Aside from the humidity, the weather is quite lovely in most parts of the country right now. Sunshine, along with a wealth of activities beckoning people outdoors, make for an active summer for many Americans.
So you’ve got your yoga gear, your beach ball, your swimsuit and your theme-park passes ready to go. But what about those two often-neglected body parts that will support your weight in its entirety during all that trekking you’ve got planned?
With all the running around you’re likely to get into this summer, your feet are sure to take a beating. But they don’t have to. Read on for FN’s five things you can do for your feet this summer.
Invest in Sport-Specific Shoes
Whether you’re running this summer or playing a little volleyball or tennis, the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) says the right footwear can help prevent injuries.
Heavy running or a walk-heavy morning commute, for example, can lead to conditions such as plantar fasciitis, Morton’s neuroma and stress fractures. To help prevent such injuries, the APMA suggests using footwear that provides shock absorption and also ensuring that your shoes are a good fit for your type of arch.
For sports such as volleyball or tennis, the APMA recommends shoes with a thick, stiff sole that provides support for impact.
When you’re slathering sunscreen all over your face, arms and chest this summer, don’t forget to apply that protection to your feet as well. Feet are also susceptible to sunburn and even long-term heat damage, says the APMA.
“Remember to apply sunscreen all over your feet, especially the tops and fronts of ankles, and don’t forget to reapply after you’ve been in the water,” the APMA advises.
Replace Worn-Out Shoes
The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM) says the typical running shoe should be replaced every 350 to 500 miles, but this varies based on the weight and size of the runner. The APMA gives a longer range, suggesting that shoes be replaced after 600 to 800 miles of running or walking.
Athlete or not, many people find themselves doing more walking or running during the summer months than other times of year. And chasing those kids around Disney World will make a world-class athlete out of the most diehard couch potato, so making sure your shoes are up to the challenge is important.
Worn-out shoe materials impede shock absorption, which can lead to injury. Replacing distressed shoes can be a relatively inexpensive investment in preventative medicine, says AAPSM.
Don’t Go Shoeless
When engaging in outdoor activities such as seaside yoga or hanging out at the pool, it’s still important not to walk around barefoot, podiatrists caution.
“Limit walking barefoot as it exposes feet to sunburn, as well as plantar warts, athlete’s foot, ringworm and other infections and also increases risk of injury to your feet,” says one report published by the APMA.
When you’re walking around the pool, beach or locker room, always wear a pair of flip-flops to avoid contracting bacterial infections and prevent cuts from broken glass or debris on the ground, the APMA notes.
Wiggle Those Toes
Summer is also prime time for family vacations and other adventurous travel, which can mean hours on an airplane or in a car.
During that cross-country drive to the mountains, don’t forget to rotate, point and flex your feet, toes and ankles frequently because showing up for a family reunion with feet the size of water balloons is a surefire way to ruin your stay.
“Keep blood flowing with periodic ankle flexes, toe wiggles and calf stretches,” the APMA says.
And once you arrive, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
“This will not only help with overall health but will also minimize any foot swelling caused by the heat,” says the APMA.