So you have what might be termed delicately problem feet. During the winter, this isn’t such an issue – you cover them up and support them as best you can do. And for the colder months, everything is fine.
But what about when the weather turns warm? Let’s face it, in the summer, you don’t want to be stuck wearing supportive shoes that cover your entire foot.
Unfortunately, you’ve likely been stuck summer after summer in heavy footwear that makes your feet sweat.
You have to care for your feet, but you want to enjoy a light breeze on your toes like everyone else. However, your feet are the stuff of nightmares and scare small children.
So you are doomed to spend all summer long sweating it out in enclosed shoes whilst everyone else flops about effortlessly in sandals.
Or are you? Orthopedic flip flops and sandals are one solution to your less than perfect feet and can be worn to the beach or shopping.
When you purchase a good pair of orthopedic sandals, you’re going to be able to wear them longer and not worry about the health of your feet.
Travel with flip flops is much easier, too. You end up with more space in your bags when you’re not packing bulky footwear
So, what is there to know about the world of orthopedic summer wear?
Table of contents
- What Is An Orthopedic Sandal
- Can You Wear Orthotics With Sandals?
- Who Needs Custom Orthotics?
- What Are The Best Orthopedic Sandals?
- What Sandals Do Podiatrists Recommend?
- Orthopedic Advice From Podiatrists On Choosing Sandals
- What Are The Best Flip Flops With Arch Support?
- Are Flat Sandals Bad For Your Feet?
- What Are The Most Comfy Sandals?
And Finally…Some great flip flops we recommend
Amazon Orthopedic Flip Flops
- Okabashi Womens Lakeside Thong Flip Flops
- New Balance Men’s Pinnacle Flip Flop
- V Step Orthotic Flip Flops
Healthy Feet Store
But first, let’s answer your questions!
WHAT IS AN ORTHOPEDIC SANDAL?
An orthopedic sandal is something that will provide your foot with the stability and support it needs to be healthy.
The point of footwear is arguably to protect your feet from harm and hazard. However, cramming our feet into ill-fitting fashionwear is killing them – with every step we take!
Fortunately it is no longer necessary for women – or men – to force themselves into unsuitably flimsy footwear in order to look dapper. Nowadays it is perfectly possible for a shoe to be protective and also not to look like surgical support.
Here are the things you should be looking for in your orthopedic sandals and flip flops;
CHOICE OF WIDTH
Far too many fashion shoes come with a poor selection of widths. If you’re lucky some of them come in wide and narrow. This goes doubly for flip flops which traditionally only come in one fitting.
But people with additional needs really need their footwear to fit securely and well. That simply isn’t possible when sliding around in shoes too wide or being crushed into sandals half a size too narrow.
Orthopedic sandals come in a choice of widths. Here, it pays to know your size precisely and to measure your feet to ensure the shoe you pick is the right one for you.
One of the biggest problems with feet is fallen arches. Orthopedic sandals are designed to give proper arch support. This helps prevent over pronation, which is a major cause of podiatric pain.
An orthotic insole will take the strain off the ball of the foot by placing most of the weight in the arches. This also takes the pressure off the knees and lower back.
A WIDER TOE BOX
One of the best things about sandals and flip flops is that they offer those with foot complaints the chance to spread out a little. But sometimes standard sandals are too narrow and don’t do your bunions any favors.
An orthopedic sandal should come with a wider toe box than average, allowing support for those hammer toes and other embarrassing ailments.
NICE AND DEEP
Orthopedic sandals and flip flops will come with an extra deep layer for chunky and supportive insoles.
These make for a loose and free feeling sandal, which allows flexible movement and total comfort in the wearer
Sandals and particularly strappy ones can sometimes be rigid and end up chafing our feet.
Orthopedic sandals and flip flops are usually made from a stretchy material which allows the sandal to shape itself around the foot’s contours. This takes away the strain on conditions such as hammer toes or bunions.
SOFT AND GENTLE TOUCH
The interior of an orthopedic sandal glides onto your foot like gossamer. It should be gentle and light, with a smooth feel underfoot.
