I reviewed the June/July issue of StyleWatch and analyzed four very different styles of summer shoes for what issues they may have that could potentially make them uncomfortable to wear. Tips are provided on how to use inserts to make these four unique styles of shoes more comfortable to wear. Tips are provided for how to wear lace-up high heel sandals.
Four hot summer shoe styles for 2017 are: Thong sandals (‘flip-flops); ankle-tie flats; lace-up high heel sandals; and wooden slide sandals.
How to shop for hot summer shoes: The ideal shoe for foot health that will cause no foot pain and will not result in long term deformity of feet - according to Orthopaedic Surgeons - has a round toe, cushioned sole, and a low heel. Your objective, in shopping for stylish comfortable summer footwear is - get as many of those three (3) features in your shoes as possible! The following is how to get hot summer shoes that the doctor ordered.
- Round toe/roomy toe box: You should try to get a round toe or a toe box roomy enough to allow for toe wiggling, or an open toe box such as in open toe sandals. The illustrated thong sandals, wooden slides and lace-up high heel sandals are open at the toe so there is no issue with the toe box. The ankle-tie flats have a point toe. Pointy toe shoes should be bought a half size larger to allow enough room for the toes to be spread out and not crushed together. The end of the pointy toe box should be empty. The forefoot should fit comfortably into the point with about 1/8 inch space on each side of the foot and wiggle room for the toes.
- Cushioned sole: An adequately soft insole can be added into any shoes. All shoes can be made cushioned on the inside - even a shoe with a sole made of wood! The thong sandals, wood slides, and ankle-tie flats can all be made more comfortable with a one piece ball of foot insert added into them to cushion the ball of the foot and keep the foot from moving forward and the shoe from falling off. The lace-up high heel can be cushioned with two part inserts that will cushion the ball of the foot and keep the foot from sliding forward keeping more weight over the heel, resulting in less pressure on the ball of the foot and less digging in of the shoes ties especially when the foot and leg swells at the end of the day.
- Low heel: The thong sandals, wood slides, and ankle-tie flats all have low heels. Obviously if you love four inch lace-up high heel sandals for summer, such as the Malone Souliers’ illustrated, you won’t have a ‘low heel’ as recommended by orthopaedic surgeons, however if you follow the guideline of many foot care professionals to wear heels that are three inches or lower, you may be able to walk relatively comfortably in lace-up high heel sandals. It is possible to make heels up to three inches high very comfortable to walk in for extended periods of time of - up to four hours - with the addition of shoe inserts that do these four things: cushion the ball of the foot with shock absorbing material, stop forward slide of the foot, prevent heel gaps, and keep weight of the wearer at the heel end of the shoe as designed by the shoe designer.
If high heels are over three inches, as the four inch lace-up Malone Souliers are, they may cause pain to the feet, plus also begin to cause pain to the ankles and to the rest of the body such as the back. The ankle and back pain is caused by the extreme forward bend of the ankles and misalignment of the body and cannot be alleviated by shoe cushions or even custom made shoes. Wearers of custom made high heels will suffer as well, because even shoes that fit perfectly will hurt you due to the extreme bending forward of the ankles that misalign all the bones of the feet that are intended for carrying weight. Shoes over three inches in height should be worn only for walking or standing that is limited to less than a half hour at a time such as walking into a restaurant from a car and spending most of the evening sitting.
All four styles of summer footwear that are illustrated – thong sandals, ankle-tie flats, lace-up high heel sandals, and wooden slides - have their own special issues when it comes to comfort.
Thong sandals: Thong sandals aka flip-flops are the quintessential summer footwear. They are casual footwear for wearing with printed floral pants, lacy flowing tops, straw hats, sunglasses and a crocheted bag. The brand illustrated in ‘StyleWatch’ magazine, ‘California Dreamin’’ page 48, are PilyQ faux leather flip-flops.
Most brands of flip flops have issues for some wearers. Typically wearers complain of pain from the post rubbing between the toes or rubbing on the top of the foot from the thong. Other issues are lack of cushioning due to a thin flat sole and general instability of the foot in flip flops causing the sandals to fall off the foot.
