If you're interested in reading more on ideas presented in the article below, I suggest reading Whole Body Barefoot. If you'd like movement instruction via video, start with Schoolhouse Series Snacks: Toes and Calves.
I have a lot of thoughts about shoes
This is my third footwear list; previously I’ve posted a general footwear list, and a winter list. In light of "National Flip Flop Day" (here's why I don't recommend flip flops) and a Huffington Post article, “The Worst Shoes You Can Wear This Summer” where shoes were subjectively ranked “1-5” for safety, wedge heels were touted as safer for you than flat sandals or sneakers, and no shoes scored a “1”, for "very safe", I thought I'd step in with a slightly different perspective.
My summer shoe list is less about shoes and more about feet. Shoes that provide a basic buffer between the urban jungle and your body without interfering (too much) with the biological and biomechanics functions of your body make the list. Anything other than barefoot on natural terrain comes with a tax, but I wanted to list some options that offer a chance at better body-geometry.
My favorite summer shoes are my feet, but when you're wanting a shoe I figure you'll be wanting something cool (temperature-wise), cool (stylin’-wise), and functional. Any shoe that’s fine to stand around in but not appropriate for walking will not be making my list, as you can imagine.
What I wear instead of flip flopsI have logged the most miles in Unshoes (I'm on my fourth pair; I like their Keota model best) and I also love my pair of Earth Runners.
I recently got an email from the Earth Runner creator that said "in your Earth Runners pics online I have noticed you don't lace your sandals quite like we recommend and I wanted to share my thoughts. I have seen that you route your ankle strap strait into the buckle as apposed to going under and over the thong strap before going through the buckle. This routing of the lace is more comfortable, more secure and they are way easier to slip on and off with out fussing with the buckle." And then he attached a photo tutorial. IS THAT CUSTOMER SERVICE OR WHAT?It's interesting to note that I haven't changed them. Because they're comfortable and I don't fuss with the buckle, and also I might be a tad bit lazy. And confused by diagrams.
Other great strappy sandals I’d hike miles and miles in (but I’m a minimalist so I don’t need a closet full of shoes)
Other sandals and shoes that breathe
If you don't want to order new shoes, but instead feel excited about the idea of up-cycling what's currently in your closet:
Going from "flats" to flats
Check out The Resilient Body's tutorial on popping off those small 1/4" heels that are on those easy-to-find, inexpensive "flat" sandals at Ross or TJMaxx.
If you're excited about power tools, you can do what we do to the "flats" (and not so flats) we come by.
Power tools solve problems.
De Flip Your Flops (create a better upper by adding a strap)
Velcro solves problems.
The "best" shoes
Keep in mind that the right footwear is the right footwear for you. Conventional "best shoes" lists stress arch support and a slight heel to take the load off of the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia. Why? After a lifetime of wearing shoes that have arch support and elevated heels (and sitting in a chair in those shoes, a double calf-shortening whammy) your body has adapted to needing those crutches. If you want to reduce your dependence on shoes, you have to use your feet more. Transitioning to minimal shoes means that, over time, you'll need to stop outsourcing your body's work to various components of these inanimate objects.
Before you select any pair of shoes, consider the current state (strength) of your feet and what you’ll be walking on. Remember that the most important feature of any shoe is the person wearing them. If the state of your physical body is alerting you to problem, consider not only changing your shoes, but the person wearing them--for the better-- by learning more about how your body works, and engaging with corrective exercises and better all-day movement.
If you're wanting to learn more about why your footwear matters, you can listen to the KatySays podcast; episodes 18, 19, and 20 are all on the feet and shoes! And if you've got a great summer footwear suggestion or HACK, please leave it below! Happy Summering!
POST UPDATED JUNE 1, 2017 to include current footwear models and updated version of Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief.