It is the annual dilemma for the summer holidays: do you opt for shoes for chic, leather slip-ons, spongy pool sliders or perhaps good, old-fashioned slippers?
The problem is that you want shoes that radiate style without destroying your feet.
This year’s must-have is the leather slip-on that adorns the feet of celebrities such as model Helena Christensen.
But the design, which has a single thin leather belt over the toes, is a guaranteed route to tense tendons and painful heel pain, according to podiatrist Emma Price.
And it’s not the only style to avoid, the experts say. From Birkenstocks in the style of the 70s to the wedge of the Duchess of Cambridge, here are the summer shoes that you sit down with …
Wedges, often worn by the Duchess of Cambridge (shown in Heidelberg, Germany 2017), are one of the must-have shoes of this summer. But experts warn that it can damage your feet
Celebrity slip-ons can be such a pain
Budget-friendly versions of this current favorite, originally made by the Italian designer Hermes, main photo, are plentiful.
They have a wide leather belt over the toes. The sole is flat, although some versions have a small heel.
VONNIS: The most important problem, Price says, is that the heel and ankle are largely unsupported – a recipe for pain and injury “because the foot slides easily.”
Although the Hermes sandal (photo) and budget-friendly versions are popular – the main problem for wearers is the heel and ankle that are largely unsupported – a recipe for pain and injury “because the foot slides easily”
“This causes overloading of ankle ligaments, tissue bands that join bones, leading to sprains,” she says. “It can even tear them.”
The flat sole also exerts pressure on the heel tendons, which connect muscles to bone, causing painful foot cramps and Achilles tendon inflammation – pain in the leg or above the heel.
A 2010 study of more than 3,000 women in the US found that those who wore sturdy shoes or boots were 67 percent less likely to have foot pain than those who favored flat, slip-on shoes.
Wear this hippie favorite instead
When planning summer walks, Birkenstock’s favorite hippie is undoubtedly the shoe for you.
The best feature is a sturdy, cork sole that is shaped to fit the shape of your foot.
This fights the most common cause of foot pain – no support for the natural curves of the feet, also called the arches.
This supporting form balances the distribution of body weight over the legs and feet, thus preventing damage to ligaments and muscle tension.
“Choose a version with two straps at the top of the foot and an ankle strap for optimum stability so you don’t slip,” advises Emma Price.
The best feature of the Birkenstock sandal (photo) is the sturdy, cork sole that is shaped to the shape of your foot
Price says that strengthening muscles can help, and adds: “Just try jumping up and down on the spot on your toes. Or opt for a version with a light heel. “
COMFORT SCORE: 3/5
Thin slippers can lead to surgery on the toe
The beach-to-bar classics are usually made of leather or foam, with a narrow Y-shaped string that glides between the toes.
VONNIS: “Slippers are the worst shoes you can wear. They are only suitable for around the pool, Price warns.
If you walk in thin slippers for longer than 30 minutes every day, you run the risk of a hammer toe – with tendons in your toes becoming shorter.
The toes grip the shoe to keep the foot stable, one of the most common causes of hammer toe, “says Emma.
It is a condition that affects three million Britons and, if left untreated, the bent toes become rigid and surgery may even be needed to correct the distortion.
But if you are sensitive to sweaty feet, fungal infections and verruca’s, slippers may be good for short periods of walking.
Emma says, “The feet have been exposed, so there is airflow to reduce the risk of fungal infections.”
COMFORT SCORE: 1.5 / 5
Wedges are just as bad as stilettos, Kate
Often considered ‘foot friendly’, the wedge – with a cork or rubber flat platform – has become hugely popular after the Duchess of Cambridge wore a navy blue suede pair by American designer Stuart Weitzman, above.
VONNIS: Not much better than stilettos. Wedges exert excessive pressure on the delicate bones behind the toes, called metatarsals, which can lead to foot and back pain.
Although wedges worn by the Duchess of Cambridge and often regarded as foot-friendly, these shoes are not much better than stilettos, because the delicate bones behind the toes are put under pressure
“It means that they carry half the total weight of the body,” says Price.
Research shows that often wearing heels between two and three and a half centimeters high, or stilettos or wedges, increases the risk of knee osteoarthritis.
But their width means that wedges offer wider support than stilettos – which act as a “shock absorber” to reduce the impact.
Price says: “There is more material on the floor than with a single heel, which means that the hip and knee joints are less burdened.”
COMFORT SCORE: 2/5
Disadvantage that the boat shoe can sink
Lace-up shoes with rubber soles first came up in the 1930s to stop skidding on yachts and boats.
The rubber soles with pattern give extra grip on smooth decks and leather versions are water-repellent.
Podiatrist Emma Price says that boat shoes (photo) are great for anyone with weak ankles that easily sprains or with torn ligaments.
VONNIS: “Great for anyone with weak ankles that easily sprains or with torn tires,” says Price.
“The rubber sole is sturdy, so the foot no longer wobbles.”
But there is a horrible disadvantage if it is worn without socks – athlete’s foot.
“The feet cannot breathe and moisture cannot evaporate, leading to fungal growth, especially in moist conditions.”
COMFORT SCORE: 3.5 / 5
Achilles heel for A-list espadrilles
Espadrilles – flats with closed nose, often made of cotton and rubber sole – have been given a stylish makeover and are now popular with A-thrushes such as Penelope Cruz and Jennifer Aniston.
VONNIS: Espadrilles have enough room for the foot to move in, which means that the skin does not rub over the material as quickly, causing painful blisters.
But with little or no heel, they can cause plantar fasciitis – heel pain caused by the tendon inflammation.
Espadrilles have enough room for the foot to move in, which means that blisters are less likely, because the skin is less likely to rub over the material. But with little or no heel, they can cause plantar fasciitis – heel pain caused by the tendon inflammation
“Ideally, the heel should only be slightly higher than the toe,” says Price. “So a gel insole will absorb part of the impact of the foot that hits the ground.”
COMFORT SCORE: 3/5
Sporty sliders are prone to accidents
Flat, rubber slippers that look like slippers, but with a wide band to cover the front part of the foot.
VONNIS: Great for warm climates when feet are susceptible to swelling because they are roomy enough to accommodate expansion – especially those with Velcro straps at the front.
The risk of fungal infections and blisters is therefore lower than that of a pump or Birkenstock.
But cheaper versions, Price warns, lack built-in arch supports to prevent pain for people with flat feet. And they can be an accident that is about to happen.
“Although the wide front strap holds your toes in place, the lack of a heel strap can be dangerous – which can lead to falls or tripping,” says Emma.
“People often kick these shoes by accident when they walk.”
COMFORT SCORE: 2/5