An orthopedic shoe comes with specially created soles that stabilize the foot whilst walking. These are light and easy soles, which will enable your feet to move easily and cushions the impact of movement.
CAN YOU WEAR ORTHOTICS WITH SANDALS?
An orthotic is an insert or aid which is used to correct a skeletal or muscular problem. It takes its name from the Greek ortho, meaning to straighten.
In terms of feet, an orthotic is something which generally fits inside footwear. There are three kinds we shall look at today; ready to wear, custom made and ankle foot orthotics.
READY TO WEAR
This type of orthotic is the one you see in shoe stores and pharmacies. They are an off the peg design that helps to support your foot’s arch and usually you will trim them to fit. They will assist with the even distribution of weight on your feet.
There are advantages and disadvantages to this type of foot support. The pros are they are accessible to all, in terms of availability and cost. They will not be expensive and can be expected to give between six months and one year’s support.
If you have a traditional foot shape, you might find these fit with no problems. However, if your feet are very unusual then they might not be quite so useful.
As the name implies, these have been made to measure and usually come prescribed by a podiatrist. These have a more targeted support and offer more help than the off the peg alternatives.
They might be the answer for either difficult foot shapes, or certain, tricky footwear like ice skates, high heels, sports shoes or walking boots.
As they are custom, you get a full choice of material and the quality will be high. However, they are more expensive than ready made orthotics, but you will reap the reward as they last longer and usually support your feet better.
ANKLE FOOT ORTHOTICS
An ankle foot orthotic is a type of brace which supports the joint of the ankle. This makes shoes fit more comfortably. The brace controls the movement of the foot’s joints.
This isn’t something you would usually opt for unless you had been advised by a podiatrist or doctor to do so. Ankle foot orthotics are used by people with significant pain or flat feet.
Unfortunately, this type of orthotic does not lend itself well to the vagaries of fashion and can only be worn with a sensible pair of lace ups.
SANDALS WITH ORTHOTICS
Not everyone realizes that they can put orthotics into sandals – but of course you can!
The types of orthotics you can use with sandals will depend on the kind it is. Like a shoe, you want to select a sandal with added depth and room for support in it. It should have an insole which can be removed and also have a hard outsole.
Amongst other types, here is a list of the sorts of orthotics which you may look at;
A HEEL WEDGE
A heel wedge promotes good ankle health and helps to prevent pronation problems. They will help to ease pain caused by the uneven wearing shoes. They are usually worn with enclosed shoes.
A CUSHIONED HEEL
This is an insert of compressed rubber. It is placed inside the heel and absorbs shock when the heel hits the ground. This kind of insert can be useful for minimizing excess knee strain.
A HEEL FLARE
Although a heel flare sounds more like a throwback to the seventies, it is actually a device used to correct uneven pronation. It fits onto the heel and stops it from rolling inwards during walking.
These will help even out the strain on the metatarsal heads for sufferers of Metatarsalgia (pain in the ball of the foot).
WHO NEEDS CUSTOM ORTHOTICS?
You might think that only old people, or those with a specific needs might need orthotics, but they can benefit more people than that.
If you have any type of regular foot pain, it is something worth investigating.
Look out for symptoms such as pain in the balls of the feet or any type of foot discomfort which is specific to one area.
Owners of hammer toes or bunions may benefit from an orthotic support as may anyone with aching legs, knees or backs. An orthotic insert might even bring you relief from that pain in the neck!
They also sort out arch pain and problems.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ORTHOPEDIC SANDALS?
When choosing a pair of sandals for problem feet, look out for styles with an adjustable strap. This can be a lifeline for swollen feet – which is something that is again more likely in the heat.
Sufferers of diabetes might do well to check out selected sandals for diabetics. Good general advice would be to ensure the whole foot is securely housed inside the sandal’s perimeters.
WHAT SANDALS DO PODIATRISTS RECOMMEND?