Customers of flip flops have complained about various things. In their words this is what they have said:
“the rubber shoes (flip flops) are very uncomfortable. The first time I wore mine they rubbed a blister on the top of each foot. I tried to pad the top part of the shoes with moleskin but it didn't help” “ the plastic jelly material between the toes is not very comfortable. It's pretty hard and I think I will need to put something in between to make it more enjoyable to wear”
“ hurts bad between toes. Patent leather doesn't work for me. Leather between the toes is ok”
“The fit was bad and they really hurt in between my toes. Never wear them!!!!!”
“The toe post rubs constantly and the rubber material caused sores on the top of my foot when wearing less than an hour!!!
“the upper is a shiny plastic making It stick to my skin and chafes it after some time. I am disappointed”
“The part that goes between your toe is too big”
“This shoe is VERY comfortable...what makes it not good is that little part that goes between your big toe where you slip the shoe on...it's made way to rough and actually cuts into your skin...needs to somehow be made a lot softer...:)”
“I have narrow feet... these are ...not get tight enough for me and I could not keep these on my feet”
“Love the shoes, but the strap between my toes is very uncomfortable. I am trying to figure out what to wrap around it so I can wear them”
“they are too loose and somewhat not safe ...up and down steps, etc.”
Foot doctors warn about flip flops that “ if the bottoms are flat, you’re getting zero arch or lateral support. That can lead to plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tendon that runs underneath your foot and causes heel pain. It’s the most common flip-flop associated problem”
“ if you suffer from poor circulation or diabetes-induced numbness in your feet, you really shouldn’t be wearing flip-flops out and about..If a foreign body like a rock or piece of glass gets lodged in your foot, you’re less likely to feel it and remove it, and that could lead to infection”
“Like contoured sandals, flip-flops with built-in arch support are by far a better choice than the flat variety”
Inserts for thong sandals: Flip flops can have ball of foot inserts put into them to provide cushioning and make the sandals stay on the foot better. There are many styles of flat ball of foot cushions.
A style of insert that works well to provide comfort from all sizes of posts in thong sandals is an insert that keep the area between the toes away from the post by physical means. Some inserts for thong sandals have a ball of foot cushion, plus a soft foam ridge that will keep the foot back from the post so the area between the toes doesn't touch the post at all. This prevents toe pain from the post.
Other styles of inserts for flip flops have a ball of foot cushion and a piece that wraps around the post to protect the toes however this also makes the post thicker and may make the post uncomfortable due to the thickness of the post pushing against the toes.
Ankle-tie flats: Ankle-tie flats are a lovely shoe style that bridges casual and dressy. A colourful ankle-tie flat looks fresh with white pants and a casual tied white jacket. Accessories can include chunky metal jewellery and a beaded macramé bag. The brand illustrated in ‘StyleWatch’ magazine, ‘How to Wear White Jeans’, page 53, are Sam Edelman Brandie Ankle-Tie Flats.
Most brands of ankle-tie flats have issues for some wearers. Typically wearers complain of pain at the bottom of the foot from thin soles, and have issues with tying the ties with the correct tension so they are not too tight and cut off circulation or too loose and fall down. General instability of the foot in ankle-tie flats is also an issue as there is nothing other than the ankle straps holding the heel inside the shoe, and if the toe box is shallow the forefoot can come out while walking.
Customers of ankle-tie flats have complained about various things. In their words this is what they have said:
“Wearing the silk flats with ankle ties is like walking on a wood slab... They are incredibly uncomfortable and have no flexibility at all. As other reviewers mentioned, the straps come loose and slide around making them unsafe to walk in..”
