I think I have a problem: Aside from the sneakers I wear when I hit the gym, the only shoes I've worn for the past four months are my patent nude Sam Edelman Gigi Flat Sandals. I can't help it, guys. They literally go with everything and are appropriate for almost any occasion, they show off my bright summer pedis, give my feet a sweet t-strap tan line, and they don't add any extra ( and frankly, unwanted) height to my 6'2'' frame.
Any podiatrist reading this right now is shaking his or her head in disappointment. Why? Because I'm not being very nice to my feet. Seriously, my soles are covered in callouses, and my heels are beginning to blister. But what I'm now realizing is that I need to be kinder to my feet, who've been doing a lot of walking lately.
The good news is that it is fact possible to find sandals that won't totally ruin your feet. Because, really, who wants to give up flip flops and strappy shoes during summer? For a little help, I searched the Internet for the best tips on how to treat your feet well in sandals. Here's what I found:
1. Beware of Backless Styles
Flip flops are great for poolside frolicking, but beware of overdoing it with those backless styles. They add extra pressure on your toes, among other things. "When walking in backless foot wear ... your heel slides side to side, creating friction, and your toes have a tendency to grab the ground," podiatrist Dr. Steve Rosenberg wrote at The Huffington Post. "This can form a buildup of hard thick dry skin known as callous tissue. Over time this tissue eventually can crack, causing the heel to become very painful or the tips of your toes to get inflamed."
These turquoise sandals have all of the foot-friendly features you need — arch support, cushioned insole, a closed back — because they were designed by orthopedic surgeon Taryn Rose. Styles like this will keep your feet feeling good for hours.
2. It's All About The Arches
Whenever possible, opt for a sandal that has a little arch support. This'll be tricky to find in flip flops and some thong sandal styles, but they're out there! "Finding supportive summer footwear or arch products... will greatly reduce some common foot problems," Dr. Rosenberg wrote. "Tired legs, sore backs, arch cramps, and general muscle fatigue" are just some of the aches that can ensue after a day of walking around on flat feet.
3. Think About Your Day Ahead
You bring a sweater if you're going to eat at a restaurant, you use the bathroom before a long car ride, you book your On The Run tickets months in advance, etc. So why shouldn't you plan your footwear too? If you know you're going to be doing a lot of walking, leave the flip flops and highs heels at home. "Dress shoes weren't meant to walk a quarter-mile from the metro," podiatrist Dr. Alison Garten told the Wall Street Journal . "That's exercise. Nobody would dare exercise in a pair of high heels."
Flip flops aren't the way to go if you plan on doing a lot of walking. Instead, look for shoes with more support. Your feet will thank you! (Image: Getty Images)
4. Go Big, And You'll Go Home
This tip seems like a no brainer, but buy shoes that actually fit your feet. (This doesn't just apply to sandals, by the way.) "If the sandal is too big, your foot will slide around, which will create blisters," Dr. Rosenberg wrote. "It could also cause the toes to grip the floor of the shoe resulting in an unidentifiable foot pain that comes on gradually after a long day walking and shopping."
5. Get By With a Little Help
There's no shame in asking for a little help, and there are plenty of products on the market that are ready to lend a... hand? Foot? Before you relegate agonizing slingbacks and thong sandals to the category of regrettable purchases, strap these on for size. Brynn Mannino of Woman's Day recommends a plethora of products that'll help mitigate foot pain, but my personal favorite are the FootPetals' Strappy Strips. They're perfect for gladiators and other strappy styles. "Available in four colors, these thin strips adhere to the inside of your shoe straps to help prevent painful blisters and ugly red marks caused by slipping straps and excess friction," writes Mannino. Genius!
Stick these adhesive cushioned straps on the insides of strappy sandals to protect your feet against blisters.
6. Wax On
Don't have any Strappy Strips on hand? Shoe designer Anyi Lu has another solution, which she divulged to the Wall Street Journal. "She rubs candle wax or beeswax on problem areas of the leather lining... to soften and smooth them," the paper reported.
7. Wax... Off?
And when wax isn't an option, either, reach for your medicine cabinet for a product I suspect (hope) we all have: deodorant. "Place antiperspirant or friction block on the straps," Aldatz told Fab Sugar. This is an especially useful tip for hot days when your feet can get super sweaty.
Products like this one provide some invisible relief from irritating sandal straps.
8. Elastics Are Everything
"Any time you can find an elasticized insertion, that's a really good thing because it's going to keep the fit customized to your foot," Aldatz told Fab Sugar. Adjustable straps are also great for the same reason. The most important thing is to make sure your sandal fits your foot as best as possible.
Since your feet are likely to swell in the summer heat, a elastic band will provide you with some extra room to grow without the shoes being too big.