Protecting Your Feet During the Summer

Two feet in white sandals on green grass
Is kicking off your shoes the first thing you do when warm weather rolls around? Unearthing your feet from winter’s thick socks and heavy footwear can be especially freeing when temperatures climb, but summer presents a few risks to newly bare feet. If you’re gearing up for a summer spent outdoors, you’ll want to protect your feet so they don’t keep you from enjoying the season. Our warm-weather foot safety tips can help your feet feel and look great this summer!  

Are Flip-Flops Good for Feet?

For many, flip-flops are the footwear of choice during the summertime. They slide on easily, keep your feet cool and fit perfectly at those casual summer gatherings. But for all their casual comfort, flip-flops don’t do your feet many favors when it comes to support. The plantar fascia is a ligament in the bottom of our feet that connects our heel to our toes. This ligament can stretch and tear without proper support, resulting in heel pain known as plantar fasciitis. Wearing flip-flops can increase your risk of plantar fasciitis in the following three ways:
  • Your toes must flex and grip the strap to hold the flip-flop in place as you walk. This motion can stretch the plantar fascia.
  • The minimal arch support in flip-flops allows your foot to flatten against the ground more than usual as you step. This position can also cause the plantar fascia to stretch.
  • When you step, your heel strikes the ground first. But with only a thin flip-flop for cushioning, your heel will absorb much of the ground’s impact, further straining the plantar fascia.
In addition to plantar fasciitis, too much time wearing flip-flops can contribute to the following foot and leg concerns:
  • Blisters: Flip-flop straps can dig into the skin between your toes and on top of your foot. That friction, combined with moisture from water or sweat, can be the perfect storm for blisters to form.
  • Shin splints: The barely-there nature of flip-flops can cause your shin muscles to work harder than if you’d worn more stable shoes or even gone barefoot. Tiny tears can develop in these muscles when you overwork them, resulting in a painful condition known as shin splints.
  • Sprained ankles: Your ankles are more prone to rolling when you wear flip-flops, as they don’t offer ankle support. If you wear flip-flops continually over time, your ankles can become less steady and more vulnerable to sprains. 
Of course, there are still plenty of occasions where it’s okay to wear flip-flops, such as when heading to the beach, lake, or pool or for a quick dash outside to grab the mail or meet the delivery guy. And if you’re choosing between going barefoot or wearing flip-flops, a shoe of any kind is the better choice. Below are situations in which you should pass over flip-flops for a more stable, supportive shoe:
  • Walking long distances
  • Playing sports
  • Driving

Can My Feet Get Sunburned?

Your feet are just as vulnerable to sunburn as any other part of your body, especially when you first bare them after a long winter wearing warm socks and heavy shoes. It can be easy to forget to apply sunscreen to the tops of your feet. And even if you do remember, summer activities like swimming can wash it off quickly. You can protect your feet from sun damage by liberally applying an SPF of 15 or higher. Reapply every two hours or more frequently if you’re sweating or swimming.  

How to Keep Your Feet Safe During the Summer

The following tips can help keep your feet safe during the summer months:

Avoid Going Barefoot

Going barefooted outdoors might be freeing, but you may want to think twice if you’d rather avoid the following:
  • Stepping on small, sharp objects like glass or splinters
  • Scorching your soles on hot asphalt or sand
  • Getting scrapes or blisters from rough surfaces
  • Catching a fungal or bacterial infection, particularly in places with standing water

Wear the Right Socks and Shoes

Whether your summer adventures call for hiking, biking or heading to the water, the right footwear can ensure your feet are up to the occasion. Keeping your feet dry can help ward off foot fungal infections. Opt for socks made of moisture-wicking material and free of bulky seams and stitching, as these can cause blisters. Sturdy, supportive shoes are best when you’re physically active. Water shoes help protect your feet while you enjoy the ocean, lake or river, as unseen hazards lurking there can harm your feet.

Choose Supportive Sandals

Sandals are practically synonymous with summertime. Choose sandals with arch support and plenty of cushioning to keep your feet comfortable and supported.

Clean and Dry Your Feet After Water Activities

The fungi that cause foot fungal infections thrive in moisture. These infections are often caught and spread in public swimming areas, so cleaning and drying your feet thoroughly after water activities is a good idea.

Drink Water

Summer heat can cause our bodies to retain water, which may lead to uncomfortable swelling in the feet. Drinking plenty of fluids can help minimize swelling by letting our bodies know it’s okay to flush out extra water.


The skin on our feet tends to dry out in the summertime as we’re more likely to go without socks. Moisturizing your feet can help prevent dry, cracked skin, which may invite infection. Just avoid applying it between your toes, as it can get trapped there and breed fungus.  

Trim Your Toenails Regularly

Long nails can harbor dirt and bacteria, which may cause an infection. Keep your toenails clean by trimming them regularly. Using nail clippers, cut the nail straight across and use an emery board to smooth any rough edges. Your nail care routine is a good opportunity to inspect your feet for any scratches, cuts, blisters, redness or inflammation. Catching a foot issue early can help you avoid more serious complications later.

Use Bug-Repellant Spray

Bugs are decidedly one of the more bothersome features of summer, but you can keep your feet protected from pesky bites with a bug-repellant spray.  

Experience Exceptional Foot and Ankle Care at Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates

No matter the season, healthy and happy feet are integral to your well-being. At Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates, we understand that foot and ankle conditions can hold you back from living a fulfilled life. Our podiatry services can help you get back to the life you want. Whether you need care for an ingrown toenail or treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, we address foot and ankle concerns of all kinds. Call us today at 360-754-3338 or fill out a contact form to speak with our team about how we can help you put your best foot forward.  


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