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Are Your Favorite Summer Shoes Harming Your Health?

When spring has finally sprung and the weather has warmed up, it’s always fun to pull out your favorite sandals and shoes for the season. But a lot of go-to styles can be bad for your feet. We’ve all heard about the dangers of flip flops when it comes to foot health — not to mention the germs — but it goes beyond that. “It’s easy to slip on a sandal or flip flop but make sure they are high quality and foot friendly,” says Jacqueline Sutera, DPM Doctor of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery, and spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “Many summer shoes, flip flops and sandals tend to be too flat and flimsy. Too much time walking in these types of shoes can lead to not only foot pain and injury but also knee, hip and back pain.” Did you know that certain types of espadrilles and even wedges can be bad news? These are the seven types of summer shoes you should never wear — and what you can swap them with instead.

“Fashion” sneakers

Just because they’re “sneakers” doesn’t mean they’re good for your feet. Sneakers that meant as a style statement and not the gym are in a very different category. “They can be bad if they are worn for more than casual walking and standing,” Sutera says. “Fashion sneakers should not be used for exercise. They are for errands, movies, shopping, commuting, etc.”

Flat flip flops

“Not all flip flops are created equally,” Sutera cautions. “Avoid flat and thin types for day-to-day use. These are intended for the beach — not the streets. They are bad because they offer little to no support. Opt for thicker styles with arch support built in.”

Very high heels

The higher the heel, the more they distort your entire skeleton, causing your knees and hips to move forward and your back to hyperextend backward. “Look for styles that are three inches and below, but the APMA recommends that we stick to 2 inches, because after 2 inches is when most of the damage really occurs,” Sutera says. “Also, have a ‘shoe wardrobe’ with a variety of different shoes. In addition to pumps, include wedges, which distribute body weight across a greater surface area, and platforms, which allows you to cheat with the height a little bit!”

Flat sandals

These are bad news for feet because they lack support, arches and cushioning. “These shoes will offer no shock absorption and can lead to foot, knee, hip and back pain, especially if overused during the summer,” Sutera says.

Unlined espadrilles

“Espadrilles can be uncomfortable depending on the fabrics,” Sutera says. “Look for brands that offer style that are also comfortable.” Avoid ones that don’t have any inner lining, since the rough fabric can take a toll on your skin.

Very high and stiff wedges

“These can allow you walk in a very awkward way and make you prone to loss of balance, sprains and even falls,” Sutera says. “Look for wedges that bend at the forefoot, three inches or less in heel height, and that are cushioned. This allows more comfortable and natural walking versus the stiffer and higher wedges.”

Thin ballerina flats

“Opt for more supportive versions that have the look but also have hidden cushion and arch support,” Sutera says.

To protect your feet, do not wear same shoes all day and every day. “Be sure to alternate — the feet and the body love variety and moderation,” Sutera says. “Replace all old shoes. Do not wear hand me down shoes or shoes that used to fit.”

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