When choosing sandals, be on the look out for a pair that offer flexibility. A lot of patent sandals are not very flexible and can be uncomfortable for prolonged periods.
If you are wearing a rigid material, especially in hot weather, your feet run the risk of swelling up.
Another thing to be wary of are open toed sandals which have a strap too near to the toes themselves. These can rub, causing calluses and blisters. Once again, you are searching for a sandal which has ample width and depth, so if your feet do swell up, then they are securely accommodated.
Beware completely flat sandals. Although wearing high heels comes with its own sets of problems, wearing completely flat sandals over a long period of time might give a lot of wear to the balls of the foot. The big toe joint can also suffer, resulting in sore, tired feet. For more on problems with flat sandals, scroll down!
And for some general pointers, you should be looking for a sandal which is wide and has depth. The toes should not be compressed or restricted and it should be breathable. The materials should aid ventilation and for added foot health, the official advice is to wear socks – so there you have written permission from a podiatrist to wear sandals and socks!
For feet which sweat embarrassingly in the heat, our experts have a nifty tip – surgical spirit, as the alcohol eases the perspiration. And perfume can be used just as well!
ORTHOPEDIC ADVICE FROM PODIATRISTS ON CHOOSING SANDALS
The bad news is that flip flops and sandals sit right at the top of the podiatrist pyramid of shame.
Professionals warn against people with podiatric problems spending hours in ill fitting sandals in the summer. Hot weather, sweat and unsupportive footwear combine to produce a litany of ills.
So what would be their advice when it comes to choosing a sandal that won’t lame you?
You want to start by examining the strap carefully, to make sure it supports the ankle well. When it comes to the material of the sandal, then cork is smiled upon as being an excellent shock absorber.
If possible, they advise you avoid cheaply made shoes and plastics, as these will not provide the support or comfort your feet needs (plus they will sweat!)
There is also concern about flat sandals or basic, box store flip flops, when worn for anything more taxing than lounging poolside. It is probably best to save these types of wear for lazing around in and not going about your daily business.
And although flat sandals might not give the greatest support, don’t be tempted to overdo the heel. Wedges are particularly inappropriate for many podiatric patients, as it renders the ankle unstable.
WHAT ARE THE BEST FLIP FLOPS WITH ARCH SUPPORT?
As mentioned, flip flops come in for some stern looks from your podiatrist, but is there a way of making your feet happy in them?
Fortunately, yes, there is. But you need to flip flop them over and inspect the outsole and the kind of support – or lack of – that it provides.
In short, you don’t want completely flat soles. This means zilch in terms of support and is a leading cause of plantar fasciitis.
Look for flip flops with arch support built in – there are plenty to choose from, even if they do end up costing a few dollars more, your feet will thank you in the long run!
For some inspiration for flip flops with support, look at our review here.
ARE FLAT SANDALS BAD FOR YOUR FEET?
There’s no point in beating about the bush. Flat sandals are a false friend for many women when sandal season is in full swing.
We know that you have been drilled into thinking heels; bad, flatties; good, but sadly when it gets to sandals, it’s not quite as simple as that.
This is because a lot of flat sandals (and flip flops) are cheaply made, with poor support in the soles. It is not just the flatness of the sandals which is the issue, but the lack of shock absorption in them. Your foot is going up and down almost directly onto the pavement, with minimal protection.
One reason why sandals are even worse is the lack of heel in them. Because there is nothing protecting it, the skin on the heels is vulnerable to cracking. And whilst this may be nothing more than a minor problem, they can cause bacteria and fungus to spread.
This doesn’t mean never wear sandals, or even flat sandals, but take care to choose the right pair for the right context. Once again, flat sandals are fine for limited time, but for longer periods look for contoured soles or orthotic sandals.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMFY SANDALS?
Despite all the issues, sandals can still be comfortable and supportive for people with podiatric problems.
This is because sandals are good for relieving the stress on your foot. Because sandals are open, they don’t squash your feet. The top, back and sides of your feet are gloriously free, and there is a lot to be said for that!