“The fit was fine on these beautiful shoes, but they flopped up and down, and the sashes didn't want to stay tied (too soft)”
“Cute shoes, got lots of compliments, very comfortable, except the ankle tie kept coming loose. I finally had to knot the tie and then it stayed up”
“I like the style of the shoe but because the ties are ribbons, they tend to loosen after a short bit of walking”
“The toe box is not super comfortable, and the shoe is fairly difficult to keep on”
Foot doctors warn about ankle-tie flats that: “Thin, flat soles have no shock absorption. That could lead to stress fractures if you wear them all summer long” “They also increase your odds of dealing with cracked heels” “While straps around your ankle area and higher (like gladiator-style picks) do offer additional stability and may prevent a twisted or sprained ankle, if the bottom of the shoe is still flat as a pancake, that sandal is doing nothing to support your foot”
Hillary Brenner, DPM, a podiatric surgeon in New York has said: “I have a lot of patients who come to me with heel pain from plantar fasciitis or heel spurs that they developed from wearing very flat sneakers (or flats) that don’t offer support,”
“Ballet flats are hard on your feet” “The flattest, flimsiest styles of these shoes can do as much harm — if not more — as a pair of high heels,”...“Overwearing flats can cause pain in the arches and heels and can lead to bunions. There’s absolutely no cushion or support, but people wear them like they’re athletic sneakers. That’s what makes them dangerous.”
Inserts for ankle-tie flats; Ankle-tie flats, like any shoes with thin bottoms can benefit from inserts or insoles that add some cushioning for the bottom of the foot. Additional cushioning may also make the flats stay on the foot better particularly if a person has narrow feet. There are many styles of flat ball of foot cushions, insoles and inserts. Contoured foot beds, ¾ or full length insoles or inserts that fit under the heel would not be suitable as they would show at the open heel.
Some inserts made for thong sandals and runners can be used in ankle-tie flats. They should have a ball of foot cushion, plus a soft foam ridge that will keep the foot from sliding forward and being crushed in the narrow toe box. The inserts will also keep the foot from moving about sideways making the foot more stable and less likely to loosen the ties.
Lace-up high heel sandals: Lace up high heel sandals in black are a sexy, saucy style that is gorgeous with a unique print black and white shirt dress, accessorized with a black/rust leather and rope belt, plus a classic smooth leather bag in rust. The brand illustrated in ‘StyleWatch’ magasine, ‘Steal Her Style’ on page 55 areMalone Souliers lace-up high heel sandals. Most – or possibly all - brands of high heels or high heel sandals have comfort issues for wearers. Lace up high heel sandals have all the usual problems of high heel sandals, plus additional issues from the long laces that are tied either at the ankle, half way up the calf or at the top of the calf. High heel wearers typically have pressure pain in the ball of the foot due to concentration of their weight at the ball of the foot, pain in the toes and forefoot from being crushed forward into the toe box or straps, and pain at the heel from rubbing up and down when the foot moves out of the correct heel position inside the shoe during walking. As the height of the heel increases over three inches foot pain may be joined by ankle and back pain.
Customers who buy of Malone Souliers lace-up high heel sandals are in a unique fitting position in that all the sandals are custom made. This ensures that the sandal fits snugly at the heel and around the middle of the foot at the instep and vamp in addition to fitting correctly for length. If high heel footwear fits snuggly all over, but not tight, then the foot is held in place and does not move about so there is less likelihood of heel gaping or toes and forefoot being crushed into the straps around the front of the shoe.
However in lace-up high heels the laces will continue to loosen while walking causing the foot to move forward even in otherwise perfectly fitting high heel sandals. One of the biggest issues is getting the laces tied just right – not too tight and not too loose. (Note that the laces of the model appear to be quite tight on the ankle of the left foot – if her foot swells in walking it will not take much to have the laces become too tight and dig into the skin.)
Shoe inserts that will keep the foot in the optimal position are two-part soft PORON foam inserts that have contours that grip the foot from the bottom and physically keep the foot from moving forward and will help to keep the foot stable even when the ties loosen. This type of inserts in the shoe will allow the laces to have a bit of laxity in that they can be tied just right or even a bit loose for more comfort, and may not need to be constantly re adjusted while the lace-up high heels are worn.
This is how the designers of Malone Souliers shoes describe their manufacturing process: “Malone Souliers are custom designed to fit. Similar to the process of creating couture garb, the designers will create a sketch of the design, then a mockup is created and the customer comes in for a fitting. Once the alterations are noted and changes are discussed, the finished shoe is delivered to the customer in one to two week’s time.” The manufacturer has also provided the information that their higher heels (presumably such as the four inch heels shown) are often adapted into less towering iterations, allowing many of their older customers to have even more options, while still being stylish. ( My editorial comment is that this is an excellent practice that should be taken up by all shoe manufacturers. It would be great to find gorgeous high heel designs with three inch heels from all shoe brands!)
