Sandals and Heel PainFinding summer shoes that you--and your feet--love!
Sandals: Is there any better symbol for carefree summer days? Unfortunately, if you suffer from heel spurs or plantar fasciitis, your relationship with summer footwear isn’t quite so breezy.
The wrong pair of sandals can exacerbate or cause heel pain, putting a quick stop to those long walks down the beach.
In this article, we’ll explore the drawbacks of certain popular sandal styles, how to find a good pair of sandals, and how to enjoy you favorite pair of sandals if you have plantar fasciitis!
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Sandals 101: What to Avoid
Each spring, department stores fill their shelves with a rainbow array of fashion sandals. But buyer beware! Behind the buckles and jewels lurk some of the worst offenders of heel pain and plantar fasciitis.
The biggest hallmark of poorly made sandal is soles that are thin, flat and unsupportive. Thin soles offer zero support to the arch of your foot, leaving your plantar fascia to absorb the full impact of every step you take and drastically increasing your odds of developing heel pain, plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, Achilles tendonitis, and Morton’s Neuroma.
Whether you call them “flip flops,” “zoris” or “thongs,” this summer staple is easy on your wallet and hard on your feet. Flip flops are usually made of cheap material like foam or straw, and offer zero arch support or padding. Over time, this lack of support affects not only your feet but the connecting muscles and tissue. Flip flops are also prone to slipping and sliding as you walk, increasing your risk for tripping or spraining an ankle.
Popular jelly sandals are made of flexible plastic and nothing more. Not only do they earn an F in arch support and cushioning, but they are notorious for causing blisters as the plastic rubs against your heel. Don’t be tempted by the fun colors or low price tags – jelly sandals aren’t worth it!
How to Find the Perfect Pair of Sandals
Summer-worthy, supportive sandals might sound like an oxymoron, but don’t despair! These tips will help you score a pair of sandals that make your feet happy all summer long.
Arch and Heel Support
For many people, summer is a season of activity–at the beach, the park, the pool, hiking, running, and playing. Your feet need more backup than ever, which is why you should make sure you insist on the same arch support you’d look for in a closed-toe shoe. Look for sandals that have contoured arch support and keep your heel from sliding around.
Don’t Forget Those Toes!
Look for sandals and summer shoes that give your toes ample room to bend and move as you walk. Don’t settle for a strappy number with a peep-toe that squishes your toes together, putting you at risk for hammer toe, ingrown toenails, and an unnatural gait.
Well-made sandals will have adequate cushioning that helps your feet absorb the impact of all that summer fun. A thick, flexible sole is ideal and will keep heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, and other foot conditions at bay!
The Best Sandals for Heel Pain and Heel Spurs
For many people, finding a good, supportive sandal is enough to ensure a pain-free summer, but if you’re prone to heel pain or have a condition like plantar fasciitis or heel spurs, you’ll want to take extra steps to protect your feet!
Orthopedic sandals are made especially to support plantar fasciitis:
Cost: The cost for most orthotic sandals can be pretty steep and will set you back between $100 and $150 per pair. Luckily, you can get sandals with Fascia Bar Technology for only $54.95.
Effectiveness: Heel Seat Sandals are guaranteed to reduce pain from plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. However on the lower end, sandals branded as “orthopedic” are simply a cushioned, supportive sandal. Higher end orthopedic sandals help with heel and foot alignment to reduce the pressure on the plantar fascia while adding cushioning and support for painful feet.
Style: While there are more styles available than ever, the world of orthopedic sandals is still quite limited. It may be difficult to find a pair of orthopedic sandals that fit your unique style.
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Regular Sandals with Barefoot Heel Seat Wraps
Heel Seat Wraps are neoprene, lightweight wraps that are specifically made for healing plantar fasciitis. They can be worn with virtually any type of footwear–including sandals!
Cost: A pair of heel wraps are $34.95 and can be easily washed and reused. Best of all they can be worn with your favorite pair of sandals.
Effectiveness: Heel Wraps turn almost any pair of sandals into orthopedic footwear that’s both lightweight and inexpensive. Fascia-Bar Technology supports your feet and allows you to free your toes while supporting your heels.
Style: Style options are essentially limitless with Heel Wraps. Wear them with your favorite pair of sandals, or even wear them barefoot (the non-slip neoprene means that you can wear these handy wraps even on slick hardwood.)
Specialty Supportive Sandals
Specialty sandals provide more support and cushioning than the average sandal, but aren’t specifically made to treat plantar fasciitis.
Cost: The cost for specialty supportive sandals is higher than your average, running between $40 and $100 for a good pair (of course, the sky’s the limit when it comes to shoes!)
Effectiveness: For max effectiveness, look for sandals that have a thick, cushioned sole, at least some arch support (read: not pancake flat!) and straps that keep your foot from sliding around while you walk. While these sandals won’t do much to heal your plantar fasciitis, they are much less likely to exacerbate or cause the condition.
Style: Birkenstocks are the classic supportive sandals–wide straps, thick soles, and support for your heels. However, many manufacturers and brands make more supportive sandals now, so style options are growing!
Need more help with plantar fasciitis-friendly sandals? Check out our complete heel pain sandals guide. At Heel That Pain, we’re here to give you the support you need for a pain-free summer!