Additionally, their openness means your feet get to cool off and prevents them from sweating – always a bonus in summer!
They are also mandatory for the beach, poolside or anywhere else that you want to be able to take them off quickly.
A few tips for choosing comfy sandals from our expert are;
Hot days make for sweaty feet, but they also can cause you to retain water. This can often cause swollen feet. If you suffer from this, you might be tempted to either cover up your feet or wear flip flops.
However, there are sandals out there which can help give additional support to your ankle as well. We recommend an open sandal, which will allow your foot to cool off as much as possible.
Sufferers of plantar fasciitis should choose a sandal with firm, but comfy straps and a decent heel depth, to stabilize the foot.
It is worth looking for a sandal with a built in arch (i.e. not flats). You may also wish to purchase supportive insoles and other devices to help make your summer footwear more protective.
If you have a bunion, you probably want to hide it at all costs. But actually you are best off with a breathable sandal.
We would advise a well crafted pair of sandals with minimal covering, for airing the foot. It should have a secure back and ankle strap, so that your sandals don’t chafe or rub your poor bunions!
Owners of sweaty hooves often dread summer and spurn sandal season, to keep their perspiring paws away from public view. However, this is not necessary.
In actual fact, you should want to bare all, in your quest for cool in your summer wear. So resist the temptation to bandage your feet up and look for open sandals which won’t block the upper and sides of the feet. This cools things down and helps your feet to breathe.
Likewise, we would counsel against wearing sandals with backs or tight heel straps that don’t let your feet move around, as it may increase the rate of perspiration.
THE WIDER FOOT
For the wider foot, back straps are your friend, as are toe posts. A wide foot ought to have good ankle straps for stability. Ideally, your sandals shouldn’t box your foot in from above or the side.
THE NARROWER FOOT
If your feet err on the narrow side, then you ought to be most comfy in a pair of sandals that you can alter the fitting of. This means adjustable straps. They will ensure a better fit and take the stress of your tootsies!
If you have limped to the end of this post and still want to know which are the most recommended choice of sandal with arch support, then look below for our tips!
Additionally, see what our reviewer had to say here.
Check out our reviews of some of the best and most popular orthopedic flip flops offered by some of the most well-known online outlets in the country, including Amazon, Healthy Feet, Vionic, and OrthoticShop.
According to Healthy Feet Store, these orthopedic sandals are approved by Medicare. They’re good for women with joint pain and neuropathy, which is nerve pain in the feet.
The shoes are well-made and feature great materials like fine grain leather. It has a flexible outsole and adjustable strap for comfort. They come in a variety of colors, sizes, and even widths. You’ll be able to walk in them for hours without discomfort.
This sandal is good for men with arch or heel pain. It can work with a number of other foot ailments including arthritis or shin splints. The footbed has a padding of foam for incredibly comfort.
The outsole is light enough and crafted to grip the ground securely. If balance is a problem, these sandals won’t let you down. They’re made with full grain leather for the upper. Inside, there’s a lining that will help the slide-in sandals stay on your foot.
These may look like casual flip flops you can buy for a few dollars at the local big box store. That’s not the case. These flip flops for women are providing a really thick foam layering. It’s made from memory foam, so it’ll practically hug your feet.
In these sandals, you’ll find a high arch and rubber outsole. It provides plenty of shock absorption for comfortable walking anywhere. While being supportive and lovely (they come in a variety of colors), the sandals are easy to pack for travel.
As far as flip flops, these are great sandals that will provide structure and cushioning for your feet. The sandals from Vionic shoes are specifically made to provide comfort for your heels. They’re casual yet very comfortable.
Vionic Tide Aloe
Every woman wants a cute pair of sandals for the summer or vacations. These could very well be your favorite cute pair. While being adorable, they’re also functional. It’ll stop you from having foot pain especially in the heel.
The EVA midsole absorbs shocks from walking. It has Orthaheel Technology, which cushions your heel. It’ll also alleviate ankle pain from walking.
