Summertime may be the time when you want to kick off your shoes and have some fun but this also can create several issues with your feet. The summer months are often time were we as physicians see the most injuries to the bottoms of the feet due to foreign body penetration. The most common offenders are glass, splinters, and metallic objects. Penetrating foreign objects into the plantar aspects of the feet can obviously cause infection and the need for a more urgent trip to the operating room. The concern with the non-metallic objects is that it can be very difficult to identify where these objects are situated in the foot. They are not visible on regular x-ray and it can become a very difficult process to find “a needle in a haystack” in surgery. Moral of the story?..….Wear shoes as much as possible. Whether this be as simple as a flip flop or even a sandal. This small protective barrier can make all the difference in the world for protecting the foot from foreign bodies.
Lawnmower injuries are also a major source for foot and ankle trauma in the summertime. It may seem obvious to wear protective shoe gear while mowing your lawn but the task of mowing year-long becomes so repetitive that we become complacent. The classic injury is where a push mower runs over open toes because it was utilized on an incline. Or the scenario where a slip on wet grass and the foot slips underneath the mower deck while going downhill. This creates a situation for open fracture management. With a loss of soft tissue surrounding fractures this is a more emergent type scenario that requires a trip to the operating room to fix fractures and debride the foot of any debris that may be caught in the soft tissues. Often these injuries will require amputation because of the massive tissue loss. The need for steel tipped or composite toed shoes is not absolutely critical for mowing the lawn but the usage of a work boot, not a sneaker, is imperative to prevent these injuries from wreaking havoc on your foot.
Not only are soft tissue injuries an issue when improper shoe gear is utilized in the summer but musculoskeletal issues can also occur when flip flops are broken out. Obviously flip-flops are not the most supportive type shoe gear that we wear. Although some types have come a long way with the amount of arch support, the average person does not wear a flip flop supportive enough for the activities that they are participating in. This leads to overuse injuries such as tendinitis, plantar fasciitis and other ailments to the feet and ankles caused by non-supportive shoe gear. Whether it be a pickup game of volleyball in the backyard or a stroll down the boardwalk, these incidental activities can be all it takes to flare up a good case of tendinitis. Foot type is obviously a big player in whether you will see these issues occurring in the feet but your best defense can be just wearing a flip-flop with a bit more support to include a bigger arch and a little bit more heel height to prevent the strain to these soft tissue structures.