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Why Flip-Flops Are a No-No for Your Feet

May 30, 2015

Here in laid back and sunny Central Florida, flip-flops are everywhere you look. In fact, there’s a good chance that you may be wearing a pair as you read this. After all, who doesn’t enjoy the simplicity of sliding on your footwear without having to tie laces or fasten straps?

While flip-flops may seem like the perfect casual summer footwear, I’m here to tell you that they aren’t good for your foot health.

That’s because most flip-flops don’t offer enough arch support for your feet, putting more pressure on your muscles, joints and tendons with every step you take.

Flip-flops may feel comfortable, but wearing them every day could lead to foot and heel pain, such as plantar fasciitis, a condition in which tissue on the bottom of the foot becomes inflamed.

Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to give your feet the support they need—without wearing closed-toe shoes every day. Here’s what you need to know and some helpful tips for minimizing your risk of injury or foot pain.

Flip-Flops and Foot Health

If you wear flip-flops every day, your body could begin to ache in other places aside from your foot and heel. Flip-flops can cause hip, back, knee and ankle pain, especially if your shoes don’t have an arch in them or if you wear them for an extended time. Flip-flops put added pressure on your feet because you have to squeeze your toes together to hold onto them as you walk. Because of this, wearing them on a regular basis can cause painful bone spurs that change how you walk.

In addition to lacking support, flip-flops also don’t offer much protection from the elements. I’ve seen many patients end up in my office or the emergency room because they wore flip-flops in places they weren’t supposed to. Flip-flops may be ok for the beach or the pool, but they aren’t appropriate for sports, hiking or yard work. Playing soccer in them or running in them could cause injuries such as a foot or ankle sprain. You can accidentally scrape your feet, puncture or break your toe while mowing the lawn or raking leaves in flip-flops. Instead of flip-flops, you should opt for sneakers, athletic sandals or other closed-toe shoes that have some ventilation so your feet can breathe.

Everything in Moderation

If you like the comfort and freedom that flip-flops offer, purchase sandals that have an arch or straps that go across your feet instead. When you go to the store, look at a shoe from the side to see if there’s a bump where a foot arch would be. If so, the shoe is fine for you to wear. The American Podiatric Medical Association also offers recommendations on its website that can help you find suitable footwear options other than flip-flops.

Flip-flops give you the bare minimum of protection when you walk on hot surfaces at the beach or pool. They force your feet to be flat, which is unnatural for many people. They aren’t supposed to be everyday footwear, so when in doubt opt for sturdier, lightweight shoes that provide more support. Trust me. Your feet will thank you for it.

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