This is what customers who have bought lace-up high heels or other lace up shoes have said about their issues with laces: “I've tried various lacing techniques. By the time I get the shoes laced to where my feet don't hurt, they practically fall off my feet” “If I lace tightly ...many sandals really hurt on the tops of the feet as well -- I often need to stretch the straps out quite a bit before they become comfy”
“Don’t tie the laces too tight... ifthe top of the foot is under pressure, it can cause your toes to go numb”
A blogger provides these helpful lessons on how to wear lace-up high heels sandals:
“ But tying these saucy shoes isn’t always a piece of cake and a poorly executed tie can leave your laces slipping down your legs. Use these tips to make sure you master the lace-up look flawlessly.
- Keep the wrap below the calf:One option is to wrap the lace around your ankle, stopping when you get to your calf. If you continue halfway up your calf, the laces will fall down because the calf is wider than the ankle. Stopping the tie just below the calf ensures there is no slippage.
- Tie them just below your knee: The more glamorous option is to use the minimal number of wraps possible, so that your laces extend all the way to just under your knee. This way your calf keeps the laces up and the high lace look elongates your legs.
- Use Hairspray: This is especially necessary if you want to tie your laces mid-calf. As there is nothing to keep your laces up, the hairspray works to keep the laces in place.
Inserts for lace-up high heel sandals: All high heels, including lace-up high heels can benefit from inserts or insoles that add cushioning for the bottom of the foot and stabilize the foot. An additional consideration for high heel sandals is that any inserts have to fit completely hidden under the foot. Inserts for high heel sandals should keep the foot in place so the heel of the foot does not move away from the end of the heel of the shoe, the forefoot and toes are not crushed into the straps at the front of the shoe and some pressure is relieved from the ball of the foot by keeping more weight over the heel area.
There are many styles of flat ball of foot cushions, insoles and inserts available but none are suitable for high heel sandals if they show from under the foot in sandals with an open back, or add too much bulk inside the shoes or have slippery surfaces made from materials such as gel. Contoured foot beds, ¾ or full length insoles that fit under the heel would not be suitable as they force the foot upwards making high heels unstable. There are many designs of inserts that fit only under the ball of the foot, but most of them are flat so they cannot hold the foot back from sliding forward. Some gel ball of foot inserts have a rough surface or a knobby texture but that is usually not sufficient to keep the foot in place inside the shoe against the force of gravity pulling it down. Many ball of foot inserts are bulky, especially around the edges, so they may make the shoe feel tight at the toes or under the vamp.
The only inserts that should be used in lace-up high heel sandals are ones that will fit into the tiny spaces inside high heels, don’t raise the heel, have a surface that is not slippery, and can be custom fitted to an individual foot to physically stop the foot from sliding forward.
The foot must be stopped from sliding forward as that is the key to comfort in high heels in many ways: The heel is kept in place stopping heel gaps, this in turn keeps the wearer’s weight over the heel and lessens the weight on the ball of the foot. The ball of foot cushioning is more effective if less weight is put on it, and the foot is more comfortable if there is no burning pain in the ball of the foot. High heel inserts that are made in made in two parts work to have each part reinforce the action of the other while preserving the normal functions of the toes for propulsion and balance. The two pieces hold the foot between them improving foot stability and this in turn make walking in heels more comfortable and gait more natural. It is important that lace-up high heels are stable and don’t wobble because any twisting of the ankle or wobbling will speed up the loosening of the laces leading to more twisting of the ankle and wobbling of the foot.
Wooden sole slides: Wooden sole slides are a perennial favourite summer footwear that has been around almost unchanged since the 1960’s.They pair up well with checkered cotton tops, rattan bags, shorts in playful prints, and jeans. The brand illustrated in ‘StyleWatch’ magazine, ’Trending Now’ on page 46, are Dr Scholl’s Shoes wood and leather slides.
Typically wearers complain of the slides falling off, the hardness of the sole that is made of wood, and in some of the newest iterations of the wooden slide that the ‘toe grip’ bump has been removed making the slides fall off the feet more readily. The slides without the toe bump are more painful to wear because the muscles of the foot and leg have to constantly work to keep the slides on the feet. On the plus side they are easy to put on and keep your foot dry.
