The summer dresses are out, the tennis is on and the Pimm’s is making you suitably woozy, but there’s still something not quite right…
The first sign of sun meant a rush on buying new flip flops, strappy heels, gladiator sandals and peep toes, but after months of being encased in winter boots, woolly socks and thick tights, feet get pale, soft and vulnerable to the ravages of summer footwear.
And, like the constant tinny buzz of a mosquito you can’t catch to squash, it’s difficult to ignore the pain of a blister thanks to sweaty soles, or the between-the-toe rub of flip flops. It’s even more disappointing when sandals you adored last summer now feel a touch too small.
“If our feet aren’t in good shape, then summer can be miserable,” says Emma Supple from The College of Podiatry. “Our general health and wellbeing depend on us being able to get up and move, so good foot health is essential.
“The summer is also when we are most likely to want to have our feet on show with sandals, open toe shoes and barefoot walks on the beach or by a pool, but some people feel unable to do this due to embarrassment about their feet.”
According to the college, which celebrated Foot For Life Month in June, adults can produce up to an egg cup of sweat from their feet on a hot summer’s day. They recommend buying new shoes during the afternoon, as this is when your feet are at their largest, and advocate regular foot massages (yay!) and washing your extremities at least once a day to prevent bad odours.
Emma adds: “If you are experiencing discomfort in your feet, it is usually because you aren’t wearing the right footwear for the activity you are doing.
“You don’t need to put up with it so do seek professional advice.”
Fortunately, there are a few nifty tricks you can employ to help ease your feet into the new shoe season too.
Here are 10 top tips to get you walking tall:
1. That slap you hear as you walk along in flip-flops can cause blisters on your soles. Douse flip-flops in hair spray to increase grip and stop your feet from slipping, sliding and slapping about. You can also sandpaper the bottoms of sandals to improve grip.
2. Heels can be painful to wear regardless of the weather. Party feet inserts and gel cushions are a good starting point for a bit of extra padding – and they’re invisible and reusable, unlike plasters.
3. One of the best ways to prevent blisters is to smother your heels in Vaseline or roll-on deodorant. It provides a layer of friction-free protection and works to soak into and soften your shoes.
4. The tops of your feet are particularly susceptible to catching harmful UV rays, so don’t forget to apply SPF sun cream below your ankles. Burnt feet can be very painful and prone to swelling, making it even more painful than usual to wear sandals.
5. Avoid wearing wet sandals or flip flops. Not only will the damp make them slip, it can lead to uncomfortable chafing and may result in a fungal infection.
6. Shoes too small? Pull on a thick pair of socks and ease your feet into your shoes, then blast the socks with a hair dryer (it sounds strange, but trust us). As the material heats up, it will soften the fabric of the shoes and help them to stretch.
7. Alternatively, if it’s too hot to contemplate heating your feet up with a hairdryer, keep the socks on and wear your new shoes around the house, or even just keep slipping your feet in and out of them under your desk at work.
8. Another trick is to fill a plastic sandwich bag with water, pop it in the toes of the shoes you want to stretch and place in the freezer over night. As the water turns to ice, it will expand, stretching the shoes as it does so.
9. No matter how careful you are to avoid blisters, your feet may still suffer. Alternate between heels, sandals and trainers to give your toes and soles a break, as well as a chance to heal and toughen up.