If anything is going to make you reconsider your summer footwear, surely the sentence “I once had to remove a sandal that had been embedded in a patient’s foot” is it. That’s what Emma McConnachie, a podiatrist and spokesperson for the Royal College of Podiatry, tells me when I ask her about the kind of footwear mistakes she sees people making in the summer. I’m speaking to McConnachie because I want to know which summer sandals come podiatrist approved and which ones do not.
Really, as it transpires, it’s not so complicated. There are clear rules on what you should and shouldn’t do if you’re after shoes that are going to take you farther than the pool or the beach. McConnachie has been practicing for 23 years, so she’s seen plenty of foot issues created by problematic footwear.
“The big mistake is that [people] tend to go with flip-flops or a pool shoe that’s not designed as a pair of walking sandals. I see that in my practice frequently. It’s often this idea of what people think is a sandal, and they’ll go with a flip-flop style, but you have to look at the sole and the structure,” McConnachie says.
“You want something that isn’t just holding your foot across the top; you want something to hold your foot under the arch. We call it the mid-foot,” she adds. “If you have something that’s only over your toes, you’ll claw your toes to keep it on. Plus, it’s more likely to slide off, and then it’ll half come off.” This, McConnachie says, can create problems such as your shoe falling off and might even mean you’ll twist an ankle.
Ideally, McConnachie recommends shoes that have three straps—one around the front, one around the middle and one to support the ankle.
Of course, we mainly chatted about flat sandals, so I wanted to know if you have to swear off heels for good to really look after your feet.
“We would tend to advise, in general, that you avoid a heeled shoe, as, amongst other things, it increases the chances of falls, especially if it’s also backless,” she says. “But if you had to wear a heel, it’s generally advised to not go for more than an inch. If you are a heel wearer, you should also be varying your heel height. If you wear the same high heel height all the time, you’ll shorten the muscles at the back of your legs.”
In summary, avoid the following three sandal styles for ultimate foot health:
2. Pool sliders
3. High heels
Below, based on McConnachie’s advice, I’ve hunted down a mix of sandals that fit the bill of being better for your feet. Remember, if you’re concerned about your feet, make an appointment with a podiatrist. Keep scrolling for the podiatrist-approved sandals we recommend.