Customers who have bought the Dr Scholl’s wooden slides have complained about various things.
In their words this is what they have said:
“ they do kind of fall off your foot so you have to be aware of holding them in place”
“These sandals are so painful. Wore them for one day and left the top of my feet in pain”
“It looks great, very beautiful, but not comfortable. I feel that I need to keep my legs straight all the time so that not to lose them, which cause my legs' nervous tension”
“they have to fit nice and snug on the feet to be comfortable”
“I loved the style and beautiful leather look but they hurt so much”
“We did so much walking they ended up bruising the whole top of both feet. Maybe because of the looseness, I don't know”
“The whole sandal is just too slippery that my whole foot fly right off!! “
“Dr Scholl’s used to have a ridge under the toes that helped you grab on as you walked. These no longer have them, it's just flat. My toes miss that bump. I just can't get the old feel from the TRUE original Dr Scholl’s in these new ones. Also, the shoe itself is fine in size, however the adjustable strap is either too loose and my toes slide forward off the front edge or it's too tight and I can't quite slip my foot in. I'm just trying to see if eventually it'll stretch a little and then it will fit just fine”
“I was so excited to find these again! They are always smart looking, no matter what they're worn with. However, the toe ridge is no longer a toe ridge, rather a slight indentation where each half of the ball of the foot would go. I think the arch is lower than before as well. I wish they used the same shape as long ago. I think the leather is a little thinner, but they are pretty and cool. For what they are, they should still be ten dollars in the drug store”
I can forgive the company that is making them for raising the price, after all it has been like 40 years since I bought my first pair, BUT the insole does not have the contour of the original and as for the adjustment strap, settings are too big OR too small. Maybe if the contour was correct the too big setting would work. I really wish these were the original shape and fit” ...the foot part seems true to size (i.e. size 8) but without the contour and the strap fit they are useless. So sad, I really wanted them to work”
" I've been wearing the originals for many years and glad they are still available, just PLEASE put the toe bump grip back on them as the true originals had”
“Like many other reviewers have stated, I feel they have altered them in the toe bed, making the hump less prominent. I prefer the old style, but I guess we don't have much of a choice! ...if you are a half size, always order up.”
Foot doctors warn about slides with wooden soles and say that, “ cork and raffia soles offer better shock absorption,” ...“Wood is very rigid, which can cause your foot to overcompensate. This can lead to instability and extra pressure on the knees and hips. With wooden sandals, look for a rubberized sole that helps with shock absorption.”
Inserts for wooden soled slides: Slides made from any material can have ball of foot inserts put into them to provide more cushioning and make the slides stay on the foot better. There are many styles of flat ball of foot cushions made from foam or gel. Gel cushions, which get slippery especially in summer, would make the slides fall off the foot more readily than no ball of foot cushions, and therefore are not appropriate. Most foam cushions flatten over time, and stop providing cushioning. An ideal ball of foot cushion for slides should be shock absorbing and have a surface that does not get slippery. The stability of slides is poor. They are easy to put on - that is part of their appeal - but they also fall off the foot easily. Inserts for slides should cushion the foot plus stop the foot from moving about so the slides stay on the foot better.
The ideal cushioning for wooden slides would make the hard wood insole more ‘foot friendly’ particularly under the ball of the foot, plus help to keep the foot in place by not allowing forward or sideways slipping, while also preserving the normal functions of the toes for propulsion and balance. The ball of foot inserts should not go under the big toe or the little toe to compromise toe functions which could lead to foot fatigue and promote the slides falling off the foot. Preserving the normal function of the toes is even more crucial in the new style of Dr Scholl’s slides, as in the old style the raised toe bump helped to keep the slides on the foot because the toes had a place to get a grip. Ball of foot inserts with a toe grip bump could replace the toe bump that has been removed from the new style slides. If wooden soled slides have a slight heel, as the Dr. Scholl’s have, there is less pressure on the heel but increased pressure on the ball of the foot. The ball of the foot should therefore be cushioned against the increased pressure.