By Rehan Iqbal
Flip flops are fun and easy to wear in the summertime, but you should know that it is not a good idea to live in them. Wearing flip flops over a long period of time can cause a great deal of damage to your feet and your toes. In fact, complications of wearing flip flops may even cause you to need the help of an orthopedic surgeon. In this article, we provide a dozen good reasons why flip flops are bad for you.
Are Flip Flops Your Friend?
1. Flip flops are intended for short term use
These shoes are made for temporary wear in the locker room and/or shower at the gym. You may wear them as house slippers or to walk from your porch to the mail box. It is not a good idea to wear them all the time throughout the summer because they simply do not provide the support and protection you can (and should) get from properly made shoes.
2. Flip flops cause friction
Your feet tend to slide around in flip flops, and this can cause friction, which leads to blisters. Blisters hurt, and they can become infected. Once healed, blisters can become corns and calluses, which are painful in their own right. All of these are negative aspects of flip flop wearing, which are magnified if you happen to have conditions such as diabetes.
3. Flip flops won’t protect you
Flip flops don’t protect your feet at all. When you wear flip flops, your bare upper feet are prone to cuts and scrapes, bruises, sunburn, etc. If you are engaged in typical summertime activities, such as cycling, mowing, horseback riding, etc., you are just begging to lose a toe if you are wearing flip flops. The thin soles of flip flops will not protect you against stepping on sharp thorns, rocks, broken glass or nails. Again, all of these dangers are magnified if you have diabetes, in which case any foot injury can quickly and easily become a need for limb amputation.
4. Flip flops can cause a wreck
Flip flops are dangerous for many activities, including driving. It is very easy for loose a slipper that is not firmly connected to your feet to become entangled in the brake and gas pedals. Wearing flip flops while driving in the summer could be hazardous to more health than just your own.
5. Cheap flip flops provide no support
Drug store flip flops usually don’t have any arch support. Because of this, wearing them puts a lot of strain on the plantar fascia. This is the band of tissue that connects the ball of the foot to the heel. Without support, this thick band of tissue can become very inflamed, causing plantar fasciitis. This is extremely painful, and it can cause you to develop fallen arches.
6. Wearing flip flops may lead to the need for foot surgery.
If you develop plantar Fasciitis repeatedly, your feet may start producing more bone to try to heal the problem. This leads to the development of bone spurs, which cause heel pain and may necessitate surgery.
7. It’s easy to strain, sprain or break your ankle in flip flops.
Lack of traction and arch support can also lead to an increased risk of spraining (or even breaking) your ankle. Without arch support, your feet are more likely to become misaligned by turning inward. This makes ankle sprain and strain fairly inevitable.
8. Flip flops can cause painful, deformed toes
Wearing flip flops puts a lot of stress on your toes. Even very high quality flip flops that do have thick soles and arch supports must be held on by the strength of your toes. When you are constantly holding your shoes in place with your toes, you are very likely to develop painful tendonitis. This can result in tearing or rupturing of the tendons and can eventually lead to the development of bunions and/or hammer toes.
9. Flip flops make you walk funny
When you wear flip flops, your gait changes; your stride shortens, and this affects your entire body.
10. Wearing flip flops now can cause the need for corrective shoes later
Long term flip flop wearing can very well cause arch, ankle, knee, hip, back and even shoulder and neck pain. This may lead to the need for specialized orthopedic footwear and/or physical therapy to correct the problem.
11. Flip flops can cause inflammation and swelling on the soles of your feet
When your gait changes, it usually involves putting more pressure on the balls of the feet. In supportive shoes, your feet tend to roll from heel to toe. In flip flops, you tend to come down on the balls of the feet first. This causes a problem called metatarsalgia, which is pain and swelling in the balls of the feet.
12. Flip flops are flimsy
If you put a lot of miles on your flip flops, you are sure to encounter the inevitable moment when the straps become disconnected from the sole. This can lead to minor foot injury or a major fall.
What Can You Wear Instead Of Flip Flops?
Summer slide shoes and rubber clogs are a good alternative to flip flops. They are convenient and easy to slip on and off, can be washed with the garden hose and come in lots of fun colors. They also have a thicker, harder, more supportive sole than flip flops, provide some protection for your upper foot and don’t require you to hang on for dear life with your toes. This is especially true of the type that have a heel strap.
These shoes usually provide better traction and stability than flip flops, and don’t contribute to the development of flat feet, plantar Fasciitis, tendonitis and other foot maladies. Look for summer shoes that have a bit of a lift (¾ inch) in the heel and provide plenty of room for your toes to dwell unhampered.
Good air circulation is also a must, so if you go for clogs, be sure to get the sort that have ventilation in the top.
Is it Ever OK to Wear Flip Flops?
As a transitional shoe (from pool to locker room, house to mailbox, brief trips indoors) flip flops are alright. If you are going to wear flip flops at all, look for the sort that have a thicker, sturdier sole, offer arch support and have the straps molded into the sole rather than held in place by a plug. Shoe suppliers such as Crocs and Okabashi offer good options in healthier flip flops and other summer shoes.