Splashing about: water shoes and summer footcare
With summer school vacations finally on the horizon, many of us here in Ontario will be planning family activities in and around our lovely lakes such as sailing and boating, kayaking, windsurfing and paddle boarding, or just lazy days on a lakeshore beach!
If you’re the active type, chances are your summer footwear collection already includes footwear for your favourite activities. If your feet are more accustomed to being under a desk than standing on one, wearing appropriate shoes over the summer months is as important as in the winter.
Watersports and water activities
If your ideal day is spent in and out of the water, it’s worth investing in water shoes that are specially designed for this. Lightweight and flexible, modern water shoes often have a neoprene upper and mesh panels to allow water to drain through the shoe. A firm plastic or rubber sole provides extra grip on slippery rocks, steps or decking, and helps protects your feet from pebbles, gritty sand and unseen items on the lake or river bed.
In theory, you can wear these shoes all day long. In practice, you may want to take them off and dry both the shoes and your feet at intervals. Always rinse down the shoes at night to remove any lake water, grit or sand, and wash and carefully dry your feet too. Have a dry pair of summer shoes to wear at night, and make sure your water shoes are left somewhere suitable to dry, ready to wear the next day.
Deck shoes for boating
Deck shoes come in various materials and styles, some of which you really don’t want to get wet! Leather boat shoes look elegant, and are great for when you don’t plan to get your feet wet (and hop off the boat and into the yacht club!). Smart canvas deck shoes will dry out if you get them wet, but they do need a longer time to dry out.
Windsurfing and paddle board shoes
Specialist windsurfing board shoes (sometimes called booties) combine a tight-fitting neoprene “sock” often above ankle height with a thick rubber or latex sole. The aim is to keep the ‘barefoot’ feel but protect your feet from sharp shells, gavel and stones. Most watersport boards loose their grippy surface over time, so wearing a windsurf shoe helps you maintain your foothold better.
According to Ollie Acton, a paddleboard and windsurfer coach,
“The whole windsurf shoe should feel very flexible and not try to offer support or be rigid in places. When we windsurf sometimes our toes need to curl up, especially when jumping, and our ankles need to be manoeuvrable. An easy way to test how flexible the shoe might be is to try to roll it up in a ball. If it’s impossible or offering a lot of resistance, chances are the shoe is not flexible enough.”
The important thing to remember about these type of footwear is that it is designed for use during the sport, not after! Sit in the sun in these booties too long and your feet will heat up quickly and sweat. Once you’ve packed away your board, take off these shoes and rinse them out. Then wash your feet free of any sand and lake water, and pop on some dry shoes.
Summer shoes and arch support
Many cheaper flat summer shoes and basic flip flops offer little or no support to your feet. As a result, your gait may be affected and you may experience tired, sore feet and heel pain.
A better choice would be an ergonomically-shaped summer toe post sandal or a stylish summer sneaker with build-in support. Both are designed to keep your feet supported, cool and comfortable.
If you find your summer sneakers or deck shoes don’t offer you sufficient support, you might need a pair of custom orthotics. Moulded to your feet to offer optimum support, you simply slip these insoles into any summer shoe. (Check at your orthotics fitting if you’re able to get your orthotics wet – not all are water-friendly!).
For more information on custom orthotics, call us for an appointment. Or check out our custom orthotics service here.
Contact your local foot care clinic today
Call us to make an appointment at one of our three local foot clinics in Ontario.