DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I recently moved south to take advantage of the warmer weather. I’m thrilled to be able to adopt sandals, flip flops and more casual shoes this summer. Do you have any tips on the best ways to protect ankles, feet and toes?

ANSWER: Whether you live in a warmer climate or not, summer brings outdoor barbecues, family outings, and activities that call for open-toed or casual shoes. Whether it’s going out for a morning walk at the beach or playing on the lawn with the kids, your feet keep you moving.

Did you know that the feet and ankles absorb about 120% of a person’s body weight? It’s a big force, so it’s important to keep your lower extremities safe and protected.

Here are my top recommendations to consider when it comes to summer safety tips for ankles, feet, and toes:

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Wear footwear appropriate for your activities.

At the beach or by the pool, flip flops or other rubber shoes similar to clogs can work well because they are easy to put on and take off. are relatively inexpensive; and protect the soles of the feet from rough walking surfaces, such as hot sand or concrete around the pool. Some types of shoes provide better arch support than others.

For extra protection, especially if you’re someone with health issues or sensitive feet, consider water shoes. You can find water shoes online or at sporting goods stores.

If you’re going shopping, going to a barbecue, or planning a night out on the town during the warmer months, consider sandals that have arch support and conform to the shape of your feet. This extra support can help distribute weight more evenly across the balls of the feet and reduce stress and fatigue. Other options include casual shoes, such as loafers, flats, or low-heeled shoes.

Athletic shoes, such as walking shoes or running shoes, are an excellent choice for activities that involve standing for long periods of time, such as attending a state fair, going for a long walk, or spending a day walking. explore the city. Sports shoes provide good shock absorption properties; offer more protection than open-toed shoes; and can be light, breathable, cool and comfortable.

For the more adventurous who go on the trails, choose a good pair of hiking shoes. This type of shoe has a stronger and more robust outsole and heavier materials surrounding the feet to protect them. Consider hiking shoes with more support around the ankles to reduce the risk of ankle sprain, which is a common injury for those who walk on uneven terrain. Also consider the width of the toe box and the fact that you may need to wear thicker socks.

Allow a break-in time for new shoes.

In addition to wearing shoes that are appropriate for your activities, when buying new shoes, take your shoes or sandals home and try them on hard and soft surfaces. Then, gradually increase your indoor wear time to make sure the shoes will work for you.

Ask what the return policy is when buying new shoes. Give yourself a trial period of at least a week or two. Watch for areas of irritation, redness, or blisters on your skin, which may be from friction or pressure, and make sure the shoes are comfortable and secure for long-term use.

Replace your shoes as needed.

Monitor your shoes for signs of wear. Check your shoes or sandals for any signs of wear on the outsole, excessive compression or deterioration of the insoles, and tears or holes in the material that covers the feet.

Worn-out shoes may not support your feet as well, which can lead to potential injury to tendons, ligaments, or muscles.

Wear socks in closed shoes.

Closed-toed shoes can tend to cause chafing and chafing on the skin, especially in hot weather when feet sweat or when wearing new shoes. Socks act as a protective layer between the skin and the shoes. Consider wearing poly-blend socks with good moisture-wicking properties to keep feet cool and dry on hot days. Also remember to change socks throughout the day if necessary if they are wet.

Clean your feet daily with soap and water. Dry gently between your toes after bathing or showering. Apply lotion or moisturizer to dry skin as needed. Keep your nails trimmed and prevent callus buildup with a pumice stone or skin file. You can also consider a visit to a podiatrist.

For people with diabetes, poor circulation, immunocompromised status, or other health conditions that may affect the feet and ankles, seek advice from a foot care specialist such as a podiatrist or your healthcare provider. primary care for nails, calluses and foot care.

Don’t forget sunscreen and insect repellent.

To avoid sunburn on your feet and ankles, apply sunscreen to these areas when exposed. Apply as recommended and consider reapplying often, remembering that it can easily be washed off with water. Also use insect repellent when your feet or ankles are exposed to grassy or wooded areas. This way you can avoid the consequences of contact with ticks, chiggers and mosquitoes.

With these supportive measures and just paying attention to your lower extremities, you can avoid foot pain and ankle problems, hope you don’t hurt yourself and enjoy your summer. If you experience balance issues, changes in your gait, or have other concerns about your toes, feet, or ankles, contact a podiatrist or other specialist who can guide you toward more specific care.

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