We don’t have to tell you that Phoenix’s reputation for scorching summers is well earned.
Of course, many of us love it here for precisely that reason, but even the most sun-addicted of us might think twice about going for a run or cruising around downtown for a few hours in 100+ degree heat.
Whether you’re a Phoenix native or a recent transplant to the area, it never hurts to brush up on your summer weather dos and don’ts. If you’re smart, you should have no trouble enjoying the season without wrecking yourself or your feet.
Here’s Phoenix summer family fun 101:
Protect Your Skin from the Sun
Phoenix is the sunniest major city on planet earth, beating contenders on the edge of the Sahara, Arabia, and elsewhere. All that warm sunlight feels great on skin—but comes at a cost if you don’t take steps to protect it.
Obviously, skin cancer (including aggressive and deadly melanoma) is a major concern. But sun exposure can also damage skin in other ways (wrinkles, spots, texture changes). UV radiation is also extremely bad for eyes, and can hasten the development of cataracts and other problems.
Your skin protection protocol should include:
- A nice wide-brimmed hat.
- A pair of sunglasses that blocks 100% of both UV-A and UV-B rays. We can’t stress this enough. Wearing sunglasses without sufficient UV protection is actually worse for your eyes than going without. Your pupils dilate due to the darkness, allowing more damaging rays inside.
- Sunscreen applied to all parts of your body exposed to the sun, and even under certain articles of clothing. A lightweight white cotton T-shirt may only have a SPF of about 4 when dry.
Remember, do not forget to apply sunscreen to your lower legs and the tops of your feet if you’re going out in sandals. This part of the body is often ignored, which can mean painful sunburn and a higher risk of skin cancer.
Since you’re often less likely to pay close attention to your feet, the development of melanoma in this area is especially dangerous. Simply put, the condition may progress further along before you notice a problem.
Keep Your Feet Ventilated
Sweaty, damp feet are a big problem, for some obvious and not-so-obvious reasons:
- They stink.
- Sweaty, sticky feet are more likely to develop blisters, corns, calluses, etc. due to friction.
- Damp socks and shoes can become a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. This makes you more likely to develop infections such as athlete’s foot and fungal toenails.
Making sure feet stay as dry as possible and air out regularly, then, is important during the sweltering peak of the summer season.
Of course, for many of us the solution is simple: sandals. (That can come with its own problems, of course—more on that in a bit.)
For those of us who still like our shoes and socks, it’s a different story. Socks made from moisture-wicking fabrics and shoes with highly breathable uppers (mesh, for example) are going to be your friends.
And when socks and shoes do get damp, they need to be replaced and allowed to dry out fully before being worn again. That might mean you need a mid-day change if your feet sweat a lot.
We definitely recommend you have at least two and probably more like 3+ good pairs of shoes you can rotate between. Give each pair at least a 24-hour break before wearing them again.
Make Sure Your Footwear Can Support You
Of course, while breathability is important, it shouldn’t come at the expense of solid support and forgiving shock absorption—especially if you’re planning to spend all day on your feet!
This is a concern with any type of shoe, but particularly so with sandals—flip flops being by far the worst offenders. Just about everything about them is bad for your feet:
- They’re thin and flimsy, offering basically no cushioning for your heels.
- They’re flat and unergonomic, offering no support for your arches.
- They flap and flop around on your feet, meaning you need to dig in with your toes, take shorter steps, and alter your posture just to keep them on your feet when you walk. This increases painful pressure and strain on various muscles and joints throughout the body.
If you’re planning to do more than a token amount of walking, make sure your footwear is up to the task—otherwise you can expect soreness and pain to quickly follow.
For any type of footwear, that means solid arch support, good cushioning, and proper sizing. Additionally, for sandals you’ll probably want something with an adjustable ankle strap and overall better grip to the foot so you don’t have to work so hard just to keep the sandal on!
To that end, it’s a good idea to specifically get a pair of walking or hiking sandals (as opposed to “fashion” sandals) for those long days.
Be More Active in the Morning and Evening
Standard desert living advice, of course, but still important to remember—especially when we hit a string of days pushing 110+ degrees by early afternoon.
Not that the night is all that much relief, of course, considering overnight lows can stick in the 80s and 90s—and in the worst heat waves, triple digits can last almost until midnight. Still, if you need to walk the dog or want to get that daily run in better to do so when it’s only “really hot” and not “extremely hot.”
Keep a Shortlist of Family-Friendly Indoor Activities
Of course, at some point the kids are going to be getting antsy, you’re going to be itching to get out of the house, and—oh yeah—it’s two in the afternoon and 108 degrees outside. What do you do?
Fortunately for you, there are a lot of family-friendly activities in Phoenix with the most family-friendly summer attribute of all: air conditioning.
Museums and aquariums are usually a good call, since they fill you and your child’s minds with knowledge and wonder at the same time that they keep you from roasting. Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale and the LEGOLAND Discovery in Tempe (okay, arguably not a museum, but whatever) are solid choices for children of all ages, though we’re sure you have your own favorites.
If you’ve got an especially energetic little one who is going to literally tear up your house unless they find someplace else to expend that energy, you have options, too. You could take a trip to one of the area’s Pump It Up or Bounce U, an indoor trampoline park (there’s one in Peoria), indoor skate park, or laser tag.
Failing that, at the very least, you can keep cool at a local pool (backyard or public), set up a sprinkler, or find a local park with a nearby water fountain and as much shade cover as humanly possible.
Know How to Identify Heat Illness
Heat illness is unfortunately common here during the most scorching part of the summer, but temperatures get hot enough throughout the year to cause problems depending on your activity level and how well you take care of yourself.
Excessive thirst, cramping in your legs and abs, and other signs of exhaustion—flushed skin, headache, nausea, dizziness—are major red flags. Get inside and drink cool water until your condition improves. If you allow yourself to get all the way to “heat stroke” territory, you can permanently damage your internal organs—or even die.
Do Your Feet Need a Tune-Up?
Of course, if your feet or ankles are aching well before the end of the day, even when wearing the best, most comfortable shoes, it’s time to take the next step.
The Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists are experts when it comes to care of the lower extremities, and can help you diagnose and treat any painful condition that may be getting in the way of your daily activities or favorite hobbies.To schedule an appointment with us at one of our two convenient offices—in Gilbert or Chandler—give us a call today at (480) 963-9000.