How to Keep Your Feet Happy When Traveling...

Depending on where your travels take you, the walking surfaces will vary. Whether it's cobblestone streets or dirt paths, here are some tips to keep your feet healthy during summer vacation.
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Summer is upon us and it is time to take those long awaited vacations you dreamed about all winter. Depending on where your travels take you, the walking surfaces will vary. It could be cobblestone streets, dirt paths or good old concrete pavements. So whether you wear sandals, flats, heels, or athletic shoes here are some shoe and foot tips to keep you walking comfortably during your travels.

First rule: Do Not buy a pair of new shoes and take them with you on your trip unless they are fully broken in! That means they should be at least a few months old and have had enough wear that they are like an old friend. Just because the new pair of shoes may go with one of your outfits does not mean you should throw caution to the wind and wear them without breaking them in first.

That brings me to the second rule: plan ahead so you do not have to worry about the first rule!

Often times, a new pair of shoes can be stiff and uncomfortable, and can cause blisters on the tops of your toes, in your arches or on the back of your heels when you are walking in them all day long. This is also true when you go dining and dancing in the evening. When buying shoes, look for soft leather, it is always a better bet. Make sure that the toe box of the shoe is wide and deep enough to allow for your toes to move freely. This can prevent blisters on the top of your toes and toenail problems. Shoes can also irritate an already existing foot or leg problem, such as bunions, hammertoes, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, arch cramping, shin splints and tendonitis.

Wearing old worn out walking or athletic shoes can also cause your feet to have some problems too. This is because the three most important parts of the shoe -- the inner sole, midsole and outer sole -- have probably started to break down. That means the shoe has lost some or most of its cushioning and support.

The inner sole is made of a dense foam material and is usually removable in athletic and walking shoes. It can be replaced when it wears down and becomes less supportive in the shoe. For more comfort and cushion you can replace it with a thicker insole found at running or sporting good stores.

Another part of the shoe that can break down through extensive wear is the midsole of the shoe. The midsole can be found between the inner sole and outer sole and absorbs the impact of the shock the foot encounters during walking. It is the thickest part of the shoe and is made from a variety of foam materials such as ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), polyethylenes or polyurethanes. These materials expand and contract during foot impact but eventually lose some of their shock-absorbing quality over time. This can eventually cause foot fatigue.

The outer sole also aids in reducing shock when walking and is the thin material present on the bottom of the shoe. It makes the initial contact with the walking surface. It is composed of high-density rubber compounds and has varied tread designs for traction and flexibility. It must be flexible enough at the ball of the foot to allow the metatarsal and small toe joints of the foot to flex freely when walking. If this material wears out and exposes some of the mid-sole material, it becomes an indicator that the shoe needs to be replaced. The shoe has begun to lose the cushion, shock absorption and support mechanisms used to properly provide comfort to your feet.

Shoes can also be supported by wearing custom made orthotics or over the counter arch supports such as Instant Arches. Buying a soft supportive inner sole that you can place in your shoe after removing the old one can also make your shoes more comfortable. If you are using custom made orthotics, always remove the arch system that is currently in the shoe and then place the orthotic in your shoe. If you want to make the orthotic more comfortable place a soft flat insole on top to provide extra cushion. The bottom line is you want to be comfortable and supported for those long days of sightseeing.

Wearing sandals or flip flops is not recommended if you are walking for long periods of time because of the lack of support they provide. It is an easy way to develop blisters and arch cramps. However, if you intend to wear them the product Instant Arches can be placed in your sandals and flip-flops to provide that extra support you may need.

So travel in comfortable shoes, make smart choices and you will not have to run to the foot doctor when you come back from your trip...!

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