, provide great support and protection to reduce injuries.

Dinner al Fresco: For a more low-key outing, like maybe going to eat a meal outside and enjoy the fresh air, shoe options are much more diverse. Just as for adults, the few steps into the restaurant and back to the car afterwards are not likely to be arduous. Kids can wear more casual sandals or (for the kids who love them) “pretty shoes” for these types of outings. This is when I choose to wear my cuter sandals and occasional heels.

The rainy day at home: Sadly, the reality of summers in the Midwest is that some of our summer days will be more gloomy than we hope or anticipate. For those days that may be cooler and/or rainy, kids and adults may just need to stay inside and find crafts and activities to keep busy and pass the time. Around the house, unless your child is already being treated for a foot condition or injury, being barefoot is more than acceptable. My daughter likes to play her fair share of dress up, so occasionally the ‘highs’ (her term for high heels) may become part of the soundtrack for the day, but we otherwise like to keep our shoes off. For these brave, tired, loving parents at home with these kids, if you happen to be like me and try to get some things done around the house on days like these, a pair of spenco sandals are a great way to prevent plantar fasciitis and other foot pain. Those tile and hardwood floors can really give you trouble otherwise. And sadly if you have already started to have foot pain, sometimes a pair of inside shoes (walking shoes) may be necessary to keep that condition from lingering any longer than it has to.

Gardening and bug hunting: Again here, I’m hoping I’m not the only one who has kids that like to hunt in the yard for and collect bugs. My kids for the moment also enjoy pulling weeds (and sometime flowers too), so I try to make sure they don’t get any splinters or cuts on their feet. Athletic shoes or a boot of some kind will provide support and protection when they are hiking around uneven surfaces and tromping through the yard and sometimes mud. Work boots for adults are especially important. More often than you might realize, we have patients come in with broken and sprained ankles because of trying to garden in crocs. Stepping up onto a shovel or climbing a ladder in wide, rubbery shoes is a perfect situation to roll and ankle. Summer isn’t fun if you have to be in a boot or cast for it, so give your feet and your kids feet the support they need!

If you are reading this and you or your child has already suffered an injury, be sure to seek attention as soon as possible. The sooner an evaluation can be done and treatment can be started, the sooner you and your child can be back to having a great summer, making memories for years to come. Our office offers same day emergency appointments and we strive to make your experience as painless as possible.