Blog 7/19/2017

Weekly Clinical Service Dose: Flip-flops: Fun in the Sun, but Tough on Feet

We love flip-flops — just slip them on, and we are out the door.

But, the unstructured footwear can cause problems.

At this time of year Podiatrists see an increase in patients with foot problems often related to wearing flip-flops.

Here are some problems that develop with prolonged wear of flip-flops

  • Wearing flip-flops is better than going barefoot because they do provide some protection for the bottoms of your feet, but that’s about it.
  • Flip-flops don’t offer any arch or heel support, and you should grip them with your toes to keep them on.
  • Wearing them for too long or for the wrong activity can cause a lot of different problems.
  • Flip-flops leave feet exposed and susceptible to cuts, puncture wounds, bruises, torn nails, insect bites and sunburn.
  • Walking in flip-flops also can alter your natural stride, resulting in shin splints, Achilles tendon problems and lower back pain.
  • It’s also easy to stub a toe or trip and fall while wearing flip-flops.
  • Wearing flip-flops too often can lead to minor problems such as chafing, blisters, calluses, soreness to more serious issues such as plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the band of tissue that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot), hammer toes and stress fractures.

Most Podiatrist’s agree that it is OK to wear flip-flops but on only for a brief time.

  • Flip-flops are fine for short-term use, especially if they have at least some arch support and a cushioned sole.
  • They’re good to wear at the beach, around swimming pools, in showers and locker rooms at the gym, on short trips to the store.

If you want to wear flip-flops, look for those made of high-quality, soft leather, which minimize the potential for blisters and other types of irritation, the American Podiatric Medical Association recommends.

Gently bend the flip-flop from end to end, ensuring that it bends at the ball of the foot — it should not fold in half — and make sure your foot doesn’t hang off the edge of the flip-flop. The APMA added that all your shoes — not just flip flops — should be slightly bigger than your feet.

Inspect older flip-flops and throw them away if they show signs of severe wear.

There are some activities where you should forgo the flip-flops:

  • Driving is one of them. It’s easy for the shoes to slip off and they can get lodged between the pedals and the floor.
  • If you plan on running, hiking, walking long distances, standing for extended periods.
  • Working in the yard or around the house.
  • Playing sports.

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