Dennis Toe Post
Another great toe post sandal, but for men. This one has an EVA footbed for comfort while walking. The outsole is a flexible rubber that will be comfortable for hours of walking. It’ll cushion and absorb the shocks from your feet hitting the ground.
The Dennis sandal has Orthaheel Technology. It’s meant to reduce overpronation or flat feet. The fact that it’s very supportive means that the sandal’s heel will reduce all kinds of pains from heel to ankle to lower back pain. It comes in sizes from 7 to 13 and medium widths.
Kiwi Slide Sandal
So far, we’ve featured sandals for men and women. These are unisex slide sandals that anyone can wear. They have a padded upper that closes using a hook and loop.
It’s adjustable for personalized use. It has the same Orthaheel Technology available at Vionic. It’s been shown to reduce heel pain dramatically.
The heel has the material that will hug your heel. For it’s comfort and orthotics, the sandal has earned the APMA Seal of Acceptance, too. It’s available in sizes for men and women. Women’s sizes range from 6 to 14 while men’s sizes are 5 to 13. It fits medium width feet.
The sandals from Orthotic Shop have incredible arch support. They’re lightweight while still providing superior support for your arches as well as cushioning for your heel. The problem with most flip flops is that they feel insubstantial. These are supportive while still being light and cushiony.
Olukai ‘Ohana Women’s Flip Flops
These orthopedic flip flops are made with a midsole that has compression-molded materials. The flexible rubber outsole provides stability for slick surfaces. The materials are water-resistant, so this is a great sandal for the beach.
It gives strong arch support and can reduce the pain of plantar fasciitis. The toe post itself is made of a soft nylon that won’t rub or cause pain. It’s a beautiful sandal that comes in 26 colors. You could buy a few colors to match many of your outfits. That’s especially fun for vacations.
SOLE Navigate Sandals
These men’s sandals have strong supportive straps for walking. These look like sandals you could even hike while wearing. Adjustable straps will secure the sandal around your foot without causing discomfort.
They have a rugged sole that grips the ground securely. The footbed will mold to your feet. It also has a Polygiene Antimicrobial Agent. That will control foot odor if you’re prone to sweaty feet. There’s a deep heel cup for cushioning those with heel pain.
These orthopedic women’s sandals have double straps with buckles to close them. They’re placed in strategic locations to ensure a secure fit. If you have a custom-made orthotic, they can work with this sandal. They have removable footbeds.
The removable footbed is covered with suede and memory foam for incredible comfort. The cushioning will relieve many symptoms of foot and heel pain. It comes in sizes 5 through 11. There are a few colors available like all black, black and ivory leather, and moss nubuck.
Okabashi Womens Lakeside Thong Flip Flops
The entire Lakeside flip flop is made of microplast rubber. It doesn’t have BPA or latex in it. The sandal is springy and very comfy. It has anti-slip properties to ensure you’re stable while walking, too.
The arch support is where these sandals really shine, though. While it has a heel of approximately 1.75”, it’s a very squishy material that will relieve pressure in the heel. That’s important while also having great arch support. It comes in sizes 5 – 6, medium 6.5 – 7.5, 8 – 9, and large 9.5 – 10.5. It comes in five colors, too.
New Balance Men’s Pinnacle Flip Flop
The New Balance name is one most people are familiar with because they make good sneakers. They take some of the same concepts in their sneakers and use them for these flip flops. The uppers are made from leather while the outer sole is rubber.
V Step Orthotic Flip Flops
The uppers on this sandal are made of soft materials that allow you feet to breathe. They’re a casual-looking sandal with superior comfort and support. The outsole is made of rubber that won’t slip.
It has stiff arch support that helps with many types of foot pain. From plantar fasciitis to flat feet, it covers many foot ailments. Using the right sandal for your condition has been known to relieve serious pain and symptoms. These very well could be the sandals that work for you.
The best orthopedic flip flops for men and women are on this list. You can’t go wrong with any of them. We’ve given you lots to think about, but you should go with the ones that will address your specific foot concerns. Take into account where you’re going to wear them, too.