Healthy and Beautiful Sandals

Flip SandalsOnce I solved the riddle of  painful shoes, I decided to drill down and  look at different types of  footwear.  Its been years since  I had  enjoyed walking in sandals, so I decided to explore  what  made sandals so uncomfortable..  According to NYC podiatrist Dr Michael Schumacher there are three key issues  in a sandal:

1. Sandal  Cushioning

The search for  a  foot- friendly sandal starts at the bottom with  padding.  You want  a nice soft layer of rubber on the  soles and a layer of foam  on the inside of the sandal.  This would start to explain  why those uber  chic leather designer sandals are  just dialing for pain

2. Sandals Need  A Little Heel

We all know that towering heels  are never  good for the feet, but what is less well known is that  totally flat shoes have their own set  of  problems for the feet. Dr Schumacher recmmends an ideal heel  height of  one to two inches– another reason why  those jeweled flat italian  sandals are so painful

3.  Sandal Support

Here is  where  many sandels fail to meet the grade.  A few strips of leather or ribbon  just cannot  provide the support for the arch, stabilize the heel  and allow the toes to stay relaxed. If the sandal has a single strap across  the instep , it needs to be wide enough to cover the  toes. This means that the toes don’t have to be clenched to keep the shoe on the foot. You will get even more support if the sandal straps go up the instep and around the ankle.

Putting Sandal Theory Into Practice

I brought a pile of sandal photos to Dr Schumacher to pick out the winners from the  losers;

1.Flip Flops– The  number one worst sandal ever  sandal  is the always popular  flip flop.  Originally designed to protect the feet from infections in public showers, it  has  now morphed into a  the summer shoe  for all occasions. Not only  do they tend to become moldly, the rough rubber soles produce friction blisters.  The toes need to grip the  sole so tightly  that the foot can develop tendonitis and encourage  development of bunions and hammertoes.

flat leather sandals2. Flat leather sandals– This  style is  a favorite  with   celebrated designers and seemingly essential  for summer fashion  layouts.    While the thin  strips hold the foot to the  shoe better than the  flip flop, the total absence of cushioning and the uber flat heel make this a problem from the soles of your feet to  the top of your spine.

platform sandals3 Wedge sandal–  While the feet need a one to two inch heel  for optimum confort,  four inch  platforms  leave the ankle vulnerable to  sprains and breaks.  However if the  wedge sandal is two inches  or less, this  sandal  is a winner  for both  your feet and spine.

4. The Slide Sandal- This is the backless flat leather sandal that is  even  more popular than the rubber flip flop.  It  holds the heel down somewhat more than the flip flop, but it lacks suppport, cushioning and a  little lift to raise the heel.

The Better Sandal

If you feel I have described  just about every sandal  you see  in the street,  you  would not be  that wrong.  Most of us  spend the summer in sandals that hurt  our feet, knees and back.  But  it doesn’t have to be that way.  There are  many  affordable, foot- friendly sandals  in the stores– you  just have  to know what to look for.

Birkenstock sandalsThe Beauty of Birkenstock Sandals

For me,  “Birks”  were cluncky, unflattering brown suede sandals.  Then designers  that included  Celine and  Givenchy sent their models out on the runway wearing  Birkenstocks in red , white or black patant leather.  Suddenly comfort  was   chic and IMO  definately a sign of a smarter planet.  These now  cool sandals   get it right from the tip of  your toe to the back of your heel.  The show is padded  both  inside and  out.  The toes nestle in a slight depression and a  rim around the toes and heel adds extra protection.  The broad straps  keep the heel flat against the shoe and  provide support for the arch.  The molded sole adds additional arch  support for every part of the foot.

Birkenstocks are  just one  option for foot  saavy sandals. Platform sandals  that have GOOD SANDALcushioning and are  between 1-2 inches are another  foot friendly option.  Platform espadrilles and  even gladiator sandals meet the grade if they have both padding and a raised heel.  Just keep the three key  factors in mind– raised heel, padding and support– when shopping for sandals and you will have a beautiful,  comfortable summer.


One thought on “Healthy and Beautiful Sandals

  1. I can’t stand the feeling of flip flops and I’m too self-conscious about my feet to feel comfortable in open-toe sandals 🙁 I do love gladiator sandals though. I’m trying to find a pair without an open toe!

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