I prefer my Metro escalators broken in the summer. That’s not because I’m always up for a sweaty climb. I just like to avoid pieces of machinery that have a history of chomping at my soles.
Ever since nearly losing a flip-flop battle in the McPherson Square station several years ago, I’ve been nervous about repeating the experience.
There’s an obvious solution to this problem: Don’t wear flip-flops. The Washington Post recently ran a treatise on why the beach-style shoes are a terrible choice for the workplace. And Metro often reminds riders that they’re just as poorly suited to Gallery Place.
But if I’m going to forsake my favorite footwear, I need to know what to put on instead. So I turned to specialists for answers. (Or, to quote the female stereotype depicted in those irritating Metro Forward ads: “Can’t we just talk about shoes?”)
Deciding what to wear to get around D.C. can be a critical health decision, says podiatrist Howard Osterman. Last year, he saw a patient with stress fractures in two metatarsals. The cause? Strolling around the National Zoo in flip-flops.
That’s an extreme case, he admits, but it’s a daily occurrence in the summer to have someone show up at his office complaining about a shoe-related incident.
Osterman explains that the danger with sandals that cover only the front of the foot (that’s flip-flops, as well as clogs and slides) is that your toes need to grip to keep the shoe on. That action can lead to fatigue, fractures and plantar fasciitis.
An enclosed heel or ankle strap, even on an open-toed shoe, solves that problem. But if you’re not fully covered, there are other concerns, adds podiatrist Stephen Pribut.
“You don’t want to trip and have your toes bloodied,” Pribut points out.
And if you want to be prepared to use Capital Bikeshare, opt to wear something that’s stiff on the bottom, he says. In super-squishy shoes, feet have to work overtime to press the pedals.
One option that’ll take me places, Osterman suggests, is Toms. Both docs say the best choice is tennis shoes — ideally with moisture-wicking socks that’ll reduce friction and blisters. Bonus: They come in handy when the escalator’s broken.
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