It's sun's out, toes out, as far as I'm concerned. As soon as the mercury rises, I'm all about trying to create my own flawless DIY home pedicure and showing off the results — and I have my suspicions I'm not the only one. When the warmer weather does occasionally grace the UK with its presence, my fellow flip-flop fans come out in force. But from one summer shoe lover to another, have you ever noticed how ridiculously painful they can be? Well, we've found out why, and it's all to do with how your feet swell in the heat.
When it comes to gladiator sandals, plimsoles, or the humble slide, summer shoes can leave you with more blisters than a pair of six-inch heels — despite how deceivingly comfy they look. But the good news is there's a way you can easily stop the pain. You see, almost all of us are wearing the wrong shoe size in the summer, according to a new study by footcare experts Compeed.
Have you ever noticed that your fingers swell up at the end of the day, and that rings feel tighter than they do first thing in the morning? Well, according to health and lifestyle site Prevention, that's because when your fingers are hot, they swell up due to your blood vessels expanding, allowing heat to escape through your skin. Thanks to summer temperatures, our feet are permanently more swollen than in the winter — and so we should be wearing at least a half size bigger to compensate, says the new study by the blister plaster company.
This is a rather little known fact. In Compeed's recent survey of 1,087 British women, 94 percent of participants didn't know that they need to change their shoe size in the warmer months. No wonder it's painful feet all round.
But what does wearing shoes that are too small actually do to our feet? Podiatrist and chiropodist Hiren Patel tells me: "Swollen feet and too-small shoes cause further pressure on your feet — and mostly the toes. This creates a rubbing pressure on top of the toes, which can lead to corns forming... It is thickened skin, which the body has produced to protect itself. This is long-term damage to the toes and in most cases cannot be rectified."
Another downside to wearing too-small shoes in the summer, Patel says, is the fungal infection Athlete's foot, which is caused by the pressure and the hot, sweaty conditions produced in constricted shoes.
But what about blisters? I decided to ask consultant podiatrist Emma Supple, who was involved in the Compeed study, why they're more common in the summer. She says:
"They're caused when the internal tissue layers of the skin stretch — or shear — which, when repetitive enough, breaks down the internal ‘pegs’, the structural connections, that join these tissue layers. Wearing shoes that are too small exacerbates this shearing, leading to painful blisters. One way of avoiding these blisters is to ensure that your summer shoes are big enough to cope with your feet swelling."
I guess this surprising revelation could very well explain why I feel a painful blister emerging about 10 minutes into a wedding, where I often wear sandals. But at least now, my feet feel armed and ready for the summer.
Call it an excuse to shop, call it a chance to borrow your friend's shoes. Just remember that as of now, you should be wearing bigger shoes than you do in the winter, to prevent your feet from really suffering.
With so much information, I am truly excited to not be in pain once the warmer weather gets here. Bring it on.