Some people just can’t wait for summer. Their toes are more than ready to escape the constraints of winter footwear, determined to live in flip-flops at the first sign of green grass.

Sadly, summer shoes can wreak havoc on your feet. But don’t despair — it is possible to find support and style in summer footwear.

“The best thing to look for in a sandal or shoe is good structure and arch support,” said Richard Ragan, owner of Brown’s Shoe Fit in St. Joseph. “The beauty of feet is not every foot is the same, so what works for one doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. You don’t want anything too flimsy, especially if you are going to be on your feet all day.”

That’s why it’s important to consider choices before buying one popular summer style, he said.

“The thing about flip-flops is they are not all created equal. If you get a flip-flop with good structure like OluKai, Reef or Birkenstock, they are actually really good for the feet,” Ragan said. “We specialize in carrying those types of flip-flops. The only really ‘bad’ flip-flops are the really flimsy ones that offer no support. And just like anything in life, moderation is key. Don’t just always wear your flip-flops, especially if you are doing a lot of walking. Use those walking shoes for that.”

Ragan said the nice thing about most summer shoes in his store is that they have arch support built into them, which is important because in most cases you can’t add the arch support to open shoe styles. Looking for a cushion also can be helpful, but that should be the third priority after structure and arch support.

According to ankle, a number of minimalist shoe options, like sandals or flats, don’t offer much in the way of arch support. This can lead to problems like plantar fasciitis or a fallen arch. Anyone who has dealt with this knows it’s painful.

In addition to poor arch support, some summer shoes slide around on the foot, forcing you to flex your toes to keep them from sliding off. Buying sandals with straps can help prevent this.

“We carry an array of brands that are both stylish and comfy,” Ragan said. “From Dansko, Taos and Aextrex brands to Birkenstock, OluKai and Reef. One of my goals as an owner of a shoe store is to provide the best support in our sandals but also ones that are nice to look at as well. We want our sandals to be comfy but also aesthetically pleasing.”

Considering our feet get us where we want to go, it’s important to take care of them. As those toes come springing into the sunlight, make sure you are giving them the support they need.

As Ragan said, “Long gone are the days of only getting comfort out of utilitarian-looking shoes. Comfort and style can exist together.”

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