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Keep your feet happy — and healthy — this summer

By The Health News Team | June 7, 2024
Person walking on path wearing athletic shoes

As we eagerly anticipate the arrival of summer, it's crucial to prioritize the care of our feet. From leisurely beach strolls to adventurous mountain hikes, our feet and ankles bear the brunt of various seasonal elements and activities, which can occasionally lead to injuries.

"Foot and ankle injuries can vary from sprains, strains and fractures to skin injuries that can have serious consequences," says Dr. Howie Que, a podiatrist affiliated with Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.

To avoid injuries and maintain healthy feet and ankles throughout the summer, Dr. Que joins the American Podiatric Medical Association in recommending you:


Stay hydrated.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep yourself well-hydrated. Proper hydration is essential for your overall health and will help reduce foot and ankle swelling from the summer heat.


Don't go barefoot.

To minimize the risk of sunburn, infections and injuries, avoid walking barefoot. Wear shoes or flip-flops around the pool, beach or hotel room to protect yourself from injuries or wounds that can lead to bacterial infections. People with diabetes should never go barefoot and should keep their feet protected to reduce the risk of cuts and scrapes, which can lead to complications.


Wear flip-flops with caution.

If you like wearing flip-flops in the summer, opt for a durable pair made of soft leather to reduce the risk of blisters and irritation. Ensure your foot doesn't hang off the edge when wearing flip-flops and pay attention to any irritation between your toes. Neglecting irritations can result in blisters and potential infections. However, avoid wearing flip-flops if you're walking long distances. Even the sturdiest flip-flops offer little arch support or shock absorption.


Remember your sunscreen.

Feet are often forgotten when a person is applying sunscreen, yet they are just as susceptible to sunburn. Be sure to cover your entire foot, including the tops of your feet and ankles, with sunscreen and reapply after you have been in the water.


Maintain proper foot hygiene.

Moist environments are ideal for fungal infections. Wash your feet daily and dry them thoroughly. If your shoes get wet during your summer outing, thoroughly dry them before wearing them again to prevent the growth of bacteria or fungus and have an extra pair of shoes on hand.


Inspect your feet regularly.

Regular foot inspections are essential to catching problems early, especially for people with diabetes. Look for cuts, blisters, swelling or discoloration. If you notice persistent issues, talk with a podiatrist to prevent minor problems from becoming severe.


Exercise your feet.

Regular exercise benefits your feet and ankles like the rest of your body. Exercise improves blood flow and helps maintain foot health. Simple exercises, such as ankle flexes, toe wiggles and calf stretches, can help keep the blood flowing to your lower extremities.

When to seek care

If you injure your foot or ankle during a summer activity, seek care, even if you are traveling. Many people only contact a doctor when something is broken or sprained, but a primary care doctor or podiatrist can begin treating your ailment immediately.

“People with complex medical issues may be more susceptible to severe conditions that can lead to limb-and-life-threatening situations,” Dr. Que says. This increased risk makes it crucial, especially during the warmer months, for people with a medical history of diabetes or kidney disease to be cautious and seek care for any injuries.

"It's important to seek immediate medical attention after any foot, ankle or leg injury to speed up recovery, prevent further complications and ensure a long, active and healthy life on your feet,” Dr. Que says.

Learn more about foot and joint health at our upcoming Bone and Joint Health Expo on Saturday, June 22, at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. Registration is free, and family and friends are welcome to attend.

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