Flip-flops are just so easy – slip ’em on and run out the door. Seems like everybody starts wearing them as soon as outdoor temps climb above 50 degrees.
Unfortunately, flip-flops are just about the worst thing you can wear on your feet. In fact, there is a growing problem of heel pain among teens and young adults, which podiatrists are attributing to wearing this paper-thin footwear (no doubt intensified by the obesity epidemic).
Walking barefoot is better for your feet than walking in flip-flops. If your feet have any abnormal biomechanics, flip-flops can accentuate these problems, leading to plantar fasciitis and accelerating other foot problems.
Think about it: the bones in your feet are the base of your skeleton and your body weight is riding on them. If your feet aren’t supported correctly, the rest of your bones, joint, tendons, and muscles have to make up for it. The stress shifts elsewhere and that leads to foot pain, heel pain, leg pain, hip pain, bad knees, sore back, and any number of other ailments.
Naturally, wearing flip-flops in the sauna, locker room, or by the pool won’t cause any harm. But as everyday footwear, we suggest you make a smarter choice.
So how exactly do flip-flops affect your feet?
Toes: That little thong that slips between your toes actually makes the muscles in your feet work overtime. The perpetual gripping this requires of your feet can lead to a nasty case of tendinitis, hammertoes, and bunions. Additionally, bare skin rubbing against the plastic or leather thong can lead to nasty blisters.
Fractures: With no support under your feet, all of that pressure from your body weight can create stress fractures in the bones of your feet. If you spend a lot of time on your feet in flip-flops, this is very likely to occur.
Bottom of your feet: The flip-flop isn’t stationary on your foot like an athletic shoe is. Since the bottom of your foot is in a constant sliding motion against the material, it can create a burning feeling or blisters, especially on hot days.
Arch and heel pain: If your footwear doesn’t support your arch, you run an excellent chance of developing plantar fasciitis, the inflammation of the band of tissue which runs along the bottom of your foot, connecting your heel to your arch. Pain may be felt anywhere along the plantar fascia.
For summer footwear, we suggest that you always wear athletic shoes that fit properly or a solid, rugged pair of sandals with significant arch support and a heavy sole.
Thanks to Huffington Post for this excellent infographic on what happens to your feet when you wear flip-flops.