Ah, the sweet summer sound of flip flops clicking underfoot as we frolick in the sun.

It’s summertime and our toes are finally free to wiggle! But, according to two Canadian podiatrists, foot problems are common in the summer, and one of the culprits is too much time spent wearing flip flops.

“Flip flops are a poor quality of foot wear,” says Dr. Paul Leszner, a podiatrist (foot doctor) in Toronto. “They offer no support and should only be used to wear around the pool.”

People who spend the whole day wearing flip flops for a range of activities are setting themselves up for foot pain, agrees Dr. Roy Mathews, a podiatrist with clinics in New Westminster and Kerrisdale, B.C. “You should never do anything active besides walk in a flip flop. Ever!” he says.

When you are buying sandals, there are certain things to look for to prevent foot problems, say the podiatrists. First of all, a heel cup to grip the heel is a good idea to prevent the foot from rolling side to side.

Arch support is also helpful to take the pressure off the underside of your feet. Straps over the foot will provide more security than a strap between the toes.

Most important of all is rigidity, says Mathews, which means less stress transferred to the foot.

Brand names of solid, supportive sandals mentioned by Mathews and Leszner include Naot, Mephisto, Birkenstock and FinnComfort.

Flip flops may come in handy in protecting you from Plantar’s warts, which are caused by a virus that many people pick up from spending time around a pool in bare feet.

Other common foot problems in summer include swelling in the feet, blisters and athlete’s foot, which is caused by a foot fungus.

Swelling in the feet often occurs as the temperature rises. The high temperatures result in a vasodilation of blood vessels so that more fluid is brought into our feet. Believe it or not, exercise is an excellent way to reduce swelling, suggests Leszner. Combine this with rest periods when you elevate your feet above heart level, he adds.

A more serious problem is a pooling of blood in the feet, known as venous insufficiency, adds Mathews, who is the team podiatrist for Vancouver Whitecaps Soccer Team. “If you have chronic swelling in your feet, you should see a physician,” he says.

Athlete’s foot is another summertime peril: It’s often the result of wearing shoes without socks and not washing the shoes. Blisters can also build up from excessive sweating. Take the time to wear socks and proper running shoes for physical activity.

– When buying sandals look for arch support, heel cup, say experts

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