Mix up your shoes this summer


Flip flops, heels and flats - summer shoe choices are endless. But what are the perfect shoes for your feet day-in-and-day-out? None of them, according to Cleveland Clinic Podiatrist Dr. Joy Rowland.

"The perfect shoe is not the perfect for you and it's not the perfect shoe for me," said Rowland. "We all have different foot type, different body habitus, so, wearing the perfect shoe is just not perfect, so mixing it up a little bit, different shoe types, different shoe styles is important."

There's a time and place for every shoe, but Rowland says some shoes should be worn less frequently than others.

Flip flops fall into this category and are best worn for short periods of time - like a walk to the mailbox or on the beach.

Ballet flats are popular but not the best option for long-term wear, like a day of shopping or sightseeing.

Wearing flat, non-supportive shoes regularly may lead to knee, hip and back pain, Rowland says.

"The arch tends to fall, which causes the legs to rotate inward. Once that knee starts to go, then your hips start to go, so it actually takes your posture and changes your posture," explained Rowland.

Slipping on heels every day may be problematic, too. Wearing the same heel height can cause the back of your leg and Achilles tendon to get tight.

Rowland says a higher heel is okay on occasion but it's best to mix your heel heights.  If you switch from heels to flats and get foot cramping, which can be a sign that muscles are too tight, stretching can help over time.

"Sometimes we even recommend that they take their toes and they draw out the letters of the alphabet before they get out of bed and that will help not only the Achilles but also all of the small intrinsic muscles of the foot," Rowland suggested.

She says overall, a good rule of thumb is to steer clear of shoes you can twist or fold in half. The best shoes to mix into your rotation are firm, supportive and have a little bit of an arch.