The Shoes of Summer

| Posted On Jul 26, 2011 | By:

When you think about it, shoes serve any, if not all, of these three purposes:

    1. They help protect the skin of the foot from trauma.
  1. They support the foot so that it functions better with less discomfort while also reducing the risk of injury.
  2. For some, the shoes we wear tell the world something about ourselves, our sense of style, what we like to do, and who we like to associate with.

However, these three purposes often clash, especially in the summer.  In warm weather, our feet may get hot and sweaty, so we seek relief from the heat with lightweight, but less protective and less supportive, footwear.  Also during the warm summer weather, we tend to engage in more outdoor activities such as walking, running and hiking – we may be on vacation, but our feet may be hard at work!  Certain styles of summer shoes, however, may put you at risk for aches, pains, and injuries that can limit your fun.

A little common sense can go a long way to help you enjoy outdoor activities in New England without limping around on the sidelines because you wore shoes that didn’t provide proper support and protection.  Let’s look at a type of shoe that you may choose in the summer months (and perhaps other times as well) and when and where it is best to wear it.

Sandals and flip-flops

Sandals come in more styles and colors than we can count, but are any open type of footwear that usually leave most of the upper part of the foot exposed, especially the toes.

Flip-flops are probably the most common form of sandals. Flip-flops usually have a hard plastic or rubber flat bottom and a “t-shaped” strap that fits between the first and second toes to hold the foot in place. Wearing flip-flops around the lake, beach, pool, and the locker room is excellent protection against injury to the bottom of the foot, and they help you avoid infectious diseases such as athlete’s foot and plantar warts.  Flip-flops have become more socially acceptable as footwear for almost all occasions.  They’re popular because they’re easy to carry, come in an assortment of colors and patterns and are usually inexpensive.

However, wearing flip-flops as all-around summer footwear should be done with caution for the following reasons:

If you decide to wear flip-flops for more than beach wear protection, you should choose a better-made, more expensive pair, with a well-constructed, padded sole, a better outer sole pattern, and a molded arch support.

A well-constructed sandal with built-in arch support, deep heel cup, slightly elevated heel or ankle straps to help support the foot in a stable position should be considered as a reasonable alternative.


Going barefoot in the summer is something many look forward to and may be a style statement, “look at me, I’m carefree and daring!”  For most people, there are times when going without shoes seems perfectly normal, such as at the pool or beach.  But in most instances, walking barefoot is not a good idea, even around the house but especially outside, because there is no protection or support for the foot.  If you can’t resist the urge to remove your shoes and socks, here are some tips to kind in mind:

You can avoid these potential problems by wearing pool shoes while swimming or at the beach. These shoes tend to be soft and comfortable, but be careful that they fit properly to avoid blisters and toe irritations.

In conclusion

The most important thing to remember when choosing your shoes of summer is common sense.  It’s up to you to know yourself and your body and which shoes are best for you.  Everyone is different, and a shoe that is comfortable for one person may result in a ruined summer for another.

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  1. I’m curious about the current trend of wearing & training in so-called ‘minimalist’ or barefoot/five finger shoes. On the one hand, they do seem to offer protection for a barefoot type experience but don’t offer traditional support for the foot/ankle. In fact, it seems that that lack of support and gradual adaptation to a barefoot gate is being touted as good thing. I guess it just depends on the individual.

    Comment by John Still on August 5, 2011 at 12:45 pm
  2. Orthaheel brand flip flops prevent over-pronation better than any of the multi-hundred dollar orthotics I have had over many years, none of which damn HPHC has paid for. Orthaheels are $60/pair and they should be covered too!

    Your system of not paying for podiatrists/orthotics and leaving people to walk wrong and wear out joints that you do pay to replace is just insane. $60 vs. $15,000 — escalating healthcare costs — let’s see — picking the $15K operation makes more sense — ???

    Comment by Marcia Peters on August 5, 2011 at 1:58 pm
  3. Common sense told me that my legs and lower back were killing me while lying in bed every night due to my flip flops but reading your article sealed the deal! I’m going back to my orthotic and comfy walking shoes unless I’m sitting down! Thanks!!

    Comment by Nancy Younossi on August 5, 2011 at 6:43 pm
  4. Thank you for this article!
    I agree, it’s bad for the ankle to wear flip flops
    I’m now back to wearing my (expensive!) sneakers, as I need the shock absorbtion and the support (but they can be too hot during a heat wave).
    I’d be interested to know: what is it when it hurts on the ball of your foot (my left one)? Is it as Dr. Oz says, your foot bones coming out there, or plantar warts, and what about those: removal or what; and how?

    Comment by Cindy Grimes on August 5, 2011 at 11:53 pm
  5. I have a couple of concerns here:

    Are you advocating the use of DEET as an insect repellant? Surely, it does work – but it is extremely toxic. A bit more clarification here would be helpful.

    Additionally, what type of foot protection do you recommend? There are shoes, and then there are shoes, if you get my drift. Many types are distinctly harmful to our feet. So merely warning about sandals or flip flops (neither of which I wear) doesn’t really help a great deal without information about what kind of shoe wear might be a healthy alternative.

    And your admonitions against going barefoot are equally anemic, in my opinion. Yes, there are dangers here. Common sense might prevail a bit. However, I find it difficult to believe that walking on our own feet, as nature intended (since none of us were born with a pair of shoes attached to the placenta) is universally harmful.

    All in all, I think you have some decent points, but they really need to be fleshed out a bit to be truly instructive.

    Comment by Jacqie Lamb on August 6, 2011 at 8:51 pm
  6. I have been wearing Vionic sandals and shoes for my plantar fascitis for years. Pricey but worth it. Buy at or

    Comment by Cynthia Kelly on June 12, 2019 at 2:18 pm
  7. Please listen to this sage advice! I tripped over my flip flops while walking down the stairs in my home, broke my femur in two places. Ended up in a wheel chair for months, PT and a year later still not the same. My active life has changed dramatically. Wear the good, and yes, expensive shoes/sneakers/orthotics. Humans have long lost the muscle/tendon tone in their feet to support barefoot walking. Your well being is priceless! Take it from one who knows the cost.

    Comment by Donna Clancy on June 13, 2019 at 8:10 am

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